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Chicago This Week: Charles Ray's Huck & Jim at the Art Institute

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photo courtesy cantina 1910

Here are the five coolest things to do in and around Chicago this week

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If you're a fan of art that pushes the boundaries, this is the right week to be in Chicago. The hilarious Margaret Cho is bringing her razor-sharp, in-your-face comedy to the Chicago Theater. With the current political climate as it is, we can't imagine who she'll take aim at—but she'll be marrying a same-sex couple on stage. In a related vein, Charles Ray's nude Huck and Jim, which was rejected by The Whitney as too controversial, is on display at the Art Institute Chicago as part of Charles Ray: Sculpture, 1997–2014, the artist's largest retrospective since 1998. Read on for more.

October 1–7 | Museums
Museum Week
Chicago has an annual Spa Week and Restaurant Week—why not a Museum Week? For its inaugural year, the 12 institutions participating in Museum Week will offer free or discounted admission, plus special programming, exhibits, tours, or classes. Highlights include free tours exploring the Art Institute's masterpieces on October 1 and 3; a free tour of the Field Museum's vaults on October 2 and free admission for Illinois residents on October 4; and, at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, free admission for Illinois residents on October 1, and the opportunity to hang out after-hours with hundreds of butterflies in the Butterfly Haven on October 6. (The whole museum is open till 8 p.m. that day.)
Times, locations & prices vary | website

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October 3 | Comedy
Margaret Cho 
With Donald Trump as the Republican presidential front-runner, Planned Parenthood at risk of being defunded, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis riding a speeding train to infamy.... Margaret Cho, who is the new co-host of E!'s Fashion Police (taking over from her idol, the late Joan Rivers), will surely have her quips ready and her barbs fully sharpened for this tour, during which she's marrying one same-sex couple on stage in each city. Prepare for tears of joy and laughter.
8 p.m. | Chicago Theater, 175 N. State St., Chicago | (877) 280-9582 | From $29.50 | website

Through Oct 4 | Art
Charles Ray: Sculpture, 1997–2014 
The most talked-about exhibition the Art Institute's Modern Wing has had in years, the work of Chicago-born sculptor Charles Ray will only be on display through the weekend. The  retrospective takes up much of the Modern Wing's second floor and spills into the outdoor sculpture garden. The collection includes four new works, including Huck and Jim, the life-size sculpture of a nude Huckleberry Finn and Jim of Mark Twain fame. Ray created it for the public plaza in front of New York's Whitney Museum—but the museum deemed it too controversial to display. This is your only opportunity to see the work in the United States, so get there while you can. 
10:30 a.m.–5 p.m. (Thur till 8 p.m.) | Art Institute Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago | (312) 443-3600 | From $20 | website

AFAR Local is published every Wednesday, so check back for insider updates on restaurant openings, festivals, exhibitions, shows, weekend escapes, and more. Planning a trip? The AFAR guide to Chicago has you covered.

New opening | Restaurant
Cantina 1910
After the raucous and no-frills lesbian bar T's closed unceremoniously in 2013, the giant space sat sadly vacant for two years. Now, the sleek and modern Cantina 1910 has opened here, bringing a farm-to-table Mexican concept to the neighborhood, which has gradually become a more upscale dining and drinking destination over the years. Two-story windows make for a dramatic entrance to the 6,700-square-foot restaurant/bar/Mexican bakery/coffee shop, which sources 70% of its ingredients within a 200-mile radius. It's been full each night since opening, but only time will tell whether a $13 cocktail this far north of River North will keep the crowds coming back.
Cantina 1910, 5025 N. Clark St., Chicago | (773) 506-1910 | website

Weekend escape | Road trip
Kane County Flea Market
Those beautiful antiques you see in high-end vintage stores in Chicago, with high-end price tags to match? Chances are that shop's owner bought those pieces at Kane County Flea Market, in the leafy western exurb of St. Charles, for a lot less than you are being asked to pay. Cut out the middleman and spend a day wandering the sprawling grounds of this 45-year-old fair, where you can find everything from midcentury-modern or shabby-chic furniture to inventors hawking what they swear is the only squirrel-proof bird feeder in existence. But don't just drive 40 miles to the market and drive straight back to the city: Downtown St. Charles is well worth a stroll. The Fox River runs through the charming center of town, and the exquisite art deco Hotel Baker (Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg were married there in 2014) is truly something to see. 
Noon–5 p.m. Sat, 7 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun | 525 S. Randall Rd., St. Charles, IL | (630) 377-2252 | $5 | website

Laura Baginski is a Chicago-based writer and editor who specializes in travel and parenting. Because of the latter, the former doesn't happen as much as she'd like.

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