With two weeks to go until Labor Day, some of Chicago's summertime institutions are starting to wind down. The Grant Park Music Festival's last note will resonate from Millennium Park, and sandcastle builders finally have a chance to win cash for the designs they’ve been refining all season. But not everything's coming to an end: our weekend guide spotlights brand-new art installations from Gil Rocha, performance pieces at Comfort Station, and dance from choreographer Catherine Tiso.
Closing Performances at Grant Park Music Festival
The music of Igor Stravinsky's infamous 1913 ballet concludes the festival's 79th season.
When: Friday at 6:30 p.m.; Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Jay Pritzker Pavilion | Millenium Park
Tip: Before the concert, check out some of the Art Institute of Chicago’s ballet-inspired paintings, such as Georgia O’Keeffe’s 1927 Ballet Skirt or Electric Light.
When Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring premiered in 1913, its depictions of pagan rituals and sacrifice—not to mention its dissonant harmonies and frenetic rhythms—caused a (literal) near-riot. Though the piece may still be jarring to some, Rite shouldn't stir any riotous feelings in the audience attending the final performances of the festival’s 79th season.
Before Stravinsky, the evening kicks off with two works from acclaimed American composer John Adams. The first, The Black Gondola, strives to musically render the mournful tones of two 1882 elegies written by Franz Liszt for his late son-in-law, German composer Richard Wagner. The second, Harmonium for Large Orchestra and Chorus, sets poems by John Donne and Emily Dickinson to a meditative half-hour orchestral arrangement.
Bread & Butter: An Effort to Redefine an Artist’s Worth
A local choreographer and musician merge live performance with sound installation to generate a discussion about artistic worth.
When: Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m.; Sunday at 4 and 6 p.m.
Where: Comfort Station | Logan Square
Cost: Free (donations accepted)
Tip: Continue wrestling with questions raised by the performance at Billy Sunday, a cocktail bar where tasty snacks include frozen custard and bourbon peaches served on a gingersnap cookie.
Artists typically connect to their audience through intermediaries such as books, films, and canvases. But choreographer Cristina Tadeo and musician Nicholas Davio strive to reach audiences more directly with their interactive event Bread & Butter. Blending elements of live performance and sound installation, Bread & Butter begins with dancers moving in front of a wall of cassette-tape players. Each cassette features interviews with local artists, in which they discuss the topic of artistic wealth and worth. The recordings are played simultaneously to form a dreamy soundscape. Afterward, attendees are encouraged to listen to individual interviews and record their own responses.
The wide-ranging dance showcase spotlights choreographer Catherine Tiso, who premieres four new works.
When: Saturday at 7 p.m.
Where: Links Hall | Roscoe Village
Tip: Stop by early for a live performance by singer-songwriter Lindsey Saunders, who accompanies one of Tiso's pieces.
"And be one traveler, long I stood," Robert Frost writes in his luminous poem "The Road Not Taken," right before embarking on his chosen path. With "Paths Diverge," acclaimed choreographer Catherine Tiso brings the high-school English staple to life by physically embodying the mental struggle of decision-making. She'll premiere four new pieces at Diverge/Connect, including "Paths Diverge" and "Perimeter," in which five dancers explore movement in a 40"x40" space. Besides Catherine, Diverge/Connect showcases local artists Julie Brannen and Bonnie Christine Willis, as well as Pittsburgh's Texture Contemporary Ballet, which performs a piece inspired by a more recent literary sensation: Eat, Pray, Love.
El Principe (The Prince), an Original Installation by Gil Rocha
Known for blurring the lines between disciplines, award-winning artist Gil Rocha unveils his latest installation.
When: Friday at 7–9 p.m.
Where: Rumble Arts Center | Humboldt Park
Tip: Let Rocha's intriguing imagery sink in over a cocktail at nearby Scofflaw, which focuses on gin-spiked libations.
A native of Laredo, Texas, Gil Rocha grew up on the US-Mexico border. It's an apt locale for an award-winning artist whose work blurs the boundaries of painting, writing, sculpture, and installation. Tirelessly experimenting with new media, Rocha even created colorful, abstract work entirely from duct tape for a past exhibit. He continues to hone his distinct vision with El Principe (The Prince)—a work that also marks Rocha's return to Chicago, where he earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute. The installation closes Saturday, September 7, so there’s still an extra weekend to take it in if you’re sticking around the city for Labor Day.
2013 Chicago SandCastle Open
Vying for a $500 grand prize, teams shape sand into stunning castles at the annual competition.
When: Saturday at 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Where: Kathy Osterman Beach | Edgewater
Cost: Free to watch; fee for amateur ($20) and competitive ($150) teams of three to five members
Tip: As the competition winds down, enjoy aerial wizardry from the Chicago Air and Water Show soaring overhead.
At last year's competition, reports Time Out Chicago, professional sandcastle builders revealed one of their trade's sneakiest tricks: using mixtures of glue and water to seal their sandy sculptures. It's a testament to the dedication of the annual event's competitors, who carefully shape grains into miniature masterpieces of winding staircases and intricate stonework. With shovels, buckets, and whatever other tools they have handy—past participants have even incorporated PVC pipe—teams assemble their artful fortresses for a judges' panel of local celebrities and design experts. A $500 grand prize goes to the winner, and additional honors are bestowed in other categories such as best team costume.