Center Stage

Image courtesy the Smart Museum of Art

Jim Lutes

Through February 15. Renaissance Society, 773/702-8670. Painter Jim Lutes drifted in and out of Chicago at different stages of his life. In the early 1980s, while a student at the School of the Art Institute, Lutes produced his first mature body of work: paintings inspired by the decrepit, neon-spattered Milwaukee Avenue where he rented an apartment. Later he lived on the Southwest Side, and he returned once more in 1998 to teach at his alma mater. The Renaissance Society’s retrospective show notes the geographical shifts in Lutes’s work as well as the subtle evolution of his painting style from gritty cityscapes to more abstract lines and shapes.

Aaron Siskind: The Thing Itself

Through May 10. Smart Museum, 773/702-0200. Focusing on abstract details in nature and architecture, photographer Siskind presents them as consciously flat images to release them from their context. In this exhibit of Siskind’s early abstract work from the mid-20th century, photography is juxtaposed with the artist’s writings about his process.

The Wild Duck

January 15–February 15. Museum of Contemporary Art, 773/753-4472, 312/397-4010. Court Theatre offers a premiere production of the Ibsen classic. Staged at the MCA, Richard Nelson’s translation is the inaugural play in the Court’s commissioning program for new versions of classic works. Directed by artistic director Charles Newell, the play couples tragic secrets with comedy in the moving story of the Ekdal family.

Sergel Writer-in-Residence Mickle Maher

January 23. Reynolds Club First Floor Theater, 773/834-8524. Playwright and actor Mickle Maher gives a reading sponsored by the Committee on Creative Writing. Working in Chicago for more than 20 years, Maher, who is teaching a winter-quarter class on the process of adaptation, founded the city’s Theater Oobleck. His work has been performed at venues including Steppenwolf and Goodman Theatre as well as internationally.

University of Chicago Folk Festival

February 6–8. Mandel Hall, 773/702-7300. The 49th-annual folk festival offers a weekend of concerts, free workshops, dancing, and jam sessions. See the Folklore Society’s Web site for artists, ticket prices, and other information.


March 5–13. Francis X. Kinahan Third Floor Theater, 773/702-3414. Written by Greg Kotis, AB’88, and Mark Hollmann, AB’85, the 2001 musical Urinetown tells the story of a place where everyone—rich and poor alike—must pay to use the toilet. A Broadway success, the Tony Award–winning show pokes fun at the conventions of musical theater while creating its own meta-theatric hilarity. This winter University Theater produces its own version of Urinetown, directed by Chicago-based Jonathan Berry.

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