Calvin Tomkins Cites “The Singular Influence Of Kerry James Marshall”
“For the first thirty years of his career, Kerry James Marshall was a successful but little known artist,” Calvin Tomkins writes in the New Yorker. “His figurative paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and videos appeared in gallery and museum shows here and abroad, and selling them was never a problem. He won awards, residencies, and grants, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1997, but in the contemporary-art world, which started to look more closely at Black artists in the nineties, Marshall was an outlier, and happy to be one. He had an unshakable confidence in himself as an artist, and the undistracted solitude of his practice allowed him to spend most of his time in the studio.” His 2016 MCA exhibition, writes Tomkins, “outed Marshall as a great artist, a virtuoso of landscape, portraiture, still-life, history painting, and other genres of the Western canon since the Renaissance. The return to figurative art in the past two decades has been embraced by a new wave of younger Black artists, and for many of them, it is now clear, Kerry James Marshall has been a primary inspiration… Marshall, whose calm manner and impeccable courtesy put people at ease, talks about his work with clarity and precision. ‘Everything I do is based on my understanding of art history.'”
Seven-Year-Old Bill Murray Clip On Art’s Virtues Goes Viral
A two-minute clip from a 2014 press conference for the movie “Monuments Men” surfaced on Twitter, yielding a 2.7-million-and-counting hits. ARTNews summarizes: “Early in his career, the actor Bill Murray was depressed, mulling suicide, and walking around Chicago when he wandered into the Art Institute. There, he came across a painting that saved his life: ‘The Song of the Lark’ (1884) by the French painter Jules Breton… The painting shows a girl lost in thought, taking a break from working in a dimly lit field with a sickle. Murray: ‘I thought, “Well, there’s a girl who doesn’t have a whole lot of prospects, but the sun’s coming up anyway and she’s got another chance at it. So I think that gave me some sort of feeling that I, too, am a person, and I get another chance every day the sun comes up.”’ The painting is on view at the Art Institute in Gallery 222.
Art Institute Employees Look To Unionize
“Organizers said they hope to unionize about 330 Art Institute employees, some of whom were affected by furloughs and temporary pay cuts during the pandemic,” reports the Sun-Times. “The employees want to affiliate with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and are asking management not to interfere with the campaign.” A letter “signed by 60 workers call[s] for more power over decisions affecting staff. It cited concerns about wages, workloads and working conditions.”
“We believe the Art Institute of Chicago’s vision of an inspired and just society must begin with the inclusive, humane, and respectful treatment of its staff,” the letter begins. “The museum currently operates on a system of hierarchy and opaque decision-making that undermines its stated goals and values. We believe there can be no equity without power sharing; therefore, we, the undersigned—staff members from various departments and diverse roles across the institution—are uniting to form our union with AFSCME Council 31. By negotiating a fair contract with management, we will work to realize the museum’s potential as a true leader among its peers. Though concerns about wages, workloads, and working conditions are not new to the Art Institute, the financial and social uncertainties of the past year have brought these issues to a head. At the height of the pandemic, many museum employees were asked to work on site without hazard pay and with limited resources. Almost 200 of our colleagues were furloughed or laid off. The responsibilities of those terminated or put on unpaid leave were transferred, without discussion or transparent decision-making, onto remaining colleagues. As a result, we have been forced to adapt to a challenging new work environment in which we shoulder greater responsibility for less pay and as few opportunities for advancement as ever.”
City Shutters Jefferson Park’s Alchemy Chicago Gallery
“An art gallery that was temporarily shut down by the city is now closed,” Block Club reports, “but the owner suspects complaints from neighbors for attracting people of color to the neighborhood is to blame for the shutdown. Alchemy Chicago, 4503 North Milwaukee, was a multi-use event space that hosted shows and workshops and offered video production services. It was shut down by the city last month, as an investigation by police and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection found Alchemy was operating an illegal event space with approximately 125 attendees and offering liquor sales without the required licenses, department spokesman Isaac Reichman said.” The city’s Department of Buildings ordered the business closed for dangerous and hazardous conditions; the gallery also lacked an operating license.
Oriental Institute Remembers Robert K. Ritner
The Oriental Institute reports the passing of Rowe Professor of Egyptology Robert K. Ritner on July 25. “Robert was a great Egyptologist, who lived for his discipline and inspired generations of students, who was extremely popular with the audiences of his many lectures, with our docents and volunteers, and with the many fellow travelers whom he took to Egypt, and who returned as true Egyptophiles.” Remembered for his devotion to Egyptology in his professional and personal life, Ritner wrote “The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice” (1993), one of the most influential volumes in the study of ancient Egyptian religion, magic and culture. More on Ritner’s life in the University of Chicago release here.
DINING & DRINKING
Chef Michael Kornick Out At DMK
Eater Chicago noticed that Michael Kornick’s name was missing from publicity for the opening of The Assembly, DMK Restaurants’ food hall in suburban Washington, D.C. Kornick tells Eater that “last year he moved to Evergreen, Colorado, leaving DMK in the fall. It was an amicable separation as the company’s other co-founder, David Morton, wanted to pursue larger projects, like the Assembly. ‘David and I had a great run — he’s ten years younger than me and he really has aspirations of these large projects and moving the company in a great direction. I was turning the corner in another chapter of my life.’ … He’s hopeful that Chicago’s restaurant industry can endure during the pandemic… [H]e’s seen the demand for private chefs increase. He may have some Chicago-related news in the coming months.”
Restos Respond To Restored Mask Mandates
Eater does a round of restaurateurs’ responses to incoming mask mandates, including this from Hopleaf: “Michael Roper, owner of Hopleaf Bar in Andersonville, posted an update on Facebook, writing that “another round of capacity restrictions and closures will be the death knell for us and many of yours and our favorite dining, drinking and entertainment venues… Since the CDC vaccination cards are easily copied and counterfeited anyway, we are, for the time being, not going to make them a requirement for entry… However, if you are not vaccinated, please stay away. If you show symptoms, stay home.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Chicago International Film Festival Launches Year-Round Industry Programming
The Chicago International Film Festival, presented by Cinema/Chicago, has formed Chicago Industry Exchange (CIX) for its year-round industry programming, along with the launch of CIX:Lab, a yearlong creative development lab focusing on four to five feature film projects made by diverse voices and underrepresented filmmakers in the region, CIFF announces in a release. CIX will build on the Festival’s Industry Days, expanding its scope and support for independent filmmakers and media-makers from Chicago and across the Midwest, to include year-round programming focused on professional development. CIX:Lab will launch October 2021 during the Festival’s Industry Days. The year-long lab will select a minimum of four projects led by BIPOC, female, and non-binary filmmakers. The lab will also build professional networks and connect filmmaking teams with agents, executives, and financiers. CIX will also hold public “exchanges”–including masterclasses and conversations–to serve as professional development and networking opportunities for the Chicago-area film community. Partners include the Chicago Film Office, Independent Film Alliance Chicago, and Full Spectrum Features. CIX:Lab is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts through its Grants for Arts Projects award. More here.
Flavor Expands VFX/Finishing Expertise
Post-production house Flavor announces the hire of Michael Anderson to their Chicago staff in the position of Flame Artist. Anderson has been a Senior Flame Artist with Carbon VFX since its 2018 acquisition of Filmworkers, Flavor says in a release. “Renowned for his visual effects and conforming expertise, Anderson honed his skills in collaboration with the best of the best in the film, television, and commercial production industries, to include Flavor’s VFX Director Rob Churchill.” “Michael Anderson is one of the special people that you meet in this life,” Churchill says in the release. “As history has shown, together, we can tackle anything.” Anderson’s credits include high-profile campaigns for Capital One, Allstate, Kool-Aid, Red Box, State Farm, Wendy’s and other Fortune 100 brands. He has also conformed and finished several feature films, including IFC Films’ “An Acceptable Loss” from Chicago’s Joe Chappelle, for which Churchill was VFX supervisor.” “Michael is a strong visual effects compositor and finishing editor–a unique skillset, which is a real bonus for our clients,” Flavor executive producer Neal Cohen says.
Documents On Department Of Labor Investigation Of Alden Global Capital Released
BuzzFeed News’ senior investigative reporter Jason Leopold tweets, “Dept of Labor investigated hedge fund Alden Global Capital & found the hedge fund likely ‘mismanaged’ employee pensions at newspapers it purchased [The Washington Post] covered this in April based on docs it obtained via [the Freedom of Information Act] but didn’t post. So I FOIA’d it too.” The twenty-one pages of documents are here.
Where Did Lightfoot’s Number For Vaccinated Lolla-Goers Come From?
The Trib’s Rex Huppke wants to know, tweeting: “Before Lollapalooza even ended, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot boasted that 90% of festival attendees were vaccinated. I wondered where that number came from and how it was calculated. The city sent me a tweet from the Lolla account. This is ridiculous.” From his column: “That 90% figure may be completely accurate. Given the rarity of breakthrough COVID-19 cases, the end result of Lollapalooza, from a public health standpoint, may be negligible…it might even stand out as proof that vaccines have allowed us to truly resume normal behavior… But if that figure is inaccurate, and if Lollapalooza winds up contributing substantively to the spread of a virus we are now fully capable of beating, the damage done will go well beyond this one event… [T]hose who are driving vaccine hesitancy will exploit even the smallest mistake or misstatement. If Lightfoot’s 90% figure winds up being off and an outbreak follows, the anti-vaccine crowd will point to it and say, ‘See, what good does the vaccine do you?’ Fair or not, we just can’t give people like that any ammunition. They’re using it to kill people.”
Pritzker Sees No “Mixed Message” In Bowing Out Of Lolla
“Governor J.B. Pritzker said ‘there’s no mixed message’ in his last-minute decision to skip Lollapalooza this weekend over concerns about the delta variant of the coronavirus after previously saying that the event would be safe and he planned to attend,” the Tribune reports. “Pritzker less than two weeks ago said that he and his wife, M.K., planned to attend the massive festival, which drew roughly 100,000 concertgoers per day to Chicago’s Grant Park. He planned to go Saturday but his press secretary issued a short statement the following morning saying the governor chose not to attend ‘out of an abundance of caution.'”
Chicago’s Children’s Choir Releases Recording of Its “Odyssey”
The nonprofit Chicago Children’s Choir (CCC) is releasing a studio album, “Long Way Home,” the choir’s latest full-length LP and their first full-length theatrical work since “Sita Ram.” “Long Way Home,” a reimagination of Homer’s “The Odyssey,” set in modern-day Chicago, tells the story of Ody, a South Side poet who ends up on a magical journey home through Chicago’s neighborhoods. The thirty-four-track collection of original compositions will be available on all major streaming platforms starting August 17. Proceeds support Chicago Children’s Choir’s mission to inspire and change lives through music. Originally written for the stage, the “Long Way Home” production sold out five nights at Chicago’s Studebaker Theater in 2018. “The new studio recording captures the passion of the timeless tale while dealing with challenges of modern times and seamlessly integrates a range of home-grown musical styles, from blues to house,” CCC says in a release. “True to the album’s celebration of Chicago’s cultural scene, ‘Long Way Home’ features custom artwork by Chicago-native Hebru Brantley.”
The Neo-Futurists Announce Season, Return Of Late-Night Show
Chicago’s longest running late-night show, The Neo-Futurists’ “The Infinite Wrench,” resumes its thirty-three-year run for weekly in-person performances on Saturday, September 18. The signature production kicks off the company’s season, which also includes: a collaboration with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival in January 2022; the world premiere of Lucille Ball-inspired “WILDCATS” in May 2022; and the world premiere of Neo-Lab commission “Elements of Style,” a Neo-Futurist take on the classic grammar handbook in July-August 2022. “Our work is dependent on a live audience, as we see the audience as active and necessary participants in the show,” artistic director KR Riiber says in a release. “We are thrilled to bring our late-night, high-energy assemblage of sports, poetry and living newspaper back to the stage, where the audience determines the order of thirty plays written, directed and performed by The Neo-Futurist Ensemble.” More here.
American Blues Theater Hosts Virtual Reading Of “Refugee Rhapsody”
American Blues Theater will host a virtual reading on August 6 of the winner of the 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Award, “Refugee Rhapsody” by Yussef El Guindi, directed by Kaiser Ahmed.“We’re so excited to present a reading of Yussef El Guindi’s script ‘Refugee Rhapsody’ as the 2021 winner. Yussef is an important voice in theater. We are honored to share this powerful and unforgettable story,” artistic director Gwendolyn Whiteside says in a release. Tickets here.
Joffrey Ballet Sets Children’s Cast Open Audition For “The Nutcracker”
The Joffrey Ballet will hold open auditions for the children’s cast of Christopher Wheeldon’s “The Nutcracker” at its downtown studios in Joffrey Tower on Sunday, September 12. “All students in the Chicago area with dance experience that meet casting criteria are welcome to audition,” Joffrey says in a release. “This annual audition is for all young dancers, from any studio or school, interested in auditioning for Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘The Nutcracker,’ whether or not they have participated in the Joffrey’s ‘Nutcracker’ in the past. The audition will be directed by artistic staff from The Joffrey Ballet. The audition form is here.
ARTS & CULTURE
Lightfoot Tweets Mask Guidance; NYC To Require Proof Of Vaccination In Public Spaces
“Based on our current COVID-19 data, we’re now recommending that everyone over 2 years old, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in public indoor settings. Get [vaccinated],” the mayor tweeted Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, New York City will require proof of vaccination for people participating in indoor activities, not limited to dining at restaurants, attending live performances, and working out at gyms. The New York Times: “New York City will become the first U.S. city to require proof of vaccination for a variety of activities… to put pressure on people to get vaccinated… The program, similar to mandates issued in France and Italy last month, will start later this month… ‘Not everyone is going to agree with this, I understand that,’ New York’s mayor said. ‘We are putting a mandate in place that is going to guarantee a much higher level of vaccination in this city. And that is the key to protecting people, and the key to our recovery.’”
No Chicago Vaccine Passport For Now
“Despite rising COVID-19 cases, Chicago won’t require vaccine passports like New York for now, the city’s health commissioner says,” reports the Tribune.
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