Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Excellent Exhibitionism

Exhibitionism – The Rolling Stones, which runs through July 31 at Navy Pier in Chicago, uses assorted media and artifacts to celebrate the iconic English band. From the ‘Ladies And Gentlemen’ neon sign and wall of monitors at the entrance, to the tiny pages of Keith Richards’ faded 1960s tour diary, it’s a banquet for Stones fans. In addition to displaying instruments the musicians played, scale models of their elaborate stages, studio tape boxes with their recordings, outfits they wore, and posters that heralded their gigs, Exhibitionism underscores how much American blues music was part of the band’s DNA.

A number of the rooms within Exhibitionism have large screens showing Rolling Stones performances from over the decades. That includes footage of them onstage with Muddy Waters, where the mutual respect and affection is unmistakeable. We also see Buddy Guy praising the Rolling Stones, and Richards recalling that being able to record at Chess Studios in Chicago cemented the band’s passion for black music.

The recreations of the apartment the band members shared back in their early days, as well as the studio where they recorded some of their most successful albums are also fascinating. Each of the display cases for the guitars has a notecard explaining the role that instrument played in creating particular songs. It’s a kick to read personal memories from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and other musicians who recorded and/or performed with the Stones.

The posters range from the early days of multiple band showcases with The Supremes, The Beach Boys, Gerry And The Pacemakers, James Brown, The Hollies, and others to more sophisticated efforts that qualify as fine art. There’s an exhibit on how artist John Pasche came up with the lips and tongue logo, as well as portraits of the band members by Andy Warhol. All in all, Exhibitionism does a bang up job of entertaining as well showing the lasting effect The Rolling Stones have had on modern culture.


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