Arts Calendar, 11/12-11/18


Deeply Rooted: Touch
Deeply Rooted Dance Theater will perform the world premiere of artistic director Kevin Iega Jeff’s “Touch” this Friday at the Harold Washington Cultural Center. Set to the music of artists including Mavis Staples, Nikki Giovanni, Nina Simone, and Dvorak, Jeff says that the show’s “sculptured images are sensual and intimate, reflecting love realized through body to body and soul to soul connections.” Also premiering is associate artistic director Gary Abbott’s “53 Inhale” and Nicole Clarke-Springer’s “Nine.” Deeply Rooted, whose modern dance performances are based in African-American traditions of storytelling, will also perform Jeff’s signature 1991 piece “Church of Nations,” which questions the notion of fighting wars in the name of God. Harold Washington Cultural Center, 4701 S. Martin Luther King Dr. November 13-14, Saturday-Sunday, 7:30pm. $25-45. (Robin Peterson)

The Mystery of Irma Vep
With an anagram in its title (Irma Vep = vampire), Charles Ludlam’s two-act “The Mystery of Irma Vep” takes wordplay seriously. Or at least as seriously as the campy, fast-paced play treats anything: It satirizes genres from gothic horror to Victorian “penny dreadful” melodrama to classic film, and employs many sound cues, special effects, and quick costume changes (just two actors–Erik Hellman and Chris Sullivan–play all eight characters). Sean Graney, founder of the Hypocrites theater company, directs this new production, for which Court Theater commissioned the creation of its own crossword puzzle. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. November 12-December 13. (773)753-4472. $32-56/$24 students. (Robin Peterson)

D’Est (From the East)
Omitting dialogue and commentary, Chantal Akerman lets the landscape speak for itself in “D’Est” (1993), filmed over the course of a journey from East Germany to Moscow shortly after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Akerman says she filmed “everything that touched me,” and the resulting series of images and ambient sounds create a hauntingly vivid sense of place. Cleverly juxtaposed and symbolic shots–such as a billboard in the shape of an upended cross and a final, sweeping shot of a crowded train terminal–offer viewers food for thought in lieu of a more distinct narrative. “D’Est” captures Eastern Europe in a moment of transition, between a failed revolution and an uncertain future. Film Studies Center, room 307, Cobb Hall, 5811 Ellis Ave. November 13. Friday, 7pm. (773)702-8596. Free. (Robin Peterson)

eta Creative Arts, Chicago’s premiere Afrocentric theatre, presents a work by Daniel Beaty, creator of the one-man play “Emergence-SEE!”, which recently finished a sold-out extended run off-Broadway. The center of “Resurrection” is a 10-year-old boy who affects the lives of five men: the owner of a health food store in the projects, the bishop of a megachurch, a music executive, a graduating high school senior, and an ex-con. Director Cheryl Lynn Bruce won multiple awards for her direction of Congo Square Theatre’s 2001 production of “From the Mississippi Delta.” eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. Through November 15. Thursday-Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 3pm and 7pm. (Sam Feldman)


14th Annual Asian American Jazz Festival
Launched by Tatsu Aoki, a key player in the national Asian-American jazz scene and one of Chicago’s most active performers, the Asian American Jazz Festival kicks off its fourteenth annual concert series on Thursday and continues Friday and Saturday. The first night takes place at Katerina’s in Irving Park and features Chicago pianist Bradley Parker-Sparrow and a jam session with Asian Improv Records. Friday relocates to the Velvet Lounge for the Ritwik Banerji Quintet and the Jeff Chan Trio. Saturday night brings together bigshots Jeff Parker, Francis Wong, and Tatsu Aoki. Each night’s concert is also a CD-release party for one of the headlining groups. Katerina’s, 1920 W. Irving Park; Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak. November 12—14. Thursday, 8:30pm; Friday and Saturday, 9:30pm. Opening night $8; $15. (773)348-7592. (Brandon Hopkins)

Sounds of Faith: An Evening of Sacred Sound
Rockefeller Chapel hosts a fascinating concert bringing together music from the Islamic, Christian, and Jewish traditions. Monastic chant, popular Gospel hymns, organ music Sephardic folk tunes, and Muslim worship music will echo, one after the other, amongst the columns. Interestingly, the concert also features liturgical but non-musical sounds such as shofar blowing, Quran recitations, and call-to-prayers. The event was assembled by the Harran Productions Foundation, which is also working on a documentary on the topic of sacred music. Journalist Bill Kurtis introduces this evening of spiritual exchange. Rockefeller Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave. November 15. Sunday, 7:30pm. $10/$5 students. (Brandon Hopkins)

Quin Kirchner Quartet
Pilsen’s Skylark bar offers the ideal late-night snacking scenario: tater tots. Aside from the capacious menu and a charismatic atmosphere, the bar is home to a Monday night jazz series, allowing you to drop by and imbibe jams from a rotating cast of Chicago’s creative musicians. This week’s guest is the Quin Kirchner Quartet, led by the drummer of the afro-beat group Nomo, whose 2006 release “New Tones” earned them mass critical approval. Saxophonists Tony Barba and Robin Bourdreaux and bassist Jake Vinsel complete the ensemble. The Skylark, 2149 S. Halsted St. November 16. Monday, 10pm. Free. (Brandon Hopkins)


Close Encounters
Featuring work by eight artists from New Zealand and Chicago, “Close Encounters” addresses the continuity of tradition in the midst of multicultural exchange. The show is a response to events that occurred at the Field Museum in 2008 surrounding the use of a nineteenth-century Maori marae (meeting house), when the tribe whose ancestors carved the structure requested that it be used as a place of meeting and discussion instead of as a simple exhibition piece. The artists brought together for “Close Encounters” examined that request through their artwork. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Through January 24. Monday-Thursday, 9am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)324-5520. (Sarah Pickering)

Ryan Mandell meditates on the idea of wealth and its ability to construct reality. A graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, his sculptural work has a visible architectural influence. In this new show, he postulates a conception of the future, dominated by hyperbolic buildings and landscapes. Inspired by extravagant libraries, palaces, and Graceland, Mandell confronts the connection between money and power from a unique, literally structural perspective. Eastern Expansion Gallery, 244 W. 31st St. Through November 12. By appointment only. (773)837-0145. (Sarah Pickering)

Artist Makeba Kedem-DuBose was raised in a public housing project on the West Side of Chicago. She calls her family and friends from that area her “tribe.” Having cultivated an appreciation of art from a Jesuit priest, the artist developed her own style. Blending African ancestral traditions with her Judeo-Mystic religion, she strives to let her work reach out to viewers and pull them in. The pieces are bright and uplifting, and range from the abstract to hyper-stylized representations. eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. Chicago Ave. Through November 15. Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm. (773)752-3955. (Sarah Pickering)

This group show features the video work of 18 artists from around the world presenting their view of Shanghai. Each artist spent time in China, observing and absorbing the culture firsthand. The pace at which the city is growing and changing makes it a suitable subject for this particular medium; all videos will be on display in HPAC’s Black Box Gallery. Some pieces choose to contrast older notions of a “mystical orient” with more modern representations of globalization. Very much an exhibit of our generation, this show celebrates the growth of this global city, while simultaneously questioning its sustainability. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Through December 13. Monday-Thursday, 10am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)324-5520. (Sarah Pickering)

Polonia and Other Fables
Allan Sekula’s “Polonia and Other Fables” is an endeavor in documentary photography aimed at exposing the “social impact of global economics” in Chicago, according to the curatorial statement. His images focus mainly on Chicago’s labor community and large Polish immigrant population. The exhibition is complemented by samples of Sekula’s writings, which are as essential to his art as his photographic pursuits. As is characteristic of Sekula’s work, the exhibition is critical of the medium of photography while being decidedly photojournalistic. For this story, at least, Sekula can rely on his images to do the telling. Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis Ave. Through December 13. Tuesday-Friday, 10am-5pm; Saturday-Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)702-8670. (Leah Reisman)

The cities and small towns of the Midwest have never been a part of the mainstream art world, last breaking through with the unsentimental, deceptively folksy murals of Thomas Hart Benton. The Smart’s “Heartland” presents contemporary art from this geographic center and cultural periphery, featuring videos, photography, drawings, and site-specific installations made by artists from Kansas City to Detroit. Some works reference the expected imagery of the Midwest, whether real or stereotyped, such as Greely Myatt’s installation of a lawnmower with plant roots, while others treat less-localized personal and societal issues with a refreshing lack of New York-style narcissism. Originally shown at a museum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, to explain the culture of a people who elected Obama, this examination of familiar territory may yield surprises. Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. Through January 17. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 10am-4pm; Thursday 10am-8pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11am-5pm. (773)702-0200. (Helenmary Sheridan)

Joanne Trestrail: Piecework
Joanne Trestrail, an alumna of the Hyde Park Art Center’s ceramics classes, brings to the gallery a unique take on form. From a distance her pieces look like rocks, but upon closer inspection, they turn out to be crescendoing multilayered works. These are not stones to dismiss easily. Trestrail’s focus on the fundamental building blocks creates pieces that grow organically, recalling the stratigraphical storytelling of geology. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Through January 17. Monday-Thursday, 9am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)324-5520. (Tizziana Baldenebro)

Susan Aurinko curates an exhibit of works by Barbara Crane, who has had over 75 solo exhibitions internationally. A graduate of the IIT Institute of Design, she utilizes the same techniques she developed there over 40 years ago. According to a 2002 interview, her work is a quest to “eradicate previous habits of seeing and thinking.” The resulting abstractions appear simple, but often speak to a complex interaction between form and content. Kemper Room Art Gallery, Paul V. Galvin Library, Illinois Institute of Technology, 35 W. 33rd St. Through February 1. Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm; Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. Free. (312)567-5293. (Sarah Pickering)

The Hyde Park Art Center’s faculty displays a selection of their artwork that deals thematically with the process of memory. The exhibition uses a variety of media, including painting, photography, video, installations, and performance art, in an attempt to express personal experience in retrospect. Fact and fiction collide in these projects, all of which contain multiple layers and histories. An emphasis on process gives a constructive relevance to highly individualized pieces. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Through February 14. Monday-Thursday, 9am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)324-5520. (Sarah Pickering)

Rastros y Crónicas: The Women of Juarez
The unsolved murders of female factory workers in Ciudad Juárez, a border city in Mexico, are the subject of this powerful and at times personal exhibition. These violent crimes against over four hundred women have been documented for the past twenty-six years. Artists in the show are all women from the United States and Mexico, and their work will be accompanied by a series of discussions and lectures. National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. Through February 14. Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. (312)738-1503. (Sarah Pickering)