Jazz, Wine, and Modern Art: Events and Excursions in Chicago


This January, take a moment to explore what makes Chicago famous. Whether you are a music and art lover, a wine aficionado, or looking to support a good cause, the MLA convention in Chicago has something for everyone.

For the first time, the MLA is having an official Night Out. Set in the beautiful Rouge theater in the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park Hotel, the Night Out is a moment to unwind, connect, and celebrate. Indulge in this private event with a live performance by Bob Lark, the celebrated jazz musician and educator. Enjoy a cocktail and conversation while Lark plays new songs and beloved classics. Tickets are selling fast, so get them at the early bird rate before 7 December.

Enjoy a walk past the Bean and the ice skaters in Millennium Park to reach the Art Institute of Chicago. Join one of the Art Institute’s professional lecturers for a private tour designed to connect literary purpose with visual culture on our MLA excursion inspired by the 2019 MLA presidential theme, Textual Transactions. Discover artists who use a variety of mediums to explore text and language, both in art and as art. After the tour is over, stay a while and visit such masterpieces as American Gothic and Nighthawks, enjoy lunch in Terzo Piano or one of the museum cafés, or return later that evening with your ticket when the museum stays open until 8:00 p.m.

Broaden your knowledge of viticulture and refresh your senses with a private wine tasting at the Chopping Block. Master sommelier Mary Ross is a globally recognized wine educator and the first American woman to be granted a Grand Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. During this private wine tasting, you will enjoy a range of varietals from all over the world, paired with light refreshments to enhance the tasting experience. The tasting will take place at the Chopping Block’s location in the iconic Merchandise Mart. Started in 1997 by Shelley Young, the Chopping Block’s mission remains tied to the community with a philanthropy program that fights for food justice. Raise a glass and take a break from the convention to venture into new territory—or should we say terroir? Space is limited, so book this MLA excursion today.

Feel like giving back? Join us at our third Benefit for the Humanities, where MLA Executive Director Paula Krebs will lead a conversation with Natasha Trethewey, Geoffrey R. Stone, and Rachel Davis Mersey. Pull up a chair and enjoy a stimulating discussion on the power of text in three forms: poetry, law, and journalism. Twice United States Poet Laureate, Trethewey uses sonnets and free verse to explore the past and present of her native state, Mississippi, and the broader United States. Stone is a constitutional law scholar specializing in the First Amendment and a member of the National Advisory Council for the American Civil Liberties Union. Mersey, an award-winning journalist and a professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School, focuses on audience understanding and how journalism can shape identity. Every ticket contributes to our Paving the Way campaign, which raises funds to help graduate students and adjunct faculty members, promotes workforce fairness, and supports national advocacy on behalf of the humanities.

Top photo by Rye Jessen, Bob Lark photo by Andy Goodwin, Art Institute photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago, wine tasting photo courtesy of The Chopping Block.

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