The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now. That’s the title of the new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s a euphonious blend of the visual and the aural. It celebrates 50 years of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a group always dedicated to progressive sounds.
I’m glad to see the MCA continuing their exploration of the confluence of art and music, as they did with the exciting David Bowie Is exhibit last fall. This exhibit is a little more low-key but it displays paintings and photographs that represent the visualization of jazz and depictions of AACM from its beginnings to now.
In addition to two-dimensional art, there are exciting sculptural exhibits, such as the stage set showing the huge range of instruments, especially percussion, that the AACM played. Two of the original AACM members collaborated with a sound designer to create “Rio Negro II,” a roomful of bamboo and rain sticks, chimes and robotic instruments. It’s a sight and sound to behold and enjoy.
You’ll also see archival materials such as record jackets, posters and brochures. I especially liked the display, “Speak Louder,” Sound Suits created by Nick Cave (no, not the Australian rocker–this one is the artist and fashion designer). They’re beautiful and functional.
The title of the exhibit is drawn from a book by Chicago music writer John Litweiler. My reviews are here and here. The exhibit price is included with the cost of admission. Musical performances are scheduled for some dates during the exhibit, which runs until Nov. 22. It’s an intriguing and well-curated exhibit, so support your local art museum!
A great theater experience, plus some cartoon art and memories of the Bauhaus. The finishing touch was a Steve Earle concert. Am I lucky to live in Chicago or what?
Terminus at Interrobang Theatre Project
Mark O’Rowe is one of the new generation of Irish playwrights whose work was first seen in the 1990s. In Terminus, being presented by Interrobang Theatre Project, he displays his fascination with language and his passion for words. Terminus isn’t so much a play as a series of stories, intertwined in monologues by three characters, known only as A, B and C. Their stories, set in the streets of Dublin, begin separately and gradually become more connected, until they are finally merged in a glorious fantasy of blood, sweat, tears and sex. That’s how my review of Terminus begins. It’s a terrific play with thrilling language. Truly a treat to listen to. I recommend it highly.
Modern Cartoonist: Daniel Clowes exhibit at MCA
Daniel Clowes is a well-known graphic novelist, who has published nearly 50 books and magazines. Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes is his current exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which runs until October 13. The show is beautifully designed and curated and has many lovely little graphic surprises.
It was very interesting to see the progression and process of Clowes’ work, sometimes from sketch through inking and printing. For some publications, a series of pen and ink on tissue pages was shown. Since so much art today is created on the computer, it’s fascinating to see so many of Clowes’ pages drawn by hand on paper.
Image: Collection of Daniel Clowes. Courtesy of the artist and Oakland Museum of California
Chicago’s Bauhaus Legacy at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
It’s been years since I visited this little gem of a museum on Chicago Avenue in Ukrainian Village. Do not think it’s only about Ukrainian art; it’s really a center for modern and contemporary art. The Bauhaus exhibit is fabulous and it’s open through this Sunday, September 29. If you are interested in modernism, you don’t want to miss it.
The legacy starts with Lazslo Moholy-Nagy moving to Chicago to establish the US version of the famous German citadel of design. The Bauhaus’ existence was threatened in the 1930s by Hitler’s aversion to modern art. Moholy-Nagy was followed by other artists and designers who moved to Chicago (including Mies van der Rohe). The New Bauhaus went through many name changes and locations and in 1949 became part of the IIT Institute of Design.
The exhibit includes about 150 pieces by 90 artists and designers. Work includes painting, sculpture, photography, architecture plans, furniture and design pieces. A lovely example of the latter is a bar of Dove soap, designed by three students in 1952 as part of a special project funded by Lever Brothers. Dove still uses the same shape for its soap bars. (The original carved wooden prototype is on show at the Chicago History Museum.)
In addition to the main exhibit in the west gallery, the east gallery includes Bauhaus work from the institute’s permanent collection. There’s also a very interesting wall that shows the birth and development of the Ukrainian institute.
I’m going to write a feature on the institute for Gapers Block and I’ll provide a link to it here when I do.
Steve Earle and the Dukes played a great concert at the Vic Saturday. The setlist included many of his fine old songs as well as tracks from his new album, The Low Highway. His band is made up of four musicians: a drummer, upright bass player, lead guitarist and fiddler/mandolin player. Earle plays a number of stringed instruments himself (guitar, mandolin, banjo) and sings lead vocals. Many of his songs (and his occasional patter between songs) involve social commentary. Here are a few lines from the song “The Low Highway.”
Heard an old man grumble and a young girl cry
A brick wall crumble and the white dove fly
A cry for justice and a cry for peace
The voice of reason and the roar of the beast
And every mile was a prayer I prayed
As I rolled down the low highway.
His novel–I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive–is on my reading list and coming up soon.