Global Auction Record Set For Ernie Barnes Painting
Hindman Auctions set a global auction record earlier this month, for Ernie Barnes’ “The Grape Vine,” during its post-war and contemporary art auction. The artwork, from the collection of Mavis Staples, more than tripled its presale estimate, closing out for $75,000. Barnes’ “Singer” was another top performer from the collection selling for $34,375. Staples met Ernie Barnes around 1976 at a Staple Singers show in San Francisco. The auction house relates, “After the show, he went backstage to introduce himself and invited them to his studio on that Sunday, and on Monday the family picked out which paintings they wanted to buy.”
MCA Honors EXPO
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago honors EXPO CHICAGO on June 21 with the Corporate Vision Art Award for its ongoing support of arts education in Chicago, the MCA announces. Tony Karman, president and director of EXPO CHICAGO, will accept the award on behalf of the Exposition. The MCA’s Corporate Vision Art Award is an annual award and ceremony, established in 2014, to recognize figures and businesses that have made significant philanthropic contributions to arts and arts education in Chicago. The ceremony directly benefits the MCA’s learning programs, which provide 15,000 students and teachers with free arts education experiences each year. The award has raised over $1.5 million in support of the MCA’s learning programs since its inception. Over the past year of school and museum closures, the MCA’s learning team found innovative ways to reach schoolchildren and teachers virtually, providing flexible arts education curricula within at-home learning.
Chicago’s Lil Bit Saucy Named LEGO Kid Creative Director
Chicago twelve-year-old musician Robyn (aka Lil Bit Saucy) was selected by the LEGO Group and Kids Creative Studio team from more than one-hundred applications. Robyn will receive $10,000 toward future education and endeavors and will join nine other young people as part of Kids Creative Studio, “a creative team led by kids, focused on showcasing and inspiring the imaginative superpowers of today’s youth,” LEGO relays in a release. Robyn’s Instagram bio: “THE FIRST EVER KID CREATIVE DIRECTOR FOR LEGO MULTI TALENTED DOPE”; more from LEGO here.
DINING & DRINKING
Wowee For Oooh Wee It Is
Nick Kindelsperger writes about the years-in-the-making “overnight success” of Chatham’s lines-around-the-block Oooh Wee It Is: “I was working at the Ford plant, but I was trying to find a way out,” co-owner Mark Walker tells the Trib. “‘I noticed that the vending machines were always empty, so I started to offer my homemade sweet tea.’ Instead of using powdered tea and gobs of white sugar, he made his version with real tea leaves, local raw honey and fresh fruit.” Of the family’s second location, with customers in line before the 11am opening, Kindelsperger writes, “The space’s most distinguishing feature is probably the brightly colored cereal bar, featuring a wall of cereal boxes displayed like liquor bottles behind an actual bar with four high-top stools. Cereal is nostalgic for a lot of people, but it also has a special significance for him, Walker said. ‘Cereal has been a staple in the African-American community for a long time. I had nine sisters and brothers, and there often wasn’t enough cereal to go around. I always told myself that when I was older, I would make sure I always had cereal in my house.” Along with hard-to-find brands, Walker offers cereal shakes and “even cereal cocktails.”
Northern Michigan Wineries Take Medals At Texsom
Northern Michigan wines excelled at the TEXSOM International Wine Competition, with sixty-nine medals to wines of the Traverse Wine Coast, representing seventeen wineries. Three wineries, Aurora Cellars, Good Harbor Vineyards and Soul Squeeze Cellars captured the Judges’ Selection award. Only eight percent of wines in the competition were awarded a gold medal, and nine Michigan wineries received gold recognition. Three of the local wineries, Aurora, Shady Lane and Verterra, each received two gold awards. More here.
FILM & TELEVISION
Taking Mr. Kelly’s Time Machine With Rick Kogan
Rush Street’s olden days will return to life in “Live at Mister Kelly’s” on WTTW on May 27, reports Rick Kogan. David Marienthal, a high school acquaintance of Kogan’s, spent seven years on a hourlong documentary about his father George Marienthal and his brother Oscar. “From roughly 1953 to 1975 these two ran three Chicago nightclubs that defined the era and launched the careers of dozens of performers. The places were the Happy Medium, a theater/disco at Rush Street and Delaware Place; the London House, a stylish restaurant featuring jazz stars at the corner of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue; and the most famous of them all, Mister Kelly’s, at the corner of Bellevue Place and Rush Street.” The interviewees in the film include Ramsey Lewis, Lily Tomlin, Bob Newhart, Fred Willard, Dick Gregory, Les McCann, Lainie Kazan, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce’s daughter Kitty, Tom Dreesen, Herbie Hancock, David Steinberg, Bonnie Koloc and David Mamet, who relates his moment as an inept busser at the London House. “It is really a remarkable movie, one that not only captures the excitement of the places but also the many elements that conspired to make the night clubs so popular, the state of the country’s entertainment scene, the intimacy of it all.”
Mayor Lightfoot’s Letter on Excluding Journalists Gets Reaction
“In letter to journalists, Mayor Lightfoot said there are no women of color assigned to cover Chicago City Hall,” tweeted Becky Vevea reports: “Maudlyne Ihejirika, a reporter and columnist for the Sun-Times and president of the local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists [says] ‘This comes a year, almost to the day, of George Floyd’s murder… If a mayor of the third-largest city wants to step up at this time in history and say, “Here is my effort. Here was my reparative measure to address the media sector,” what is the big deal?'” Morgan Elise Johnson, co-founder of The TRiiBE, tweets, “Are all the media outlets going to publish stories about Black and Brown access to interviews today rather than Lightfoot’s actual record with Black and Brown communities over the past 2 years?” Sarah Conway, senior reporter at City Bureau: “I wish Lightfoot’s office would have granted one interview to our budget team last year who were mostly young women of color covering policy. Instead, they declined every. single. interview. request. and complained about multiple FOIA requests.”which then noted that “Two of the three WBEZ reporters covering City Hall are Hispanic and South Asian women, respectively.” From Lightfoot’s missive: “It is too heavy a burden to bear, on top of all the other massive challenges our city faces in this moment, to also have to take on the labor of educating white, mostly male members of the news media about the perils and complexities of implicit bias. So here I am, like so many other Black women before me, having to call your attention to this problem.” In WBEZ’s report on Lightfoot’s closed door,
From a statement from the NABJ: “Although we cannot support the tactic, we applaud the mayor’s sensitivity to the lack of diversity among the people who cover city government. Historically, America’s elite political units have been led by predominantly white reporters and managers. Too often Black journalists are not given the opportunity to join political teams. While the mayor has every right to decide how her press efforts will be handled on her anniversary… NABJ’s history of advocacy does not support excluding any bona fide journalists from one-on-one interviews with newsmakers, even if it is for one day… [T]he mayor is right in pointing to the fact that Black and Brown journalists have been quietly excluded from a number of access points over the years. We know first hand it is painful and unhealthy for our communities. NABJ is also gravely concerned to see that a city with such a diverse population has no fair representation of communities of color in its local press corps.”
The Tribune’s Chris Jones, on Twitter: “[T]his is my take on the Lori Lightfoot ‘only talking to journalists of color’ controversy today… all political leaders and their handlers pick and choose… But if you are da mayor and concerned with only talking to white guys, you reckon, the best approach is to, well, give lots of interviews to journos of color. You don’t put out a press release. You just do it. You make a point of it. You call up [The TRiiBE], say, and say the Mayor would like to talk. And then you offer a frank interview… This is a good thing. But the moment you put out that release, all journos of all races rightly are affronted by the attempt at control. Simply: Public’s right to know and the need to resist control by a political leader trumps the race of the questioner… MLL runs the city. Power needs checks. This was the mistake the Lightfoot team made… Finally: to be clear, I am saying here that it is just as possible that all Chicagoans, including white Chicagoans, are best served by an unstinting journalist of color. My point is that a check on power matters most. That is not a zero-sum issue with encouraging diversity.”
Musing on Lollapalooza Mass Safety
As spring blooms like summer, is caution cast to the wind? After this week’s announcements by the mayor and Lollapalooza, journalists like the Reader’s Leor Galil have concerns: “There is enough information now to realize a festival that draws 100,000 people is a health hazard, cancel Lollapalooza. idk, i’m just a simple music journalist, but the conditions involved in herding 100,000 people into a relatively small, temporarily established gated space during summer’s peak make it impossible to attend such an event safely during a pandemic! … think about the security at the entrances—a chief concern after the news broke that the Las Vegas shooter booked a hotel room overlooking Grant Park. How do you have attendees go through security while restricting physical interaction? Lolla takes place over four days, but go just one day and that’s ten hours, if you arrive when gates open, which people do! Standing in the heat that long means you need to drink a lot of water—you gonna refill a bottle from a water station servicing thousands during a pandemic? I am not a health professional, but it seems highly unlikely that this event will be safe in three months! Especially when other smaller festivals scheduled to happen were forced to cancel because of the exact same concerns!”
“At Ravinia, they’re carefully drawing socially distanced circles on the lawn. At the Goodman, they’re streaming shows from an empty theater. At Second City, most of the tables have been removed and you have to sip your drink and then restore your mask in seconds, lest you get asked by a house manager to hit the road. Meanwhile… Lollapalooza is back. At full capacity. The disconnect is nothing short of stunning,” writes Chris Jones at the Tribune. “I thought this was going to be a quiet summer of live entertainment… way more than 2020 but not full-on 2019… Now Lollapalooza is back in July! At full capacity! It’s fine because it’s outside, you say? Ha! … A full-capacity Lolla isn’t a gradual reopening, it’s a go-for-broke, knock-down, roaring-back, defiant declaration of summer normalcy.”
CSO Chorus Director Duain Wolfe To Retire
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association announces the retirement of Duain Wolfe, chorus director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus since 1994. Wolfe, only the second director to hold the position since the Chorus was founded in 1957, prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for more than 150 programs, including Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts in Orchestra Hall, programs at the Ravinia Festival, Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park, Carnegie Hall and the Berlin Philharmonie. More here (pdf).
A Theater Critic’s Call For Proof of Vaccination
“If universities are planning to require returning students to be fully vaccinated, why can’t performing arts venues do the same?” The Los Angeles Times’ Charles McNulty writes. “This policy would offer audience members some insurance that the stranger crammed into the seat next to them wasn’t a potential petri dish of COVID variants eagerly seeking a crack in their newly erected wall of immunity… Broadway producers are discussing making vaccinations a requirement for cast and crew. But there seems to be some hesitancy to impose this on theatergoers, even though they’ll be sitting cheek-by-jowl in rows that could make flying coach seem like a fantastic luxury. Forgive me for being skeptical about the scruples of producers, but when ethical considerations are a concern on only one side of the balance sheet, I remain dubious. In any case, fear of offending vaccine refuseniks — or more precisely, turning away their credit cards — shouldn’t be top of mind at this critical juncture. Proud public health rebels who trust their own hunches and political allegiances more than empirical data don’t deserve special coddling. Let them ride a horse into a Costco parking lot and celebrate their liberty in the ranting company of a TV has-been.”
ARTS & CULTURE
Street Parties Permitted After July 4, But Bouncy Houses… Bounced
“Block parties can return to Chicago neighborhoods, reports Block Club Chicago. “There’s a catch kids won’t be happy to hear: The bounce houses/jumping jacks provided by the city won’t be coming.” The Department of Transportation will accept permit applications, starting June 6, for events planned for after July 5. “Although no capacity limits will be put in place, organizers must notify neighbors of a block party and recommend vaccinations for people who plan to attend. Applicants must provide evidence a majority of the residents on the block approve of the party.”
Pre-Lolla, Hoteliers Pool For Moolah
The Trib’s Ryan Ori reports that while Lollapalooza would be a “game-changer,” downtown hotels are asking for help. The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association is asking the city for $75 million in grants “to cover reopening costs, which mostly would cover early weeks of wages for returning workers. The Hotel Jobs Recovery Plan, as it’s called, asks the city to use about 3% of Chicago’s funds from the federal American Rescue Plan. Large hotels will need to rehire hundreds of workers in order to open their doors.”