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About this time of the waning year, we're supposed to be reflecting wisely on the 12 months past, making some kind of sense of them.

Fat chance, that.

In this corner, they comprise a spoiled dozen we'd like to return to sender, and take a loss on shipping costs and everything else.

But at least there are some bright lights glowing on ’18's horizon.

That is, if we don't look too far afield from our own back yard.

One of the more exciting coming attractions looming just a month away on the local arts front is internationally renowned Twin Cities sculptor Dann Nardi being the subject of a solo exhibition, "Dann Nardi: from the studio," opening Jan. 12 in the McLean County Arts Center.

It's his first here in a whopping 23 years ... way too close to a quarter-century for comfort.

The former occasion was Nardi's monumental 1995 show, "Middle Ground," in which the visionary artist appropriated all of Illinois State University's University Galleries (in its old Centennial space, of course).

As those who saw it then and haven't forgotten it will recall: The project entailed Nardi literally making the entire gallery space over ... painting the ceiling black, designing new wall constructions and filling it all with his elegantly contoured geometric constructions.

Though he hasn't mounted a solo show here since, Nardi and his work have still been a highly visible presence on the local scene and beyond ... most notably to the public at large via "In Exchange" (2002-4), the large-scale sculptural installation that fills the Illinois State University pedestrian plaza from North Street to Beaufort Street.

Nardi’s half-block-long design of large circles integrate art, plantings and a water element to convey the exchange of relationships between man and nature.

And then there's "Being In Blue (2005)" in Bloomington's Central Illinois Regional Airport, the striking cast-and-pigmented concrete installation in the terminal measuring 15 feet in diameter.

Slightly further afield, Nardi's work is a key component of the World War II Illinois Veterans Memorial at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield (2004),  designed by Jeffrey Poss. At the emotional epicenter of the memorial is its monumental Nardi-constructed concrete globe.

Proving once again that Nardi has never been afraid to think big.

As someone striving to connect with "the larger orders within our world and experiences," as he once explained to us, he’ll do what he needs to do to, often expending truckloads of concrete and plywood in the process.

Earlier this decade (2010), he even had the ground level of the one-time tallest building in the world as his showcase: the former Sears Tower on Chicago’s South Wacker Drive.

During that summer, its lobby hosted "Twenty-Two Years," a 17-piece retrospective of his work over that time span.

The focal point was "Four Brothers," a quartet of large, differently hued conical sculptures that premiered 15 years earlier as part of "Middle Ground" at ISU.

Stay tuned for further coverage of "from the studio," which as, noted, opens Jan. 12 at the McLean County Arts Center, in the Brandt Gallery, continuing through Feb. 17. The official reception for Nardi is 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 19.

He talks about the show here:

The week in arts ahead 

Holiday spice: The Illinois Symphony Orchestra may have already gifted us its Holiday Pops concert earlier this season. But it's not over yet.

The ISO's own Mini-Me of sorts, the smaller-scaled Illinois Symphony Chamber Orchestra, presents its own holiday-ready concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in downtown Bloomington's Second Presbyterian Church.

Joining maestro Ken Lam will be a couple special guests: violinist Robyn Bollinger, who was good enough to make her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 12; and countertenor Daniel Moody, praised by The New York Times for his "vivid and powerful" voice (not Fake News, for those keeping tabs).

The seasoning for the seasonal sounds is billed as "spicy," with the tang coming from Piazzolla's "Four Seasons of Buenos Aires" (with Bollinger) and Moody's singing a selection of Vivaldi's most famous arias.

More Ewing manners: Missed last weekend's "Christmas at the Mansions" tour? Well, take heart: one-third of that tour is back for encores Thursday night, from 5 to 8 p.m., courtesy of a solo Christmas at Ewing Manor tour, with the historic Bloomington home swinging open the doors one more time to its vintage Christmas decorations and assorted other seasonal embellishments. A suggested donation of $10 can be made at the door.

Dan Craft is Pantagraph entertainment editor. He can be reached at 309-829-9000, Ext. 259 or via email at 



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