Stories by Marc Vitali

Joffrey Ballet will stage  “Frankenstein” this fall. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Shows to See This Fall in Chicago: More Than 20 Music, Theater, Film and Art Picks Worth Celebrating

If you need a nudge to get out and enjoy what the city has to offer, here’s a starter list of more than 20 shows to know running across the Chicago area this fall. 

Radio Free Honduras plays in Little Village. (WTTW News)

Chicago Musicians Rally Behind Honduran Singer-Songwriter

In his native Honduras, singer-songwriter Carlos Barahona, who goes by the stage name Charlie Baran, contributed to one of the biggest hits in Latin music.

“Science Fictions” runs through Nov. 27 at the Art Institute of Chicago. (WTTW News)

Bewitching Mid-Century Surrealist Painter Gets Rare Spotlight at Art Institute

Strange people occupy fantastic places in a new exhibition of art by Remedios Varo at the Art Institute of Chicago. The 20th century surrealist painter’s work is well known in Mexico but rarely seen in the U.S.

(WTTW News)

Bruce Springsteen Merges the Classics with Reflection and Wisdom of Newer Material at Wrigley Field Show

Words from the Boss were few as the band barreled through song after song. Older songs brim with unbridled romanticism and recent songs address mortality and loss with a lifetime of wisdom.  

Roman Banks as “MJ” and the cast of the “MJ: The Musical.” (Matthew Murphy / MurphyMade)

Creative Team Behind ‘MJ: The Musical,’ Now Playing in Chicago, on the Power of Dance

Last year it was a hit on Broadway. Now it’s opening a North American tour in Chicago. “MJ: The Musical” tells the story of Michael Jackson in flashback. It begins in 1992 as he prepares his Dangerous Tour.

Bruce Springsteen performs in Copenhagen, Denmark, in July 2023. (Rob Demartin)

10 Things to Know About Bruce Springsteen and Chicago Before His Wrigley Field Shows

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band return to North America next week, kicking off the remainder of their tour with two shows at Wrigley Field. A recent stadium tour in Europe sold more than 1.6 million tickets, and Billboard called it “the greatest show on earth.”

Elena Diadenko, a Ukraine native and longtime Chicago resident, teaches traditional glass painting. (WTTW News)

Ukrainian Artist Teaches Traditional Folk Painting on Glass

Longtime Chicago resident Elena Diadenko uses her talents to teach a traditional form of folk art and raise awareness about the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Footage of “The Who’s Tommy, the Musical” at the Goodman Theatre. (Courtesy of Goodman Theatre)

The Who’s ‘Tommy’ Takes the Stage at Goodman Theatre

Back in 1993, the musical version of “Tommy” won five Tony Awards. Now, that director is re-imaging the stage production at the Goodman Theatre with input from Pete Townshend.

Artwork from Patrick Vale is on display at Gallery Victor in Chicago through Aug. 26, 2023. (WTTW News)

Cubs’ Ian Happ Works With Artist to Capture Wrigley Field

Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ commissioned an artist to capture the game from a player’s perspective. But the artist, an Englishman, didn’t know much about baseball. So Happ introduced his new friend to his workplace.

Chicago-based artist Edra Soto at the Hyde Park Art Center. (WTTW News)

Artist Makes Memories of Her Migration from Puerto Rico

Chicago-based artist Edra Soto created a series of work about Puerto Rico and her migration to her adopted hometown. Architectural motifs mirror patterns seen on houses in Puerto Rico. A hand-fabricated domino table reflects a popular pastime on the island. And there are photographs embedded in the work.

“Marvelocity: The Art of Alex Ross” runs through Aug. 20, 2023, at the Elmhurst Art Museum. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Chicago Artist’s Superpower is Painting Marvel Superheroes

Artist Alex Ross is a hero to fans of comic book art and graphic novels. For 30 years from his home near Chicago, Ross has been the go-to artist for revitalizing beloved characters — from Spider-Man and Superman to Iron Man and the Fantastic Four.

Cherise Thomas, Isaac Ray, Kai A. Ealy, Eva Ruwé, Eric A. Lewis, Jessica Brooke Seals, Kelvin Roston Jr., Aeriel Williams, Shari Addison, Juwon Tyrel Perry, Jerica Exum and Shantina Lynet. (Michael Brosilow)

Reviving a Gospel Musical with Ancient Roots

“The Gospel at Colonus” is based on “Oedipus at Colonus,” Sophocles’ 2,500-year-old play about an aging king who seeks redemption after a life of sin. The revival just opened at Court Theatre in Hyde Park.

(WTTW News)

Art Institute Summer Show Reframes Vincent Van Gogh and Friends

The star attraction is Vincent Van Gogh, and he has a stellar supporting cast — including the painters George Seurat, Paul Signac, Emile Bernard and Charles Angrand. The exhibit features landscapes from the suburbs of Paris in the 19th century.

Kwame Brathwaite’s work is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago until July 24. (WTTW News)

Photographer Kwame Brathwaite Captured Black Beauty, Power in the ‘60s and ‘70s

From Stevie Wonder and high-fashion models to everyday people, photographer Kwame Brathwaite documented Black culture across the globe. “He’s essentially synonymous with the Black is Beautiful movement,” said Grace Deveney of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Intuit, the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, has been awarded a $5 million community development grant. (WTTW News)

Intuit Museum Awarded ‘Transformative’ $5 Million Grant to Support Outsider Art

Intuit, the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, has been on Milwaukee Avenue near Chicago and Ogden avenues since 1999. The museum showcases artwork by self-taught and often marginalized artists who didn’t follow a traditional path to art-making.

Step Afrika! dancers perform. (Courtesy of Step Afrika!)

The 23 Must-Know Chicago Arts and Culture Events for 2023

From the obvious to the obscure, we’ve pulled together a rundown of promising arts and culture events to stir the senses in the new year. 

Children’s music group Wendy and DB perform a song from their Grammy-nominated album. (WTTW News)

Pair of Chicago Children’s Musicians Up for Same Grammy Award

Two of the five Grammy nominees this year for Best Children’s Album are from the Chicago area. For Justin Roberts, it’s his fifth nomination. And for the duo Wendy and DB, it’s their first.

A postcard featuring Santa Claus is part of the Newberry Library collection. (WTTW News)

Santa Claus’ Varied Depictions Can Be Viewed Through a Local Library’s Postcard Archive

Over time there have been many interpretations of Santa’s look – and vintage postcards from the early 20th century prove that he’s had more makeovers than a movie star. At the Newberry Library, a rare collection tracks Santa’s evolution.

Artist Dr. Charles Smith speaks with “Chicago Tonight” about his new exhibition at the National Veterans Art Museum. (WTTW News)

Artist Creates Work to Uplift People, Heal Own Memories of Combat in Vietnam

In 1968, a U.S. Marine was wounded and evacuated from Vietnam and returned to Chicago. He found his calling making artwork with an approach that could be called obsessive.

Third Coast Percussion rehearses for an upcoming performance. (WTTW News)

Grammy-Winning Chicago Ensemble Explores Possibilities of Percussion

Third Coast Percussion is nominated for a Grammy for the fourth year in a row. “Gauntlet” is a new work that has the ensemble making music from a table full of toys and everyday items.

Chicago-based painter Michiko Itatani is pictured at Wrightwood 659. (WTTW News)

Chicago Painter Michiko Itatani Looks to the Cosmos for Inspiration

The unpopulated environments created by Michiko Itatani suggest settings for sci-fi stories, filled with rockets, planets, books and music. In short, art and science. The work is about inner space – and outer space.

Patti Smith speaks with “Chicago Tonight” during a stop in Chicago. (WTTW News)

A Conversation With Patti Smith Reveals Her Thoughts on Poetry, Prose and Veal Parmigiana

Born in Chicago and raised in New Jersey, Patti Smith has lived an incomparable life as a poet and performer. Known as “the punk poet laureate,” she’s in the Rock Hall of Fame and won a National Book Award.

Pianist Inna Faliks performs at the Music Institute of Chicago, where her mother was a faculty member. (WTTW News)

Pianist Recalls Roots in Chicago and Ukraine – and an Early Appearance on WTTW

Pianist Inna Faliks is an educator, mom and a distinguished concert pianist who is in demand across the globe. But before all that, one of her first television appearances was on WTTW in 1994 when she was just 15 years old.

(Credit: Jay Young)

‘Native Truths’ Offer Fresh Perspective at the Field Museum

The Field Museum renovated its Native North America Hall and drastically shifted its focus. The new approach emphasizes story-telling and contemporary art – as well as historical items from the collection. The exhibition space is called “Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories.”

An art exhibition at Wrightwood 659 depicts same-sex desire. (WTTW News)

New Chicago Exhibition Showcases Historical Artwork Depicting Same-Sex Desire

Called “The First Homosexuals,” the show is about a time when the art world released a flood of new representations of same-sex desire.

Returning to Chicago for Poetry Prize, Patti Smith Looks Back on Local Roots and Eclectic Career

Patti Smith was honored by Chicago’s Poetry Foundation with a Pegasus Award.