River of Fire: “We are an incredibly diverse and amazing city, full of people who are working hard, overcoming, and rising from the ashes of tragedy again and again,” says Redmoon Theater’s executive artistic director Jim Lasko. Channeling that spirit of rebirth, Lasko conceived the city’s inaugural Great Chicago Fire Festival, which culminates in a grand spectacle on October 4 on the Chicago River, where a procession will feature three 24-by-40-foot platforms on which houses burn to reveal scenes from the city’s history, along with a memorial to lives lost and the revival of Chicago architecture.
Named after the fire that raged through the city for three days beginning on October 8, 1871, the festival is produced by the City of Chicago with Redmoon—renowned for its public art displays and innovative theater productions—to pay homage to Chicago’s unique past. “The Great Chicago Fire was the event that really defined us and our character, in terms of the grit and determination that we showed coming out of the fire,” says Lasko, who has been with Redmoon for more than 22 years.
He hopes the festival will soon become a Windy City staple: “In the future, this will be a platform for all kinds of art to be seen and have a wide and diverse audience in the city.” The River Bazaar and Grand Spectacle start mid-afternoon on October 4, along the Chicago River between the State Street and Columbus Drive bridges
The Hot 5 1. Catch “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938” before it closes at the Art Institute. Through October 13; 111 S. Michigan Ave., 312-443-3600 2. Don’t forget to visit “David Bowie Is,” complete with Ziggy Stardust memorabilia, at its lone US stop. Through January 4, 2015; Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., 312-280-2660 3. Christine McVie joins Fleetwood Mac for the first time in 16 years for the group’s “On With the Show” tour. October 2–3; United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., 312-455-4500 4. Lyric Opera reimagines its calling card production of Don Giovanni. Through October 29; 20 N. Upper Wacker Dr., 312-332-2244 5. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago launches a new show in partnership with The Second City. October 16–19; Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Dr., 312-334-7777
Secrets Are Burdens by Holly Wilson
Spirited Away: “I grew up hearing stories my mom used to tell us about animals that were shape-shifters and spirits,” says artist Holly Wilson of the inspiration behind her latest exhibit, “Intertwined,” showcasing 15 bronze figures and encaustic relief paintings that reflect her Native American upbringing as well as her children’s daily interactions. Using traditional investment casting, Wilson sculpts miniature figures, each with a distinct message. “They’re like actors,” the artist explains, “and each story they tell is very specific.” October 17–November 29 at Printworks Gallery, 311 W. Superior St., 312-664-9407
photography by ken howard/Metropolitan opera (don giovanni); todd rosenberg (hubbard street dance); digitas (fire festival)