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Events and Activities to do in Chicago at Navy Pier

Looking for fun things to do in Chicago? There’s always something going on at Navy Pier! From cultural programming and seasonal celebrations to special events, festivals, fireworks and more, discover fun and free Chicago events at Navy Pier all year long.

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Navy Pier, Chicago’s mission-driven cultural district, proudly offers free events and public programming year-round. See a full listing of Navy Pier’s ongoing free events and public programs

Events for August 31, 2018

Iván Navarro: This Land is Your Land

Free Public Program

Friday, July 27, 2018 - Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Artist Iván Navarro transforms three water towers into hauntingly beautiful sculptural objects, featuring infinitely reflective neon interiors.

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An image that has been a part of the upper realms of Chicago’s landscape comes “down to earth” to Polk Bros Park. Three hauntingly beautiful water towers are transformed as sculptural objects with neon interiors. Viewers are invited to stand beneath them and gaze above to experience. 

About This Land is Your Land

Originally debuted at New York’s Madison Square Park in 2014, the three sculptures – BED, Ladder and ME/WE – are composed of neon-lit interiors with infinite reflections of each structure’s respective design. One tower consists of a limitless repetition of the word, “BED;” another features the boundless image of a ladder; and the third displays the words, “ME” and “WE” in redundancy. An internal arrangement of mirrors enables each word or image to repeat perpetually through a seemingly endless vertical space. Measuring at approximately seven feet in diameter and erected on roughly eight-foot-tall supports, each tower allows guests the ability to stand underneath the sculpture and gaze above for a truly unique viewing experience.

Ladder (Water Tower)

2014, Neon, wood, painted steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, mirror, one-way mirror, and electric energy, 189 x 105 1/8 x 105 1/8 inches, 480.1 x 267 x 267 cm, Edition of 3 + 1 AP

Photo by Elizabeth Bernstein Images courtesy of Iván Navarro and Paul Kasmin Gallery

ME/WE (Water Tower)

2014, neon, wood, painted steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, mirror and one-way mirror, and electric energy, 189 x 105 1/8 x 105 1/8 inches, 480.1 x 267 x 267 cm, Edition of 3 + 1 AP, (PK 18175)

Photo by Elizabeth Bernstein Images courtesy of Iván Navarro and Paul Kasmin Gallery

BED (Water Tower)

2014, Neon, wood, painted steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, mirror, one-way mirror, and electric energy, 189 x 105 1/8 x 105 1/8 inches, 480.1 x 267 x 267 cm, Edition of 3 + 1 AP

Photo by Elizabeth Bernstein Images courtesy of Iván Navarro and Paul Kasmin Gallery

About IVÁN NAVARRO

Born in Santiago, Chile 1972
Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York

Iván Navarro was born in 1972 in Santiago, Chile, where he grew up under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. He is known internationally for his socio-politically charged sculptures of neon, fluorescent and incandescent light. Navarro’s unique and captivating use of light transforms the exhibition space by means of visual interplay. Navarro represented Chile at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

Learn more at paulkasmingallery.com

Chakaia Booker: Four Sculptures

Free Public Program

Friday, April 20, 2018 - Tuesday, April 23, 2019

View four sculptural works by artist Chakaia Booker, on display in locations throughout Navy Pier, now through April 2019.

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Since 1994 Chakaia Booker has made abstract sculptures from discarded rubber tires salvaged from city streets, auto body shops, and dump sites. Cutting, shredding, bending, and transforming them into wild organic shapes, she creates objects that evoke the human body and spirit, without being literal representations.  Today, she works almost exclusively with recycled tires—slicing, twisting, stripping, weaving, and riveting rubber and radials to create and exaggerate the textures, prickled edges, and torqued forms of her radical refashioning. Whether she is creating small-scale wall reliefs resembling ballistic blowouts, suggestively hairy and ovoid pedestal sculptures, or colossal landscape-like tableaux, Booker transforms tires—iconic symbols of urban waste and blight—into extraordinary compositions of renewal.

Booker received a B.A. in sociology from Rutgers University in 1976, and an M.F.A. from the City College of New York in 1993. She gained international acclaim at the 2000 Whitney Biennial with It’s So Hard to Be Green (2000), her 12.5 x 21 foot wall-hung tire sculpture. Booker received the Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2002 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. She has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally.

Six sculptures by Booker have been on view in Millennium Park since 2016; four of those works will come to Navy Pier this April (two sited on Illinois Street just outside the entrance of Navy Pier; one on the south dock at the entrance; and one in Pier Park).

Pass the Buck

2008; Rubber tires and stainless steel, 102 x 96 x 84 inches

Booker’s inspiration for this sculpture was Madam C. J. Walker–best known for developing a successful line of hair-care and beauty products for black women–and considered by many to be the first African American businesswoman and philanthropist. For the artist, this sculpture evokes the pursuit of success and giving back to society.

Take Out

2008

Take Out is a whimsical piece embellished with large, looping, swirling tendrils of tire. Evoking photographs and reflections through its frame- or mirror-like rectangular shape, Take Out invites viewers to explore and engage in the Chicago cityscape and alternately, views of the Centennial Wheel in Pier Park.

Shape Shifter

2012; Rubber tires and stainless steel, 192 x 102 x 78 inches

 

Gridlock

2008; Rubber tire and stainless steel, 2 pieces, 100 x 48 x 20 inches

Gridlock represents a symbol of human journey and life—shows an interplay of concave and convex spaces. The title references travel patterns in cities.

“My work challenges the notion that tires are uniformly black. I want to encourage people to examine assumptions about color, patterns, textures, and functions…. Also, our assumptions about most subject matter, including people, their diversity, and the diversity of ideas and perceptions.” – Chakaia Booker

The Great American Lobster Fest®

Free Public Program

Friday, August 31, 2018 - Sunday, September 2, 2018

Join us Labor Day weekend for the largest seafood and lobster festival in the Midwest!

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The Great American Lobster Fest® is the Midwest’s largest seafood and lobster festival, returning to Chicago’s legendary Navy Pier Labor Day weekend, August 31–September 2, 2018! General Admission to the event is FREE, otherwise Lobster Meals and VIP experiences are ticketed here.

Join us for summer’s last hurrah, where you can enjoy live lobster flown in fresh from the cold waters of the East Coast, live music performances, family-friendly games and activities, unique craft shopping, land food options, and cold beverages. What’s not to love?

The Great American Lobster Fest® will take place on the Pier’s east end, in and around the Aon Grand Ballroom. Should it rain, there is plenty of covered space inside for advance purchase Lobster Meal ticket holders and VIP ticket holders.

Buy Lobster Fest Tickets

Live Musical Performances

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Smiley Tillmon Band – 5:30pm

Rico! A Tribute to Santana (pictured) – 8:00pm

Saturday, September 1, 2018

School of Rock – 12:00pm

Bassel & The Superaturals – 1:30pm

Aniba Hotep & The Sol Collective – 5:30pm

The 17th Floor (Pictured) – 8:00pm

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Buffalo Rose – 1:00pm

South of Disorder (A tribute to Jimmy Buffett) – 3:00pm

Free Fallin’ (A tribute to Tom Petty) (pictured) – 5:30pm

 

Daily Cruises
Year Round

Enjoy lake and river cruises departing from Navy Pier’s South Dock and Polk Bros. Park. For cruise details visit website.

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Please visit the following pages for daily cruises, special events, and fireworks cruises:

Seadog Cruises Shoreline Sightseeing Odyssey Spirit of Chicago Mystic Blue Tall Ship Windy

Live on the Lake!: Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press

Free Public Program

Friday, August 31, 2018 | 5:30 pm - 11:30 pm

Playing a free, all ages show with special guests Workout Music.

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Join us in the Miller Lite Beer Garden for a free, all-ages show with cover band, Rod Tuffcurls & The Benchpress, and special guests, Workout Music, part of Navy Pier’s free music and dance seriesLive on the Lake! 

Performance Schedule

Rod Tuffcurls & The Benchpress
Cover Band – Pop/Rock
9pm – 10pm & 10:30pm – 11:30pm

Workout Music
Rock
5:30pm – 6:30pm & 7pm – 8pm

About the Performers

Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press

“Rod Tuffcurls and The Bench Press is like the cover band that’s never seen a cover band.” – Said a smart, observant man.

Rod Tuffcurls and The Bench Press is an exciting cover band from Chicago, entertaining crowds at clubs, festivals, weddings, and other events all across the Midwest since 2008.  Their unique song repertoire include hits ranging from Hall & Oates to Taylor Swift, Queen to The Beatles, and Wilson Phillips to Elton John!  You may even hear some of our off-the-wall choices from Les Miserables, The Golden Girls, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and classic Disney movies!

Rod Tuffcurls and The Bench Press combine excellent musicianship, bone-crushing 3-part vocal harmonies, and a contagious stage energy that will keep you dancing!

With their vast array of experiences, Rod Tuffcurls and The Bench Press are prepared to handle any venue, and are happy to work with production managers, wedding planners, and events planners to make sure that every detail goes smoothly, regardless if it’s a festival for thousands, or an intimate wedding for a hundred.

Learn more at thehemisphereschicago.com

Workout Music

In June 2010, Workout Music won WGN’s Breakthrough Band contest which landed them a $10k recording at I.V. Lab StudiosSince then WM has gained popularity throughout Chicago headlining gigs at the House of Blues, Double Door and Metro. 

Workout Music prides themselves on their explosive live shows; creating a party atmospheres with confetti, silly string, balloons, and of course, Jameson.

Learn more at workout-music.bandcamp.com

About this Series: Live on the Lake!

This free, all ages concert is presented as part of Live on the Lake!, Navy Pier’s free summer music series in the Miller Lite Beer Garden