Gapers Block is proud to present 20x2 Chicago, a live event where 20 people are asked the same question and given two minutes each to answer in whichever way they choose. The results may take any form, from spoken word to music to film, and can be as varied as the emotions and reactions they evoke. This edition's question is "What's Next?" See the answers on Saturday, April 18 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave.
20x2 is a mainstay of afterhours programming at SXSW Interactive in Austin, TX, and Chicago is its first official offshoot. The last show show was Oct. 21, 2014, and featured the question "How do you do?" Responses ranged from an arm-wrenching party trick to a giant "cootie catcher" game to a set of rules against small talk. Who knows what the speakers will come up with this time?
I suppose I could do my job and review the new film Get Hard, starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, as a film critic, which I'm paid to do. Or I could deputize myself and become a member of the morality police and judge the content of the film and ignore the rest of it, which seems beside the point, since that doesn't really give you, the potential audience member, a clue whether this might be a film you'd enjoy or not. But let's quickly do the morality thing, just for a second, because it's easier to defuse than you might think.
Thirteen paintings by Edward Hopper are brought to life (sort of) in a film that's being screened Friday and Saturday at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Shirley: Visions of Reality is an Austrian film written and directed by Gustav Deutsch, who will be at the Saturday screening in person to talk about his film. The film is being shown as part of the Siskel Center's European Union Fillm Festival.
The 13 films are tied together by a loose narrative involving a single protagonist, played by Stephanie Cumming. The film is not an action flick, but it's weirdly mesmerizing. The sets transmogrify into the Hopper paintings as the actors gradually move into the final poses that Hopper portrayed on canvas. Paintings such as "Morning Sun," "Office at Night" and "Hotel Room: 1931" are among those dramatized.
The best-known Hopper painting, "Nighthawks," is not one of the 13 shown in the film. But you can see it any day at the Art Institute of Chicago. And a painting, like many other arts, is always better live.
Shirley: Visions of Reality will be screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., Friday at 8pm and Saturday at 3pm. Tickets are $11 or $6 for members. You can buy them online or at the theater.
When I read that the post-rock, Icelandic band Sigur Rós commissioned Melika Bass to direct and produce a music video for their composition, "Varðeldur," I wasn't terribly surprised. Bass' archetypical characters and magical components cohere with the subliminal sound that is the framework of Sigur Rós. The ethereal and red-headed character for "Varðeldur" appears as another one of Bass' character studies. In her current solo exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center in the Kanter McCormick Gallery, Bass presents a reoccurring character, as well as two male characters, who share similar professions but all live different lives.
The Latest Sun is Sinking Fast introduces familiar faces (if you're a Bass fan) and continues and expands on the past and present. The characters connect visually, thematically, professionally, and fictionally, throughout the installation-based exhibition at the HPAC. Archaic and modern, the characters crawl through bushes, bath in public restrooms, listen to sermons on an iPhone and work in their tool shed.
With this latest film The Gunman, expert action cinematographer-turned-director Pierre Morel himself carving out an interesting niche market — taking slightly older, quite talented actors and turning them into balls-out action stars. He did it first with Liam Neeson in Taken (only the one), who admittedly had done an action turn here and there in Darkman, Batman Begins and The Phantom Menace. But with Taken, the actorly Neeson began a trajectory that has made him a fairly bankable action hero (hello, Run All Night). There was a time in Neeson's career when doing action was the novelty; today, the pure dramas are more rare. But it's his gift as an actor that makes us care so much about him as an action star.
Kruger Gallery Chicago is presenting ESCOMBROS (spanish for "rubble"), which features work from the Chicago-based and Mexican-born artist, Luis Sahagun. The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 9pm tonight.
Sahagun's background is rooted in the working class — his grandfather worked in the Chicago Heights steel industry, his father in field work, and Sahagun himself has a strong background in construction. The solo exhibition features large-scale paintings on cardboard, as well as installation and video pieces, which emulate his background as a Mexican-American growing up Chicago Heights.
The series includes 20 textured pieces that thrive as self-portraits and self-reflection in terms of youth, labor and experience. Chains, metal, fabric, concrete, cardboard and wax make up the "anthropological site that represents a community" and expands on the concept of identity vs. material. Luis' intimate relationship to his work, not only through his physical touch, but through his autobiographical self, creates a penetrating visual narrative of a community.
Great Lakes Tattoo will be hosting the first ever Midwest solo exhibition of New York City tattooer and visual artist, Thom DeVita. The exhibition, American Folk Art$, will open Thursday, March 19, and will be on view until March 22. Additionally, the artist will exhibit at the Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention March 20-21.
Thom Devita is an 82-year-old prolific artist whose career spans 50 years. Bridging the gap between his personal style and "old school" biker tattoos, DeVita was, and remains, an important figure in the tattooing community. Working illegally in New York City during the mid '60s and '70s, DeVita began paving his own way into the art community and created a unique aesthetic.
DeVita has focused on his pen-and-ink drawings and 3D works since 2003. Reminiscent of his years as a tattoo artist, DeVita creates loose and textured pieces that are an "iconographic style of American tattooing." The Harlem-born artist will present his work at Great Lakes Tattoo, 1148 W. Grand Ave., March 19-22. The Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention will feature several of his pieces March 20-21 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Ave. in Rosemont.
Promise, opening next weekend for two nights only at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, is the brainstorm of acclaimed modern dance choreographer Winifred Haun. She created the current adaptation after reading and deconstructing John Steinbeck's opus East of Eden. She says she decided to revise the work after producing several sections of Promise in 2006-2009, in order to focus on developing two of the female characters from the book (Cathy and Liza) because she wanted to explore their motivations more deeply. Haun says, "Steinbeck did not, in my opinion, fully flesh out his female characters." Her goal, she explains, is to look at themes through motion and relationships and to give the women a more three-dimensional role.
Spring is just around the corner, and with that comes warmer weather, melting snow and the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Spring Series, which opens tonight at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St.
The five-piece program includes a world premiere of I Am Mister B, a piece by former Hubbard Street dancer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano. Ramírez Sansano created his piece to music he twice previously danced to, Tchaikovsky's third suite for orchestra, as an homage to choreographer George Balanchine. Balanchine used the music for his ballet Themes and Variations in 1947. He is also the "Mister B" referenced in the title of Ramírez Sansano's piece.
Ramírez Sansano danced Balanchine's variations at 19 and again later while dancing in the Netherlands.
"It makes it interesting and challenging," he said. "I had it in mind because the fact of dancing something, it makes you appreciate it more."
Time and measurement are of the essence in Sideshow Theatre's new production of Anne Carson's Antigonick, described as freely translated from Sophocles' original Antigone. Throughout the 75-minute production, a mute character named Nick (David Lawrence Hamilton) is on stage, by turns taking measurements with a tape, keeping time with a metronome and taping up information sheets that enumerate the dead. Nick is constantly busy.
Carson's translation, or reimagining, is witty and colloquial with clever wordplay and literary allusions. (Kreon announces his nouns and verbs for the day. We're asked, What is a nick of time?) Antigonick moves along briskly, allowing us little time to ponder the questions of morality vs. patriotism that it presents. But those are the ideas that the play will leave you with, ideas that resonate and trouble today as much as they did millennia ago.
The CUBE Ensemble, a Chicago based performance company, will be presenting Faces of Eurydice, a dance-opera-theater at the Flat Iron Arts Building in Wicker Park. The retelling of the myth of Orpheus is choreographed by Hope Goldman and the music and lyrics are directed by Hope Littwin.
The performances will take place at The Pentagon Theater in the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1575 N Milwaukee Ave. The first performance is Thursday, March 12, continuing through Saturday, March 21. Performances are at 7:30pm each night.
Tickets can be found through Brown Paper Tickets;pre-sale tickets are $25 admission, $10 industry/student and regular tickets are $35 admission, $15 industry/student.
The performers include Beth Berta, Jeremy Cairns, Allison Cook, Kroydell Galima, Lia Kohl, Hope Littwin, Alexandra Olsavsky and Vienna Willems.
"Winning Works" showcases pieces by the winners of the 2015 Choreographers of Color Awards: Jennifer Archibald, Abdul Latif and Stephanie Martinez. The Choreographers of Color Award recognizes minority choreographers, while providing them a platform to show their work.
With District 9, writer-director Neil Blomkamp presented us with a compelling look at the near future in the wake of a visitation by non-threatening aliens that was so far afield from science fiction works at the time that it felt revolutionary. By setting it in Blomkamp's native South African city of Johannesburg and making the clear parallels between the segregation policies of not so long ago, the film also became genuinely compelling. His 2013 Elysium pushed even deeper into the way humans separate ourselves from each other, this time based on class. The poor stay on the dying planet Earth and the rest get to float above its surface in a clean, safe, man-made space station. A gripping idea for our times, but Blomkamp tends to write his screenplays with a hammer, so any hopes of subtlety were thrown right out the window in favor of a more anarchic message.
This approach seems replicated in his latest film, Chappie, in which Blomkamp returns with his District 9 co-screenwriter Terri Tachell to the city of Johannesburg. And like District 9, he even opens the film with news footage explaining a problem that is taking over the city and how it's being dealt with, so everything is explained to us like a parent reading a child a bedtime story. Crime is becoming a massive issue in the city and the government is turning to a mechanized police force to deal with it. The police droids seem to be getting the job done, but people are still resisting them. In the case of one police droid, it is damaged so severely by human attack that it becomes unsalvageable and is set for the scrap heap.
The new Evanston gallery, Sidetracked Studio, will host its first exhibition curated by Michele Mahon Jahelka Saturday from 6 to 9pm. The artist couple, Lauren Levato Coyne and Rory Coyne, work upstairs in the studio producing their own work, while the showroom on the first floor presents rotating exhibitions.
The all-female exhibition, What Did She Say? , will present works that span the spectrum from oil to wood and printmaking to drawing. Each artist brings forth a dialogue for perspective and communication through a variety of mediums. Jahelka urges viewers to "Stop and listen" when entering the exhibition space and derive meaningful contexts within the gallery and with the individual works.
The term "black humor" could have been invented to describe Samuel Beckett's mid-century play, Endgame. Its humor is grotesque, absurd, sometimes cruel. But humor nevertheless. And the new Hypocrites production takes full advantage of all those aspects of the human comedy. It's 90 minutes with four wounded souls in an apocalyptic setting, the "endgame" of the title.
Fans of Beckett's work may wonder what's in store when they enter the Hypocrites' space. It's decked out like a carnival or a cabaret with playground toys, tiny pendant lights and hanging toys. Candles, party hats and candy sit on the bar in front of each row of seats. The walk-in music is a tape of French pop songs. A set of pink illustrated wooden folding doors enclose the stage and are folded open by a crew member as the play begins.