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April 2017 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 hibernation and start scouring new Chicago shops for lighter clothes, and maybe even pay a visit to a few Chicago beaches on one of the nicer days. Celebrate the arrival of spring with a trip to the patio at your favorite cocktail bar, start hashing out your warm weather plans and figure out a few things to do on a rainy day—you know what they say about April showers, don't you?

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2017

Featured events in April 2017

Chicago Humanities Festival: Springfest/17: Stuff

Chicago Humanities Festival wants to look at your "stuff" this spring. The festival's springtime lineup includes writers, politicians, and artists from all walks of life, including Sheryl Sandberg, Marie Kondo, Caitlyn Jenner, John Waters and many more. See a favorite author or broaden your horizons as the best and brightests take over Chicago at the end of April. 

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Various venues , Loop Until Sunday April 30 2017

Vintage Garage

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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Vintage Garage Chicago Flea Market , Uptown Sunday May 21 2017 - Sunday October 15 2017

Randolph Street Market Festival

Recommended

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 , West Loop Saturday April 29 2017 - Sunday December 17 2017
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Concerts in April 2017

Sheila E. + Morris Day and the Time

When Prince passed away, he left behind a towering musical legacy and a host of musicians who collaborated with him throughout his career. Drummer and singer Sheila E. played on Prince's Sign ‘O’ the Times, Black Album, and Lovesexy LPs while Minneapolis funk outfit Morris Day and the Time appeared in the film Purple Rain, which featured their song "Jungle Love." At Auditorium Theatre, the two acts join forces to pay tribute to his Purple Majesty with an evening of music and celebration.

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Until Sat Apr 1

Son Volt + Anders Parker

When Uncle Tupelo broke up in 1994, it's founding members embarked on very different paths. While Jeff Tweedy started Wilco and eventually broke away from his alt-country roots, Jay Farrar founded Son Volt and embraced traditional Americana. As its title suggests, the group's latest, Notes of Blue, adds some lonesome Mississippi melodies to the Farrar's musical vocabulary while comparing the state of the modern world to the trying times of the past. Versatile American singer-songwriter Anders Parker opens the evening.

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Until Sat Apr 1

Bastille

British synthpop act Bastille pumped up the melodrama on its 2013 debut, Bad Blood, updating the New Romantic polish of the ‘80s for the EDM generation. The group's latest LP, Wild World, ditches some of the throwback sheen in favor of more straightforward, guitar-driven alt-rock (though singer Dan Smith still retains his well-coiffed look).

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Until Mon Apr 3
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Chicano Batman + 79.5 + Sadgirl

Holy throwback soul! Dressed to the nines in matching suits, L.A. quartet Chicano Batman combine Brazilian Tropicalía with the effortless swagger of ‘70s soul music. The group's latest album, Freedom is Free, gives its retro tunes some contemporary context, with nods to political and social unrest amid the growling organ riffs and romantic lyrics.

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Until Fri Apr 7

The Psychedelic Furs + Robyn Hitchcock

Recommended

Melding moody post-punk melodies with glossy new-wave production, the Psychedelic Furs captured the shifting musical tides of the ’80s. Here, the English rockers return to the hometown of John Hughes, who named one of his seminal films after the group's songs, "Pretty in Pink." They haven't recorded any new album since reuniting in 2001, so you're gonna hear all of the hits. Prolific British singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock (who once fronted neo-psychedelic act the Soft Boys) opens the show.

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Until Sat Apr 8

Delicate Steve + Max and the Mild Ones

Few modern guitarists have a signature, but the colorful, sometimes-cartoonish riffs favored by Steve Marion are nearly unmistakable. As one man band Delicate Steve, he's created his own musical language, translating the joy of goofy, aimless noodling into succinct nuggets of joyful rock and roll. Local rockers Max and the Mild Ones open the show.

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Until Sun Apr 9
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Floating Points + JFDR

London producer Sam Shepherd isn't the first person to blend the tenets of jazz and electronic music. Recording under the moniker of Floating Points, Shepard uses the looping beats and motifs of electronic music as a source of inspiration for winding compositions that are performed rather than programmed. Joined by a small band, the live incarnation of Floating Points promises not only to replicate the warm tones of the its latest record Elaenia, but the human touch that defines it. Young Icelandic producer and singer JFDR (Björk is one of her biggest fans) opens the show.

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Until Sun Apr 9

John Mayer

Blues nerd, Deadhead and notorious guitar solo facial contortionist John Mayer returns to the United Center in support of his latest album, The Search for Everything. Attendees can expect three distinct sets throughout the evening: one with his full band, one solo and another as part of his blues rock trio. If you're still craving more guitar noodling, you can catch mayer when he plays Wrigley Field with Dead and Company this summer.

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Until Tue Apr 11

Tinariwen + Dengue Fever

Recommended

Made up of Tuaregs from the Sahara who perform in traditional robes and sing in French and Tamashek, Tinariwen effortlessly slips into entrancing desert blues grooves that transcend language boundaries. The band's latest album, Elwan, is filled with songs that reflect on political turmoil and the harsh realities of desert life, all without losing a sense of hope for the future. Los Angeles-based Dengue Fever, who create psychedelic rock inspired by Cambodian pop music, open the show.

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Until Tue Apr 11
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The Zombies

As part of the initial waves of the British Invasion, the Zombies mined the same blues and R&B influences as their peers before embracing psychedelia. Recorded at Abbey Road Studio on equipment used by the Beatles, Oracle and Odessey puts a baroque spin on the Zombie' lush vocal harmonies and pop sensibitlies. Here, the surviving members of the group celebrate the 50th anniversary of that record with an in-sequence performance—purportedly the final time it will play these songs.

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Until Fri Apr 14
See more April 2017 concerts

Festivals in April 2017

Chicago Humanities Festival: Springfest/17: Stuff

Chicago Humanities Festival wants to look at your "stuff" this spring. The festival's springtime lineup includes writers, politicians, and artists from all walks of life, including Sheryl Sandberg, Marie Kondo, Caitlyn Jenner, John Waters and many more. See a favorite author or broaden your horizons as the best and brightests take over Chicago at the end of April. 

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Various venues , Loop Until Sunday April 30 2017

7th Annual Flip Cup Tournament

Pretend graduation never happened and relive your glory days at Chicago Sport & Social Club's 7th Annual Flip Cup Tournament. Proceeds will benefit Junior Council and guests will get a 3-hour drink package when they sign up as a team of four. Wear your most frat-appropriate threads because the best dressed teams can win a special surprise and get a practice round, which should make it easier to win the $400 cash prize.

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Old Crow Smokehouse , Lake View Saturday April 29 2017

Chicago Improv Festival

Recommended

The 19th 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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Until Sun Apr 2
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Vintage Garage

Score an awesome Mid-century piece, impeccable 70's gear, or beef up your vinyl collection at this north side market in, yes, an Uptown parking garage. Markets run on the third Sunday of each month from April to October–each with a different theme. Next up: the "Midcentury Modern" market.

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Vintage Garage Chicago Flea Market , Uptown Sunday May 21 2017 - Sunday October 15 2017

Party Noire

Black millennial and their allies hit the dance floor at Promontory each month during Party Noire's signature day party, which provides an experience that is centered around joyful expression. Co-organizers Nickecia Alder, Lauren Ash and Rae Chardonnay combine their talents to craft thoughtful celebrations, complete with DJs, board games and plenty of opportunities to connect with peers. The parties have proved to be such a success that Party Noire has been asked to collaborate with local artists (like Jamilia Woods) to craft inclusive events that celebrate creativity and culture.

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The Promontory , Hyde Park Sunday May 28 2017
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Slo ’Mo

At this polysexual Logan Square dance-off, party purveyor Kristen Kaza and DJ Audio Jack drop the needle on love-drenched classics by Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Prince and the queen of lovers' rock, Sade. Admission is always free and the Whistler's capacity is limited, so there's usually a line out the door. Arrive early if you want to start grooving on the crammed dance floor ASAP.

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The Whistler , Logan Square Thursday May 18 2017 - Thursday June 15 2017

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 Until Sunday May 7 2017

Free events in April 2017

Free museum days at the best Chicago museums

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to spend a fortune in order to visit some of Chicago's best museums and cultural institutions. If you're willing to plan ahead, you can take in masterpieces at the Art Institute or gaze at tropical fish while strolling through Shedd Aquarium without spending a dime. You'll need to be an Illinois resident to take advantage of many of these offers, but that's one of the perks of living in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: Complete guide to Chicago museums

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By: Zach Long

Humboldt Park

Designed by William Le Baron Jenney in the mid-1800s and enhanced several years later by Jens Jensen, Humboldt Park was once the nation’s greatest public park, boasting acres of Prairie-style gardens, grazing animals and a meandering river scene. Though the animals are long gone, the park still offers extensive rose beds as well as tennis courts, an inland beach, baseball fields and bike paths.

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Humboldt Park
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Garfield Park Conservatory

Described as “landscape art under glass” when it opened in 1908, the conservatory, while being one of the largest in the world, also boasts revolutionary architecture. With the building’s haystack shape and walls of stratified stonework, landscape architect Jens Jensen considered the Fern Room in particular, with its “prairie waterfall”—a stone and water element within a glass structure—to be one of his greatest achievements. About 120,000 plants representing some 600 species occupy the conservatory’s 1.6 acres, and four times a year flower shows premiere to herald the change in seasons.

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East Garfield Park

Slo ’Mo

At this polysexual Logan Square dance-off, party purveyor Kristen Kaza and DJ Audio Jack drop the needle on love-drenched classics by Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Prince and the queen of lovers' rock, Sade. Admission is always free and the Whistler's capacity is limited, so there's usually a line out the door. Arrive early if you want to start grooving on the crammed dance floor ASAP.

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The Whistler , Logan Square Thursday May 18 2017 - Thursday June 15 2017

Deep Dish

This bimonthly body-positive Berlin bash, hosted by ubiquitous local drag performed Lusy Stoole, features deep house and free pizza. What more can you ask for in a dance party?

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Berlin , Lake View Monday May 1 2017 - Monday June 19 2017
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Newberry Library

The Newberry Library, founded in 1887, is an independent research library located right in the heart of the Gold Coast. From illuminated medieval manuscripts to the personal papers of local authors, the Newberry is home to an impressive collection of work. The library hosts exhibitions, theatrical performances, lectures, seminars, workshops and more. It is free and open to the public. 

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Rush & Division

Carrie Secrist Gallery

Carrie Secrist Gallery celebrated its 20th anniversary in early 2013 and over the past two decades has focused on established contemporary artists, with a recently renewed interest in adding new, emerging artists to its roster. Among our favorite works the gallery has exhibited are Kim Keever's water tank diorama photography; Megan Greene's recontextualized Audubon prints and Derek Chan's abstract paintings thoughtfully incorporating Native American symbolism.

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West Loop

PBR Bingo

On the first Monday of every month, Boiler Room turns into a hip, Logan Square nursing home for its monthly PBR Bingo night. Guests can grab a few slices, sip a beer and wait for their numbers to be called while competing for various Pabst Blue Ribbon-themed prizes.

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The Boiler Room , Logan Square Monday May 1 2017 - Monday December 4 2017
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"Klein / Olson"

The Renaissance Society closes out its current season with an exhibition of the work of German multimedia artist Astrid Klein and experimental photographer B. Ingrid Olson. The joint exhibit collects collage, sculpture and installation works by each of the artists, allowing viewers to compare the ways in which each artist examines the world around them.

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Renaissance Society , Hyde Park Until Sunday June 18 2017
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Theater in April 2017

The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz

Recommended

The House Theatre of Chicago revisits one of its earliest hits, Phillip Klapperich’s deconstructive 2005 take on Dorothy’s journey over the rainbow. This version's suitable for teens and tweens, but might be too dark for younger kids.

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Chopin Theatre , River West/West Town Until Sunday May 7 2017

The Lincoln Lodge

Recommended

Having relocated to Subterranean after the loss of its longtime space in the now-closed Lincoln Restaurant, the country's longest continuously operating home for alt comedy continues to be a fine place to see emerging stand-ups.

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Subterranean , Wicker Park Until Friday May 26 2017

Lewis Black

Recommended

Cranky, crotchety and left of center, Black hits bull's-eyes with his political comedy. He returns to the Chicago Theatre on his Rant, White and Blue Tour.

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Chicago Theatre , Loop Friday April 28 2017
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Cupid Has a Heart On

This long-running, lovey-dovey musical sketch show has found the perfect home in Stage 773's cabaret theater. It's refreshingly raunchy for date night, although its quaint take on dating in the age of social media feels a little rusty and outdated at times.

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Stage 773 , Lake View Saturday April 29 2017 - Saturday June 24 2017

Chicago Underground Comedy

Recommended

This outstanding night of comedy takes in four to five comics each week. Keep your eye on some of these folks: they're going places.

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Beat Kitchen , North Center Tuesday May 2 2017 - Tuesday April 24 2018

Congrats on Your Success

Recommended

Comedy review by Matt Byrne Since its start in 2012, stand-up comedy showcase Congrats on Your Success has steadily built up an audience of dedicated regulars, who pack every bit of available space in Logan Square's Uncharted Books. The show's loose, friendly vibe is reinforced by interactive bits and between-set segments that engage attendees with the show's hosts and producers, who describe their audience as "DTF."Lured by the promise of free, BYOB comedy (with some free beverages for those who show up early enough) located in a used bookstore just steps from the Logan Square Blue Line stop, these crowds are treated to sets from Chicago's comedy scene staples (past headliners include Liza Treyger and C.J. Sullivan, both of whom can be seen on Comedy Central) as well as many up-and-comers who rarely get stage time outside the open mic circuit. "Congrats has been a number of [comedians’] first showcase," explains producer Rebecca O'Neal. "We just book who we think is the funniest and who we think our audience will enjoy the most."This supportive approach makes things a bit riskier, and it can be easy to spot who's still figuring themselves out onstage. But few showcase audiences are as receptive and patient with performers as Congrats's. The producers are looking to spread COYS's freewheeling, BYOB spirit in 2014 with a series of free one-off shows, called Fun and Dones, held at other alternative venues.

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Uncharted Books , Logan Square Thursday May 4 2017 - Thursday March 1 2018
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Lewis Black

Recommended

Cranky, crotchety and left of center, Black hits bull's-eyes with his political comedy. He returns to the Chicago Theatre on his Rant, White and Blue Tour.

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Chicago Theatre , Loop Friday April 28 2017

TJ & Dave

Recommended

This two-man show puts master improvisers TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi together for an hour of long-form.

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iO The Mission , River North Wednesday May 3 2017 - Wednesday June 21 2017

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

Recommended

Funnily enough, the one time that director Victor Quezada-Perez inserts a direct reference to Donald Trump into this ghoulish incantation of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, the joke falls flat on its face. And the reason it does is because it’s wholly unnecessary. Bertolt Brecht’s satirical retelling of Hitler’s rise to power needs no outright tethering to the present political moment. The parallels are already frighteningly clear. As the titular, Capone-like mobster, Antonio Brunetti practically grabs the audience by their lapels and shakes them down. He imbues Ui with a violent, yet childlike charisma—equal parts insecure bluster and psychotic rage. As Ui rises, kill by kill, from a lowly Cicero gangster to absolute ruler of the Chicago-area cauliflower trade—each scene introduced by the play’s Master of Ceremonies (David Steiger) with its direct Third Reich corollary—Brunetti begins to practically drip with menace. Actors Casey Chapman and Kevin Webb also give standout turns as two of Ui’s chief flunkies, Roma (as in Ernst Rohm) and Gobola (Joseph Goebells). Chapman’s performance finds the beating heart at the center of his character, whereas Webb unearths the oozing black pustule at the center of his. Quezada-Perez’s area of expertise lies in European Clown technique, and sure enough this production boasts red noses, white faces, and pratfalls all around. The exaggerated comedic style pairs well with Brecht’s, let’s just say, likewise exaggerated rhetoric. It’s histor

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Trap Door Theatre , Bucktown Until Saturday April 29 2017
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Shakespeare in Love

Rachel Rockwell stages the Chicago premiere of Lee Hall’s play, adapted from the movie named Best Picture of 1998 at the Academy Awards. With backing from Disney Theatricals, it was first produced in London in 2014; The New York Times described it as “Shakespeare-flavored.”

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Chicago Shakespeare Theater , Streeterville Until Sunday June 11 2017
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Art and dance in April 2017

“#Aiweiwei”

Recommended

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was taking photos that bluntly confront political and social issues long before Twitter or Instagram was invented. You’ll find some of his best shots (including one of him giving the White House the bird) collected in this exhibit, which is based around diaristic photographs he took during the 1980s and '90s in New York and Beijing. 

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Museum of Contemporary Photography , Loop Until Sunday July 2 2017

Chicago Dance Month

Spanning the entire month of April, Chicago Dance Month 2017 highlights the diversity of the city’s dance scene. The slate includes a number of free events such as open rehearsals, site-specific performances or panel discussions and workshops. As far as ticketed performances go, check out offerings from Giordano Dance Chicago, Visceral Dance Chicago and the Joffrey Ballet, among others.

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Various locations throughout Chicago Until Sunday April 30 2017

“Whistler’s Mother: An American Icon Returns to Chicago”

"To me it is interesting as a picture of my mother; but what can or ought the public to care about the identity of the portrait?" James McNeill Whistler asked about his 1871 portrait, original entitled "Arrangement in Grey and Black." Appearing at the Art Institute for the first time in more than 60 years, Whistler's subtle but striking masterpiece anchors a new exhibition dedicated to the artist, featuring 25 of his works.

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Art Institute of Chicago , Grant Park Until Sunday May 21 2017
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“Merce Cunningham: Common Time”

Recommended

Dance is the domain of movement and feats of physicality—it's not an art form that immediately lends itself to being the subject of a largely static museum exhibition. The late dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham viewed the stage as a place where kinetic maneuvers could coalesce with other artistic disciplines, from visual installations to experimental music. The Museum of Contemporary Art’s "Common Time" exhibition (presented and curated in conjunction with a simultaneous Cunningham-focused exhibit at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota) expands upon this cooperative approach, focusing on Cunningham’s creative confidants. Common Time is largely an exhibition about collaboration, showcasing the work of the many artists, designers and composers who contributed to Cunningham’s innovative vision of dance performance. While there’s plenty of archival concert footage on display (most notably in a striking multi-screen video installation designed by longtime Cunningham Dance Company videographer Charles Atlas), the bulk of the collection is comprised of costumes, set dressings, sculptures and music that graced performances by Cunningham’s company throughout his career, demonstrating the choreographer’s constantly evolving aesthetic. Even if you’re not a dance aficionado, the central figures of "Common Time" will likely be familiar. The work of influential multimedia artist Robert Rauschenberg is a nearly constant presence, ranging from polka-dotted leotards to s

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Until Sunday April 30 2017

"L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters"

Immortalized on the walls of cafés, bistros and dorm rooms across the nation, vintage French posters are a decorative staple that date back to the late 1800s. The Driehaus Museum's latest exhibition presents 45 turn-of-the-century French posters from its collection, celebrating the affichomania (the "poster craze") that inspired art collectors to acquire these impressionistic creations from the streets of Paris.

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Richard H. Driehaus Museum , River North Until Sunday January 7 2018

“Eternal Youth”

Larry Clark’s infamous photograph series “Kids” (taken during the filming of the scandalous 1995 film of the same name) is the centerpiece of this exhibition, which examines the portrayal of youth in contemporary art. Grappling with the simultaneous innocent and sexualized depiction of young people, the MCA fills "Eternal Youth" with work by Dawoud Bey, Mona Hatoum, Thomas Hirschhorn, Jack Pierso and more.

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Until Sunday July 23 2017
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"MCA DNA: Riot Grrrls"

The MCA's latest exhibition in its ongoing DNA series confronts the gender inequality that still haunts the art world. Named after the ‘90s feminist punk movement, "Riot Grrrls" showcases paintings by notable female artists like Mary Heilmann, Charline von Heyl and Judy Ledgerwood. The exhibition also features work by younger artists, including Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and Amy Feldman.

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Until Sunday June 4 2017

"The Wall of Respect: Vestiges, Shards and Legacies"

As part of Chicago's Year of Public Art, the Chicago Cultural Center pays tribute to the Wall of Respect, a seminal mural that inhabited the side of a building at 43rd Street and Langley Avenue in 1967. Exhibit curators Romi Crawford, Abdul Alkalimat and Rebecca Zorach examine how the Organization of Black Arts and Culture designed and gathered artists to paint the mural, which depicted black leaders and icons.

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Chicago Cultural Center , Loop Until Sunday July 30 2017
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"If You Remember, I’ll Remember"

Reflect on the past at this group exhibition, which gathers works by contemporary artists such as Kristine Aono, Shan Goshorn, Samantha Hill, McCallum & Tarry, Dario Robleto and Marie Watt. The work on display invites visitors to reconcile with the persistence of war, racism and xenophobia throughout history, through pieces that depict humanity's worst impulses.

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Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art , Evanston Until Sunday June 18 2017
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Eileen B
Eileen B

Interested in supporting a non-profit organization of supporters and survivors of sexual abuse/assault?

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is hosted a walk on April 9th to raise awareness and collect donations for survivors to attend the 2016 SNAP Conference being hosted in Chicago.

Come out and walk for a great cause April!!!