Rock and roll is definitely a fine art form these days in Chicago.
Starting this weekend, music fans can celebrate The Rolling Stones in "Exhibitionism," the groundbreaking exhibit featuring the music, cultural influences, fashion and general artistic lifestyle of the iconic band. The exhibit opens to the public Saturday at Chicago's Navy Pier and runs through July 30.
"It's really a celebration of this band that has been such an important part of our popular culture over the last 50 years," said Ileen Gallagher, curator of "Exhibitionism."
The artistic display features more than 500 items, and is considered the largest touring experience of its kind. Included in the exhibit is a 3-D concert experience as well as handwritten lyric books, photos and film, diaries, an interactive recording studio, apparel and much more.
"Chicago is going to be a great market (for this). Chicago has always been a part of the Stones' career," Gallagher said, adding the Chicago blues scene and its stellar musicians were a big influence on the band, particularly Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
"Mick and Keith were childhood friends...They recognized they had a kindred spirit because they had a great love of American blues music," she said.
The Rolling Stones - Jagger, Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts - have put their stamp of approval on this artistic project. "Exhibitionism" made its U.S. debut in New York prior to coming to Chicago. It officially premiered in London last year.
Gallagher said Navy Pier is a perfect locale for the exhibit because it attracts locals and tourists alike. The curator said the exhibit will offer an immersive and entertaining experience to attendees.
"It'll put you in a flat (apartment) in Edison Grove (London), there's a recording studio environment and a 3D film at the end where you'll feel like you're at a concert," Gallagher said.
The exhibit took 18 months to put together. Gallagher said the team that worked on "Exhibitionism" really "embraced the project."
Gallagher said she's "absolutely thrilled" to have worked on the exhibit. "It's one of the highlights of my career," she said.
Jerry Mickelson, head of Chicago's Jam Productions, called the exhibit amazing for its scope and entertainment value. (Jam is a sponsor of the Chicago exhibit.)
"These guys saved everything," Mickelson said, about the material and items in the Stones' archives.
"I'd say this is pretty comprehensive," Mickelson said. He added when he saw the exhibit in London, he was extremely impressed. So, when Jam was offered the chance to participate as a sponsor in Chicago, Mickelson "jumped on it."
Mickelson praised Navy Pier as a superb location for the exhibit and said they're also "fortunate" to have Choose Chicago as a partner to help promote the project to tourists.
"The Stones is the biggest rock and roll band in the world," Mickelson said. He added the fact we still have them here contributing to the music scene is important. "They have a history that's second to none," he said.
Fans who explore the exhibit, Mickelson said, will get a great overview of not only the history of the Stones but a history and look at the culture from the last five decades.
"This is our lives on display," he said. "And when you walk through the exhibit, they're (the Stones) there."
Marilynn Gardner, president and CEO of Navy Pier, said pier personnel are excited and honored to have "Exhibitionism" on the grounds.
"It's really an exciting time as the pier is being transformed physically," Gardner said. She added, along with the official exhibit, there will be other programs in conjunction with The Rolling Stones display featured at Navy Pier.
"We're going to have fun with 'Exhibitionism.' We're also going to make it a Chicago-centric experience. Also featured will be a special photography exhibit on the Pier by Chicagoan Paul Natkin, who has officially photographed the Stones and their concerts.
Gallagher said attendees will want to allow a good amount of time to explore "Exhibitionism."
"If you like the Stones, (allow for) an hour and a half. If you love the Stones, 2 1/2 hours," she said, with a laugh.