Don't miss this -

    The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow.

    A play with an absolutely bravura performance by Jennifer Shin.* A story that has meaning. A complex, interwoven, smart script. Emotional pull. High energy. Fabulous live score with guitar and computers. Insight into youth.

    This play by Rolin Jones was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

    At base it might be about, "What will the Chinese girls that so many Americans adopt think when they get older?" I find that interesting to think about. But the intelligent script of The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow covers a lot more ground than that. It's about finding your self, reconnecting, ambition, identity, and love.

    Jenny Chow will shake you up. I couldn't talk afterwards.
    When's the last time a piece of art did that to you?


    A little later I'll post a bit more on this year's superb ArtChicago. If you haven't gone yet, the fair ends this afternoon.Even the fashion show was fun and top quality last night . Photos to follow!


    *Her performance reminded me of the young John Leguizamo in Spic-o-rama
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    The Arpino Box at the Auditorium Theater

    The Joffrey has been performing at the Auditorium Theater by Louis Sullivan since about 1969. It's one of the greatest houses in the world to see dance, celestial from the moment you enter. Since the Joffrey moved to Chicago in 1995 the Auditorium has been its home. And one man has seen all or nearly all of the Joffrey's performances there, and from the same box - the one closest to the stage, house right. He is the Joffrey's Artistic Director, Gerald Arpino.

    Last night's performance at the Auditorium began the wind-down of the two-year fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Joffrey. It's been announced that Arpino will become Artistic Director Emeritus and an international search will begin to find his successor.

    So last night, before the dance, first, a short excerpt was added to the program from Gerald Arpino's Olympics of 1966 (complete with torch and flame) to celebrate winning the bid to become the U.S. choice to win the 2016 games.

    And then a spotlight shone on Arpino sitting in his box and an announcement was made that it shall be named after him.

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The ugliest art

    Britney Spears naked ???
    The ugliest piece of art at the Chicago fairs

    Daniel Edwards
    Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston

    "A nude Britney Spears on a bearskin rug while giving birth to her firstborn marks a ‘first’ for Pro-Life. Pop-star Britney Spears is the “ideal” model for Pro-Life, ... in what is proclaimed the first Pro-Life monument to birth.

    Dedication of the life-sized statue celebrates the recent birth of Spears’ baby boy, Sean, and applauds her decision of placing family before career."

     materials provided by Manhattan Right To Life Committee.
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ArtChicago, Artropolis & ....

    ArtChicago / Artropolis & ....

    More than five art fairs in Chicago this weekend!

    Art Chicago, The International Antiques Fair, The Artist Project, The Intuit Show, and Bridge Art Fair.

    Paul Klein of Art Letter offers a fine guide.
    Here's the list of galleries at ArtChicago.

    Will ArtChicago rise from the ashes? Can the city support a great fair? Will people buy, will dealers return, can we compete with the sexy still hot Art Basel Miami? We'll soon have some indications when ArtChicago opens tomorrow night.

    Plus, in a large tent in front of the Merchandise Mart, a performing arts component!
    Thursday, 9:30 p.m. The Joffrey Ballet
    Friday, 7:30 p.m. 'Art Music' by Fulcrum Point
    Saturday, 5 p.m. Anna Deavere Smith
    Saturday, 7:30 pm Hubbard Street Dance Company
    Sunday, 6:30 pm Blanc International Fashion Show
    Monday, 12:30 pm The Chicago Chamber Musicians

    click here for full schedules and more information.

    The Joffrey's Light Rain.

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    Soon when you need a good kosher knish downtown, you'll know where to find it. The
    Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies

    in Chicago on South Michigan Avenue, overlooking Grant Park.
    Our fearless architects

    Ron Krueck (l) and Mark Sexton (r)

    a facade like the facets of a diamond.

    Some say it protrudes too far out from the historic steetwall. Especially since it's in glass, rather than stone as the other buildings are on South Michigan Avenue.

    The projections and the faceting give views up Michigan Avenue

    Here's what you see from a balcony on 10. Also on this floor - the Board Room and Sky Garden.

    Above this, greatly pleasing the Mayor, a green roof.

    The glass (American-made), has markings which purposely make it less than completely transparent.

    Glass on the left, no glass on the right. I'm curious how transparent it will look when it's finished, washed and the protective coating removed.

    And the 400-seat theater space looks large and promising, a two story space.

    The exhibition spaces will also feature a two story atrium, to connect the Museum's Core Collection on 9 and the Changing Exhibition Galleries on 10. Plus space for Spertus College , the Asher Library, a children's center, site-specific art and more. Plus, when you need a good

    kosher knish downtown, you'll know where to find it. (Though Wolfgang makes it a little different than they did in the shtetl.) A kosher cafe by Wolfgang Puck, on the second floor, overlooking the park at tree top level.

    At night the building is supposed to emit 'a warm glow." Spertus literature says
    "This emphasis on light echoes the Spertus logo, a falme accompanied by the biblical phrase yehi or, let there be light, symbolizing both physical light and the light of learning and truth."
    This new $55 million Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies is set to open on November 30, 2007. They'll host a week-long public celebration with tours, music and more.

    No full review of the building from me until it's complete and occupied. But now you have today's photos. I'm hungry, how about you?

    Spertus President Howard Sulkin wanted a home for this multi-faceted institution that would be open, transparent and dynamic; and he's getting it. He should be commended for building a downtown Jewish institution that projects not fear, but optimism, enlightenment, joy, culture and learning. The building also expresses assimilation. The glass should make everyone feel welcome, and through the glass all visitors will feel still connected to the city, to the park, to Michigan Avenue, to Soldier Field, Lake Michigan and the midwestern sky. It's an intimate connection I felt today, looking from Spertus to the rest of my town. And I saw the city anew, from fresh angles, which is the mark of a great city, to be able to offer new perspectives, on itself, and on life.

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The Rotating Tower

    A skyscraper to make your head spin.

    Update! May 6, 2007 David Fisher is trying to convince the powers-that-be in New York City, Miami and Chicago that this is a viable concept. At least two developers in Chicago are interested?

    from their marketing campaign:

    Dynamic Architecture-dawn of a new era

    The Dynamic Architecture buildings keep changing their shape. As each floor rotates separately, the form of the building is changing constantly; you may not see the same building twice.

    Dynamic architecture marks a new era in architecture as this new approach, based on motion dynamics, is in fact challenging traditional architecture that until now has been based on gravity.

    Dynamic Architecture buildings will become the symbol of a new philosophy that will change the look of our cities and the concept of living. From now on, buildings will have a fourth new dimension – TIME. Buildings will not be confined to rigid shapes; construction will have a new approach and flexibility. Cities will change faster than we ever imagined.

    I thought buildings always involved the dimension of time.
    But click on this link, it is worth seeing, cheesy animations and all. And you thought the proposed twisting tower by Calatrava was futuristic.

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860 - 880 Lake Shore Drive by Mies van der Rohe - 7+ million dollar restoration project

    Companion Words

    "The first time I visited the Rothko Chapel in Houston, in the late 1980s, I was operating under the influence of a remark by the poet Czeslaw Milosz, something to the effect that the Western search for meaning in abstract art was a case of expecting too much from mere pigment.

    As you probably already know, as guides for the perplexed, the writers of central Europe cannot be beat. History has equipped them with just the right balance of the tragic and the ironic dimension."

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"As the Spire Twists"

    The City of Chicago Plan Commission recommends unanimously that the zoning committee approve the latest designs for the Chicago Spire.

    Romantic, eh? Wonder what it would really be like?
    I admire how it touches the ground lightly. Everyone I talk to likes the profile of the original scheme the best, (except for the original base of several levels of parking,) but says this new one is also fantastic.

    Kelleher the Developer knows best.

    But, since you asked, I don't see how this can get this built. Not with a price tag of more than 2 billion dollars. Kelleher would have to charge more per unit than I think this market can bear. Who would be the clientele for such a place in Chicago?

    Well, Dublin-based, former Chicagoan Garrett Kelleher, head of Shelbourne Development, worth a reported $750 million, certainly knows real-estate better than I.

    In any case, it sure is pretty, it sheds good light on Chicago that we're even considering this, and and Mayor Daley desperately wants it. That and about 2 billion dollars will get you a tower like this built here. Now, where to find those 2 billion?

    There is nothing wrong with this site

    that 2 billion dollars can't fix.

    Please call if you'd like to finance this tower.


    from the Press release:
    The Chicago Spire Receives Approval from City of Chicago Planning Commission

    Located at 400 North Lake Shore Drive, where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan, the 2,000-foot tall twisting tower will house 1,200 residences with the finest amenities available anywhere in the world. ...

    The approved plan features several improvements to earlier designs that will enhance The Chicago Spire’s integration with the surrounding environment, including a spectacular four-story transparent glass lobby, an underground parking garage for residents and a one-acre landscaped public plaza. In addition, The Chicago Spire will be engineered to meet the gold standard of LEED certification, which dictates among other things that rainwater be recycled for landscaping treatments, river water be used for cooling and special glass be included to protect migratory birds.
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    The paintings of Tintoretto come as a revelation.

    "According to standard opinion Michelangelo, Titian, and Raphael were the supreme artists of the sixteenth century; yet often during the last four hundred years, viewers have gazed in awe and surprise at works by Tintoretto, and wondered if he might be the greatest painter of all.

    Thus John Ruskin during his first visit to Venice wrote:
    I never was so utterly crushed to the earth before any human intellect as I was today before Tintoret. Just be so good as to take my list of painters, and put him in the school of Art at the top, top, top of everything, with a great big black line to stop him off from everybody.... As for painting, I think I didn't know what it meant till today.

    Tintoretto ... was an artist of epic breadth and profound human sympathy. Henry James compared him to Shakespeare; Bernard Berenson likened him to Tolstoy."

    Read it all here.

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    In Houston they have beautiful buildings.
    Oh wait, that's Trump Chicago. The view up Wabash.
    Here's a view of Our Trump, from the River Plaza plaza

    And, Trump meets a real man:

    Mies' IBM building.

    Trumpy still looks like an alien invading Wrigley plaza.

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Mark di Suvero, works and the man, in Millennium Park - Chicago

    Who's the guy chilling in Millennium Park?

    Why, it's the artist himself - Mark di Suvero. He's up when there's work to be done.

    You load sixteen tons, and whadya get? Yoga is the name of the sculpture.
    It features a (moving in the wind) Pantheon-like oculus. These heavy, heavy beams turn gracefully in the wind.

    Mark di Suvero.

    His works are going up in Millennium Park. In the Boeing (outdoor) Galleries. 5 of them.

    Three went up today, the one above, and Shang

    and Rust Angel

    I like the color. It goes with the colorful faces on the Crown Fountain; and color is always welcome in the park.

    All of the di Suvero's are on access with Cloud "The Bean" Gate, which is a fine juxtaposition. Metal/metal, but highly polished/not and sensuous curves/industrial and harder lines. Each informs the other and helps you appreciate it.

    Another difference is, "the Bean" is extremely photogenic. di Suvero's works are not. You have got to experience them. You must walk through them, and touch them, and then they talk to you - or sometimes they sing adn make music. They tell you how they're constructed and how what looks so heavy can also float and how they don't have a center point where you think it might be. What's not there is as important as what is. Their raw, visceral, sweet power looks great in Millennium Park. I'll write more about them soon.

    And you're supposed to have fun with them.

    Watching them go up today was even sexy. It was such beautiful weather I had to pull myself away from the park. Two more go up tomorrow.

    They'll be there for nearly a year. Lucky us.

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    "Sweet sixteen" ?

    Chicago 2016 Celebration

    Chicago 2016
    Monday, April 16, 2007
    12:00 noon in Daley Plaza
    Washington & Clark

    Join Mayor Daley and Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan for a citywide celebration saluting Chicago's win of the United States bid in the competition to host the 2016 Olympic Games. There will be music, videos and live athletic exhibitions. Come celebrate with all Chicagoans and hear about the next phase of the City's campaign to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago.

    My hope is that we use the push for the games to upgrade our public transportation. Let's start with express trains from the airports. Then bus lanes on, for example, Lake Shore Drive. And then, rather than the buses going straight up and down our endless gridded streets, find out where people get on the bus and where are their destinations. Then make bus routes that don't just go up and down the long gridded streets, forcing people to transfer often more than once, but make bus routes that follow the routes that people take.
    Here's to 2016,
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    America’s first dusk-to-dawn cultural and artistic spectacle?

    Sound like a new flavor at Ben and Jerry's?

    Looptopia! May 11th 5 pm - May 12th 9 am.

    Performances in the plazas along Dearborn. Colorful light displays projected from and on our buildings. Happenings even in the loop's alleyways and loading docks!
    The Art Institute, with that great 'Cezanne to Picasso show' (wtih 32 Cezannes!) open until midnight. Then watch the sun rise in Millennium Park. All free.

    Inspired by "White Nights Europe."

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    Dudamel exhilarates.

    Lobby Fervor before the concert began

    Once inside, Maestro Dudamel's conducting of Mahler Symphony No. 1 was clear and powerful, lush and filled with inner life. As it progressed the music grew out of itself, organically, in a constant journey, an exploration leading to triumph. The youthful bravado of an early work by Mahler well-suited 26 year old Dudamel.

    And our orchestra clearly enjoyed the romp. Last night's horns would have melted you. The percussion beat against your heart. Our strings sailed along with the winds.

    So why can't the CSO find a Music Director? For how long will this great orchestra be able to sustain its prominence?

    L.A. didn't thrash about waiting for a successor to Esa-Pekka Salonen. This hot young winderkind jumped at the chance.

    But if the plan is for him to one day succeed Sir Simon Rattle in Berlin, well, in retrospect, last night's Mahler was so hot that parts of it were nearly tropical! I wonder what the Central Europeans would think of that.

    But we get ahead of ourselves. Berlin would be years away. I know I'll enjoy watching Dudamel mature along the way.

    (I regret I haven't time here to write of the other fine music on the program.)

    In Chicago, during the long and loud applause, Dudamel pulled a kind-of "Roberto Begnini at the Oscars" celebration. He bounded into the orchestra, embraced his soloists, one after the other, so happy for them, so bonded to them, so proud of what man can accomplish ensemble. He joyfully raised both fists triumphantly in the air. If anyone there would have dared to utter, the oft-heard lament "classical music is dying" - you would not have been able to hear it or believe it.

    For now, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has Dudamel and he'll be good for them. He's the real thing and a good fit for the L.A. media, and "the scene."

    I believe most people at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts would say, "Oh, would that he were ours."


    Andrew has another fine take on Dudamel here
    and a delightful/insightful audio interview (recorded pre L.A. announcement) here.
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    L.A. vs. Chicago?
    Ambition, muses and Olympic games.

    Dudamel to LA.

    The hot 26 year old Venezuelan conductor believes he'll find happiness in L.A.

    Meanwhile the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is still looking for a music director since Daniel Barenboim stepped down ten months ago. Critic Andrew Patner, in this passionate and well-reasoned article and review of Dudamel's debut last Thursday with the Chicago Symphony, wanted the CSO to go after the Venezuelan.

    "Let's hope that they (the CSO board members) are carrying pens and contract paper to share with Dudamel before he leaves town."

    Well, either they didn't take the caps off their pens fast enough, or they weren't interested, or, once again in the arts, L.A. beat Chicago.

    They took the film industry away from us years ago, then the title of "second city;" is their orchestra going to eclipse ours? In architecture, leaders who 100 years ago would have probably lived in "wild west Chicago" today live and work in the exciting and still-defining-itself city of the angels.

    Looking for a music director, it doesn't hurt L.A.'s orchestra at all that they perform in

    the new and fabulous Disney Hall designed by Frank Gehry.

    That's a much better place to work (and to listen to music) than is

    Chicago's Symphony Center, (Daniel H. Burnham, 1904), a place many of us put up with to hear great music, but don't love.

    Chicago needs to be more ambitious to stay near the top in culture. We need to realize more projects like Millennium Park (with its own fantastic Gehry-designed outdoor music venue.) I wish that rather than renovate Orchestra Hall as the CSO did a few years ago, we'd have built a new one.

    L.A. is ambitious today, competing with New York, the way Chicago was in the very late 1800's, when Chicago built Adler and Sullivan's Auditorium Theater.

    Speaking of Adler and Sullivan, cultural historian Tim Samuelson tells the story that not long after Symphony Center, ne' Orchestra Hall opened and the acoustics were less than hoped, they brought in Louis Sullivan to see if he could improve the acoustics. Dankmar Adler, the real acoustician in the firm was already gone to the great echo chamber in the sky. The Orchestra officials asked Louis Sullivan, "What be the cost to improve Orchestra Hall?" To which he replied, "What would be the cost of six sticks of dynamite?"

    - + - + - +

    And speaking of L.A. and ambition, in a week we'll find out which US city gets to compete worldwide for the Olympics. The USOC officials were taken to Chicago's very ambitious Millennium Park, and all around town. On Saturday they'll let us know how impressed they were.

    Chicago is competing against -- Los Angeles.

    "I am an American, Chicago-born."
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    "Gimme those ol' time spaces,
    they're wood enough for me."

    After our palooza at Unity Temple, we were invited for drinks in the
    Avery Coonley Playhouse. Lovingly restored and cared for over many years by the charming owners of the house, we had a grand time.

    And I felt wright at home. Something about the architecture, something about the wood,

    something about
    the playful windows.

    I've been looking at Wright houses since childhood and they always uplift me, and at the same time make me feel rooted, cultured and inspired. I like their east-meets-west sensibility.

    There've been times in life when I've been far from home, and I'd seek out a Wright building to look at, often at a corner, or the eaves, or the thin long bricks; it'd bring me back home, back to the prairie on which I was raised.

    Now I live in a high-rise Mies machine and I love it, but I remember when a friend bought a Chicago townhouse and I walked down the driveway to the front door, and stood in front of that wooden door, with bushes on both sides, put my hand on the knob, and as soon as I was let in, I was immediately in her domestic wood-lined space. All I could think was, "Mies van der Who?" I thought, "I'd rather live in organic architecture than in a machine."

    Frank Lloyd Wright was famously called "America's greatest nineteenth century architect" by Philip Johnson, well after the
    nineteenth had ended. it was meant as an insult and I used to smile at it, but now I understand how hand-crafted spaces with organic materials can comfort the soul in deep ways.

    They can reassure us. Wright homes take us back to a more innocent time, a childlike time (certainly the Coonley playhouse designed for little kids does that!) When we were more horizontal, crawling almost, before we stood erect.

    When I lived in Paris, I used to long to see that city before the intrusions put in after World War II. In a way, being inside a work by Frank Lloyd Wright is like that. You are encompassed by a more compassionate world. You experience wood and clay and light and colors, and hearth. Contemporary edginess, keep out! Wright's aesthetic is based on a deep understanding of the human soul, and on satisfying that. Or at least on satisfying his soul, (and aesthetic and ego,) and thus by extension, if we are willing, ours.

    So I'm not at all surprised that Douglas Anders of the very fine Frank Lloyd Wright newsblog writes of his recent visit to the FLW-influenced
    Alden B. Dow Home and Studio,
    From five seconds after you enter the Dow house until you leave, you flip between overwhelming feelings of awe and wonder, and a profound sense of comfort and rightness — as if you just returned home to the place that has been your home for decades.
    Read more, and link to the photos (as good as the writing) here.

    Makes me love everybody.
    Makes me love everybody.
    Makes me love everybody.

    And it's good enough for me.

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