NIU Art Museum Opens Exhibitions Examining Global Refugee And Humanitarian Crises
The Northern Illinois University Art Museum’s exhibition “Refuge and Refugee,” and “The Art of Surviving: The Journey of the Karen Refugees in Illinois,” organized by the Center for Burma Studies at NIU runs at the Art Museum’s Altgeld Hall galleries through November 12. The exhibitions examine refugee experiences through re-creations of home, glimpses of refugee camps, artifacts, textiles, oral histories and photographs as well as contemporary art media grappling with international refugee and immigration crises.
In “Refuge and Refugee,” the work of ten artists including one from the Museum’s permanent collection are presented in an examination of the global humanitarian crises as displaced persons forced to flee their native countries attempt to find refuge elsewhere. The artists, moved by current events and news reports, express their shock, horror, and critique of government polices as well as compassion for those affected. Artists were selected from a national call for entry by the exhibition advisory committee and include Luciana Abait, Karen Albanese Campbell, Yolanda del Amo, Tere Garcia, Judith Joseph, Rebecca Keller, Eddy A. López, Stephen Walt and Kathy Weaver.
“The Art of Surviving: The Journey of the Karen Refugees in Illinois” is based on work done by NIU PhD and MA students who either lived within the refugee camps along the Burma-Thai border or who worked with Illinois Karen Refugee communities for the last fifteen years. The exhibit looks at life in Burma, life in the refugee camp and life in the United States. The Karen, an ethnic group in southern Burma (Myanmar), has been in conflict with the government since 1949, first calling for an independent state and now representation in national government. During the decades-long conflict and violent military persecution many Karen escaped to refugee camps or resettled to a third country. The exhibition ties the minority Karen refugee experience to a global perspective, engaging visitors in a dialogue on forced migration and displacement and what visitors can do to advocate for local refugee communities. More here.
Chicago Sculpture Exhibit Postpones Celebration Of Twentieth Year
The rise in Delta variant cases in the Chicago area is the reason for the postponement of the twentieth Chicago Sculpture Exhibit Celebration. “We are still planning the event [but] the numbers just do not work in our favor today. The Board of CSE will meet in late September and choose a new date for this event,” CSE says in a release, hoping for late October or early November. “The sculptors at the Sedgwick Studios are working with us to make sure that everyone can attend and feel comfortable in doing so. We are so grateful to them, to Richard Hunt and Gwen Yen Chiu, to all of the artists participating this year and through the past two decades, and to all of our sponsors who make this possible. We owe it to you, our friends and supporters, to provide the safest option available.”
Studio Gang Transforms Decommissioned Coal Power Plant Into Student Center
“As we live through real-life tragedies at the hands of human-caused environmental breakdown, small symbols can go a long way to inspire hope for the next generation,” Architizer opines. “One such symbol just opened in Beloit, Wisconsin, where a decommissioned and century-old coal power plant was transformed into a center for student life. Aptly renamed The Powerhouse, this innovative adaptive reuse project will nurture and inspire young minds who face an unprecedentedly daunting geopolitical and environmentally uncertain future…The Blackhawk Generating Station was constructed between 1908–1947 and consisted of an assemblage of buildings; Studio Gang spearheaded the adaptive reuse of the extant structures and a new field house addition. The project… approaches the former coal-fired power plant as a historical structure, integrating multiple modern programs while preserving its original character. The architects harnessed the spatial qualities of the historical buildings and retains iconic architectural features and original industrial equipment while incorporating new sustainable practices and lively gathering spaces.”
Flats Initiative Established To Sustain The City’s Two- And Four-Flats
Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago is among the eight community organizations behind the Chicago Flats Initiative, reports the Trib. “The goals of the initiative are to preserve and rehab two- and four-flats, maintain rental affordability, and help homeowners build wealth. The initiative is working to accomplish that by connecting homeowners and renters to available mortgage and rental assistance programs. With two- and four-flats making up twenty-six percent of Chicago’s housing stock, the structures are as synonymous to Chicago’s landscape as the bungalow, and yet the ‘workhorse’ of the city’s housing stock is disappearing, according to the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University… [B]uildings are being razed and not replaced because of deferred maintenance and difficulty in upkeep, while in other areas, two- and four-flats are being converted into single-family homes.”
Six-Year Renovation Of Mies-Designed Neue Nationalgalerie Complete
Frieze talks to British architect David Chipperfield about his firm’s six-year renovation of the Mies Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin: “The building, from its very first days, revealed a technical weakness. The reason the window frames are so beautiful is that they were stripped back to nearly nothing. As a result, they lacked insulation and produced lots of condensation, which caused the frames to rust. This rusting meant that the frames couldn’t expand and contract as they were supposed to, so the glass frequently broke… The institution got fed up with buying expensive, custom-made, single panes of glass that kept cracking and replaced them with smaller sheets of lower quality… [M]ore surprising was the discrepancy between the steelwork, which was done well, and the concrete work, which was done rather poorly. We tried to keep as much of the original building as possible, so we removed 35,000 pieces of metal framing, granite slabs and timber panels, which were all taken to workshops, restored and brought back. This was an important part of the way that we approached this repair.”
Sam Zell On The Scent Of Luxury Apartment Buildings As Home Ownership Grows Elusive
Sam Zell’s Chicago-based Equity Residential and luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers have formed a partnership to develop apartments in Boston, Seattle, Atlanta, Austin, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth and the San Diego area, reports Bloomberg. The seventy-nine-year-old Chicago businessman and his partners hope “to deploy $1.9 billion to take advantage of the surging demand for rentals.The two companies will invest about $750 million in equity, plus additional debt, over the next three years… Rents in the U.S. are surging as would-be homebuyers get shut out of the housing market. Home prices have been driven higher in the pandemic by low mortgage rates and a shortage of homes to buy… The firms said the projects will be financed with about sixty-percent leverage, and that the $1.9 billion is an ‘initial minimum co-investment.’ Zell’s Equity Residential will contribute seventy-five-percent of the equity for each project, according to the statement.”
DINING & DRINKING
“Check, Please!” Ends Two-Decade WTTW Run
“Check, Please!,” the show where Chicagoans talk about their favorite restaurants, is ending its run on WTTW after twenty years. “David Manilow, the creator and executive producer for the show, made the announcement, writing that he and the network “want to go in different directions and pursue other opportunities, so it’s just not to be,” reports the Tribune. On his Substack page, Manilow writes, “Our little PBS show started with the premise that, if we can get diverse restaurant reviews from three different Chicagoans each week, people who are different from one another, who can offer different perspectives, we can provide our audience with a trusted tour of Chicago eateries and something truly honest and genuine. I hope we accomplished that.”
Publican Sets Epic Two-Week Oktoberfest
Nine-time James Beard Award-winning executive chef Paul Kahan and One Off Hospitality are extending their annual Oktoberfest celebration at The Publican Fulton Market into a two-week long festival, from September 17-October 3, honoring the Bavarian tradition with “hearty eats, plenty of beer and good times all around.” Diners are encouraged to break out dirndls and lederhosen for each Sunday, in keeping with the traditional Munich experience. (Live polka music is anticipated.) Reservations and more here.
Flavors Of Albany Park Boasts Forty-Three Tastes
Flavors of Albany Park, the twelve-year-old restaurant crawl celebrating the cuisine of one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods, returns this week, reports Eater Chicago. There are forty-three restaurants along three separate routes where visitors can try food, drinks, and sweets. The festival begins at 5pm on Thursday, August 26 at Iranian restaurant Noon-O-Kabab; “the path diverges with attendees having their choice of exploring restaurants on Kedzie, Montrose, or Lawrence and Kimball avenues. Located on the city’s Northwest Side, Albany Park features a diverse roster of restaurants from the kebobs of Kabobi and the baklava from Ward Bakery, to the griddle pupusas of Pupuseria El Cuscatleco, to the beers of Twisted Hippo and ciders of Eris.” Astrid Perez, co-owner of Machete’s Big Quesadillas, tells Eater, “Albany Park was always on our radar. We loved the idea of a place where different cultures and cuisines were not only integrated but celebrated.”
Colectivo Coffee Unionization Hopes to Spread
“At Colectivo, the owners waged a prolonged battle over the validity of the seven tie-breaking ballots, effectively extending the anti-union campaign for months after the election,” reports Alice Herman at In These Times. “’This is yet another union busting tactic—delay delay delay. And just like all the other tactics they’ve thrown at us we will make it out the other side of this one too,’ the union wrote in a May 24 post on Instagram. Even in defeat, the café owners maintained their position against the union, writing in a Facebook post that ‘[w]e are disappointed by this result because a majority of our coworkers did not vote in favor of unionization and because the NLRB counted votes of several individuals who announced their resignations prior to the close of the election.’ … The union acknowledged the historic nature of the election and added that they hoped to hold onto the position of largest union coffee chain ‘for only a short period of time.’ Already working to claim that title is a newly-public coalition of Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York who have declared their plan to unionize, announcing their campaign via a press release with the names of almost fifty organizing committee members attached.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Nia DaCosta Says Her “Candyman” Has “A Lot More Of The Black Experience”
“While filming [“Candyman”] in Chicago, DaCosta took a walk around the area where the sprawling housing project once stood, and took in the fact that a Target now sits on the land,” reports Evan F. Moore at the Sun-Times. “You’d see yuppies walking their dogs, and then a little further up a Target,” DaCosta told Moore. “It is really interesting the amount of development that’s happened around the community that didn’t seem to be able to get into the community, which is part of what the movie is about… It informs why we knew it was imperative that we expand this beyond ‘Oh, this is one sort of evil demonic killer and his story happens in the 1800s.’ We just talked about the systemic issues. It’s cyclical and every generation we have this violence, and it changes and it warps, and it shifts so it looks differently. It’s all part of our history. So it definitely informed why we said, ‘OK, we’re going to take this ‘Candyman’ legend and make it work for us a little bit more.'”
Can Vaccination Mandates Save Movie Theaters?
“Vaccine mandates for eligible moviegoers might be the only way to salvage the longterm future of the cinema experience,” writes David Sims at the Atlantic. “A vaccine requirement would be a gift for an industry looking to distinguish itself on a national scale as a safe social experience. If large theater chains mandated vaccines nationwide—and they have so far not objected to announced ordinances such as the ones in New York City and Los Angeles—a hit to revenue would be expected. [National Association of Theatre Owners boss John] Fithian pointed out to The Wrap that in France and Italy, where proof of vaccination or a negative test is required at movie theaters, box-office totals reportedly dropped some forty percent after implementation, although have since started to improve. As a long-term play, vaccine requirements for U.S. theaters could help head off the public’s fears at a moment when cinemas are still struggling to find their footing, and as studios prepare to roll out major fall films such as ‘Dune,’ ‘No Time to Die’ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick.'”
Fifty-Plus Small Businesses From CNBC’s “The Profit” File Suit
“A group of more than 50 businesses that have appeared on CNBC’s hit reality show ‘The Profit’ allege that the show’s star Marcus Lemonis and the network use the series as a guise to defraud and ruin small businesses,” reports Forbes. A proposed complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York “alleges that Lemonis, NBCUniversal, and production company Machete employed mob-like tactics against companies that have appeared on ‘The Profit’ to defraud business owners and take their companies… The filing says that an eight-month investigation revealed that at least fifty-one companies that have appeared on the show suffered a similar ‘hellish nightmare’ and pattern of humiliation, fraud, extortion and other charges…The premise of the show, which is in its eighth season, is that Lemonis, who is also the CEO of Camping World Holdings, a Lincolnshire, Illinois-based company that sells recreational vehicles and camping supplies, makes an investment in a struggling business and then helps pull off a business makeover… Lemonis has denied any wrongdoing and suggested any companies that are unhappy with their company’s performance should look in the mirror.”
Chicago Writers’ “Game Misconduct” Hits Hockey
“An upcoming book from a Black hockey player and writer from the South Side and one of the few Brown women reporting on hockey explores the sport’s ‘toxic culture’ through the stories of its marginalized players and supporters,” reports Block Club Chicago. “Game Misconduct” from Sun-Times culture reporter Evan F. Moore and freelance hockey reporter Jashvina Shah, “explores the ways people can be excluded from or harmed by hockey.”
John Oliver Sending Art And Ten Grand To Museum of Broadcast Communications
The Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) is one of only five museums in the country receiving an art display featured on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” The exhibit runs October 2-26. In addition to winning the honor through a national competition, the Museum also receives $10,000 from “Last Week Tonight.” The MBC’s designated charity, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, also receives a $10,000 donation. “We are grateful to John Oliver and his staff for this incredible —and fun—honor,” Museum executive director Susy Schultz says in a release. “We wrote a compelling letter, and our team went all out in our video entry. We also appreciated having the star power of Svengoolie (Rich Koz) and Jim Roche who helped us make our sometimes silly and very compelling case in the video pitch for why the Museum deserves this honor.” The national competition began after a 2020 Oliver segment about the harsh effects of the global pandemic on small museums. Oliver called for submissions from museums that wanted to compete for displaying items from his “Masterpiece Gallery” collection. “The Museum responded with a humorous video pitch using the power of broadcast to communicate important stories and influence audiences. As one of a few museums in the United States dedicated to education and preservation around mass media, the MBC is a perfect fit to host Oliver’s television-inspired collection, as the institution explores the effects of media on our lives.”
The “Donda” Rollout Continues
“Kanye West’s listening party Thursday at Chicago’s Soldier Field for his upcoming album will admit up to 38,000 fans, with no requirement that they test negative for COVID-19 or prove they’ve been vaccinated to get in,” report John Byrne and Tracy Swartz at the Tribune. “Chicago Park District spokeswoman Michele Lemons said the reduced capacity, compared with the 63,000 people who can fill the stadium for a sold-out Bears game, shows the district is taking the situation seriously.” The prolonged rollout of the still-unreleased “Donda” album with its premium-priced listening parties is yielding millions, reports Billboard. West is selling a $200 stem player that allows users to “customize” any song off the album, reports Genius. “West already has a portable stem player for sale on his website. [It] seems to be a mix of a speaker and an MPC… The Stem Player gives users the ability to control vocals, drums, bass, and samples, and it also allows for isolating parts of songs, adding effects, and splitting songs into stems… Kanye previously mentioned the device in a 2019 interview… ‘When I make a song, it’s to spread the gospel… When we make a device, this portable stem player that we designed with Teenaged Engineering for this album [‘Jesus Is King’] and albums moving forward is to spread the gospel.'” West has filed papers to legally change his name to simply “Ye,” reports AP. “The Los Angeles Superior Court filing says the 44-year-old wants to get rid of his full name — Kanye Omari West — in favor of just his longtime two-letter nickname, Ye, with no middle name or last name… West, who has called himself Ye on his social media pages for years, tweeted that he wanted the change in 2018, saying, ‘the being formally known as Kanye West. I am YE.'” West has said in interviews that “along with being a shortening of his first name he likes that it’s a word used throughout the Bible.”
DeRogatis On The R. Kelly Trial For The New Yorker
Down at the New Yorker, Jim DeRogatis considers R. Kelly’s federal trial in New York so far. “R. Kelly, once the dominant voice in R & B, has been followed by allegations of sexual abuse against minors since the nineteen-nineties. In the midst of resolving several civil suits outside of court, Kelly was indicted, in 2002, on child-pornography charges, and acquitted six years later. Through it all, his star never dimmed: several of his biggest hits—’Ignition (Remix),’ ‘Step in the Name of Love,’ ‘Trapped in the Closet’—came during the period between his indictment and the subsequent trial. To this day, he continues to draw two-and-a-half-million streams a month on Spotify. Now, more than a decade later, Kelly faces federal charges, which include racketeering and the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children… The singer has also been accused of knowingly passing herpes on to at least two of his partners. ‘This case is about a predator,’ the Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez said, during her opening argument. ‘A man who for decades used his fame, his popularity, and the network of people at his disposal to target, groom, and exploit girls, boys, and young women for his own sexual gratification.’”
Music Of The Baroque Opens Season With Free “Baroque In The Park”
Music of the Baroque, in association with DCASE, opens its fifty-first season with its second “Baroque in the Park” open-air performance at the Pritzker Pavilion. The concert will be conducted by Music of the Baroque Music director Dame Jane Glover. The program for “Baroque in the Park” features the world premiere of the group’s first commission, “Spectacle of Light.” Composed by Stacy Garrop in honor of MOB’s fiftieth anniversary, the work’s debut was postponed from last year. Garrop found her inspiration for the work in an etching displayed on MOB’s website of a 1749 fireworks spectacle on the River Thames in honor of Great Britain’s King George II. “I was intrigued by the manner in which the etching’s artist represented the path of each individual firework, starting with an upward trajectory of a golden streak of light that inevitably bends and falls back towards the earth, blooming into glittering specks before flickering out,” Garrop says in a release. “Ultimately, I decided that ‘Spectacle of Light’ would represent the experience of a fireworks show. As a tip of the hat to Music of the Baroque, I worked a few salient elements of the Baroque style into my own musical language, as well as found a few choice spots to add a few subtle hints of Handel’s ‘Royal Fireworks.’” The performance is Friday, September 10, 6:30pm. More here.
Composer Of Long-Running Musical “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” Was 85
James J. Quinn was “a longtime Chicago community college humanities professor who also wrote music and lyrics for orchestras, concert bands, chamber music and musical theater [and composed] the music for the long-running coming-of-age musical ‘Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up,’ which premiered in Chicago in 1979 and went all the way to Broadway,” reports the Trib. “The musical, which premiered at the Forum Theater in southwest suburban Summit in 1979, was based on author John R. Powers’ book… which humorously described Powers’ experiences as a South Side youngster growing up within the Roman Catholic school system. The musical ran for four-and-a-half years at the Forum and also found success in other cities. It made its way to Broadway in 1982 for what turned out to be a very brief, five-show run… The show continues to be performed several hundred times a year at regional theaters.”
Sones de México Ensemble’s “Zulema” Spectacular Comes To Millennium Park
Featuring over fifty musicians, dancers and actors in celebration of Sones De México’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Dolores Díaz’s “Zulema” comes to Pritzker Pavilion on September 2, directed by Henry Godinez and Marcela Muñoz, with music direction by Victor Pichardo. It’s presented by Goodman Theatre and produced in association with the Chicago Park District/Night Out in the Parks, DCASE, The Chicago Latino Theater Alliance and the National Museum of Mexican Art. “On a spectacular musical journey of many thousands of miles—from her Chiapas home in Mexico to Chicago—young Zulema zigzags through the culturally diverse landscapes of her homeland and our fair city along the way. Exhilarating regional music and dance from the Grammy-nominated Sones de México Ensemble, in this collaboration with the Tony Award-winning Goodman Theatre, make a joyous event for the whole family.” Thursday, September 2, 6pm at Jay Pritzker Pavilion. More here.
Red Clay Dance Company Promotes Chaniece Holmes
Company member and Youth Ensemble Director Chaniece Holmes has been promoted to the role of rehearsal director for the professional touring company of Red Clay Dance. “I am super-excited and honored to serve as rehearsal director for such a powerful group of Black women. I look forward to growing in this new position with the continued love and support of my Red Clay Dance village,” Holmes says in a release. She has been with the company since 2014 as a leader for youth and a collaborative partner in the professional company and administrative teams.
Broken Nose Theatre Sets Slate
Broken Nose Theatre, “one of Chicago’s premier ‘pay-what-you-can’ theater companies has announced its tenth season, featuring two streaming audio plays followed by two in-person performances, including a world premiere and Chicago premiere. BNT is celebrating a decade of programming, most of which was presented under their economically accessible ticketing model. The season kicks off this fall with a streaming audio adaptation of BNT’s hit 2018 play ‘Kingdom,’ written by resident playwright Michael Allen Harris and directed by Manny Buckley. This spellbindingly lyrical family drama features ensemble members RjW Mays and Watson Swift reprising the roles they performed in 2018, joined by ensemble members Ben F. Locke and William Anthony Sebastian Rose II and guest artist Darren Jones.” More here.
Writers Theatre Announces Season
Writers Theatre has announced the company’s four-play season, with in-person performances returning in December. The season begins with “Dishwasher Dreams,” written and performed by Alaudin Ullah, directed by Chay Yew, and produced in association with Hartford Stage. Next up: the world premiere of “Wife of a Salesman,” written by Eleanor Burgess, and produced in association with Milwaukee Repertory Theater, followed by the Chicago premiere of “Athena,” written by Gracie Gardner, choreographed by Steph Paul and directed by Jessica Fisch. The season concludes with the world premiere of “Pearl’s Rollin’ with the Blues,”a musical revue created by Felicia P. Fields and Ron OJ Parson, with dramaturgy by Kimberly Dixon-Mays and direction by Parson. More here.
Free Street Theater And Alt_ Chicago Celebrate Back Of The Yards With Pop-Up
Free Street Theater and alt_ Chicago will host a pop-up and back-to-school drive this Saturday in the Back of the Yards. The event will feature live performances, including the Chi Clown Ensemble, storytellers, socially distanced interactive theatre games and music at Davis Square Park, followed by the distribution of fresh food boxes and a back-to-school drive at the Storyfront. Free Street Theater and alt_ Chicago first collaborated in the winter of 2020 to bring an alt_ market to the community. “As a theater space in Back of the Yards, we continue to ask ourselves ‘what is our role and responsibility during a pandemic,’” Free Street Storyfront community liaison Elizabeth Nungaray says in a release. “Free Street is keenly aware that, as a theater company, the arts in all its different manifestations are an essential breath to the current environment and challenges Chicago’s most divested communities face. This event continues to reflect both Free Street and Alt_’s practices of [focusing on the] things that bind us together: food, joy, and stories.” Saturday, August 28, 1-3pm, Davis Square Park and Free Street Storyfront in Back of the Yards, 4346 South Ashland. More here.
ARTS & CULTURE
Noel Swerdlow, U of C Professor And MacArthur Fellow, Was 79
“During forty-two years as a University of Chicago history and astronomy professor, Noel Swerdlow wove together the humanities and the sciences through his study of the history of science,” the Trib reports. “Known both for his sometimes-pointed criticism of other academics’ work and for his warm and hospitable persona, Swerdlow was a familiar figure on campus, often joined by his dogs. For his scholarly work, Swerdlow won a MacArthur Fellowship in 1988. ‘Noel was the most generous teacher I have ever known — and I’ve been in universities since 1967 and known many master teachers,’ said Princeton University history professor Tony Grafton, who earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at the U. of C. ‘He suggested the subject for my dissertation, which required me to learn some astronomy, and to help me with that he spent two three-hour sessions a week with me, from fall 1971 to spring 1973, reading primary sources and improving what I wrote. He was equally generous to later students… When they sent him work he thought was serious, he would spend hours commenting on it and improving it, and help them publish.'”
RefuSHE CEO Passes Unexpectedly In Nairobi
The CEO of refugee action group RefuSHE, Geoffrey Thige, passed away suddenly on August 22 in Nairobi, Kenya. RefuSHE’s board of directors report in a release that they “are determined that we, along with our incredible staff and community of supporters, will honor Geoffrey’s legacy. We know that Geoffrey will be with us in memory; his steadfast commitment to RefuSHE gives us the courage and strength to continue serving refugee girls and young women with the same dedication and integrity that he brought to his work. Our staff is working diligently to ensure that day-to-day operations continue without interruption in Kenya and the U.S. For anyone who wishes to extend their sympathies directly, please reach out to Dina Dukhqan, RefuSHE’s managing director.” More here.
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