Sun Spots: Art In Chicago, BeyB!

Stephanie!Art in Chicago, BeyB:  Then & Now, Here & There


We've got some really cool art exhibits hanging around town and most of them are free!  From the South Side, to the Gold Coast, to River West, from Lee Bey to Dawoud Bey, here's a quick rundown of some of the exhibits you ought to take a look at!



Dawoud BeyDawoud Bey: Early Portraits - These compelling portraits will definitely cause you to linger over each one as you imagine what stories the subjects might have told and what thoughts lie behind the compelling eyes.

""Dawoud Bey: Early Portraits" brings together for the first time selections from two seminal groups of photographs by this major American artist. "Harlem, USA," the photographer's first project, completed in the mid-late 1970s, and "Street Portraits" were made in the late 1980s through early 1990s. As a youngster growing up in Queens, NY, Bey was intrigued by his family's history in Harlem. His parents met at church there and it was home to many family members and friends he visited as a child. Bey began making photographs at sixteen, after viewing the work of James VanDerZee and other photographers in the "Harlem On My Mind" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1969. Further experiences viewing the works of Roy DeCarava, Mike Disfarmer, Irving Penn, and Richard Avedon clarified his interest in photographing the human subject."

Continues through April 30, 2011

Calvin B. JonesImages of the Past, featuring Calvin B. Jones - From about 30-50, Calvin Jones was legally blind - and still creating art.  Read a fascinating account of his life in this Chicago Reader article "An Artist's Homecoming."

"Join the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) for an exhibition of its historic collection. The SSCAC, Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, Chicago Public Arts Group, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the School of the Art Institute will present programming to celebrate, honor and highlight arts Calvin B. Jones’ contributions to the arts community."

Continues through March 27, 2011



Black CreativityBlack Creativity: Energy - Now in its 40th year, Black Creativity engages its audience in a timely theme that examines the energy exemplified by a number of recent disasters.  This is the closing week, so don't miss it!

"The theme for Black Creativity this year is Energy, inspired by our newest permanent exhibition, Science Storms. In Science Storms, guests explore the chemistry and physics at work in nature’s most powerful phenomena, including lightning, tsunamis, avalanches and tornadoes. Black Creativity 2011 will invite the community to observe, wonder, investigate, and discover how to empower themselves and their community through science.

Continues through March 20, 2011.

Real and ImaginedReal and Imaginary: Three Latin American Artists  - Grab some of the kids in your life (especially on a Thursday evening when admission is free!) and watch their imaginations soar at this contemporary exhibition of art from children's books!

"Three Latin American artists share the beauty and richness of their cultural heritage in this exhibition of art from picture books. In a book of Latin American folktales, Raúl Colón layers washes of paint and etched lines, finishing with colored pencils. David Diaz’s brightly colored illustrations portray true stories of Mexican heroes and artists. And with a flair for humor, Yuyi Morales paints hauntingly beautiful, mystical pictures that resonate with the importance of family."

Continues through May 29, 2011



Lee BeyChicago Then and Now: A Story by Lee Bey - Here's a fantastic look at the changes seen in various Chicago areas.  For a sneak peek of and a little background on the exhibit, visit Photography show provides look into Chicago's past and present.  This exhibit continues through January 9, 2012, but take a look now and go back every now and then - every three months, a number of photos in the exhibit will be rotated out to make room for new (and old) photos with varying themes.  Also be sure to set aside time every third Tuesday at 12:15pm for Gallery Talk with Lee Bey.

"Architecture critic, photographer, and blogger Lee Bey has been considering Chicago and its built environment for years. In this exhibit, Bey pairs historic and contemporary images of life in the city’s neighborhoods to illustrate threads of living history and social change across the city. Every three months sections of the exhibit will change, introducing a new neighborhood or theme."

Continues through January 9, 2012

Geraldine McCulloughGeraldine McCullough: “Fragments” - Then and now?  Well, yeah - afterall, McCullough was born in 1917 ("then") and "now" you get to see some of her work that has never previously been exhibited!

"Geraldine McCullough: “Fragments” brings together for the first time selections of paintings, Collagraph prints and sculptures by this major American artist. These early works of McCullough’s from the 1940s through the 1970s are works of art not seen before by the public. This exhibition honors the life and work of Geraldine McCullough. She graduated with a Master of Art Education from the Art Institute of Chicago. McCullough was encouraged to turn to welded sculpture by master sculptors Richard Hunt and Rudolpho Seno."

Continues through April 15, 2011

This is just a partial listing of many art exhibits that are highlighted on Soleil's To-Dos, so be sure to visit to browse all listings!


Soleil In the City: Chicago Auto Show - First Look for Charity

Just Hangin' Around!

Chicago Auto Show - First Look for Charity


Aaah - the cars, the food, the people!  The First Look is a fabulous way to get, well, a first look at the Chicago Auto Show - but don't count on it being your last look!  There's a lot to see at the auto show, but kindly, most of the territory that you'll cover will be carpeted. In fact, it takes 133,333 square yards of carpet to cover the floor of the Chicago Auto Show, enough to carpet 571 average American homes. Ladies - can you imagine touring 571 homes? Back-to-back? In stilettos? In other words, plan your shoes accordingly - and let those plans include a return to the auto show.





Sun Spots: Valentine's Day To-Dos!

Just hangin' around!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm happy to announce that this week I have finally gotten around to another New Year's Resolution:  "Soleil In the City" - a vlog to share information with you in yet another platform!  I'm sure I'll be adding graphics and music and doing some on-the-scene vlogs and interviews in no time at all!  In the February 10, 2011 To-DosLetter and below, I share my first vlog, "Looking for Something To-Do for Valentine's Day?"   Whether you're single, married, taking a break from it all or any other relationship status and whether you got a lotta loot or don't have a pot to piss in, we've got something for you To-Do!

So, what are you going To-Do?




Welcome Winter and Goodbye Winter Whiners!

Just hangin' around!

Happy New Year, Welcome Winter and Goodbye, Winter Whiners!

I am so tired of people whining about winter!  Everybody knows a few Winter Whiners.  They're the ones who can hardly make it to the first official day of winter without complaining:  "It's cold!"  Wah, wah, wah.  "I can't wait 'til spring."  Wah, wah, wah.  If that sounds like you, what you need is a fresh perspective on the joys of the season from a relocated So Cal Gal, so I'ma bring it to ya!  The most important thing is to not focus on the absence of sun and outdoor warmth.  Winter brings its own set of unique opportunities - here are a few of them!

WinterDance WinterDance

Learn To-Do It:  In warm weather, it's practically impossible for me to commit to taking any classes (unless they're outdoors), because outdoors is where I want to be.   However, in January, taking classes is a great way to start satisfying your New Year's resolutions!  If your goals for 2011 include starting or expanding your business, you'll find listings for excellent classes at both the Chicago Urban League and the Women's Business Development Center.  Both organizations' classes are taught by professionals in the relevant subject area.  Whether you need motivation, a primer or practical guidance on expanding your business, you're bound to find classes that suit your needs.  Learn or refine your cooking skills with the World Kitchen series!  It's an immensely popular series, so be sure to view the entire schedule and make your reservations early.   To satisfy your peace and fitness goals, try Tai Chi or Sweat! Revitalize De-Stress: Dancing with the Drum.  We also have listings for dance, acting - even wine appreciation!

trinity The Trinity River Plays

Theater:  Chicago is renowned for its theater offerings and "non-summer"  is the perfect time to snuggle in a nice, cozy theater and enjoy performances that are far more riveting than what you might see on the big screen (or the medium screen in your bedroom). But, what you might not know from simply visiting mainstream websites is that there are also numerous culturally-diverse* performances taking place!  Now playing:  Eclipsed, at Northlight; Regina Taylor's The Trinity River Plays, at the Goodman Theatre; In Darfur, at TimeLine Theatre - and so many more!  Prices vary widely, but if funds are tight, take advantage of our keyword search, look for "previews" and enjoy the full performance at a significant discount!

Thailand Thailand

GetAway To-Do It:  In the summer, you'd have a hard time pulling me away from Chicago.  But, in the winter, a little trip can be just the ticket!  Hit the road with the Sno-Gophers and enjoy both local and national ski trips!  Escape the cold with Al Jarreau at Jazz In the Gardens in sunny Florida, or grab your passport and get a little more exotic at the Dubai International Jazz Festival!  Even if you can't make it out of town, you can easily take a local road trip to Garfield Park Conservatory on the West Side!  Parking is easy and once inside, you'll forget all about Winter. 

Snow Days Snow Days

Seasonal To-DosGo   for it big time and fully embrace the winter season with Seasonal To-Dos like these:

  • Winter Dance:  Okay - this isn't really a "winter" event, but it does have winter in the title!  If you enjoy SummerDance, or if SummerDance is a little too sizzling hot for you, give WinterDance a try!

  • Polar Adventure Days:  Outdoor fun for the whole family at Northerly Island!

  • Snow Days Chicago:  Enjoy the incredible array of gigantic and elaborate ice sculpture at Gateway Park, just outside of Navy Pier!

  • Ice Skating:  Outdoor skating isn't limited to Millennium Park!  Give Wrigleyville and Daley Bicentennial Plaza (Grant Park) a try, as well as neighborhood parks like Midway Plaisance.

So there you have it!  Since we're going to be stuck with winter anyway, why not enjoy it for the delights it brings?

So, what are you going To-Do?



Sun Spots: Holiday To-Dos!

Santa Baby . . .

Here we are again nearing the end of another year!  The snow has fallen and the stage is set for a lovely holiday and we once again face the eternal question:  My family is driving me nuts - what am I going To-Do with them?!?!  Not to worry - Soleil's has solutions for ya!

On our Holiday & Seasonal page you'll find listings that include ice skating, outdoor family adventures, flower and train exhibits and other holiday delights.  And many of these events are free! 

This past weekend, I visited Garfield Park Conservatory for their Holiday Flower Show and eased right up into a free parking space right in front with spaces to spare.  (It's funny how many low-income commercial neighborhoods hold no interest for the parking meter bandits - may we forwever remain off their radar!)  This park is located on the Westside and doesn't get much traffic, but it is lush!  When you step into the conservatory, you'll feel like you're in the tropics and you will quickly begin to disrobe - but don't get carried away!  While it's a great place for a meandering, romantic, cheap (free!) date, it's also family-friendly.  Take your kids and take advantage of frequent, fun and informational activities for the kids. 


Garfield Park ConservatoryAs far as the Flower Show itself, the space was surprisingly small.  At first I was disappointed, but as I began to focus on the foliage, I realized that there's a surprising variety of poinsettias!  So, I paid more attention to the signs and descriptions and really enjoyed the display!  I think it would also be really cool to go on a Wednesday night (with extended hours - open to 8pm) as some of the areas are decorated with holiday lights.


The Holiday Flower & Train Show at the Lincoln Park Conservatory is also open until 8pm on Wednesday, however, I hear that it pales in comparison.  What won't be pale is Zoolights at the Lincoln Park Zoo.  I was there during the day, so I could only see how decadently drenched in light it must be at night.  My suggestion:  go around 4pm, check out the Conservatory, then Zoolights on your way back to your car.  More than likely, you'll need to pass through the Zoo to get to the Conservatory, because you'll find that the parking situation also pales in comparison to Garfield.  It's Lincoln Park.  And it will. Be. Packed.  Think about that before you leave home in stilettos.  And be prepared to pay about $17-26 for parking.  It ain't nice.  It is Lincoln Park.  But, everything to this point has been free(!), so, (wo-)man-up - and fill up the car with people, too!


garfieldThe Holiday & Seasonal page also includes ice skating in various city locations; theater - including The Nativity (f/k/a "Black Nativity" - hmmmm . . .) and The Nutcracker; live music performances - including the 20th Annual Winter Solstice Concert, the Cyrus Chestnut Trio and Roy Ayers; the 16th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration; holiday parties and so much more!!!


Well, I intend to get my mother and sister out of the house and hit up as many of these Holiday & Seasonal To-Dos as I can!  Follow this post as I update it with my latest adventures!  While you're here, please be sure to give your feedback on any of the seasonal To-Dos that you attend. 



Soleil's To-Dos



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