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Untitled (dancer_1)/Photo credit: Michael Schmelling 

Chicago's music scene, as expansive as it is, is obviously best portrayed on the stage. However, as with any art scene, it shouldn't be limited to one medium. With the help of two equally special exhibitions, The Museum of Contemporary Photography proves that it's just as important to capture the sights of Chicago's live music as it is the sounds. 

The first is Michael Schmelling's Your Blues. Despite its title, this artist's photos focus on a much broader subject than Chicago's legendary blues music. In fact, the exhibition's title refers more to the the Chicago music scene's individualism than to one genre in particular. From punk to hip hop, house parties to venerable venues, DIY artists to professional labels, Schmelling peaks his lens into every corner of Chicago's musical landscape. The resulting shots are as unique and varied as the subject itself. 


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Untitled (DJ)/Photo credit: Michael Schmelling 


Schmelling's MoCP exhibition, which runs through December 21, is part of an 18-month museum-commissioned exploration of the Chicago's music community in the photographer's hometown. The end result of Schmelling's visual research will be a publication, likely taking after the nostalgia-inducing fanzine format. The publication will also include an essay from musician Tim Kinsella of local Cap'n Jazz and Joan of Arc fame. 

While Your Blues plays to the here and now in Chicago, Michael L. Abramson's Pulse of the Night is a retrospective look at the city's arresting diversity. Abramson's name needs little introduction in the photography world; he's arguably one of Chicago's most famous artists of his like alongside names such as Art Shay. His work can be found amongst the esteemed collections of the Smithsonian and the Art Institute of Chicago. If you're not familiar, he's best known for recording the city's South Side during the 1970s. Despite the era's glamour and color, Ambranson produced some of the most iconic images of the flashy jazz and blues club crowds on black and white film. 


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Photo credit: Michael L. Abramson 

Abramson, who passed away in 2011, is honored through his work with Pulse of the Night, his work's first exhibition of this scale since 1977. Many of these shots are making their public debut. The exhibit runs through December 19. 

The Museum of Contemporary Photography (located at 600 S. Michigan Ave.) is a free museum open seven days a week. See both Your Blues and Pulse of the Night now through December. For more information and museum hours, visit the MoCP's website


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Photo credit: Michael L. Abramsom