September 2011 Event Highlights

A new arts and entertainment season kicks off this month

Chicago Imagists at MMoCA

Chicago Imagists at MMoCA

It’s an exciting month on the local arts scene, with many groups around the city debuting new seasons and others finding renewed energy as summer draws to a close and fall begins with fresh exhibitions, festivals and performances.

Time and Place

Toward the end of the 1960s, a group of Chicago artists gained notoriety for creating a new type of fantasy art that was colorful, graphic, surrealistic, satirical—and a departure from the Pop art being made in New York, Los Angeles and London. The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art opens a major new exhibition dedicated to the Chicago Imagists (September 11– January 15,, with more than seventy-five paintings, sculptures and works on paper on display.

Come Together

This month, festivals combine food and music with important political and social thought. Over Labor Day weekend, the Taste of Madison (September 3–4, [pictured at right] celebrates local restaurants and global flavors, with eighty area eateries serving up delectable dishes and more than thirty-five musical acts performing on three stages on the Capitol Square. Food is just the starting point at the REAP Food Group’s thirteenth annual Food for Thought Festival (September 17,, a forum that explores sustainable eating with speakers, presentations, demonstrations, food, kids’ activities and more. Find progressive speakers and spirit at the Fighting Bob Fest (September 17, Named after Wisconsin’s “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the festival focuses this year on the topic of class war in America.

Over at the Wisconsin Union, enjoy performances, workshops and films exploring the roles of art and creativity in the struggle for peace at the Madison World Music Festival (September 15–17, Featured artists span the globe, coming from Nepal, Taiwan, Norway, Columbia, Ghana, France and other countries to convene at the Memorial Union. For more exciting sounds, don’t miss the Willy Street Fair (September 17–18,, the city’s largest block party, boasting seven music stages, street performances, food, arts and more. And across town, the Monroe Street Festival (September 17, offers food, entertainment and a popular book sale.

In Stitches

The Alliant Energy Center becomes a quilt-lover’s heaven when it hosts the Wisconsin Quilt Expo (September 8–10, Presented by Wisconsin Public Television, the event includes informal lectures, stage presentations, sit-and-sew and hands-on workshops, a ten-category quilt contest and exhibit and appearances by Nancy Zieman, host of Sewing with Nancy.

Later in the month, head to Olbrich Botanical Gardens for Quilts in Bloom (September 24–October 16, [pictured at left], a creative display of works by dozens of local quilters. Designs are creative interpretations of fall flowers, folliage and grasses, in styles ranging from traditional to modern.

Classical Connections

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (September 16–18, opens its season with John Adams’ Pulitzer Prize–winning “On the Transmigration of Souls” to mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks; the Madison Symphony Chorus and Madison Youth Choir add their voices to the tribute. The concert goes on to feature pianist André Watts in Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, and the symphony closes with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

The MSO and Overture Center also observe the anniversary of the national tragedy at A Concert for 9/11 (September 11,, a free afternoon program with music on the Overture Concert Organ, a choir of two hundred singers, readings and an honor guard.

The Wisconsin Union Theater welcomes the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble (September 30,, the conductor-less octet from London, to perform works by Brahms, Shostakovich and Mendelssohn.

Campus Crawl

A UW–Madison tradition thirty-five years strong, the Karp Family Opening Concert (September 5, marks the start of the UW School of Music’s new season. Part of the venerated Faculty Concert Series, the performance showcases music for strings and piano.

And University Theatre offers a second run of a unique musical it debuted in July. The interestingly named [title of show] (September 9–18, [pictured above right] is a metaphysical adventure chronicling the making of a musical, with songs like “Untitled Opening Number” and “The Tony Award Song.”

Art All Around

Winding its way through communities south of Madison, the 14 South Artists Fall Studio Arts Tour (September 17–18, offers the chance for art lovers to soak up beautiful fall scenery while heading to private studios, where they can meet artists and glimpse their latest work.

Think it Over

The Grace Chosy Gallery presents a thought-provoking show this month featuring work by renowned printmaker Warrington Colescott and UW–Madison art professor Francis Myers. Thinking About War (September 9–October 1, [pictured at left] pairs bold, colorful paintings depicting historical events by Colescott with Myers’ photography of an empty Sterling Hall, the site of the anti-Vietnam bombing in the early 1970s.

Great Explorations

Two plays opening this month present unique slices of life. The Madison Theatre Guild offers Three Tall Women (September 23– October 8,, Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize–winning play focusing on the lives of women from three different generations. Encore! Studio for the Performing Arts brings to stage Acts to Grind (September 23–October 8,, the fourth installment of the company’s popular series of original shorts. Written by community playwrights, the works range from funny to poignant.

Tuning Up     

Summer may be over, but the fun at Monona Terrace hasn’t stopped. Stop by Wednesday evenings for Tunes at Monona Terrace (September 21–November 16, [pictured at right]. This weekly celebration of music and dance has been going strong since 1998. This month, catch Marcy & the Highlights, who play danceable hits from the ’50s and ’60s as well as rock, country, Latin and blues genres.  

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine. Find more arts and entertainment coverage in profiles and the Liberal Arts column.



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