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April 2016 events calendar for Chicago

Plan your April in Chicago with our events calendar of the best things to do, including concerts, theater openings and art exhibits

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Lincoln Park

So long as it's not one of those Aprils cursed by snowstorms, it's finally safe to crawl out of winter hibernation and go on an Easter egg hunt. Celebrate the arrival of spring by pigging out on sizzling dishes with fellow pork enthusiasts at the annual Baconfest. Get out and see the folks behind your new favorite records, including shows from Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Iron Maiden. Kickstart your spring with the help of our April events calendar for Chicago.`

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2016

Featured events in April 2016

Baconfest

Bacon lovers rejoice! Baconfest is coming back to Chicago with more bacon than ever. Current attendees include Black Dog Gelato, The Duck Inn, Xoco Wicker Park, Celeste, Stan's Donuts and more. Each participating restaurant and brewery is offering a bacon dish or drink, so loosen your belt and you'll be in bacon heaven.

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UIC Forum , Near West Side Saturday April 30 2016 - Monday May 2 2016

Shamrock Shuffle

Critics' pick

Shake off winter with this 8K through Grant Park. Each participant receives a T-shirt, a medal and access to the post-race party, featuring live music and refreshments.

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Grant Park , Loop Sunday April 3 2016

Chicago Latino Film Festival

Critics' pick

In its 32nd year, the venerable Latino Film Fest offers a wide selection of features, documentaries and shorts from throughout the Spanish-speaking world. For a full schedule of screenings, check out the festival's website.

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AMC River East 21 , Streeterville Friday April 8 2016 - Thursday April 21 2016

Antiques, Garden & Design Show

Break out of your winter-inspired funk with a jolt of spring. A blue-and-white motif centers this year's Antiques, Garden & Design Show, which includes a lecture series about gardening from experts in the field, as well as beautiful display gardens and objects. A preview event the Thursday prior provides priority shopping and complimentary valet parking for attendees.

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Chicago Botanic Garden , Glencoe Thursday April 14 2016 - Sunday April 17 2016

Bach Week Festival

It's Bach! The classical music festival enters another season with a series of concerts showcasing the compositions of the Baroque composer, as played by the Bach Week Festival Chamber Orchestra (a classical music supergroup comprised of players from the city's best orchestras) and the Bach Week Festival Chorus. A Friday night candlelight concert includes gourmet chocolates and a glass of champagne.

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Music Institute of Chicago, Nichols Concert Hall , Evanston Friday April 22 2016 - Friday May 6 2016

Champion of Trees 10K Run

Make like the Lorax and speak for the trees by running during this sixth annual 10K run, a key part of the Morton Arboretum's Arbor Day celebration. The course follows the east side of the arboretum's main route through USATF-certified terrain. The run also includes a complimentary post-race beer, food and a free T-shirt. Registration is required.

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Morton Arboretum , Lisle Sunday April 24 2016

Vintage Garage

Critics' pick

Shop from up to 100 vintage vendors selling everything from furniture to clothes to vinyl in an Uptown parking garage on the third Sunday of each month from April to October. Dont' miss your last chance to load up on everything retro this year.

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5051 N Broadway Sunday April 17 2016

U-505: In-depth Experience

The only German submarine captured by the U.S. Navy during the second World War is on display in a special before-hours exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Walk around the decomissioned sub wiht U.S veterans, who will be on-hand to answer any questions about the U-505. Coffee and tea will be served before the tour.

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Museum of Science and Industry , Hyde Park Saturday February 20 2016 - Sunday May 22 2016

Music Under Glass

The Garfield Park Conservatory's classical music concert series continues with a performance from pianist Gleb Ivanov, who will play works by Brahms, Debussy and Rachmaninoff in a two-hour program.

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Garfield Park Conservatory , Garfield Park Sunday April 24 2016

Randolph Street Market Festival

Critics' pick

More than 200 vendors hawk their antique housewares, furniture, ephemera, clothing and more at this indoor-outdoor festival. Stop in for vintage clothes and jewelry, a vinyl swap meet, a fancy food market and global goods bazaar or bring your own items for appraisal. This event typically occurs on the last weekend of each month. During the warm-weather months of May–September, the market adds an outdoor area, offering even more vintage shopping and a beer garden.

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Beaux Arts Plumbers Union Hall Building , Near West Side Saturday February 27 2016 - Sunday December 11 2016

Pinot Days

Dr. Steve Brule would approve of this festival of "sweet berry wine!" Visitors will be able to sample up to 150 wines from more than 60 producers from across the country.

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Navy Pier , Streeterville Saturday April 16 2016

Neighborhoods of the World

Critics' pick

Every Sunday at Navy Pier, Neighborhoods of the World showcases Chicago's most vibrant cultural communities with live music, authentic cuisine, dance performances and art. This year's nine-week series kicks off with Chinese New Year, then explores the traditions of Africa, Mexico, Greece and more. Sunday, February 21: Celebrate Chinese New Year Sunday, February 28: Celebrate Africa Sunday, March 6: Celebrate Italy Sunday, March 13: Celebrate Lithuania Sunday, March 20: Philippines Celebration Sunday, March 27: Greek Celebration Sunday, April 3: Celebrate Mexico Sunday, April 10: Celebrate Poland Sunday, April 17: Celebrate Amazing India

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Navy Pier , Streeterville Sunday February 21 2016 - Sunday April 17 2016

Chicago International Movies and Music Festival

Critics' pick

In its seveth year, CIMMfest expands after last year's sprawling affair spread to venues like the Metro, Concord, Double Door, City Winery, the Logan, Subterranean, Hideout, Empty Bottle, Concord and Lincoln Hall. The array of music-themed movies is frankly overwhelming. We recommend seeking out the retrospective of British director Julien Temple, especially Absolute Beginners and The Filth and the Fury, his Bowie and Sex Pistols flicks, respectively. Also of note: Electronic-psych band Chandeliers performs a live score to trippy cult Hungarian cartoon Son of the White Mare. The Devo documentary looks interesting, too. Beyond that, happy hunting.

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Logan Theatre Thursday April 14 2016 - Sunday April 17 2016

Concerts in April 2016

Amen Dunes

Critics' pick

Amen Dunes, the tripped-out bedroom-psych vehicle of Damon McMahon, takes the stage in support of a new effort, Love. He crafts lackadaisical psychedelic rock, with some nice melodies and scratchy violin as well as guitars and drums. If you're brave enough and you can find a patch that isn't too sticky, lie down on the floor and soak it up.

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Until Wed Apr 1

Father John Misty

Critics' pick

With a voice like a cactus, one man Band Joshua Tillman has managed to fill the void of his erstwhile group Fleet Foxes (what ever happened to them?). The bearded crooner brings windswept indie-folk from his new Sub Pop release, I Love You, Honeybear. He's the kind of artist who once stuffed a novella into the liner notes of a record. We're assuming the new one is not a concept album about the former Chicago Bears cheerleading squad, but who knows?

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Riviera Theatre , Uptown Thursday April 14 2016 - Friday April 15 2016

OK Go

Critics' pick

The playful power-pop quartet and masters of the viral music video return to their former hometown, bringing songs from its fourth album, Hungry Ghosts, along with "Here It Goes Again" (the treadmills), "This Too Shall Pass" (the Rube Goldberg device), "This Too Shall Pass" (the Notre Dame marching band hidden in a field). Go watch the stunning optical illusions. They are the Cheap Trick of the YouTube era.

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Until Fri Apr 3

Wand

Critics' pick

Los Angeles’ Wand released their fuzzed–out psych–rock debut on Ty Segall's God? Records in 2014, and those music fans who like Segall's more far–out excursions should defintely cotton to Ganglion Reef. Like–minded hooligans Heaters open.

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Until Sat Nov 7

Jessie Ware

Critics' pick

On her debut, Devotion, the breathy British crooner brings buttery Sade sexuality to dubstep, building a bridge between Adele and James Blake. In 2014, she returned with grander ambitions, teaming on Tough Love with wunderkind pop producer Benny Blanco, who crafts candy bangers for Katy Perry. Thankfully, the vibe remains understated and downtempo. Bring a date. If not, go home with one.

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Until Mon Apr 6

Hookworms

Critics' pick

Leeds–based neo–krautrockers Hookworms ride their motorik grooves into the Empty Bottle on the heels of November's sophomore release, The Hum, an apt title given the quintet's penchant for drone–y but danceable rock.

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Until Fri Apr 10

Nosaj Thing + Clark

Critics' pick

LA-based Jason Chung crafts synthetic, ambient hip-hop as Nosaj Thing. Expect some new tracks thrown in among tracks from his debut LP Drift. He's produced beats for Chance and Kendrick, but is dreamy by his lonesome, too. Opening is Warp Records veteran Clark, who stunned us with his recent self-titled release, which sounds like the used future of Blade Runner.

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Until Fri Apr 10

Twin Shadow

Critics' pick

Since George Lewis Jr. introduced himself to the public as North Brooklyn's one-man laptop act Twin Shadow, he's added a live band to the fray and made for some kind of indie-Prince, slick-dance-ballad endeavor—which is to say that it's awesome. He recently signed with Warner Bros. to complete his delayed Eclipse, so be on the lookout for sparkly new jams in 2015.

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Until Fri Apr 10

Caribou

Critics' pick

If you liked 2010's Swim, then Caribou's new album of pure, exacting electronica will make your heart sing. It's intimate, ambitious and certainly not for everyone; too slow and strange to dance to, Our Love forces a more concentrated appreciation of its soulful tribute to love. Live, Dan Snaith turns his intimate electronica into mesmerizing motorik. Bliss out.

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Until Sat Apr 11

José González + Ólöf Arnalds

Critics' pick

A delightful pairing of graceful, minimalist chamber-folk from Scandinavia, this bill brings González, who's haunting and hushed Swedish pop won new fans in Ben Stiller's Walter Mitty movie, and the mystical domestic Icelandic charms of Arnalds, who has a voice like an elf knitting you a sweater. González drops his first LP in eight years in early 2015, Vestiges & Claws, while Arnalds released the ornate Palme in 2014.

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Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago , Hyde Park Monday March 21 2016
See more April 2015 concerts

Festivals in April 2016

Chicago Latino Film Festival

Critics' pick

In its 31st year, the venerable Latino Film Fest offers a wide selection of features, documentaries and shorts from throughout the Spanish-speaking world. For a full schedule of screenings, check out the festival's website.

Read more
AMC River East 21 , Streeterville Friday April 8 2016 - Thursday April 21 2016

CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights

Critics' pick

Vinyl lovers can sift through thousands of records, including rare finds, at this annual event hosted by CHIRP Radio. Enjoy sets from local DJs, a cup of joe from Dark Matter Coffee and food from Moxee American Kitchen as you dig through crate in search of that elusive original pressing of Frank Zappa's Hot Rats. If you already have too many records, come for the live Chic-A-Go-Go dance party, CHIRP music trivia or a miniature First Time storytelling session.

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11 Apr 2015

Lake FX Summit + Expo

Critics' pick

Produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the inaugural Lake FX Expo + Summit will give practicing artists and creative professionals a place to meet and learn more about their craft. The four-day conference will feature keynotes by industry leaders, workshops, networking opportunities and showcases of local music and film. Confirmed guests include Sire Records founder Seymour Stein and a Second City creative team.

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Chicago Cultural Center , Loop Friday May 13 2016 - Sunday May 15 2016

Macy's Flower Show

Find bouquets, finely manicured gardens and more at this annual spring event at Macy's. 

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Macy's , Loop Sunday March 20 2016 - Sunday April 3 2016

Chicago International Movies and Music Festival

Critics' pick

In its seveth year, CIMMfest expands after last year's sprawling affair spread to venues like the Metro, Concord, Double Door, City Winery, the Logan, Subterranean, Hideout, Empty Bottle, Concord and Lincoln Hall. The array of music-themed movies is frankly overwhelming. We recommend seeking out the retrospective of British director Julien Temple, especially Absolute Beginners and The Filth and the Fury, his Bowie and Sex Pistols flicks, respectively. Also of note: Electronic-psych band Chandeliers performs a live score to trippy cult Hungarian cartoon Son of the White Mare. The Devo documentary looks interesting, too. Beyond that, happy hunting.

Read more
Logan Theatre Thursday April 14 2016 - Sunday April 17 2016

Baconfest

Bacon lovers rejoice! Baconfest is coming back to Chicago with more bacon than ever. Current attendees include Black Dog Gelato, The Duck Inn, Xoco Wicker Park, Celeste, Stan's Donuts and more. Each participating restaurant and brewery is offering a bacon dish or drink, so loosen your belt and you'll be in bacon heaven.

Read more
UIC Forum , Near West Side Saturday April 30 2016 - Monday May 2 2016

Chicago Taco Takedown

Get ready to stuff your face with meats wrapped in carbs at the Chicago Taco Takedown, where local chefs will attempt to create the ultimate version of this ubiquitous Mexican dish.

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19 Apr 2015

Chicago Improv Festival

Critics' pick

The 18th annual Chicago Improv Festival celebrates the art of "yes, and..." with a week of off-the-cuff performances at various venues, featuring local talent as well as national performers.

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Various venues , Chicago Monday May 2 2016 - Sunday May 8 2016

Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival

Head to the Chicago French Market for a day full of small-batch food, beer, spirits and wine from close to 100 culinary artisans. The free event includes tastings of artisan cheese, bread, beer, wine, confections and more.

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25 Apr 2015

NFL Draft Town

Critics' pick

Even if you can't get inside the NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre, fans will still be able celebrate their favorite teams at Draft Town in Grant Park. This free event will feature flag football competitions, a skydive simulator, a Super Bowl memorabilia museum and a bar serving up adult beverages. All 32 NFL teams will have houses where fans can gather and purchase exclusive merchandise.

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Until Sat May 2

Free events in April 2016

Macy's Flower Show

Find bouquets, finely manicured gardens and more at this annual spring event at Macy's.

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Macy's , Loop Sunday March 20 2016 - Sunday April 3 2016

The Paper Machete

Critics' pick

Christopher Piatt hosts this weekly "live magazine," a cavalcade of culture, politics and wit featuring journalists, actors, comedians and musicians offering idiosyncratic reports on the news of the day.

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Until Sat Dec 26

Relax Attack Jazz Series

Critics' pick

Every Tuesday, the bar hosts a jazz artist to soothe guests who may be suffering from the beginning of the week blues. Settle in with a craft cocktail and watch one of the greats of the local avant-garde post-bop scene like bassist Matt Ulery.

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Until Tue Dec 29

"Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity"

The Museum of Contemporary Photography's latest exhibit explores the concept of the "Black Dandy", a popular culture phenomenon that defies stereotypical understandings of Black masculinity. Made up of photos depicting Black males mixing Victorian-era fashion with traditional African sartorial sensibilities, "Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity" highlights young men who are breaking the mold, one outfit at a time.

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Until Sun Jul 12

Schubas Gear Swap

Critics' pick

Have a dusty old amplifier or a neglected guitar that could use a new home? The Schubas Gear Swap is the perfect place to connect your instruments with a new owner, without having to deal with shady strangers on Craigslist. Revolution Brewing will be taking over to all of the taps at Schubas to fuel your deal-making, serving up rare and unreleased brews.

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07 Nov 2015

Soul Summit

Critics' pick

This killer monthly of dusty grooves and rare soul has been going strong for five years. The dance party is so popular it has its own line of apparel. Resident DJs Dave Matta, Duke Grip and Sloppy White regularly invite crate-digging experts like the Numero Group guys to spin dirty, deep 45s. Get down to vintage rhythms every third Saturday at Double Door.

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Until Sat Jan 16

NFL Draft Town

Critics' pick

Even if you can't get inside the NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre, fans will still be able celebrate their favorite teams at Draft Town in Grant Park. This free event will feature flag football competitions, a skydive simulator, a Super Bowl memorabilia museum and a bar serving up adult beverages. All 32 NFL teams will have houses where fans can gather and purchase exclusive merchandise.

Read more
Until Sat May 2

Theater in April 2016

Murder Ballad

Bailiwick Chicago turns part of the Flat Iron Arts Building into a downtown dive bar for the Chicago premiere of this immersive rock & roll musical by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash. Amanda Horvath, Chris Logan and Matthew Miles occupy the corners of a dangerous love triangle, with Camille Robinson as the slinky narrator. James Beaudry directs.

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Until Sat May 9

The Herd

Critics' pick

A 21st birthday party for Andy, whose severe developmental disabilitiies have had him living in a long-term care facility, reveals strains on his extended family in a warm comedy by British actor Rory Kinnear. Frank Galati directs the U.S. premiere with a cast that includes Francis Guinan, John Mahoney, Molly Regan, Lois Smith, Cliff Chamberlain and Audrey Francis.

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Until Sun Jun 7

An Issue of Blood

This premiere from Marcus Gardley was announced in January to take the place of a previously scheduled Gardley premiere, after the playwright felt an urgent need to address recent events including the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. An Issue of Blood, which Gardley only began writing in December, ventures back to 17th-century America and a woman known as Negro Mary in order to refllect upon current events. Chay Yew directs.

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Until Sun May 3

Carousel

Critics' pick

The Lyric Opera's spring staging of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel—the third in a series of five annual R&H productions—stars Steven Pasquale and Laura Osnes as Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan. Also in the principal cast are Jenn Gambatese (Maria in Lyric's 2014 The Sound of Music) and opera star Denyce Graves, who's set to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" as Nettie Fowler, along with Matthew Hydzik (Enoch Snow), Tony Award winner Jarrod Emick (Jigger Craigin), and multiple Tony nominees Charlotte d’Amboise (Mrs. Mullin) and Tony Roberts (Starkeeper). Rob Ashford directs.

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Until Sun May 3

Martyr

A teenage boy unaccountably adopts extreme fundamentalist Christian views, to the consternation of his mother and teachers and the potential danger of his fellow students. Joanie Schultz directs the U.S. premiere of a drama by German playwright Marius von Mayenburg (The Ugly One).

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Until Sat May 23

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Rome if you want to: House slave Pseudolus tries to make a match for his master to earn his freedom in the 1962 musical comedy loosely based on the plays of Plautus. The first Broadway outing to feature both music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Forum completes Porchlight Music Theatre's all-Sondheim season. Michael Weber directs.

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Until Sun May 24

Art and dance in April 2016

"Spreading Devotion: Japanese and European Religious Prints"

The invention of print made religious images and texts available to a wider audience, resulting in beautiful books and pamphlets that combined scripture with intricate art. The Art Institute's new exhibition examines religious prints from the East and the West, including woodblock prints of patron saints and Japanese deities.

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Until Sun Jun 21

"Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity"

The Museum of Contemporary Photography's latest exhibit explores the concept of the "Black Dandy", a popular culture phenomenon that defies stereotypical understandings of Black masculinity. Made up of photos depicting Black males mixing Victorian-era fashion with traditional African sartorial sensibilities, "Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity" highlights young men who are breaking the mold, one outfit at a time.

Read more
Until Sun Jul 12

Ragamala Dance + Rudresh Mahanthappa: Song of the Jasmine

Critics' pick

South Indian dance and music ensemble Ragamala Dance Company collaborate with jazz saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa on this interpretation of work by Tamil mystic poet Andal. "Song of the Jasmine" incorporates traditional costumes and dances, exploring the spiritual and sensual underpinnings of Indian culture.

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Until Sun Apr 12

"Joffrey Ballet: New Works"

Critics' pick

The Joffrey Ballet closes its 2014-2015 season with a mixed repertory program at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. The showcase includes the Chicago premiere to "In Creases," a ballet by choreographer Justin Peck set to the music of Philip Glass. "Liturgy" by Christopher Wheeldon, "Evenfall" by Nicolas Blanc and "Incantations" by Val Caniparoli will also be performed.

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Until Sun May 3

"Liz Larner"

Los Angeles sculptor Liz Larner presents her first Chicago installation in more than a decade, displaying two of her most recent sculptures on the Art Institute's Bluhm Family Terrace.

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Until Sun Sep 27

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