Renaissance Society Director Myriam Ben Salah On Curating During A Pandemic
“I think museums recently have been sort of divorced from the audience,” Renaissance Society director Myriam Ben Salah tells ARTnews. “They may be showing more diverse works and making efforts on that side, but they are showing them to the same population and not really making any effort to get a new audience within the walls of the museum. There is this whole discourse around justice and equality and diversity. And I feel like sometimes these concepts are empty shells because they seem to be there for publicity and for virtue signaling. There is a disconnect between that and the audience that institutions are catering to. It’s a question that’s important to me. It’s something that I had started thinking about earlier, and especially when Lauren Mackler and I were working on ‘Made in L.A.’: This idea of not only where to show art but how to show it in order for it to break from the language of contemporary art and the contemporary art world as we know it.” More in the extended interview here.
Immersive Dr. Seuss
Kilburn Live and Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced “The Dr. Seuss Experience” at Water Tower Place, beginning October 8. The “Seuss-tacular” immersive spectacle will guide visitors through nine Dr. Seuss books and also allow them to interact with the characters. From “The Cat in the Hat” to “Horton Hears a Who!” and “The Lorax,” visitors will also encounter an all-new feature crafted by artist Michael Murphy, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, who is known for works that meld perception and perspective in innovative ways. “There is going to be something magical about bringing ‘The Dr. Seuss Experience’ to Michigan Avenue during the holidays,” Kilburn CEO Mark Manuel says in a release, “and we want to thank our venue partner Brookfield Properties for helping us make it happen.” Anchored by the attraction’s centerpiece–an interconnected maze inspired by “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” composed of thousands of suspended balloons–each room will represent a different Dr. Seuss book. More here.
Molly Costello Mural Dedication In Andersonville
The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC), Chicago Association of Realtors and US Bank honor a new mural by Chicago artist Molly Costello, celebrating the diverse lives that overlap on the streets of the Andersonville community. The formal dedication of the large-scale installation, “Life at the Intersections,” is Thursday, September 23 at 9am at 5340 North Clark. The mural is on the south wall of The Clark at 5346 North Clark. Costello interviewed seventy-seven local residents and business owners as inspiration for the piece, which includes highlights of the neighborhood’s LGBTQIA+ and activist legacies. “‘Life at the Intersections’ pushes us to imagine a safer, more inclusive future that honors the intersections of our identities and helps us generate a future of collective wellness, environmental stewardship, abundance and play,” Costello says.
DINING & DRINKING
The Whistler Reopens At Reduced Capacity
Logan Square’s original craft cocktail bar, The Whistler, will reopen its unmarked doors at 2421 North Milwaukee on Wednesday, September 29. “After eighteen months of serving to-go cocktails and advocating for the arts & independent music venues as co-founders of the Chicago Independent Venue League and founding members of the National Independent Venue Association, the trailblazing drinks haven is easing back into the scene stronger than ever with an all-star team, dozens of new rotating cocktails to look forward to, and a full calendar of live music, resident DJ nights, and community-focused programming,” the bar says in a release. The craft cocktail program has brought in three-times James Beard Award-nominated Alex Barbatsis as head bartender. “Barbatsis, who moved to Chicago following more than a decade in Los Angeles, stepped into the role only a handful of days before the venue’s closing in 2020… While working at the closed bar for over eighteen months, Barbatsis saw an opportunity to focus on in-depth cocktail development, creating dozens of new drinks to showcase throughout the first months of reopening.”
Founded on the mission of supporting Chicago’s independent music community, the live music venue and in-house record label also returns, “with diverse programming, specifically designed to showcase local artists.” The Whistler and Sleeping Village co-owner Billy Helmkamp says, “After everything the hospitality and arts communities have been through in the past eighteen months, we consider ourselves more than lucky to have the opportunity to reopen our doors on the week of our thirteenth anniversary.” The Whistler site is here.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund Exhausted
“When long-awaited federal aid for the restaurant industry finally became available in May through the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), restaurants across the U.S. thought help was here,” Yahoo! Finance reports. “Unfortunately for more than the 270,000 restaurants across the U.S. who initially applied, that lifeline never came. Only about 105,000 RRF applicants were awarded before the $28.6 billion pool was exhausted… Calls for Congress to replenish the RRF have grown louder ever since, but Congress has yet to take action… The situation is getting more desperate, with over 82% of operators seen permanently shuttered if federal money doesn’t come through, according to a new survey by the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which has urged the House’s Small Business Committee to prioritize restaurant relief during budget talks.”
Guinness Taps Chicago For Second U.S. Brewery
Fulton Market could be the home of Guinness’ second U.S. brewery, reports the Sun-Times. “The iconic Irish brewer is expected to open a beer house and brewery in the Pennsylvania Railroad Terminal Building at 375 North Morgan, Crain’s Chicago Business reported… This will be the second Guinness tap house opened in the U.S. in three years. The Irish stout beermaker made its return to North America for the first time in more than sixty years, establishing a brewery in Halethorpe, Maryland.”
Mooncakes In Chicago
“There’s no food more ubiquitous to the Mid-Autumn Festival than the mooncake, an ultrarich pastry traditionally filled with a dense lotus seed paste and a salted egg yolk at its center,” writes Grace Wong at the Trib.”Packaged in boxes with auspicious designs, these treats are given to friends, families and colleagues every year as a way to bless the receiver with longevity or harmony, and are often enjoyed together, cut into smaller pieces to eat alongside tea… [G]rowing up in a predominantly white community, these annual treats felt like an audacious affront to my personal goal of blending in and going through life as un-Asian as possible. I was taught that sweet treats shouldn’t have salted egg yolk centers, not to mention a thick lotus seed paste interior…” Via the Sun-Times, the AP reports on new Asian American bakeries finding a bicultural sweet spot for a younger generation.
McDonald’s Says It Will Reduce Number Of Plastic Happy Meal Toys
“McDonald’s plans to ‘drastically’ reduce the plastic in its Happy Meal toys worldwide by 2025,” reports WGN-TV. The fast-food conglomerate says it’s “working with toy companies to develop new ideas, such as three-dimensional cardboard superheroes kids can build or board games with plant-based or recycled game pieces. McDonald’s said it’s also exploring using recycled plastic toys to make new restaurant trays.” The company says they plan to reduce virgin plastic use within four years by ninety percent, compared to 2018 levels.
NYC’s Roberta’s Pizza Arrives In Local Food Hall
Urbanspace, Chicago’s first food hall to open in 2021, brings several popular New York eateries. “Urbanspace is a New York food hall operator that has plans for a pair of Chicago venues,” reports Eater Chicago. “They’ve brought with them Roberta’s Pizza, [a restaurant] in Brooklyn surrounded by shipping containers that specializes in modern Neapolitan pies.” Other New York imports are Pita Yeero and Plant Junkie. There are local vendors, including Isla Pilipina, Happy Lobster and Edzo’s Burger Shop. “A bar is operated by Footman Hospitality, the company behind Bangers & Lace, Sparrow, and Little Victories. Ownership is also touting online ordering where customers can order from multiple vendors at once.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Reeling 39 Announces Full Line-Up
Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival has announced filmmaker and celebrity guests during the event, September 23-30 in theaters and September 27-October 7 virtually. This year’s Festival has forty-two offerings, including thirty-three feature films and nine short film programs, including comedies, romances, dramas, thrillers, and documentaries from more than fifteen countries including Israel, Turkey, Iran, Australia, Romania, Italy and Chile. Director Peeter Rebane will be on hand at the opening night presentation of “Firebird,” Thursday, September 23 at the Music Box. “The epic story of forbidden queer love is set against the backdrop of 1970s Cold War Estonia, when two military men in the Soviet Air Force find their clandestine, illegal affair threatens their careers and their lives.”
Audience favorite “Boy Culture: The Series” comes to the big screen with series creator Matthew Rettenmund in attendance, along with Chicago actor and country star Steve Grand. Former Chicagoan Angelo Madsen Minax will present the festival’s documentary centerpiece, “North By Current,” which follows his return to his family home in rural Michigan following the death of his young niece. Director Michiel Thomas and activist Jerome Kitchen will appear with “Gemmel & Tim,” which traces the parallel walks of two men that lead to their deaths at the now-infamous Laurel Street apartment of businessman, and once highly influential California political donor and LGBTQ activist, convicted killer Ed Buck. More here.
Is Sunday-Only A Future For Print Dailies?
“Some small weekly news outlets are getting more web-savvy, posting online when the news happens and in effect transforming themselves into daily digital publications. Some metro dailies, on the other hand, have made strides online but are cutting back on their print days,” writes Mark Jacob at Northwestern Medill’s Local News Initiative. “Is it possible that local news outlets of all sizes will meet in the middle? In the future, will most local news outlets publish 24/7 online but put ink on paper only once a week, perhaps only on Sunday?”
Riot Fest Cleanup Will Keep Douglass Park Closed For Weeks
“With festival setup and cleanup to break down stages and repair damage,” reports Block Club Chicago, “the southern half of [Douglass Park] is off limits for weeks before and after [Riot Fest], forcing youth sports teams to find somewhere else to play… Neighbors fed up with Riot Fest put up posters around Douglass Park to protest how the punk, rock and alternative music event takes over the neighborhood each year, roping off park space and bringing noise, rowdy crowds, clogged traffic and parking problems.”
Bo Diddley’s Bronzeville Childhood Home Damaged In Fire
A fire swept through a three-story apartment building that once was home to singer and guitarist Bo Diddley, reports Block Club Chicago.
Fugees Reunion Tour Includes Chicago Date
Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel announce their first world tour in twenty-five years and first shows in fifteen years to celebrate the anniversary of 1996’s “The Score,” reports the Sun-Times.
This Land Is Ye Land
“Designer, musician, and erstwhile presidential candidate Kanye West reportedly purchased a Malibu home by Tadao Ando for $57.3 million,” ARTnews relays in its newsletter. “West once described a visit to Japan’s art-filled Naoshima island, which sports many Ando projects, as ‘life-changing.’ West has also tapped Valerio Olgiati to design a Los Angeles apartment, as well as ‘an artists’ colony’ beneath his Wyoming ranch that will be ‘as vast as the subterranean cities of Turkey’s Cappadocia, with up to 200 dwellings, as well as studio spaces and a performance venue,’ Nancy Hass writes in a profile of the Swiss architect.” West, writes Hass, “took his jet to Zurich for a day, then drove to Flims to dine with Olgiati in a local restaurant. The meeting landed the architect a commission for both a Los Angeles apartment for the recently separated West and a quixotic megaproject” in Wyoming.
Robert Falls On Making A Career In Chicago
“Over the years, I have been offered many opportunities to run theaters in other cities, including New York City and Los Angeles. But I love Chicago, and its audiences and its remarkable community of theater-makers,” the Goodman’s exiting Robert Falls tells Justin Kaufmann and Monica Eng at the newborn Axios Chicago newsletter.
Auditorium Theatre Announces Board Of Directors
The Auditorium Theatre has announced its Board of Directors for the 2021-22 Season, including four new members, Marlena Peleo-Lazar, Arlene Regnerus, Chris Schuba, and Edward S. Weil III. Board chair Ann Nash and vice-chair Thomas R. Baryl continue through 2024. Kevin Hoecker was named treasurer and Bruce Crown secretary. “We are delighted to have Marlena, Arlene, Chris and Edward join our Board. They bring a variety of expertise across numerous industries and will be indispensable as the Auditorium reopens,” says Nash. “I also want to take this time to thank all of the board for their support and kindness during our closure. I look forward to working with each of them as we once again present live entertainment on our historic stage.”
Venus Cabaret Theater Reopens
Venus Cabaret Theater, the intimate performance space at Mercury Theater Chicago, announces its fall reopening with “The Dark Night Series,” beginning October 2 under the direction of cabaret director Honey West, artistic director Christopher Chase Carter and managing director Shane Murray-Corcoran. The programming includes cabaret performances by Luminaries on Sundays, comedy hosted by actor, comedian and OUT Chicago Radio’s Scott Duff, and open mic nights with Chuck Larkin. The month concludes on Halloween with a special Murder Mystery event. “The Venus Cabaret Theater is a gorgeous, versatile space that gives a home to musicians, actors, variety artists and comedians,” says cabaret director Honey West. “Honey and I are assembling a lineup of shows by Chicago’s favorite artists, along with nationally recognized visiting artists, for not-to-be-missed evenings,” says Carter. The calendar of events for The Dark Night Series and other events is here.
ARTS & CULTURE
Two Initiatives Supporting Arts And Culture Come To $26 Million
Mayor Lightfoot’s proposed budget includes $26 million to launch two new initiatives to support arts and culture, reports Arts Alliance Illinois: $20 million for an Artist Relief & Works Fund, with targeted relief for cultural organizations and artists not able to access other forms of federal assistance, and $6 million for Together We Heal Placemaking Grants, to support community-engaged arts projects such as community-led public art installations. The majority of this investment will come from Chicago’s one-time allotment of federal American Rescue Plan funds, but the city will also draw upon its corporate budget to pay for $10 million of the relief fund. This use of city dollars positions DCASE at a similar increased funding level in future years. In proposing this investment, Mayor Lightfoot cited the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on the sector, saying, “Revitalizing our arts and culture scene is essential to our ability to recover from this pandemic on both an economic and a social level.”
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