Credit: Dusty Lombardo

Lisa Harris, ceramic artist and instructor at Lillstreet Art Center and Evanston Art Center, saw:

Japanese Kimono, 1915–1940 at the Art Institute of Chicago

My husband and I recently went to the Art Institute to bum around and happened upon the Japanese kimono show tucked away downstairs. The kimonos were beautifully mounted and ranged from 1915 to 1940: the oldest were vibrant with color and gorgeous designs, as were the art deco styles and a few artist-designed pieces. As a ceramic artist and instructor I was bowled over by the layers of patterning, the level of detail and refinement. The fabric techniques of stenciling, resist, printing, brush painting, embroidering in gold thread are also used/adapted in clay decoration and would be fertile ground for students.

Credit: Francois Schnell

Randall Albers, chair of the fiction writing department at Columbia College, attended:

Bastille Day events and Summerdance

The only problem with summer in Chicago is the difficulty of picking among manifold exhilarating events. Take Bastille Day, when the French consulate was sponsoring a reception, 5K run, and “bal populaire” at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center, ThinkArt Salon was offering up French art and food, and the always-hopping Summerdance was featuring Roma music. Thankfully, storming Central Lockup was not on the events calendar, too. Instead, fortified with wine, food, fancy chocolates, and a rousing chorus of “La Marseillaise,” courtesy of the French government, my lady and I proceeded to storm the Summerdance floor for some gypsy gyrating under a full moon.

Credit: Dusty Lombardo

Jenny Lizak, member of the board of directors and publicist for the Metro and Smart Bar, saw:

Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour

This documentary is about one of my favorite bands, the now-defunct Le Tigre. It was entertaining, political, sometimes serious, and mostly hilarious! Seeing the movie was bittersweet because it made me love the band even more for who they are, while driving home that I’ll never see those songs performed onstage again [the documentary chronicles the band’s 2004-2005 farewell tour]. It was also the only time I’ve joined with others in dancing around to the end credits of a movie.

Jara Kern, marketing director for the

Chicago Humanities Festival, read:

The Tiny One by Eliza Minot

One of my greatest summer pleasures is reading a terrific book outside, as the day winds down and the evening breezes blow, the crickets start singing, and night takes over. I just finished The Tiny One, which was a beautifully written, vivid, and sad tale about an eight-year-old girl in Massachusetts whose mother is killed in an accident. The entire book takes place in one day, and as her day moves toward its sad ending, the girl’s thoughts are filled with her mother. My own little girl just turned one, so the story was especially meaningful to me as I think about how to balance my own priorities and obligations and give my daughter a memorable childhood.

Credit: Alison Felus

Trevor de Brauw, local musician, went to:

The patio at Handlebar

Few things top Chicago summers in my book. The conclusion of our (admittedly) perilous winters inspires a certain joie de vivre in people that helps all our shared seasonal hardships melt away. Nowhere is this transition better represented than the escape from the loud, dark din of Handlebar’s interior (where I am an unabashed regular) to their sunny and spacious patio. I’m a fan of Handlebar’s comfort food and excellent drink menu year-round, but nothing beats the relaxed vibe of the patio, where patrons eat a little bit slower, drink a few more beers, and revel in their well-deserved contentedness.

—Compiled by Julia Thiel