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Freeze and Raise Over a Million Dollars at Chicago’s Polar Plunge

Posted on February 25th, 2015 by

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Look, when you’ve had the winter Chicago has had you get a little loopy and start doing crazy things. One of the craziest things Chicagoans do is the Polar Plunge.

The 15th annual Chicago Polar Plunge allows you to splash your way into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan to support Special Olympics Chicago. This organization assists almost 5,000 athletes and created this Polar Plunge as a fundraising initiative. Those who want to participate in the plunge must raise at least $175 to help reach the million dollar goal. Don’t worry you don’t have to go all the way in—knee deep participants are welcome. During last year’s Polar Plunge the temperature outside was minus 6 but it didn’t stop the 3,200 plungers from taking the challenge and breaking the million dollar goal.

Last year Jimmy Fallon took on the challenge, and this year actor Vince Vaughn will be joining in hopefully encouraging more people to participate in the crazy yet noble act. I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight that our vice president and editorial director Amber Holst will be joining Agency 360’s team and taking on the challenge.

It is never too late to support an amazing cause and make sure you drop by North Avenue Beach to watch a lot of people shiver at the same time.

The Chicago Polar Plunge takes place Sunday, March 1 starting at 10 a.m. at North Avenue Beach located at 1600 N. Lake Shore Dr. For more information on the event as well as how to participate or donate visit sochicago.org/polar-plunge.

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Crack Up with Catholicism at the Royal George Theatre’s Religious Comedies

Posted on February 25th, 2015 by

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It’s rare when a born-in-Chicago international hit is still making laughs, but it happens every weekend at the Royal George Theatre.

“Late Nite Catechism,” now in its 22nd year, is still packing them in, and it’s no surprise why. The character of Sister, created by Chicagoans Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan, is as funny and relevant today as she was when the show opened in 1993.

Sister has something to say about everything in this interactive comedy, so don’t think you’ll be safe from her wrath. “Late Nite Catechism” will bring you back to those CCD classes you might have taken as a youngster but add a hilarious spin to it, and those who aren’t Catholics will finally understand what their Catholic friends might have gone through.

The other comedy that’s tickling everybody’s funny bone at the Royal George is “Bible Bingo: A Comedy with God, Games, & Goofy Prizes.”

Bible Bingo is a comedy written by Vicki Quade about the Catholic culture of fundraising and bingo featuring the character Mrs. Mary Margaret O’Brien, a former nun who now heads a fictitious archdiocese fundraising department. It’s in its second year at the Royal George.

In this interactive comedy, the parish needs money and Mrs. O’Brien is ready to help. Bring the two together and you have a night of bible trivia, audience interaction, improvised moments, and the funniest quiz about the holy family you’ve ever seen.

“Bible Bingo: A Comedy with God, Games, & Goofy Prizes.” runs every Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and “Late Nite Catechism” runs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Both plays are at the Royal George Theatre located at 1641 N. Halsted St. Tickets are $30. Group discounts are available. For ticket info, call the box office at 312-988-9000. For more information visit nuns4fun.com.

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MCA Chicago Holds First Retrospective for Doris Salcedo

Posted on February 24th, 2015 by

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Doris Salcedo, Installation view, Doris Salcedo Studio, Bogotá, 2013. Photo: Oscar Monsalve Pino.

 

Chicago’s museums offer great opportunities to learn whether it be about a cultures, eras, animals, or, in the case of the latest exhibit from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, learn about one of the most important emotional processes—mourning.

“Doris Salcedo” is the first retrospective of the renowned Colombian sculptor covering her powerful 30-year career. Salcedo’s work is completely focused on the loss of life mostly through political violence. Before she works on a piece she does exhaustive fieldwork interviewing victims, absorbing their stories, and, with the help of her team, creating thoughtful, poetic pieces using materials that either inspired by or come directly from the conflict.

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Doris Salcedo, Plegaria Muda (detail), 2008-10. Installation view, Doris Salcedo, MCA Chicago Inhotim Collection, Brazil. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

 

The placement, morphing, deconstruction, and reconstruction of typically ordinary objects like furniture or shoes is done in such a way that the viewer may not know exactly the story behind the piece but can easily identify the raw emotions behind it. All but three of Salcedo’s work in this retrospective are about situations in Colombia, but what she does so well is make that pain and loss universal. The viewer is first greeted by “Plegaria Muda” where an entire room is filled with two handcrafted tables where one is placed on top of the other separated by soil and with blades of grass coming through the top table. One viewer assumed the piece the piece was about the Holocaust when in reality it is partly about gang violence in Los Angeles and also about the experience of grieving mothers at mass graves. However, the mistaken viewer is not necessarily wrong because he still felt that sense of loss and despair that Salcedo wants to impart. “Atrabiliarios” is about the female victims of violence and those who have disappeared in Colombia but can be identified with any country that has forced disappearances an example being Argentina. By using ordinary objects Salcedo’s work has little geographical markers that not only lends itself to being universal but also eliminates all divisions between humans to focus on mourning.

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Doris Salcedo, A Flor de Piel (detail), 2011-12. Rose petals and thread. Installation view, White Cube, London, 2012. Photo: Ben Westoby.

 

This sadness does not come without beauty, which is completely evident in the piece “A Flor de Piel.” You wont know from looking from afar but this large shroud is completely made of hand-stitched petals put through a chemical process to give it it’s leather-like quality. Salcedo created the piece initially as an offering to a Colombian nurse who was tortured to death.

This retrospective only covers a portion of Salcedo’s work as many of her most important work are the public arts projects that she does. Due to certain limitations those pieces can not be recreated, but they are covered in an informative documentary in one of the exhibits galleries that also covers Salcedo’s work process.

“Doris Salcedo” will be on view through May 24 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago located at 220 E. Chicago Ave. For information on the exhibit as well as complimentary programming at mcachicago.org/exhibition/doris-salcedo.

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‘Dunsinane’ Opens For Limited Engagement

Posted on February 23rd, 2015 by

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The Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) at Navy Pier welcomes the National Theatre of Scotland for a limited engagement performance of Dunsinane, a fascinating sequel to William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

This U.S. Premiere tour, running Feb. 28 through March 22, explores one man’s attempt to restore peace in a country consumed by war following the bloody conclusion of Shakespeare’s timeless drama. Dunsinane takes Scotland’s real history and dramatically reimagines the chapter after Macbeth’s death.

At the outset of Dunsinane, Macbeth is dead. Under cover of night, the English army has swept in, killed the tyrant and claimed Scotland’s seat of power. English commanding officer Siward finds his efforts to restore order futile as the situation spins out of control. Struggling to grasp the alien customs and politics of this harsh country, he finds himself drawn towards Macbeth’s powerful widow, Gruach. In keeping with true historical events, Lady Macbeth has outlived her husband and seeks to enforce her familial claim to the throne.

Dunsinane will be performed in CST’s Courtyard Theater Feb. 26–March 22. Tickets are on sale now for $58–$88 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40 percent discount on guaranteed parking in Navy Pier garages. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312-595-5600 or visit the Theater’s website at http://www.chicagoshakes.com

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Kick off the Year of the Ram at These Chinese New Year Events

Posted on February 18th, 2015 by

Don’t let the negative temperatures stop you from celebrating one of the world’s most vibrant holidays—Chinese New Year.

Plenty of businesses and neighborhoods will be celebrating the Year of the Ram—or goat, or sheep—this weekend with countless events. Here are a few to get you started.

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The best part of any holiday is the food, and the Chicago Chinese Cultural Center has you covered with delicious dumplings. Not only will guests enjoy a traditional Chinese dinner but they will learn how to make dumplings in a workshop covering the centuries-old technique.
Chinese New Year Dumpling Workshop and Dinner
Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, Inc.
Feb. 21 at 3 p.m.
2121B S. China Pl.

5D9E7C4E23C60B3438CCEFF41A990534Choose Chicago and the Chinese Fine Arts Society will have a kick-off celebration filled with lion dancers, music, drums, and martial arts that will surely get anyone in the spirit.
Chinese New Year Day Celebration
Feb. 19 12 – 1 p.m.
Preston Bradley Hall
Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.

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Of course, no Chinese New Year celebration is complete without the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade. Visitors will enjoy colorful floats, marching bands, a 100-foot paper tiger, and more lion dance performances and then can explore one of Chicago’s most culturally-rich neighborhoods.
Chinese Lunar New Year Parade
Feb. 22 at 1 p.m.
Wentworth Ave. & 24th St.

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Beads, Beers & Bars!

Posted on February 18th, 2015 by

Mardi Gras Mask and Beads

Put on your masks, grab your beads, and head to Navy Pier this Saturday, Feb. 21, for the city’s largest Mardi Gras party!

The “World’s Largest Indoor Bar Crawl” will take place from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and hits seven bars along Pier including Harry Caray’s Tavern, Haagen Dazs, Riva Crab House, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Mystic Blue, Spirit of Chicago, and Crystal Gardens. Each spot is offering special deals including $3 Bud Light drafts, $4 Goose Island 312 drafts, and $5 Southern Comfort hurricanes.

Your ticket includes entry into the Mardi Gras Bar Crawl, two gift cards valid at participating bars for food or drink purchase, drink specials, entertainment including live music, mask face-painting, games, prizes, and more! Tickets start at $15 and are available for purchase here. Walk-up tickets will not be available.

All participants must be 21 years of age to participate (ID required at check-in) and event details and price are subject to change. All visitors to Navy Pier are expected to follow the Navy Pier Code of Conduct.  Check-in for the Mardi Gras Crawl at Crystal Gardens from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Coat check is available for $3 (cash only). Specials are available all day at bar crawl locations.

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Art Jewelry Abounds in Maker and Muse exhibit at the Driehaus Musem

Posted on February 18th, 2015 by

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Berthold Löffler (Austrian, 1874-1960), The Wiener Werkstätte (Austrian, established 1903), Hostess Pin, c. 1907. Collection of Richard H. Driehaus. Photograph by John A. Faier.

 

If you bought your significant other any jewelry from Etsy for Valentine’s Day you can thank the early-20th century art jewelry movement, and the Driehaus Museum is highlighting the movement in their second exhibition.

“Maker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry” not only explores the resistance against mass production brought on by the Industrial Revolution but the way women were an integral part of that handcrafted jewelry movement. The museum highlights more than 250 ravishing items that include extremely intricate rings, pendants, necklaces, brooches, tiaras, and even cigarette holders.

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René Lalique (French, 1860-1945), Winged Sylph Brooch, c. 1900. Collection of Richard H. Driehaus. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photograph by John A. Faier.

 

The exhibit is spread out through the second-floor galleries and divided by region. Start out in Britain, the foundation of art jewelry, where husband and wife teams were making these beautiful pieces that were inspired by nature as well as the changing social norms. The green, white, and violet in Child & Child’s gold, amethyst, pearl, and diamond suffragist necklace is a perfect example of women’s influence. Head into a constant staple of the Driehaus Museum in the Louis Comfort Tiffany room where his beautiful art jewelry is featured and you’ll learn that two women were actually in charge as heads of his jewelry studio. While exploring the German and French rooms you wont see women as the artists but as the muses. One of the most beautiful examples is in René Lalique’s winged sylph brooch made out of freshwater pearl and enamel where Lalique shows one of his themes of combining a woman’s figure with a feature of an insect or other animal that can be interpreted as a fairy or might be interpreted as a form of eroticism, which was popular theme during the time.

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The Kalo Shop (American, 1900-1970), Necklace, 1900. Collection of Neil Lane. Photograph by John A. Faier.

 

The Driehaus brings it back home with the Chicago room featuring items from the Kalo Shop that was run by Clara Barck Welles. Welles mentored many notable art jewelers and had many women, known as the “Kalo Girls,” work on designs. Her shop sat on Michigan Avenue until it closed in 1970 and produced countless beautiful pieces starting in 1914.

“Maker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry” will be on view until Jan. 3, 2016 at the Driehaus Museum located at 40 East Erie Street. For more information visit driehausmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/maker_muse.

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Marie Antoinette Enters the 21st Century at the Steppenwolf

Posted on February 17th, 2015 by

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The life of Marie Antoinette has been adapted countless times throughout history in different formats.The Steppenwolf Theatre Company is presenting her with a 21st-century lens, and let’s just say this production about the former Queen of France is on fleek—for all the non-Millennials that means on point.

If Kanye West ever did a play about Marie Antoinette it would probably look similar to what the Steppenwolf Theatre Company has produced with it being part play, part fashion show, and all attitude set in late-18th century France. However, those who might find that kind of style arrogant and distasteful just need to take a second and realize that it might be the perfect lens to tell the story of Marie Antoinette who is one of the world’s earliest celebrities and possibly one of the world’s earliest celebrity train wrecks. Having a 21st century soundtrack and all the glitz and glamour of fashion week add that celebrity atmosphere that most are familiar with today therefore making Marie Antoinette feel contemporary.

The style is what grabs you but Alana Arenas’ interpretation of the Queen of France keeps you around. When you come in knowing how the play ends it takes a great actress to keep you interested and Arenas does that by leaps and bounds. Yet, she doesn’t do it by making you feel any sympathy for Marie Antoinette but finding a way to keep you absolutely enthralled at every moment of ego, grandeur, obliviousness, pettiness, and annoyance. The audience becomes captured by her performance because it is hard to resist looking at a train wreck. While you might never feel sympathy for her, what Arenas and the play does great is make you realize that the creation of Marie Antoinette did not happen in a vacuum. The contemporary style makes you realize that if Marie Antoinette lived today the world would be outraged that an illiterate 14-year-old girl was basically transferred to a monarch for $200,000. This realization is the true success of David Adjmi’s words and Robert O’Hara’s direction.

“Marie Antoinette” runs through May 10 at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company located at 1650 N. Halsted St. For tickets, showtimes, and more information visit steppenwolf.org/Plays-Events/productions/index.aspx?id=624.

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Chef Michael Taus Returns with Taus Authentic

Posted on February 11th, 2015 by

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It’s been two years since the Chicago dining staple Zealous closed its doors where Charlie Trotter protege Michael Taus gave Chicago excellent cuisine for almost 20 years. Now Taus is back with a complete different concept that is all about his roots.

Taus came up in an era where white linen tablecloth was the style, and in 2012 he decided to close his popular restaurant and hit the reset button by traveling the world to not only learn more about global cuisine but to learn more about himself. That journey has resulted in the opening of Taus Authentic Food and Drink in Wicker Park.

The ever-accomplished chef will take his classic French technique and apply it to dishes inspired by his family, his childhood, and his travels. All his food will be made from scratch and feature a variety of entrees along with a raw seafood and tartare menu. Taus is leaving his days of seven-course menus behind and just cooking what he loves whether it be a veal cheek pot-au-feu, a mouthwatering short-rib burger, or the double fried chicken with jalapeño cornbread that he stole from his aunt. Diners can enjoy all of that in the cozy 100-seat dining room or the 50-seat lounge with a bar and two fireplaces. For Taus it’s about creating a comfortable atmosphere where the diners can learn more about him and have their stomachs learn more about what they already love—great food.

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Taus Authentic Food and Drink opens Feb. 11 at 1846 W. Division St. For more information visit facebook.com/pages/Taus-Authentic-Food-Drink/816018748429600.

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More than 100 Productions Wait for You at Chicago Theatre Week

Posted on February 11th, 2015 by

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Chicago Theatre Week was such a success last year that it’s coming back with more shows and more days.

Coming back for its third year, Chicago Theatre Week celebrates Chicago’s rich theater tradition and makes it accessible to everyone with local theaters offering deeply discounted tickets. With more than 100 productions, theater fans of all genres and all formats will be able to find more than one great production to see.

Fans of classics won’t want to miss “Waiting for Godot” at the Court Theatre, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” from the Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts, or “The Importance of Being Earnest” from the ShawChicago Theater. Musical and performing arts fans should catch “First Wives Club” from Broadway in Chicago, “Million Dollar Quartet” at the Apollo Theater, or—for a little change of pace—”Unique Voices” from the The Joffrey Ballet. If you want to give the kids some theater experience take them to see “James and the Giant Peach” at Filament Theatre or “Lions In Illyria” at the Lifeline Theatre. However, everyone should find time to see “Airline Highway” at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company as this captivating drama will end its run soon and then head to Broadway.

Chicago Theatre Week runs from Feb. 12 – 22 at various locations throughout the city. Tickets range from $15 – $30, or sometimes even less. For a full schedule visit choosechicago.com/things-to-do/arts-culture-and-entertainment/chicago-theatre-week.

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