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This week's Culture Vultures recommend:

Some new lakefront sculptures, Shedd's Trainer for a Day program, and Room 237


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  • Tim Duncan

Timothy J. Duncan, exhibits manager at Loyola University Museum of Art, is actually pretty conflicted about:

New lakefront sculptures I commute to work on the lakefront bike path each morning. I enjoy the time regarding the trees, the lake and most especially the birds. I ignore the traffic on Lake Shore Drive, pretending the park and lake are an isolated natural sanctuary. But recently there are new objects to look at in the park, and not ones made by Mother Nature. Sculptures have started sprouting up along the bike path from Diversey to Addison. There are some that seem to blend in with the natural surroundings, with their round curves and their flowing lines. The Man Balancing on a Leaf is my favorite. But there is also the Big Rusty Box.

I don't mind man-made art placed in a park. But why put an ugly rusty box in the middle of trees? There is also a ten-foot-tall eagle statue; it serves as nothing more than a gigantic scarecrow. Why put a giant scary eagle on the lakefront, a flyway for millions of birds? People are invading the natural world too much in this instance. Art should not be allowed to step over the line and ruin the few natural spaces we still have left to enjoy.


Stephanie M. Hlywak, media director at the Poetry Foundation, flip(per)s for:

Shedd's Trainer for a Day program Lacking an ocean, Chicago seems an unlikely place to whale watch, let alone swim with or frolic with any giants of the sea. But thanks to the Shedd Aquarium's interactive programs, you needn't leave the landlocked midwest to get up close and personal with belugas, dolphins, sea otters, sea lions, and penguins. (Cue "squeeee!" now.) The Shedd's Trainer for a Day program lets you shadow a trainer as they go about their daily care and feeding of the resident marine mammals. Or you can strap on some rubber trousers, wade into the water, and pet a beluga. If your web-browsing history reveals frequent visits to the Daily Otter, or if you still know all the words to the children's song "Baby Beluga" (I plead the fifth on both accounts), this is just what you otter do.


Luke Strosnider, photographer and designer, would redrum for:

Room 237 The Shining is unsettling on a lot of levels: elevators full of blood, the ghostly identical twins, the ghastly carpeting at the Overlook Hotel. It's always frightened me, but beyond the obvious scary stuff I've always felt Kubrick was going for something much deeper and more mysterious than your run-of-the-mill horror film.

Bizarre theories on the hidden meanings of The Shining flood the internet and range from compelling to crackpot; Rodney Ascher's documentary Room 237 examines some of these wild ideas. Is The Shining a metaphor for the genocide of Native Americans? Perhaps it's Kubrick's confession of having helped NASA fake the moon landings? Or is it even crazier than that?

Doubtful, but I suspect the shocking reveal of Room 237 is that a single film could inspire such a variety of obsessive speculation. The movie plays at the Chicago International Film Festival Fri 10/19, 9:45 PM, and Sat 10/20, 1 PM.

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