On Wednesday, May 10, author Dave Baron will present stories from his book Pembroke: A Rural, Black Community on the Illinois Dunes, which chronicles the history of Pembroke Township, 65 miles south of Chicago.
Baron’s book profiles a number of the colorful, longtime residents of Pembroke and considers what has enabled Pembroke to survive despite a lack of economic opportunities. Baron’s Pembroke was recently honored by the Illinois State Historical Society and given their Award of Superior Achievement.
This free program takes place at 7:00 p.m. in the Illinois State Museum’s Thorne Deuel Auditorium as part of the Paul Mickey Science Series. Each month, the Mickey Science Series features a different speaker and topic. For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 217-782-5949.
Courtesy Ethan D. Ecole
On May 20, the Illinois State Museum will proudy open Kings and Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago an interactive exhibition examining the intertwined history of two of Chicago’s greatest exports: pinball and imagist painting.
Most of the world’s finest pinball machines were made in Chicago’s North Side factories. As those machines reached the apex of pictorial and engineering ingenuity, the artists now known as the Imagists and the Hairy Who were finding their unique visual style with inspiration from many vernacular sources including the arcades and Riverview Park. Pinball provided inspiration with its high contrast coloration, absurd juxtapositions, and ultra-flat forms. Pinball was but one inspiration for these artists, along with the city’s many-colored storefronts, campy product ads, and hand-painted and neon commercial signs. The exhibition contains photographs of Chicago in those years, as recorded by some of these same artists.
Visitors to the exhibition are invited to play pinball on Chicago-built pinball machines alongside paintings, sculptures and prints inspired by them, including works by Roger Brown, Ed Flood, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca, Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum and Ray Yoshida. The exhibition also features original works by Constantino Mitchell a long time pinball artist.
Kings and Queens is organized by the Elmhurst Art Museum Director Jenny Gibbs and curated by New York’s Dan Nadel. It will be on display at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield from May 20 – August 11, 2017.
Illinois State Museum Society members gathered in the art galleries last night to view the new exhibition Michiko Itatani: Celestial Visions which opens to the public on March 25 and to converse with curator Doug Stapleton about the works on exhibit in Just Good Art: The Chuck Thurow Gift.
Just Good Art opened in February and features works newly donated to the collection by Chicago collector and arts advocate Chuck Thurow. Of the 56 Illinois artists represented in the gift, 34 are new to the Museum’s collections. Just Good Art is open through May 8.
Michiko Itatani is one of Chicago’s most well-respected contemporary artists. Celestial Visions features new acquisitions of drawings and prints alongside installation-based and heroically scaled figurative paintings from the Museum’s Fine Art Collection. This exhibition will be open through June 5.
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On February 4, the Illinois State Museum will open Just Good Art: The Chuck Thurow Gift. This exhibition will feature works from the 2016 gift of over 100 contemporary artworks from Chuck Thurow, former director of the Hyde Park Art Center. You can learn more about the gift and some of the works here. The photos below are behind-the-scenes shots of the installation. Visit the Museum on through May 7 to see the exhibition.
Photos courtesy Chris Young.
Providing programs that complement and enhance classroom learning is one of the many important roles of the Museum. Last month, Dr. Michael Wiant presented a program on Native American life to more than 100 second-grade students in Chatham. The students had been studying how Native Americans survived in their environment. Dr. Wiant illustrated his presentation with animal skins, casts of tracks, artifacts, and a mastodon molar. The students sent Dr. Wiant thank you notes, which showed that in addition to enjoying the program, they were also paying close attention. We couldn’t resist sharing a few here.
Thank you for coming to our school. I just love learning about Native Americans! I really really liked it when you taught us so much about Native Americans! I really liked learning about those tracks. Thank you thank you thank you!
Thank you for doing my favorite thing: sharing! I like dinosaurs because they are cool. My favorite thing is the racoon hide because I like racoons. Thanks!
Thank you for coming and showing us the cool stuff. My favorite part is when we did the quiz.
View-Master and reels, Illinois State Museum collections
Christmas Ornaments, Illinois State Museum collections
Toys and Marshall Field’s merchandise, Illinois State Museum collections
Santa Nutcraker, Illinois State Museum collections
A nostalgic collection of Marshall Field’s Christmas decorations is on display in the State Museum lobby. It includes toys, ornaments, and postcards. The crown jewels of the collection are Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly. The characters were introduced in 1945 and were often seen at the top of the Christmas Tree in the Walnut Room as well as other locations in the store.
Uncle Mistletoe, Illinois State Museum collections
Aunt Holly, Illinois State Museum collections
Do you remember Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly? What is your favorite Marshall Fields Christmas memory?
The Illinois State Museum is pleased to have lent Diane Simpson’s sculpture Samurai #9, 1983, to JTT Gallery in New York. JTT’s exhibition features works from Diane Simpson’s landmark Samurai series, which were first exhibited in 1983 at Phyllis Kind’s Chicago gallery. The series consists of eight freestanding sculptures inspired by samurai armor and Japanese firemen capes—seven of which JTT has gathered for their exhibition. The exhibition runs through January 15, 2017.
The Samurai Series is an early example of Simpson’s life long engagement with the potential of translating clothing and body adornment into elegant sculptures. Samurai #9 is a simplified figure of a samurai warrior, made of precisely cut sheets of MDF (medium-density fibreboard), and assembled without hardware along oblique angles, mirroring the flattened geometric perspective employed in Japanese prints. Her figure is as much architecture as armor.
The Museum purchased Samurai #9 from the Phyllis Kind Gallery in 1983. It has subsequently been on view in Diane Simpson’s retrospective at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2010, and in Figurism: Narrative and Fantastic Figuration at the Illinois State Museum.