Archive for the ‘Arts Exhibits’ Category

Where to see or make a scarecrow

No question that pumpkin faces are fun to draw or carve but pumpkins abound wherever you turn around. However, do you know where you can see or make a scarecrow? Check out these suggestions.

Scarecrows are fun to make and take home. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Scarecrows are fun to make and take home. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Chalet Garden Center Scarecrow Festival

The Chalet, a garden center across from Edens Plaza in north suburban Wilmette does a terrific job of helping folks celebrate fall and the winter holidays. Its shop is filled, literally to the rafters with witches at Halloween and you bump into large snowmen and Santas after Thanksgiving. But to add to the fall fun, it hosts a Scarecrow Festival the first weekend of October. This year, the festival is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 1 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 2. The Chalet has heads and straw for you to use. Just bring some old clothes and you have a scarecrow to take home. The event is free. The Chalet Garden Center is at 3132 Lake Ave. at Skokie Road, Wilmette, IL 60091. For other information call (847) 256-0561 and visit Chalet.

St. Charles Scarecrow Festival

Scary and funny scarecrows take up residence downtown west suburban St. Charles the second weekend of October. This is the big one, the area’s largest scarecrow festival with more than 100 of those gangly, weird, straw people. The festival activities are all over downtown so there are zones. The scarecrow contest is in the Arcadia Theatre zone on Main Street between 4th and 5th. Walk among them and vote for you favorite. But don’t forget to check out those that are at the businesses in the Jewel Osco Zone on 3rd Street between State and Cedar Streets.. Both zones are on the west side of the Fox River. To make your own scarecrow, cross the bridge to the Baltria Vintage Auto Zone on the east side of the river, north of Main Street. There’s no charge. Tickets at the festival are for rides and food. Hours are Oct.7-8 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For other information call the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 777-4373 and visit Scarecrowfest.

Tom’s Fall Festival

Drive out to the countryside of Huntley, a small town northwest of Chicago between Oct. 1st and Oct. 31 to see yard full of pumpkin families, a market where the aroma is apple and pumpkin pie and the garden center has what you need to make and take a scarecrow. You don’t have to bring any materials but the scarecrow workshop costs $20. There are lots of children’s activities from mazes to explore, animals to pet and bouncy constructions. The activities are pumpkin families activities are $7 children and $5 adults, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and $10 adults and children Saturday, Sunday and Columbus Day. Saturday and Columbus Day hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Sunday is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tom’s is at 10214 Algonquin Road, Huntley, IL 60142. For other information call (847) 669-3421 and visit Toms.

Art and architecture make The Broad museum memorable

The Broad experience begins in an unusual lobby

The Broad experience begins in an unusual lobby

What do you try to visit when you travel?

Certainly scenic views are high on my list as well as most travelers’. But next to nature’s wonders I seek out art museums. So luckily our California daughter picked up tickets for The Broad, a new museum downtown LA where visitors may wait in line for hours for a ticket if not reserved in advance.

And yes, it is worth the wait if need be. But if going to LA, reserve tickets ahead of time. Admission is free but the museum just opened in September 2015 so is still on everyone’s to-do list.

BTW, the building and art collection is a gift of Eli and Edythe Broad (pronounced Brode with a long o) to the public, thus the free admission. However, special exhibits and programs will have fees. Check programs.

Much of the free museum collection is on the first and second floor. The third floor will have special installations.

So why all the excitement? First, the building, itself, is an architectural attraction. Described as a “veil and vault” construction, it was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Gensler for about $140 million. Indeed, as visitors descend from the second floor they can peer through a window into the vault that holds more art works. The veil is the building’s honeycombed-style roof and sides.

Another $200 million has been put in trust by the Broads to cover maintenance, operating expenses and acquisitions. The “docents” there will tell you they really are paid staff with art backgrounds and not volunteers.

Peek through a window to see the vault

Peek through a window to see the vault

Secondly, the collection is an art history lesson of some of the best examples of works from the 1950s to now. Not all pieces in the 2,000 work collection are up at one time. To see some of the collection and its artists on line click here.

Among them are works by Henry Moore, Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Cy Twombly. Chicagoans who have recently seen the “New Contemporary” exhibit recently donated to the Art Institute of Chicago will recognize editions of some of the same and similar pieces.

If you go, stop in a darkened room to see “The Visitors,” a video installation by Ragnar Kjartansson that shows eight musicians in different places and on different screens but all playing the same music.

The other must-do stop is “Infinity.” To go in to it you have to sign in at a registration screen in the lobby because only one person is allowed entry at a time so entrance is a time slot.

A Roy Lichtenstein sculpture is set off by the honeycomb's reflected light

A Roy Lichtenstein sculpture is set off by the honeycomb's reflected light

The Broad is a don’t miss experience no matter what style or period of art peaks your interest. For more information visit The Broad.

Fun holiday shopping ideas

First, toss away the idea that museums visits are just for occasional drop-ins to see current exhibits. Their gift shops are a treasure trove of unique, artistic items.

Secondly, think two-for-one when shopping at a museum store. You are getting a special item and a portion of the price goes to the museum so you are helping a not-for profit place you enjoy visiting.

Third, you can go in person to spend some fun hours browsing or shop at the museum store online.

Here are three museums with fun and fascinating gifts for the holidays.

Find artistic gifts at the Art Institute of Chicago

Find artistic gifts at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S, Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603

It’s fun to walk through the main store in the original building to see cases of jewelry, shelves of ties, stationery, cards and books and displays of pottery and art glass. But don’t forget the shop in the Modern Wing for its home decorative items. Many of the items are online so you can go to art institute shop and call 1-855-301-9612. If you go in person be sure to stop downstairs to see how some of the Thorne Rooms are decorated for the holidays.

The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

The museum is always worth a visit to see dinosaurs, American Indian artifacts and wander inside an Egyptian pyramid tomb. But for the holidays also go to lose yourself in The Field Museum’s huge shop where you roam among large stuffed animals, exotic art items, out-of-the-ordinary jewelry and clothing and fun t-shirts. Best plan is to visit in person but when time doesn’t allow go to fieldstore.

Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637

Go to see the museum’s Grand Tree in the Rotunda and the 50 smaller trees that for years are a holiday tradition because they are decorated by Chicago’s ethnic communities. While there go through the museum’s Mirror Maze and visit the robots currently moving around a special exhibit area. However, the museum store is also a good place to find a great gift for your budding scientist or an historic photo for someone’s wall from the photography store.

Visit the Antiques Roadshow online or in person

Antiques Roadshow Chicago visitors wait near the appropriate table to see an appraisal expert.

Antiques Roadshow Chicago visitors wait near the appropriate table to see an appraisal expert.

I recently had the good fortune to cover the Antiques Roadshow when it taped in Chicago this summer. It was fun, interesting and surprising. Here are some of the nuggets I picked up while interviewing its directors, executives, experts and people who brought items to be valued.

1. If you live in Albuquerque, NM, Chicago, IL, New York, NY, Charleston, WV, Austin, TX, Birmingham, AL, Santa Clara, CA, Bismark, ND, the towns visited this spring and summer, you can check  Antiques Roadshow about late September or early October to see when the segment closest to home will air in 2015.

2. To get more information about the 2014 summer tour click here. To see photos of some gems taped during the 2014 summer tour, go to behind the scenes.

3. If you want to attend an Antiques Roadshow appraisal event, check the first Monday in January when the show premiers its 19th season. Announcements are made on line and usually at the premier about where the show will tape that spring and summer.  Look online for ticket application information.  Tickets are given out by random drawing, not first come, but be sure to get yours in before the deadline, usually early April. Two tickets are given free of charge to the applicant drawn.


A century-old German doll with all its original clothes was worth much more than its owner thought.

A century-old German doll with all its original clothes was worth much more than its owner thought.

There’s more to an Antiques Roadshow event than the expected wow.  Yes, some items are valued much higher than the people who brought them think. But other items are chosen for their education value as copies, tourist market objects or fakes. An art object brought to the Chicago taping could be worth $20,000 if authenticated but would be $2,000 as a decorative piece, if not.

Among the surprises in Chicago was that even though 3,000 people received two tickets each and could bring two items, meaning that the experts had 18,000 objects to consider, the appraisals and discussions were all done in one Saturday starting with 8 a.m. ticket holders and not ending until all 5 p.m. ticket holders were seen.

Another amazing tidbit is that the experts pay their own way to come to the cities being taped. They do get television exposure but they cannot hand their cards to the people they meet.  Of the approximately 150 experts on the show’s roster, about 70 came to the Chicago taping.

Reaction to an appraisal value is often a surprise. During a Chicago taping that evaluated a century-old doll, its owner became emotional when learning she would have to add a zero to the couple hundred dollars she thought it would bring. She kept it in a closet but originally was going to sell it. After the appraisal she changed her mind.

Keeping an object after appraisal is not surprising according to Executive Producer Marsha Bemko who speaks to groups across the country. “ One of the interesting things is whether its business or another group, 20-year-olds, 60 or 80, they have a question in common:  what happened to the objects after a person leaves the Roadshow. I tell them it’s about the relationship. It does not matter what the object is worth. They never sell the objects,” Bemko said. She added that a few exceptions did occur when the object was picked up cheap at a garage sale and had no family value.

Visitors were divided according to objects they brought by a generalist appraiser who gave them a ticket for the right table and area.

Visitors were divided according to objects they brought by a generalist appraiser who gave them a ticket for the right table and area.


No matter where the Antiques Roadshow visits and how the the town’s convention center is configured, the set where the appraisals and taping are done will be the same. Windows are shut off and backdrops are set up.

Each town’s one-day taping is divided into three episodes. Host Mark Walberg introduces three visits outside the convention center using a different expert at each place. The outside visits, typically to a museum, a person’s collection or a significant building, is to give a sense of place to the town visited, according to Bemko. “Otherwise, all you see is the convention center,” she said.

In Chicago, the outside the convention center visits were to the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lyric Opera and Crab Tree Farm in the northern suburbs.

For more Antiques Roadshow interesting insight visit the Roadshow Scene


Merely circulating among the experts, camera crew and folks carrying paintings, sculptures, vases and carefully wrapped treasures was fun. It was also delightful to talk with people who loved coming even though their objects were not worth much

To learn about some of the items that  will appear on Chicago segments click Chicago

Photos by Jodie Jacobs

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