One Artist To Emerge
Among the initiatives of Emerge, an MCA Circle Donor group of art admirers, collectors, and art patrons is to bring artists’ first work into the MCA Collection. Emerge will cast their final acquisition vote on May 13 from a trio of Chicago artists: Andrea Carlson, Caroline Kent (Newcity Art 50 2020) and Ebony G. Patterson (Newcity Art 50 2020). The three finalist artworks will be on view at the MCA beginning April 24.
Taking Art Off The Walls And Putting It On The Block
Artnet looks at loosened rules that allow museums, including the Art Institute, to deaccession and sell art holdings. “The New-York Historical Society is the latest institution to sell art amid snowballing fallout from the pandemic. This season, it’s joining six other museums (the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Newark Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum), most of which are taking advantage of temporarily loosened deaccessioning regulations. Notably, the majority of the works on offer are in the American art category, a sector that has seen mostly lackluster sales since the financial crisis.”
Goose Island Could Be Drowned With Nearly 2,700 New Homes
Vancouver’s Onni Group has detailed its four-phase, multi-edifice development planned for eight acres of Goose Island, Halsted Point, covering the Greyhound bus maintenance facility at its southern tip. Tally: 2,650 new homes, a 247-room hotel and 1,470 parking spaces in five skyscrapers. The Architect’s Newspaper has more.
Freedom Center’s Just Another Word
The fortified former Chicago Tribune printing and distribution annex at Chicago and Halsted, just north of the massive “Freedom Center” that now also houses its newsroom, will remain undeveloped for now. “A joint venture of broadcast company Nexstar Media Group and Riverside Investment & Development has dropped [its 2017] plans to build 1.2 million square feet of offices and a 310-unit apartment tower at 700 West Chicago Avenue,” reports the Tribune. “We thought looking for office tenants right now was a waste of time,” a figure in the deal told the Trib. “Nobody knows what kind of space they need. Everyone’s evaluating. There’s so much vacancy downtown, it doesn’t make sense to start a new building like that.”
DINING & DRINKING
Former Food Critic Jeff Ruby Sees Sign of Times
“Where are all of Chicago’s dining critics going?” asks Eater Chicago. Chicago magazine’s former food editor Jeff Ruby tells Ashok Selvam, “I don’t know. I’m 49. I’m a white dude. The landscape is changing,” Ruby says. “You could look at Vettel leaving and Dolinsky leaving and me leaving as a sign of times, and it might be.” Reviewing, he says, “sure as hell needs to be more diverse.”
Cocktail Subscriptions Help Lost Lake
The New York Times explores how tech startups and upstarts like the subscription service Table 22 helped hospitality providers like Logan Square bar Lost Lake during the pandemic. “Dozens of companies have either started or scaled up sharply as they found their services in urgent demand. Meanwhile, investors and venture capitalists have been sourcing deals in the ‘restaurant tech’ sector — particularly seeking companies that bring the big chains’ advantages to independent restaurants.” “We get lots and lots of calls from these tech companies trying to help — or prey upon — us struggling businesses,” Lost Lake owner Shelby Allison told the Times. “She was impressed by the low service fee and the fact that Table22 shared customer data. She started the service in October, hoping for 30 sign-ups; 100 people joined. Ms. Allison now has 300 subscribers and five employees working on the make-at-home cocktail boxes. ‘This will 100 percent stay in the future. I love this program. I thought it might cannibalize my to-go business, but it hasn’t at all.'”
FILM & TV
Chatham Studio Movie Grill Closed For Good
The Crusader reports the Chatham Studio Movie Grill on 87th Street will not reopen. Studio Movie Grill filed Chapter 11 in October, and “the Dallas-based chain said in the bankruptcy filing that it intended to maintain operations during the restructuring of its debt.” The chain had thirty-three locations, down now to twenty; against its $104 million in secured debt, it reports $100,000 in its bank accounts. “All SMG theaters remain under review, but SMG Chatham isn’t currently part of our re-opening plan,” a representative tells the Crusader.
In The Houses Of Literati
The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame will present “Inside for Indies: Live on Independent Bookstore Day” on Saturday, April 24, Independent Bookstore Day. “James Finn Garner and a cast of Chicago authors joined together early in the pandemic to raise awareness and money for Chicago’s struggling independent bookstores,” CLHOF writes. “Jim called his creation, ‘Inside for Indies,’ and each episode featured an author showing off his home and writing space. A concerted effort was made to direct donations to local stores like The Book Cellar, and also to the American Booksellers Association, which was distributing funds to bookstores in need.” Saturday’s live “Inside for Indies” program, hosted by Garner, will feature author Faisal Mohyuddin and pop-ins at independent stores, including Women & Children First, The Dial, Bookie’s, Seminary Co-op and Centuries & Sleuths. Register now via Zoom.
Tribune Publishing Board Rushes to Alden Global Capital
Tribune Publishing has ended discussions with Maryland hotelier Stewart Bainum Jr., the company says in a press release, “Tribune Publishing Special Committee Determines April 1 Proposal From Stewart Bainum and Hansjörg Wyss No Longer Reasonably Expected to Lead to a ‘Superior Proposal.'” This dashes the intentions of Bainum, whose letter in the release states, “My advisers have substantially completed the necessary due diligence of Tribune and there remain only a few issues to be negotiated in the definitive transaction documentation. I remain confident that there is significant interest in joining this effort and expect the necessary arrangements among one or more additional equity financing sources can be completed expeditiously.” Tribune Publishing kiboshes: “The Alden Merger Agreement remains in full force and effect, and contains certain restrictions on Tribune’s ability to engage with Mr. Bainum with respect to the proposed acquisition of Tribune described in his April 17 letter, including because Mr. Bainum has not yet secured the necessary financing for such proposal, nor can there be any assurance that he will be able to do so.”
“World’s Greatest Newspaper” Evangelizes “#Adulting”
Touting a Saturday essay, Chicago Tribune editorial page editor Kristen McQueary prompts, “How about a lighter read on this Saturday morning? Op-ed: Post-pandemic, will millennials finally decide to start #adulting?” The essay McQueary endorses, by a “Chicago-based marketing researcher,” shows a timeworn way with cliché as it damns “millennials.” “As digital natives, they only know a world in which an endless supply of options in the form of information, products, and people are acquired on demand via the internet. As collateral damage from the Great Recession, they never stood a chance at developing their principles around saving and planning,” Jennifer Rosner writes. “We started crafting and baking, watched a lot of PBS, and learned how to play online mahjong. And as time slowed at first, we woke up one day and quite suddenly realized that an entire year had flown by. For a generation [that] subscribed to the tenets of eternal youth — that we had a ton of time to do all the things and meet… life milestones eventually — the brutality of 2020 and now 2021 confronted us with a painful reality. Life is short, death is all around us, the oldest of us will turn 40 this year, and it’s time to grow up.” Watch your back, John Kass! (A former Trib hand tweeted, “Can’t stop laughing that the Trib found a Millennial to write an op-ed their thesis was ‘The Boomers Were Right After All'”)
Jessie Montgomery Named CSO’s Next Mead Composer-in-Residence
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association announced the appointment of composer, violinist and educator Jessie Montgomery as its next Mead Composer-in-Residence. A winner of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence and the ASCAP Foundation’s Leonard Bernstein Award, Montgomery “has emerged as one of the most compelling and sought-after voices in new music today,” writes the CSO. Appointed by Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti, Montgomery will begin her three-year tenure on July 1.
Jeff Awards Clarifies Its Ticket-Taking
In an update on plans for the Jeff Awards, the group clarifies its free ticket policy. “Theaters that participate in Jeff Awards adjudication provide complimentary tickets for members to attend productions. When the theater seasons resume, the ticket policy for Equity productions will now be one ticket for individual Jeff members both on opening nights and once a production has received a Jeff recommendation. This is consistent with the policy for non-Equity productions. More details will be forthcoming directly to theaters to help theaters streamline the process to include Jeff Award members in attending performances or maintain their traditional ticket allocation if they desire.”
Two Nods For Artemisia Theatre Playwright-In-Residence Lauren Ferebee
Lauren Ferebee’s new play “Goods,” a science-fiction adventure about two intergalactic trash collectors, which has its virtual world premiere May 5-30 via Artemisia Theatre, has won the 2021 Planet Earth Arts Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. The Planet Earth Arts Playwriting Award, created in partnership with the Planet Earth Arts Foundation, is given to plays that discuss sustainability and address urgent environmental and social justice issues. “Goods” is also nominated for the Kennedy Center college festival’s National Partners in American Theatre Award, selected each year from among eight nominations from across the U.S. to recognize the year’s best-written, best-crafted script with the strongest writer’s voice. Ferebee is in her final year as an MFA candidate in playwriting at the University of Arkansas, and is a playwright-in-residence at Artemisia Theatre with two virtual productions in 2021: “Goods” followed by “Into a Blaze: The Triangle Shirtwaist,” about the deadly 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist conflagration, streaming October 20-November 14.
ARTS & CULTURE
Arts 77 Sets $60 Million For Chicago Art
Taking its name from the seventy-seven Chicago neighborhoods, the City of Chicago announced Arts 77, a major new initiative. The plan, reports Chris Jones at the Trib, “represents a new city investment of over $60 million to support local artists and organizations throughout the city. ‘It’s unprecedented and it’s right for the times,'” Mark Kelly, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, told Jones. “It means it is no longer ‘DCASE delivers the arts’ but the entire city government is now involved. It’s embedding the arts in the city. Think of this as a new Works Progress Administration project for the entire city.” “Before the pandemic struck, our arts and culture sector was a significant employer and economic driver that generated thousands of jobs and billions of dollars for our city,” Mayor Lightfoot says in a DCASE press release. “With this incredible program, we will not only be able to revitalize this critical sector and provide support to our artists, creative workers and organizations, but also place the arts at the center of our city’s recovery efforts.” The program includes expansion of the Neighborhood Access Program, the Chicago Band Roster and Chicago Presents grant programs, Culture in My Neighborhood (a $40 million collaboration by DCASE, the Chicago Park District, and Chicago Public Library), Individual Artists Program grants, Artist Response Program grants, and $18.5 million in art and infrastructure investments.
Navy Pier Reopens April 30
Eight months after shuttering, Navy Pier begins a phased reopening, the Sun-Times reports. “Accessible to the public, who will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing: Navy Pier parking garages, Polk Bros Park, Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion, North and South Docks, Pier Park (including some rides and attractions), East End Plaza, tour boats and cruises, the Sable hotel, and some restaurants at limited capacity.” Hours will be from 10am- 8pm Sunday to Thursday and 10am-10pm Friday and Saturday.
Logan Square Loses Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm
LoganSquarist reports on the elimination of the neighborhood’s Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm. On the first workday of the season, “property owner Al Jakich told the team members he couldn’t give them any more time to fundraise. He is moving forward on offers from developers and permitting volunteers one week to clear everything off the lot. Because Corner Farm had a big turnout for the season kickoff, the group was able to dismantle most of the garden within the day, said Jill Johnson, a team member and unofficial coordinator at the farm. Next Saturday, they’ll move everything they need into a U-Haul so Jakich can put up a fence. The team plans to store its materials while searching for a new space in the neighborhood.” Adds Block Club Chicago, “Jakich is forging ahead with his plans to sell the corner lot to a condo developer and move out of state, Johnson said, marking the end of the Corner Farm’s thirteen-year run. Jakich has owned the land for four decades and allowed Corner Farm to use it for free.” Jakich told Block Club that at seventy-two, “he’s ready to unload the property and move on with his life. The developer offered Jakich about $900,000 to build a six-unit condo complex on the land.”
Gary Johnson Takes Reins at Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Governor Pritzker named former Chicago History Museum chief Gary Johnson as the new Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board. Johnson was appointed to the ALPLM board of directors in September 2019, after serving as president of the Chicago History Museum for fifteen years. Johnson was a lawyer and partner in international law at Mayer Brown and Jones Day for twenty-eight years. “The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is a treasured institution that pays homage to not only the country’s first president from Illinois but also our great state’s incredible history,” Pritzker says in a release. “I am pleased to announce Gary Johnson will serve as Chair of the Museum’s Board, bringing years of prior, award-winning service with him. I am confident he will excel in the role and work to ensure the ALPLM remains a top destination for Illinoisans and visitors alike.” In Johnson’s time, the Chicago History Museum received the National Medal from the Institute for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest award for museums and libraries. Johnson also served for ten years as President of Museums in the Park and worked as Vice Chair on the Special Commission on the Administration of Justice in Cook County.