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Preview Thu Aug 21 2014

The Pump and Dump Show, a Night Out for Beleaguered Moms

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Billed as a parental night out for beleaguered moms, The Pump and Dump: A Parentally Incorrect Comedy Show comes to Chicago's Mayne Stage next month. Musician/comedian Shayna Ferm and her coach "MC Doula" (Tracey Tee) have presented two years of sold-out monthly shows in Denver.

They're now taking the show on the road to Northern California and Cleveland as well as Chicago this fall. Their album, #BREEDER, featuring songs written and performed by Shayna Ferm, is now on iTunes; and in 2014 Ferm and Tee launched a second website, TheMomToMomProject.com.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Art Wed Aug 20 2014

Artist Sows Seed Bombs to Represent Cabrini Resident Diaspora

When artist Katherine Alexandria took a tour of one of the new condo developments that have risen on the land once occupied by the Cabrini-Green housing projects, it wasn't because she was interested in buying. It was to get a better sense of what she was protesting.

"The idea of displacing 15,000 people so you could use the property for something more profitable is inexcusable," Alexandria said. "There is a massive number of people in Chicago living below the poverty level. We have anti-discrimination housing laws, but we don't enforce them. It's such a slap in the face in how we treat our poorest citizens."

873 N. Larrabee St. view
View of Cabrini rowhouses from 873 N. Larrabee St. Photo by Katherine Alexandria

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Andrew Huff / Comments (9)

Dance Tue Aug 19 2014

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago premieres Kyle Abraham's "Counterpoint"

Hubbard Street Dancer Kellie Epperheimer, foreground, Kyle Abraham, left. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.JPG

Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Chicago Dancing Festival returns for its eighth year Wednesday, and for the first time, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago members will perform a festival-commissioned piece--Counterpoint by Kyle Abraham.

While Hubbard Street Dance has been involved in the festival since its inception, working on a commissioned piece is something new.

"This is our first time being part of the commissioning...which has become a major part [of the festival]," said Hubbard Street Dance Manager of Communications Zachary Whittenburg. "They had the idea that Kyle would create a piece for Hubbard Street."

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Miriam Finder / Comments (0)

Column Fri Aug 15 2014

The Expendables 3, Let's Be Cops, The Giver, Venus in Fur, Dinosaur 13 & The German Doctor

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The Expendables 3

Well, it took them three tries, but Sylvester Stallone and his grizzled gang of tough guys and renegades known as The Expendables finally made a film that I can whole-heartedly recommend. I was not an admirer of the first two films; I saw the appeal, and I may have even laughed a couple of times as the countless dumb jokes about age and virility. But there's something a bit more lived in and knowing (bordering on sensible) about The Expendables 3. And I give a great deal of the credit to two people: new director Patrick Hughes, who made a terrific little Australian movie a few years back called Red Hill (he's also slated to do an English-language remake of the The Raid, but we won't hold that against him...yet); and Mel Gibson, who embraces his villainous personal image to play a bad guy who's actually formidable and worthy of taking on this team.

Honorable mention should go to the great Wesley Snipes as Doc (short for Dr. Death), whose opening-sequence rescue from a high-security prison (he's in for tax evasion, he says; where do they get this stuff?) is one of the best openings of any movie this summer. There's a lot of talk about how "crazy" these old guys are, but Snipes sells it better than anyone in this franchise to date. I also give credit to Harrison Ford as CIA operative Drummer; for the first time in ages, Ford actually looks like he's enjoying himself and fully embracing the idea of being an elderly badass.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Theater Wed Aug 13 2014

An Epic, Tragic Win: All Our Tragic

By Benjamin Cannon & Mike Ewing

AllOurTragic.png
Photo by Evan Hanover.

Consider for a moment the single most impressive ingredient one can add to food or drink, or really anything for that matter. It is readily available, though seemingly scarce, and most often wasted.

We'll play the sphinx no longer and tell you it is the ingredient of time. It suffuses products with nuance and richness otherwise absent from that made in haste, resulting in tender, smoky briskets and deep, complex scotches. Or the reward is more valuable for the time taken to attain it, offering release as warring patience and hunger are reconciled. That first bite of Hot Doug's or Kuma's is made sweeter by the waiting.

In art, time adds value and gives opportunity for reflection. Temporal remove has helped even our initial reactionary responses to practically every major epochal shift in the arts. Taking time to sit with a work and one's thoughts can greatly broaden the experience of the piece. The brain becomes flush with considerations of time and place, of semiotic interpretation versus emotional reaction.

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A/C / Comments (0)

Art Tue Aug 12 2014

See the Many "Hats" of Dr. Seuss This Fall

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"Oh, the places you'll go" and things you'll see this September at the exciting Hats Off to Dr. Seuss! exhibit at Water Tower Place. As part of the national touring exhibition of the famous author's collections, attendees will be treated to a look inside Dr. Seuss's hidden treasures from his estate, on display for the first time. From paintings to towering feathered hats, this display shows off some of the most whimsical creations of the beloved children's writer.

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Megan Daley / Comments (0)

Chicago Speaks Tue Aug 12 2014

Chicago Speaks: Bengali, as Spoken by Feryall Rahman

Chicago SpeaksAs a global city, Chicago is home to many languages besides English. Chicago Speaks profiles speakers of these languages, and shares some of their personal stories along the way.

The structural engineer Fazlur Khan is known for his work on the John Hancock Center and the Willis Tower, where a sculpture depicting his face greets visitors to the Skydeck. But Khan, perhaps the best known Bangladeshi Chicagoan, bequeathed more than buildings to his adopted city.

In 1980, shortly before his death, he founded a community organization called the Bangladesh Association of Chicagoland. In 2012, Feryall Rahman decided to join it. "I was like, 'Oh, if Fazlur Rahman Khan started this, I'm going to go see what this is about,'" she says.

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Megan Marz / Comments (0)

Film Mon Aug 11 2014

A Master Builder : A Claustrophobic Stew of Lust, Ambition, Ego and Envy

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Photo courtesy Gene Siskel Film Center.

Sometimes it's best to ignore the source of an adaptation and let the new work stand on its own. That works well with this excellent new adaptation of the 1893 Henrik Ibsen play converted to film in modern dress, as A Master Builder by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. The two-hour film, currently showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center with an outstanding cast of seven, immerses us in a story of lust, ambition, ego and envy.

The film closely follows Ibsen's original story -- with one important exception. We meet master builder Halvard Solness as an aging and sick man, tended by nurses and resting in a hospital bed in his office. (Ibsen describes him in the original as "a man no longer young, but healthy and vigorous.") This illness reframes the story of the architect with the monstrous ego and ambition and provides a dreamlike and ambiguous ending.

Director Jonathon Demme has created a film that to my mind is more claustrophobic than a single-setting play. Demme uses extreme closeups of his garrulous characters as well as a small number of tight physical spaces.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Column Fri Aug 08 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Calvary, What If, A Master Builder & Alive Inside

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I wish I felt more passionately — positive or negative — for the latest attempt to get the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back into the cultural spotlight. Clearly inspired by by the recent wave of superhero movies, this version of the turtles stick to the same basic origin story, but gives the reptiles a little more grit and attitude. Their shells are worn and chipped, their usually colorful green forms are muted and worn in. Their voices still reveal their hyper-teenage brains (with the exception of Johnny Knoxville, inexplicably brought in to voice Leonardo), but they are forced to deal with some very dark and serious situations that could result in some nasty business courtesy of their old enemy Shredder.

The biggest (but far from only) problem with the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the the genuine fun has been all but wiped from these characters. I certainly wasn't looking for a retread, but I was hoping to laugh and smile a bit. Instead, the heroes are being beaten to a pulp, put at real risk of death (or those around them are), and just generally being put in the middle of some truly grim situations. Director Jonathan Liebesman (Darkness Falls, Battle Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans) doesn't seem to have any real affection for the turtles, and if he does, it doesn't show. I'm not too traumatized about their new, more humanoid look the way some are, but it doesn't really add much to the film either, the way, I don't know, a story or minor character development might.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Art Mon Aug 04 2014

Ed Paschke's Art Finds a New Home in His Old Neighborhood

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The work of a Chicago artist who won national and international fame is settled in at a small museum in Jefferson Park, near the neighborhood where he grew up.

Ed Paschke, whose vividly colored and brilliantly grotesque paintings are part of the collections of major American and European museums, grew up the son of Polish immigrant parents on the northwest side of Chicago and lived there much of his life. The new museum dedicated to his work is the Ed Paschke Art Center at 5415 W. Higgins Ave. in Jefferson Park.

The center, which opened in June, exhibits about 40 Paschke works -- mostly paintings (oil on linen), but also prints and colograms (a digital photographic process that results in a 3D-like effect). His Howard Street studio, where he worked from 1980 until his death in 2004, is meticulously recreated. In addition, a 30-minute video runs continuously, showing Paschke working, talking about how he works, and teaching a class of art students at Northwestern University. The video is well done and worth watching for insights into the work and thinking of this creative and articulate artist.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Art Sat Aug 02 2014

Radical Tenderness @ High Concept Laboratories

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High Concept Laboratories is an organization which supports Chicago artists through production services, space for creatives and various forms of administrative assistance. HCL has a wonderful open space located inside of Mana Contemporary, an old warehouse in Pilsen which houses artist studios, and hosts events and shows. This past week on Thursday, HCL hosted an event entitled, "Radical Tenderness" which featured performance, sound, poetry and video as a collective event with a small and intimate audience. Artists Amir George, Sofia Moreno, La Spacer and Anna Vitale, were each featured in the event where they brought their voices, their bodies and their overall energy in depicting the theme for the night.

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S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Column Fri Aug 01 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy & Get On Up

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Guardians of the Galaxy


One of the greatest joys as a film critic (at least this film critic; I would never dare speak for all) is surprise and discovery. It actually happens less and less as trailers, extended clips, and all manner of plot details and ruined secrets become easier to come by, especially as a film's release gets closer and studios begin to panic that audiences won't turn up unless they know as much as they possibly can before they actually sit down to watch the damn movie. But every so often, I'll get an invitation to a press screening or just pay to see something — usually a smaller, indie work — and know nothing about it as the theater goes dark and the projectors lights up. These are not always pleasant surprises, mind you. But every so often, you see something so wonderful that you consider, "Why haven't I heard more about this magnificent film?"

I come from a far-off time and place where you might have gotten one advance trailer and/or one television commercial, plus a single poster and some print ads, promoting a film's release, and that was it. So, I made a deliberate decision about Guardians of the Galaxy many months ago. While I was an avid comic book reader from way back, I'd never been introduced to this particular variation of this team of characters prior to seeing the film last week. To say I went into Guardians with no knowledge of there being a gun-toting, foul-mouthed raccoon or a sentient tree creature wouldn't be accurate, but I did declare a self-imposed moratorium on details on the actual plot of the film beyond the fact that these anti-heroes (who would have been rejected from groups like the Avengers) band together as outcasts to try and save the galaxy. Why do you need to know more?

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (3)

Art Thu Jul 31 2014

UofC to Mount Exhibit of French Graphic Illustration & World War I

GB-REG_En-Guerre_Cover.jpgThe first "great war" commenced 100 years ago this summer when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The University of Chicago will observe the beginning of World War I with an exhibit of French graphic illustration of the period, opening October 14 at the Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery on the UofC campus.

En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I draws from illustrated books, magazines and prints to show more than 100 artistic views of the war. Patriotism, nationalism, propaganda and the soldier's experience are explored through fashion, humor, music and children's literature. The art was part of the mobilization of the French national home front.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Column Fri Jul 25 2014

Hercules, Lucy, A Most Wanted Man, I Origins, And So It Goes, Happy Christmas, Magic in the Moonlight, Under the Electric Sky & Closed Curtain

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Hercules


My biggest complaint about the Dwayne Johnson version of Hercules (not to be confused with the January release The Legend of Hercules, starring Kellan Lutz; actually, no one would mistake the two) is that this fairly entertaining, slightly empty-headed piece would have been over-the-top insane were it not trying so hard to be PG-13. An R-rated Hercules would have ruled the empire. As it is, it's still remarkably violent and hilariously good/bad film from, of all people, director Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour trilogy), who at least is smart enough to let things get silly just when they're on the verge of getting too serious.

The film has an interesting take on the mythology of Hercules, in that it wonders what if the legend were actually a bit of a PR stunt to make Hercules more appealing as a for-hire mercenary. For example, what if the many-headed Hydra he defeated as part of his "Trials" was many not exactly the monster it's been made out to be, or if the three-headed dog Cerberus was actually just three separate dogs that just like to hang out together. In Hercules, the hero has a posse that includes the young Iolaus (Reece Ritchie) who is his personal hype machine, rewriting his every adventure into something bordering on mythology. There are even hints that Hercules may not be the son of Zeus and thus not part god.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Interview Thu Jul 24 2014

Artful Interviews at Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music Festival is known for its eccentric, acclaimed and even avant-garde performances of high musical caliber, and for the attendees that create a show of their own with diverse fashion statements and individualistic notions. Another component to this weekend's three-day phantasmagoria was that of exquisite art, in the form of an installation known as the Geometric Village, curated by Johalla Projects and dreamed up by visionary artists Chad Kouri and Heather Gabel.

Good Times
Photo by Zachary James Johnston

As I stepped up to the Geometric Village on Saturday afternoon, I noticed sunlight streaming through the trees ahead of me, and falling upon the two upright pyramids in a simply lovely way. Each one allowed ample space for you to walk under it and absorb the messages seeded inside its carefully formed tunnel, one with skillfully designed words, and one with a collage of photographs, one of a skull, the other of a statue, and more. Both portions of the installation were vastly different, but in many ways, linked in commonalities. I noticed concertgoers interacting with the art pieces: some shuffling by quickly, others looking up at the peak and smiling, and a group sitting underneath, resting in a peaceful place. I oriented myself with the artwork, and then was lucky enough to have a chance to speak with curator Anna Cerniglia, and artists Chad and Heather, about the wistful yet introspective work they have been able to create at Pitchfork Music Festival this past weekend.

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Sarah Brooks / Comments (0)

Theater Wed Aug 13 2014

An Epic, Tragic Win: All Our Tragic

By Benjamin Cannon & Mike Ewing

What then is to be made of the Hypocrites' new stage production, All Our Tragic? This massive opus, comprising all 32 surviving Greek tragedy plays re-written and directed by Sean Graney, lasts a staggering 12 hours, including intermissions and meal breaks. Ben and Mike go the distance.
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Steve at the Movies Fri Aug 15 2014

The Expendables 3, Let's Be Cops, The Giver, Venus in Fur, Dinosaur 13 & The German Doctor

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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Events

Fri Aug 22 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Fri Aug 22 2014
A Jangleheart Circus

Fri Aug 22 2014
Chicago Dancing Festival

Fri Aug 22 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Sat Aug 23 2014
Queerpocalypse @ Mayne Stage

Sat Aug 23 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Sat Aug 23 2014
Chicago Dancing Festival

Sat Aug 23 2014
A Jangleheart Circus

Sat Aug 23 2014
Bucktown Arts Festival

Sat Aug 23 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Sun Aug 24 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Sun Aug 24 2014
Bucktown Arts Festival

Sun Aug 24 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Mon Aug 25 2014
Impress These Apes @ ComedySportz

Tue Aug 26 2014
The Moth StorySLAM @ Martyrs'

Tue Aug 26 2014
The Wizard of Oz @ Millennium Park

Wed Aug 27 2014
Avatar @ Millennium Park


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About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
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Editor: LaShawn Williams, ldw@gapersblock.com
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