The “David Bowie Is” exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art will end January 4 and while tickets are available, some weekend dates are selling out fast. The Chicago Ambassador highly recommends checking it out for yourself. It’s much more than a collection of Bowie artifacts, it’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed. No matter if you’re only a casual fan of Bowie, it will be hard not to be moved by the exhibit. The main takeaway one leaves with is the appreciation of Bowie as a true artist, not merely a musician.
Keep in mind that the MCA is the only U.S. destination for the exhibition and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Curated by Michael Darling — formerly of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), he proves that while Chicago may have once lost Eddie Vedder to Seattle — Chicago reaped the better deal by gaining Darling from the city of rain.
If possible, check it out during the week when it’s less crowded. If you can only attend on a weekend, go early. We recommend taking public transportation if possible, as parking fees are high in that area downtown. (You’ll play $35 to park for 2-3 hours). Tickets to the exhibition are $25 and are staggered by entry times. So, if you buy tickets for 11 a.m., the museum wants you to enter between 11 and 11:30. You can stay for as long as you wish and to experience it right, expect to spend two hours.
We have compiled a list of things from the exhibit that you may not know about Bowie –just a little teaser.
* Bowie gets involved with every aspect of his work – from the music to the stage designs, costumes, and makeup, right down to the lighting, and was drawing stage designs as early as 1962 when he was 15-years-old.
* Bowie made his television debut at the age of 17 on England’s “Juke Box Jury,” singing “Liza Jane.”
* Bowie was performing The Velvet Underground songs in 1966 before the band’s debut album was released in the UK. He obtained a test pressing of The Velvet Underground’s debut album from his manager, Kenneth Pitt, who had met Andy Warhol at The Factory that same year. Warhol, who was managing The Velvet Underground, gave a copy to Pitt, who in turn gave it to Bowie.
* “Space Oddity” was first released in 1969 to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon landing. The producer of the album, Tony Visconti, thought it was too much of a gimmick and refused to produce it. Gus Dudgeon produced it instead.
* “Space Oddity” remains Bowie’s #1 selling single in Britain to this day.
* Bowie’s first single (1966) was “Can’t Help Thinking About You.” However, it was really his second. The first, “The London Boys,” was rejected by the record company as too controversial because of lyrics about taking pills.
* Music from Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” was played before some of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust gigs and band members were pictured in poses mimicking the movie poster.
* Bowie was friends and drew inspiration from William Burroughs.
* Bowie is pictured in a “man-dress” on the cover of his 1972 album “The Man Who Sold The World.” Too controversial for the U.S. market, the picture was replaced with a cartoon image of a cowboy carrying a gun for the American release.
* Bowie wore makeup that was the pattern of a lightning bolt on his face for his 1973 “Aladdin Stone” album cover, but he never performed with it. However, he did wear it on a mask for his “Diamond Dogs” tour and had it emblazoned on a jacket.
* Bowie wanted to adopt George Orwell’s “1984” for stage and screen but was denied. “Diamond Dogs” was created instead.
* Bowie once auditioned for the musical “Hair.”
* The lighting in the musical “Cabaret” inspired the lighting for Bowie’s “Station to Station” tour in 1976.
* In 1977, Bowie moved to West Berlin, sharing an apartment with Iggy Pop.
* Bowie appeared on stage in Chicago in 1980, acting in “The Elephant Man,” by Bernard Pomerance.
For tickets, click here.