Marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road, a cluster of upcoming events are directly related to and inspired by the novel’s central themes and its contributions to Beat culture – including the iconic and symbolic way the manuscript was written.
The Museum of Contemporary Photography’s newest exhibit, fully titled On the Road: Dave Anderson: Rough Beauty; Farm Security Administration; Dorothea Lange, brings a questioning focus on the effects of wanderlust and travel on the discovery of the American unknown, a theme initially explored by the book:
We have chosen to focus on the philosophical and personal results of travel: learning the difference between the real edges and the ideal, mostly fictional, center of America; discovering the possibility of reinventing the self in transit to and from anywhere; and learning how big this country really is in physical expanse and how very small it can be in individual cultural awareness. These are the central themes of Kerouac’s novel.
This Friday, there is a nice opportunity to learn more about the photography collections included in the exhibit, with a Curator’s Tour presented jointly by the museum’s Director and Manager of Education.
Columbia College is also tipping its hat to the novel's widespread influence with And the Beats Go On…The Literary and Cultural Legacy of the Beat Generation. The dozens of exhibitions and programs intend to celebrate the cultural contributions of the “poets, artists, filmmakers and musicians known as the Beat Generation.”
And finally, through November, the Gallery at Columbia Book & Paper Center will be exhibiting the "Kerouac Scroll": his original, 120-foot manuscript.
Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan Ave., Photo exhibit runs through 11/1, Curator’s Tour Friday, 9/19, 12 p.m., Free
Columbia College Chicago, locations/times specific to events, 10/3-11/26, all events free unless otherwise noted
The Gallery at Columbia Book & Paper Center, 1104 S. Wabash, 2nd. floor, M - F, 12 – 7, SAT + SUN, 12 – 5, Opening reception Friday, 10/3, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., Free
Image via Thomas Hawk