Art Institute Reacts To Criticism Of Docent Dismissals
“Art museums cannot exist as static temples to past cultures. Dialogue and engagement with our visitors and communities are a top priority. We seek to inspire a deep understanding of human creativity,” writes chair of the board of trustees at the Art Institute of Chicago Robert M. Levy at The Trib. “Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune editorial contained… inaccuracies and mischaracterizations of the Art Institute’s decision to rebuild our model for learning. Rather than looking at the museum as a leader in how cultural institutions around the world are evolving to meet the needs of their audiences, the Editorial Board’s take resulted in a wholehearted endorsement of the status quo. The Tribune’s egregiously anti-civic stance, and the decision of many in our community to view this as an indictment of their own identity, is misaligned and disregards the driving force behind the program: to better serve Chicago-area students and visitors and foster lifelong relationships with art… [I]t is certainly not the time for us to retire our ambitions and stagnate.” Further defense at the link. At Crain’s, Steve Johnson looks at the union drive at the Art Institute. “Sparked by 2020’s pandemic-prompted layoffs and the year’s push for social justice, the nascent labor movement at the Art Institute of Chicago appears headed for an election that, if successful, would make the iconic institution the first major museum in the city to have a broad swath of its workers unionize.”
National Indo-American Museum Announces First Exhibit In New Space
The National Indo-American Museum, launched in 2008 as the first museum in the country by and for Indian Americans to tell the stories of this immigrant community opens a new space with a major NEA-supported exhibition,“E/MERGE: Art of the Indian Diaspora,” curated by Shaurya Kumar, showcasing contemporary and cutting-edge works from nine emerging Indian American visual artists from across the United States. The exhibition opens October 16 and runs through March 27, 2022. More here.
Lincoln Yards Breaks Ground
“The $6 billion Lincoln Yards megadevelopment is set to break ground in October on an eight-story building developers hope will help transform Chicago into a major life sciences hub,” reports Robert Channick at the Trib. “Sterling Bay, which is redeveloping the fifty-three-acre former industrial site on the North Side, announced Thursday it had closed a $125 million loan from Bank OZK to begin construction on ALLY, a 280,000-square-foot life sciences building at the south end of the mixed-use development.” Suzet McKinney, director of Sterling Bay’s life sciences division tells Channick “This particular building is critical to not only the Lincoln Yards development as a whole, but also to the city of Chicago. We are working diligently to raise Chicago as a major life sciences market.”
New Thompson Center Condo Proposal Floated
“New idea pitched for Thompson Center: Condos,” reports Greg Hinz at Crain’s. “Chicago lawyer Clint Krislov urges the state to convert its land value into a one-third share of a new office tower, keeping state offices ‘in a central location.'”
200-Unit Building Permitted Next To Cabrini-Green Site
808 North Cleveland will be the site of a 200-unit building; the design by Pappageorge Haymes Partners is pictured here.
Trib’s Fired Up, Ready To Show
See The Buildings Issued Demolition Permits In September
Chicago Cityscape crafts a a gallery of the fifty-three buildings that were issued demolition permits in Chicago in September.
What Suburban Audience Do The Bears Covet?
“On Tuesday, the team announced that they signed a purchase and sale agreement with Churchill Downs Incorporated, for the entire 326-acre Arlington Park land parcel, another step forward in their possible move to Arlington Heights, a perfectly bland suburb, where they can construct a perfectly bland Jewel-Osco Stadium and take more of your money. The columns and beautiful lakefront views will be gone, but at least there will be a Mike Ditka Mall and Brian Urlacher Hair Salon nearby,” writes Kalyn Kahler at Defector. “The Bears are tenants… and they’ve been trying to leave Soldier Field for almost as long as they’ve played there. This time around, it’s just another example of the NFL money-printing machine at work… The Bears don’t seem interested in building a winning football team, but they do want to keep up with the rest of the league’s stuff. More seats, more tickets, more parking, more restaurants, more bars, all to cater to their wealthier fans in the suburbs. This is the unspoken consequence of a move out of the city. The Arlington Heights Bears will be a whiter Bears audience… Pro sports teams never really come right out and say that they want to move their stadiums into the suburbs so that they can attract a whiter, more affluent fanbase, but it’s not hard to figure out what a team like the Atlanta Braves is after when they stop playing in Atlanta and start playing in Cobb County. The Bears are just following the same playbook.”
DINING & DRINKING
Goose Island Founder: Company Would Choose To Close Clybourn Brewpub If Unionized
A litany of grievances that go back years still trouble labor waters at Goose Island, reports The Trib. One anecdote in a long report: “At a meeting of bartenders at the Fulton Street taproom, [Goose Island president Todd Ahsmann] said he wasn’t opposed to unions in general, but one wasn’t needed at Goose Island because issues could be worked on together.” At a meeting at the Clybourn location, managers showed up to represent the company, “along with Goose Island founder John Hall, who no longer runs Goose Island, but remains a mythic figure in the brewery’s storytelling… Hall’s appearance was especially jarring, said Jonah Fried, a union organizer who worked at the pub for two years. Hall was silent for most of the meeting, sipping a beer… But near the end, he spoke up. ‘The moment that sits with me to this day was John making an impassioned argument that unions are not right for Goose Island and if we unionized, the pub would close down,’ Fried said.”
San Francisco Investment Firm Buys Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria Ownership Stake
The Meritage Group, an investment firm based in San Francisco, is buying an ownership stake in Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, reports the Sun-Times. Marc Malnati tells the paper, “Five years ago we brought in a financial partner to support growth into Arizona and the Midwest and they feel like they served their purpose with us, supported us, saw us grow and it was time for them to reinvest some of their funds and so they sold the interest that they bought to Meritage. So nothing really changed on our end. My brother and I are still the largest individual investors and owners and things just go on.'”
Checking Out All-Day Charcuterie In Logan Square
Unfair Labor Practices Complaint Lodged With NLRB Against El Milagro
Allegations of harsh working conditions and sexual harassment were leveled with the National Labor Relations Board against El Milagro tortilla makers, reports the Sun-Times.
The Hi-Lo: “Soho House Without The Membership”
The Hi-Lo, a new tavern opening near California and Augusta in Humboldt Park opens this week, including a breezy patio, reports Eater Chicago. The owners have been waiting to debut their new bar since 2017. “The tavern’s name is meaningful to owner Isaac Liberman. The space consists of two buildings, a tall structure and a short one. The A-frame gives drinkers a breezy place that’s protected from any rain, a place to hang out and drink a glass of natural wine or a non-alcoholic spritz. The space inside the taller building (which was built around 1898) is where folks can come in early with their laptops and get some work done, away from winter’s elements, and sip on a caffeinated and non-alcoholic beverages. ‘It’s the idea of going somewhere like Soho House, a membership-only club, where you want to hang out for the day,’ Liberman says. ‘But without the membership.'”
FILM & TELEVISION
Is Chicago The Hollywood Of The Midwest, Or Hollywood Just Chicago-By-The-Sea?
“Mayor Lightfoot’s roadmap to recovery from the pandemic called for Chicago to capture a far greater share of the nation’s film and television production. Mission accomplished, aldermen were told,” reports the Sun-Times. “Retiring Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Mark Kelly said filmmaking is ‘significantly up’ in Chicago, with [a record] fifteen television productions in the city… ‘We estimate the economic value of that for this year will be about $750 million. It’s now over 20,000 jobs… And because Illinois’ tax credit is the only tax credit that has a minority hiring clause with additional benefits, over fifty percent of crews in Illinois are either minority or female,’ Kelly said. ‘Is it enough? No. But compared to any other city, we’re off the charts.’”
Eric In The Courtroom: Second Female Co-Worker Alleges Misconduct At “The Mix”
“A second female former employee of WTMX-FM has come forward to say longtime on-air host Eric Ferguson engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct, alleging in a Thursday court filing that he groped her at the station’s Christmas party in full view of her husband and co-workers in 2003,” report Tracy Swartz and Christy Gutowski at the Trib. “The woman, Kristen Mori of Ohio, a former sales employee who left the station in 2004, said in the filing she was ‘shocked and disturbed by Ferguson’s offensive touching’ and alleged [that] management ‘turned a blind eye toward (his) inappropriate and offensive conduct’ because of the revenue generated by his popular morning show.”
NPR Signs Contract With Workers
The Twitter account representing “the 500-plus SAG-AFTRA union journalists at NPR” announced Friday afternoon “that we’ve ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with NPR… We secured an overhaul of the minimum salary system that we believe will bring greater pay transparency and equity back to NPR—and what’s more, about 150 people in our union will receive raises in January as a result of these new minimums… we succeeded in getting NPR to agree to both minimum pay for interns and a pay increase for interns through the length of the contract. NPR has agreed to bargain and work cooperatively with SAG-AFTRA over provisions related to the future of our work, including how the company decides what type of work is best performed on-site vs. what can be performed remotely (or a hybrid combination). Our union won new protections for temporary employees and a higher minimum salary for our most entry-level positions, as well as limits on how long the company can keep employees at this lowest level. NPR has now agreed to negotiations with our union over members receiving a percentage of money from film/TV/other projects based on our work. The company has also agreed to negotiate over our ability to keep the rights to original ideas, shows and concepts.”
Pledge Made By Trib Journalists
“We hear your disappointment about how Chicago’s communities of color are covered. We are journalists who want to do better,” write Laura Rodríguez Presa, Darcel Rockett and Erin Hooley in a commentary at the Tribune. The ” conversation about diversity and inclusion in newsrooms and the way we cover communities of color is often slow to move toward real action. Beyond needing more reporters and editors in newsrooms who are reflective of the communities across Chicago, journalists need to establish a genuine connection with all the people they intend to serve. Legacy news organizations must do a better job telling the full stories of the city’s Black and brown communities… absent when the stories of daily joy in living are passed over… We hear your concerns.”
Will Convict R. Kelly Ever Face Trial In Chicago?
“With Kelly’s sentencing hearing more than seven months away, attention now swings back to his hometown of Chicago, where he faces five more indictments in both federal court and Cook County stemming from alleged sexual abuse,” writes Jason Meisner at the Trib. “But with Kelly already facing decades in prison, is it possible he may never go to trial in a Chicago courtroom at all? What comes next depends on a lot of moving parts and behind-the-scenes maneuvering by prosecutors and the singer’s legal team—which itself has been in flux.”
Chicago’s Disturbed Opens Performance Venue At Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana
Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana opens its new Hard Rock Live performance venue on November 4 with Chicago-based metal rockers Disturbed. The venue is outfitted with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. The sound equipment features an L-Acoustics K2 line array system with KS28 subwoofers and KIVA-II front fill. Hard Rock Live can seat up to 1,916 with an overall capacity of 2,207 including standing room only. “I couldn’t be more excited to announce the opening of Hard Rock Live, Matt Schuffert, president of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana says in a release. “There is no better way to kick things off than with Chicago-based rockers Disturbed!” Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana is at 5400 West 29th Avenue in Gary. More here. Tickets, which are $84.50, are here.
Silk Road Rising Cancels “Christmas Mubarak”
“With the continually shifting landscape of the pandemic, a live production began to feel like too great of a risk for our artists and audiences. Thus, we will not be resuming live theater for the time being. In the interim, we will continue to develop ‘Christmas Mubarak,’ launch our first-ever think-and-create tank (Polycultural Institute), offer high-quality educational programming, and work towards a festival of stories and ideas in 2023.” More here.
Are Theater Critics Too Kind Now?
“Emerging from its forced hibernation for live performance, theater appears to be in trouble, so our compassionate reviewers/publicists/reporters feel duty-bound to come to the rescue — especially when it comes to the efforts of our major theaters,” writes Boston’s The Arts Fuse. “The rah-rah is uninhibited: troupes must be supported, regardless of the quality of their productions or the poverty of their imaginations.”
Rainn Wilson On Getting A Good Review For Steppenwolf Work
Tweets the actor who’s featured in Tracy Letts’ virtually presented “Three Short Plays By Tracy Letts,” “I guess the only way for me to get a good review in the New York Times Is to do a video of a short play shot in my garage for a theater in Chicago.”
Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival Sets Open House
The public is invited to explore the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival’s expanded space, including its teaching lab and puppet fabrication shop, this Friday, October 8 from 5pm-8pm in the Fine Arts Building, 410 South Michigan Avenue. Previously housed in a cramped fifth floor office, the festival has tripled its space in the Fine Arts Building this fall. The administrative staff has moved to a larger office and suite, complete with fireplace, where plans are now being made for the return of the fourth Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, January 20-30, 2022. More here.
ARTS & CULTURE
Capybaras Take Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo is now home to three capybaras (pronounced KAP-ee-BAA-ruh)—the world’s largest rodent. The two females and one male range in age from eight months to two years old. They are getting acclimated to their new outdoor habitat, located on the northeast side of the Pachyderm House. The last time the species resided at Brookfield Zoo was in 1977—over forty years ago.
U.S. Postal Service’s Intentional Degradation In Effect
Serious delays began October 1 for delivery of first-class mail and for periodicals, and Sunday was the first day of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s “holiday surcharge.” DeJoy, a Trump holdover who expressed contempt for Congress during earlier hearings, has embarked on a ten-year plan to slash costs at the USPS, which is burdened with a pension plan mandated by a Republican Congress that is like no other on record. “Critics say the slower delivery standards could cause problems such as late bill delivery while more broadly undermining the public’s faith in the USPS,” reports CBS News. “Almost four of ten pieces of first-class mail will see slower delivery, according to Paul Steidler, senior fellow at the Lexington Institute and an expert on the postal service. That ‘means mail delivery will be slower than in the 1970s,’ he said, calling DeJoy’s plan ‘disastrous.'” Author Ruth Ben-Ghiat: “Slowing down USPS not only threatens the health and livelihoods of millions (medicines, paychecks, etc.). We’ve already seen how DeJoy used it to make voting more difficult. There is no excuse for retaining him.”
Journalist Amee Vanderpool, who’s closely followed the sabotage at the Postal Service: “This latest plan from the USPS looks to mimic… global delays within the United States. While DeJoy has promised the cuts will ultimately create a mail system that is better equipped to meet deadlines in the modern age, his past partisanship and failures do not make this outcome seem likely. The global transportation community has cited a shortage of workers, the poor treatment [of] millions of workers during the pandemic, and greater risk to the supply chain, all issues that should sound very familiar to postal workers who are only being further crunched by Louis DeJoy’s ongoing actions.” Adds librarian Matthew Noe on Twitter: “Dress it up however you like, reducing the quality of the USPS is about making a public good less effective so that private companies can swoop in and claim they’re better, obviously, and that we don’t need any government-run programs.”
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