Chicago Artists Coalition Announces Its “Biggest Night Of The Year”
“Work in Progress 2021” is a virtual celebration of Chicago Artists Coalition’s forty-seven years as a nonprofit dedicated to contemporary Chicago artists. The free, virtual event is open to the public on Wednesday, June 9 and will highlight milestones of Chicago-based artists and curators and their influence in and beyond the city. The event includes an art auction and recognition of the night’s honorees, artists Nick Cave and Bob Faust (Newcity Designers of the Moment 2020), and CAC supporter Jeff Shapack. CAC will also award grants to seven artists. A ticketed “Work In Progress 2021” VIP event will follow with a private, virtual tour of Facility, Nick Cave and Bob Faust’s multi-disciplinary creative space in Northwest Chicago. A live conversation with the artists follows. More info here.
An Art Conversation With Arnold J. Kemp, Ian Cooper and Hamza Walker
Arnold J. Kemp (Art 50), Ian Cooper and Hamza Walker (Art 50) will discuss Kemp’s exhibition, “False Hydras,” his first solo presentation in Los Angeles. The work includes recent photography, print and sculpture works “that consider the refraction of biographical narrative through social signifiers such as race and gender.” An artist, poet and educator, most recently as Dean of Graduate Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, “Kemp has been making and exhibiting critically engaged art about race, sexuality, appropriation, and authorship for the past twenty-five years. While often described as an artist’s artist, he has found his greatest kinship with writers, specifically those affiliated with the New Narrative movement out of San Francisco.” Kemp will be talking with Ian Cooper, artist, producer and creative director of Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, and former Chicagoan Hamza Walker, curator and executive director of LAXART. The Zoom registration link for the Saturday, May 8 chat at 6pm is here.
Landmarks Illinois Lists 2021 Most Endangered Historic Places
Properties included on Landmarks Illinois’ twenty-seventh annual “Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois” are “those threatened by a lack of proper maintenance due to neglect or insufficient funding for repair and face the threat of demolition, or inappropriate redevelopment,” the group says in a release. Among local notables: Altgeld Gardens Shop Building and School Buildings C and E; Cicero’s now-vacant ninety-nine-year-old Klas Restaurant, “an anchor to Cicero’s Cermak Road commercial district and is important for its cultural history to the Chicagoland Czech community; the Scott Foresman Headquarters in Glenview; locations cited in The Green Book across Illinois; and the James R. Thompson Center. Descriptions of each site included on the 2021 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois are here.
Preservation Chicago has posted a petition to save the Thompson Center and “unleash its creative energy” rather than obliterate it from the face of the Loop. “It was built for the people of Illinois, by the people of Illinois, to inspire the people of Illinois. Designed by Helmut Jahn to be Illinois’ ‘second state capitol building’ in the state’s largest city, it sought to redefine the relationship between the citizens and their government with transparency, engagement, and energy,” the petition reads in part. “Jahn’s wildly exuberant James R. Thompson Center / State of Illinois building exceeded all expectations… Resembling no other government office building, this spectacular masterpiece incorporated public amenities… with the goal of generating vibrancy… James Thompson challenged Jahn to create a building that would breathe life and vitality back into the Loop… Will this magnificent public building be demolished for a nondescript high-rise? Or will a new owner realize Thompson’s vision of a dynamic creative center overflowing with vibrancy and energy? Live music, dance, arts and city festivals could be hosted daily on the plaza and year-round in the atrium, similar to the wildly successful Sony Center in Berlin also designed by Jahn. Designated floors could become incubators for nonprofits, arts organizations, start-ups, exhibit and gallery space. Other floors could be populated with a hotel, apartments and small businesses. A gourmet food court and café dining in the atrium could create a dynamic piazza experience protected from the elements. All located at a major transit hub that would allow equal access to Chicagoans all across the city.”
Basecamp Says It’s Learned From “Funny Names” List
“Basecamp CEO Jason Fried [Design 50 2019] apologized after the ‘policy changes’ he announced last week ultimately led to a third of the company’s workforce opting to leave,” the Verge reports. “Last week was terrible. We started with policy changes that felt simple, reasonable, and principled, and it blew things up culturally in ways we never anticipated,” Fried wrote. “David and I completely own the consequences, and we’re sorry. We have a lot to learn and reflect on, and we will.” The Verge reports that the blog post “that started the software company’s terrible week was a list of new company policies that prohibited, among other things, ‘societal and political discussions’ on internal forums… the initial motivation for the letter arose from uncomfortable internal disagreements over a list of ‘funny names’ of Basecamp customers. Several of the names on the list, of which management was well aware, were of Asian or African origin. Employees considered their inclusion inappropriate at best and racist at worst.” Fried blogged, “We’ve been in business for 22 years, through thick and thin. We’re in it until the end of the Internet. We will regroup, rebuild, and get back to the business of making great software.”
DINING & DRINKING
Who Will Feed The City Of Big Eaters Post-Pandemic?
“Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and in each of those there are restaurants that define that neighborhood. A lot of those are gone, taking away the character of those neighborhoods.” Eater Chicago surveys how restaurants fought to survive and the lessons they’ve learned through the first year of the ongoing pandemic. Among those surveyed: co-founder and executive chef of One Off Hospitality, Paul Kahan. “This has come as a great opportunity to redefine the industry and our business,” Kahan says as its 800-person payroll has reduced to 176. “There are so many things wrong with the restaurant industry and a lot of that came to light with all the social upheaval. We’re working through the issues and [we hope] we can create a much better workplace for everyone.” The broad survey notes that 373 new restaurants, including Ever, Mama Delia, Taqueria Chingón, Testaccio, Dear Margaret and Cocoa Chili, opened between March and December of last year, compared with 1,205 openings each year over the previous three years. Read more.
Jab Openings In West Town For Hospitality Workers
The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group is hosting vaccinations on Tuesday, May 18, with a thousand free Pfizer vaccine shots, regardless of insurance or immigration status. They will close West Town Bakery and Roots Pizza from 8:30am-3:30pm for the event. (Co-sponsors include Humboldt Park Health, Casa Central and Chicago Vaccine Angels.) “Throughout the pandemic, the Fifty/50 has dedicated kitchens and capital to feeding vulnerable populations throughout the crisis while also keeping our people employed to the greatest extent possible,” the company writes on its website. “Local restaurants lie at the heart of our neighborhoods’ vibrancy and we are proud to have locations as far south as Motor Row and as far north as Lincoln Square with more to come.” Pre-registration is preferred, but walk-ins are welcome. Information here.
FitzGerald’s Incorporates Barbecue
Babygold Barbecue joins Berwyn music venue FitzGerald’s today. “Chef John Manion’s menu is anchored in the venue’s Americana roots and features smoked meats and creole-inspired dishes that philosophically fit into the FitzGerald’s ecosystem,” the spot says in a release. “Restaurant and club veteran Will Duncan bought the forty-year-old live music institution from the FitzGerald family in March of 2020, and he and the team have carried on the family’s legacy by operating a music venue during a pandemic. Live music is offered nightly on the newly remodeled socially distanced patio.” As for the eats, menu highlights include Babygold Pork Belly, Char-Grilled Oysters, Po’ Boys and BBQ Spiced Cauliflower.
Skittles Sues Edible Dealers
Mars Wrigley, parent company of Skittles filed a series of lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages, including one in federal court in Chicago, alleging marijuana edibles sold by unauthorized online retailers are infringing upon their trademarks, reports the Sun-Times. “Mars Wrigley is trying to push back against a common practice in the marijuana industry: using trademarked names for pot varietals, such as the popular Girl Scouts Cookie strain.”
FILM & TV
A Chicago “Glee”?
Fox Entertainment has ordered ten episodes of the Chicago-produced “Big Leap,” a ballet-themed dramatic comedy that its execs reportedly compared to the “Glee” pilot of a decade ago, reports Reel Chicago. The series features diverse, down-on-their-luck characters who hope to change their lives by being part of a “reality dance show” that builds to a live production of “Swan Lake.” The cast includes Scott Foley, Teri Polo and Piper Perabo.
Gordon Quinn Talks Artist Docs
“Every ten years or so I like to make a documentary film about an artist because I am interested in their artistic processes and the consequences of art in our society.” Gordon Quinn, founder and artistic director of Kartemquin Film says in anticipation of the May 11 Doc Talk Show on “For the Left Hand,” co-directed by Quinn, and featuring writer-producer Howard Reich. Register for the Tuesday, May 11 Zoom event here.
Chicago-Partnered Doc Gets Notice From Peabody Award Nominees
The Peabody Awards jurors selected sixty nominees that “represent the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and streaming media during 2020. The nominees were chosen by a unanimous vote of nineteen jurors from over 1,300 entries.” The Netflix release “Athlete A” is in the mix, a “comprehensive documentary” on the gymnasts who survived USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse and the reporters who exposed that group’s toxic culture. The film’s partners include Chicago Media Project, Impact Partners, Artemis Rising Foundation, Meadow Fund and the Dobkin Family Foundation.
City Lit Books Sets June 19 Reopening Under New Ownership
Stephanie Kitchen, a longtime Logan Square resident, will reopen City Lit Books. Teresa Kirschbraun, the bookstore’s founder, says in a release, “I am thrilled that Stephanie will be the new caretaker of City Lit! She is so well-prepared and it’s great that she lives in the neighborhood. I was overwhelmed by the responses I received when I announced the closing of City Lit in the Fall of 2020. People from around the country—even from other countries—reached out to let me know how important City Lit had become for them.” Kitchen says, “When Teresa announced her plans to close, I reached out to her to see if there was a way we could continue City Lit’s legacy. The pandemic has taught me the importance of community, which is why I am so eager to welcome the community back, and to continue to offer a place of wonder, connection, and discovery.” Kirschbraun will stay on for a few months to share her expertise with Kitchen. “This is a return to the beginning,” Kitchen says. Through college and shortly after, Stephanie worked in new and used bookstores as a bookseller and book buyer. For the last 13 years, Stephanie worked as a librarian with the Chicago Public Library.
IF YOU DON’T BUY THIS PUBLISHER, WE’LL KILL THIS TAB
New York Daily Newser Larry McShane issues a plea to the ultra-wealthy of Gotham as Alden Global Capital circles to devour Tribune Publishing, including its New York title. McShane seeks suitable match: “a New York owner, someone who knows the city and embraces the paper’s 102-year legacy, who hears the voices of the five boroughs shouting from every page and our website. Someone who can treat the newspaper as a public trust, not simply as a property from which to squeeze every last bit of possible profit… Tribune now plans to peddle the paper to Alden Global Capital, the notorious hedge fund known for [ravaging] newspapers like the Denver Post before picking the bones for profit… [Stewart] Bainum’s deal, while potentially salvation for the Daily News and other papers, is not a sure thing. But it’s almost impossible to imagine anything as worse than the Alden alternative. Tribune signaled they were willing to listen, but time is running out: The vote on the Alden offer is set for May 21. New York City, a place brimming with millionaires and billionaires and civic-minded nonprofits, is teeming with potential new owners to steer our tabloid into the future—and we’re looking to team up with one. Or two. Or three.”
Talking Chicago Black Radio Broadcasting
Midway Broadcasting’s Melody Spann Cooper will be a featured guest at one of the Museum of Broadcast Communications’ “100 Years of Radio” celebrations tonight. Museum executive Susy Schultz will interview Spann Cooper about her new book, ‘The Girlfriend’s Guide To Closing The Deal,” as well as the history of Midway Broadcasting’s historic WVON, the oldest Black-oriented radio station in Chicago. Register for the event here ($5 fee).
First Chicago “Vaccination Passport” Concert Announced
The city of Chicago will sponsor summer concerts open only to those with proof of vaccination. The Tribune reports that the series opens May 22, hosted by the Silver Room, with performances by DJ Ron Trent and Duane Powell. “To attend, concertgoers must have received the final dose of a two-dose vaccine or a single-dose vaccine on or before May 8. The city said each concert will be ticketed, and attendees must bring their CDC vaccination card and a matching photo ID. Tickets will be distributed via Eventbrite, designated vaccination sites and will call.” Tickets will be released at noon, May 11 at thesilverroom.com.
Fall 2021 Broadway Tickets Go On Sale
The Broadway League announces tickets on sale for Fall 2021 performances in New York City; is the Trib’s Chris Jones back on the frequent frequent-flyer miles beat? Broadway performances were suspended March 12, 2020 with thirty-one productions, including eight shows in previews, along with eight productions in rehearsal for the spring season that was not to be. September 14 is the targeted date; are Chicago announcements imminent?
American Ballet Theatre Dances Across Pritzker Pavilion
“ABT Across America,” a free American Ballet Theatre performance, will play Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on July 8. (Ticket reservations will be announced soon.) Presented by the Auditorium Theatre, ABT will bring twenty artist-athletes to a live outdoor performance as part of the company’s cross-country road trip, ABT Across America, traveling to eight cities. “The Auditorium Theatre is grateful for all the support we’ve received during our closure, and we wanted an exciting way to say thank you,” Auditorium Theatre CEO Rich Regan says in a release. “American Ballet Theatre is a great partner of ours, and we are delighted to offer this evening of incredible dance as our gift to Chicago.”
ARTS & CULTURE
“Open Culture” Coming This Summer
Kelly Bauer of Block Club Chicago reports via Twitter from Mayor Lightfoot’s midweek presser: “A critical component of this mission is revitalizing our arts and culture scene, which is essential to our ability to recover from this pandemic both for our economic and social needs,” Lightfoot said. “This sector has sacrificed and it’s suffered so much over the course of the last year. Our arts and culture community is not a nicety; it’s a necessity.” Lightfoot called Wednesday’s announcements “only the beginning of our targeted efforts to safely reopen our city” as the city remains vigilant “to fight this virus that is still very much a part of our present.. As I’ve said before, all these events that take a very long lead time, we’ve been in conversation with the organizers and producers for some time. But we’re not ready to kind of announce what might happen later in the summer, but stay tuned.”
“Lightfoot is pushing for Chicago to be fully reopened by July 4 — and she’s announced baby steps toward that reopening along the way,” Bauer begins her write-up at Block Club Chicago. “The newest changes: bringing back cultural events like Taste of Chicago To-Go, the Maxwell Street Market and concerts at Pritzker Pavilion… The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is reviewing applications for outdoor festivals, street and arts and craft fairs and athletic events. Those events will have to follow state safety guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.” Lightfoot also sees these events as vaccine injection centers: “We’re very enthusiastic about bringing the opportunity for folks to get vaccinated to each of these events,” likely with Johnson & Johnson shots. “We’ve seen in other places across the country this has been used with great success.”
“Chicago’s arts landscape has been devastated. We all must do our part to support the recovery of this vital sector, which is so necessary to our economy and our sense of belonging,” DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly says in a release. “I am also excited to know that the arts will be on the leading edge of the city’s reopening as our music clubs, theaters, and festivals come back to life and energize Chicago. There is so much to be excited about. During this Year of Chicago Music, our ‘Chicago In Tune’ festival will emerge as a joyous month-long celebration of Chicago’s amazing music scene. Our Chicago Presents and Chicago Band Roster programs will animate our entire city with music, theater, and dance. The arts may have suffered greatly, but the arts will also bring us back into the public realm.”
Macy’s Sets First Walnut Room Drag Brunch
Macy’s State Street announces that “Drag Brunch will be held at the world-famous Walnut Room—the very first restaurant and longest-running in a department store—for the first time in its history. Chicagoans are invited to celebrate Pride Month with a Drag Brunch at the Walnut Room on June 12.” The shows will be hosted by Chicago’s Lucy Stoole and will feature performances by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season two contestant Kylie Sonique Love, 2021 Drag Queen of the Year Pageant winner Tenderoni and Minneapolis-based drag queen Sasha Cassadine. “We’re thrilled to honor Macy’s annual Pride + Joy celebrations in Chicago with the first Drag Brunch in the history of the world-famous Walnut Room,” Matt Sarosy, Macy’s State Street store manager says in the release. “Macy’s is committed to fostering an inclusive culture and environment that inspires our colleagues and customers to be their authentic self every day.” Tickets are $20 and include a seat for the show, a $10 Macy’s gift card and a Macy’s swag bag. Tickets will be sold in tables of two, four and six guests. All guests must purchase an entrée during the show. Limited tickets will be available Friday, May 7 at 10am at flipphoneevents.com.