BY KYLE MACMILLAN | FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
Some fine arts events worth checking out this week:
Profiled in an array of national publications and featured in such major exhibitions as dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany, and the 2010 Whitney Biennial in New York City, Theaster Gates ranks among Chicago’s best-known and most influential artists. Taking on the role of a curator, he has organized the group exhibition, “Retreat,” which will be divided between two spaces on the 38th floor of the John Hancock Building, 875 N. Michigan — the Valerie Carberry and Richard Gray galleries. According to publicity materials for the show, he has invited a group of artists “to consider how the concept of retreat, either in theory or practice, contributes to a position of strength and perspective in the making of visual art.” Among the participating artists are: Erika Allen, Elizabeth Axtman, Tony Lewis and Wilmer Wilson IV. “Retreat” opens with a public reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday (with extended viewing hours through 9 p.m.) and runs through Oct. 4. Reservations are encouraged for the free reception and can be made on-line via the Gray Gallery’s website: richardgraygallery.com/upcoming. Information: (312) 642-8877 or richardgraygallery.com/upcoming; (312) 397-9990 or valeriecarberry.com.
Mezzo-soprano Dawn Upshaw has built a well-deserved reputation for venturing into unusual and off-beat repertoire. That has made her an ideal partner for the Knights, an adventurous New York-based chamber orchestra that likes to do much the same thing. Composed of musicians who play in a range of other orchestras and ensembles, the loose-knit ensemble takes an unconventional, democratic approach to music-making. Upshaw and the Knights return to the Ravinia Festival, 200 Ravinia Park Road, in Highland for a concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Martin Theatre. The program will include Maria Schneider’s 2014 Grammy-winning song cycle “Winter Morning Walks” as well as suite of member Michael Atkinson’s arrangements of works by singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. Tickets, $40-$60 reserved seats; $10 lawn. (847) 266-5100; ravinia.org.
Dance, dance and more dance. The Chicago Dancing Festival returns for its eighth season, with an array of top ballet, modern and hip-hop performers from across the country. Participants include the Joffrey Ballet, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Martha Graham Dance Company and stars of the New York City Ballet, Washington Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. The event, co-produced by famed choreographer and Chicago native Lar Lubovitch and Chicago dancer Jay Franke, features free performances at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph (simulcast in Millennium Park); 6 and 8 p.m. Friday at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph. (Tickets are required for the indoor events, and they have all been distributed. But any seats not filled within 15 minutes before curtain are made available to those in a stand-by line, and, in years past, most people in the line have received tickets.) (773) 609-2335; chicagodancingfestival.com.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago, is more than just the art on its walls. The institution also presents a range of performing arts offerings, including Tuesdays on the Terrace, which features outdoor concerts by area jazz stars and up-and-comers. This year’s edition of the family-friendly series runs through Sept. 9 with performances each Tuesday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Featured this Tuesday is Tatsu Aoki’s Miyumi Project with Awata Bowden, Edward Wilkerson, Jaime Kempers, Kioto Aoki, and Coco Elysses. In addition to the music, Tuesdays on the Terrance include art-making activities as well as a grill and cash bar. Admission is free. (312) 280-2660; mcachicago.org.
This is the final week of the 49th-annual Bells of Summer Carillon Festival. As part of this unusual musical series, a different international carillonneur presents an hour-long program each Sunday at 5 p.m. on the carillon – one of the two largest in the world – at the top of the University of Chicago’s 207-feet-tall Rockefeller Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn. Installed in 1934, it comprises 72 bells and 100 tons of bronze, including an 18½-ton bell that is more massive than any in Paris. For this Sunday’s culminating concert, Wylie Crawford, the university’s carillonneur since 1984, will perform. (773) 702-2100; rockefeller.uchicago.edu/the-carillon/carillon-recitals-and-tower-tours.