September 25, 2008
Vol. 28 No. 1

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    University, South Side communities can feast on the arts with Arcopia events

    By Josh Schonwald
    News Office



    It’s not a one-time event, or a new group. It’s not even a real word. Instead, Arcopia is an attempt to capture something larger, the collective power of music and theater, images and engagement, scholarship and self-expression, which flood the University each fall. Arcopia speaks to the critical mass of art that shapes campus culture.

    “The University and Hyde Park play host to a tremendous range of arts events,” said Theaster Gates, Coordinator of Arts Programming in the Office of the Provost. “Music, theatre, the visual arts, film. Every year, we have world-class performances and present incredible opportunities for folks to see and hear leading artists.”

    This month, the University launched “Arcopia—a Fall Feast of the Arts,” to invite culture lovers from the city and Chicagoland to experience the hive of arts programming in Hyde Park.

    “We chose fall because it’s traditionally such a vibrant time on campus,” said Gates, noting the many lectures and performances at the University’s annual Humanities Day, the opening of new shows at Court Theatre and exhibitions at the Smart Museum of Art and the Renaissance Society.

    “And when we added it up, and thought of all the events happening on campus this fall, it was really amazing—more than 20 events.” Gates said. “And it’s such a diverse range. Arcopia is a way of spreading the word that we provide a huge range of cultural programming.”

    Another key part of the “Arcopia” campaign is to highlight the distinctiveness of the arts experience at Chicago. “We have world-class performances and artists, from Guillermo Gomez-Pena to Kara Walker to Tony Fleisher,” said Gates, “but we offer an additional layer. You can see the performance, but you also talk about it, attend a lecture or a panel discussion about the art.”

    Gates said that all of the Arcopia marketing materials will aim to showcase opportunities for the public to engage in conversation. “We really think that many folks out there are hungry for more —to learn about the social, artistic and intellectual significance of the art, to talk about the art-making. That’s something that’s distinctive about our approach to the arts.”

    Beginning this month, advertisements for Arcopia will begin appearing in local print publications, on the Web and radio. Some of the events highlighted in Arcopia’s ads include:

    Caroline, or Change, Court Theatre, through Sunday, Oct. 19: Charles Newell, Artistic Director of Court Theatre, will direct the Midwest premiere of this bold and unusual musical, written by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Tony Kushner. Court Theatre will host a discussion with some of Chicago’s foremost thinkers on race, politics, and social movements, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11. Newell will lead the discussion. Admission is $5, free for students and educators.

    Messiaen Music Festival, University of Chicago Presents, Thursday, Oct. 2 through Saturday, Oct. 11: The University will host North America’s largest celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of French composer Olivier Messiaen. In addition to 10 concerts, the festival will offer symposia, lectures, discussions and films that focus on various aspects of Messiaen’s life, music and influence.

    “Displacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art,” Smart Museum of Art, Thursday, Oct. 2 through Jan. 25, 2009: The Smart Museum’s newest exhibition will profile works by four leading, contemporary artists of China; each work was created in response to the massive dam project that has displaced more than one million people. The exhibition curator, Wu Hung, the Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Art History and the College, will kick off the show with a discussion at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2.

    A Jihad for Love, with film director Parvez Sharma, International House, Friday, Oct. 10: I-House will present the award-winning documentary film, which explores the complex global intersections between Islam and homosexuality. Following a 6 p.m. screening, Sharma will discuss the film with the audience members. Free.

    For a list of the more than 20 events on the Hyde Park campus this fall, visit the University’s arts portal: http://arts.uchicago.edu.