Should Museum Docents Be Replaced? A Contrarian View
“I’ve overheard a lot of these amateur tours during my lifetime of peregrinations through museum galleries. Some docents seem reasonably knowledgeable; others make me wince at their mistakes and mispronunciations. Professionalizing the proceedings is an idea whose time may have come,” writes Lee Rosenbaum at ArtsJournal. “I know that we’ve become a fiercely contentious society. But I always assumed that art was a civilizing force. Is someone going to get so physically violent over the right to expound on art that he or she might have to cop a plea over a Copley? Have we come to this?”
Buddy Sets Cultural Center Holiday Shopping And Programs
Buddy at the Chicago Cultural Center, a collaboration from Public Media Institute and DCASE, welcomes visitors and customers to its downtown Chicago space for local holiday shopping. “We proudly represent over 200 Chicagoland area-based artists, makers and small businesses in our shop and online. Buddy offers a unique, COVID-safe, in-person shopping experience; an environmentally and ethically more conscious way to shop this season by avoiding chains and international shipping. We also offer USPS shipping nationwide for customers to share the best of Chicago with friends and family. Our consignment based store directs sixty percent of all sales directly back to our artists every month, so every purchase supports Chicago artists.” Details here.
West Town, Bronzeville Community Projects Get Funding In Pilot Program
The Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Pilot Program has breathed new life into several community-based programs, including West Town’s Equity Arts Project and Bronzeville’s Food Matters, reports Cheyanne M. Daniels at the Sun-Times. “Designed to promote healthy, walkable and affordable neighborhoods, eleven community-driven projects have been selected… For twenty years, Heaven Gallery has opened its Wicker Park doors to artists and curators around the city. Now, using art in a call for social justice, the gallery is highlighting the work of BIPOC artists in its Equity Arts Project… The project has been threatened by the owners placing the building at 1550 North Milwaukee up for sale. Developers began circling in 2019, and only the onset of the pandemic kept the gallery safe from being sold … Heaven Gallery needs to purchase the building and begin renovations—and they’ll need $5 million to do that… With the funds from ETOD, the gallery hopes to launch a community investment tool in the spring, allowing community members to invest in Heaven Gallery and the Project, which in turn will help raise the money to buy the building… A total of $160,000 in “micro-grants” and technical assistance was awarded to the community-based projects to help with construction near transit stations across Chicago… For Bronzeville’s Food Matters, the money will be used to help purchase land on 43rd Street for a greenhouse.”
People Mover Returns To O’Hare
After years of construction delays, the “people mover” at O’Hare has reopened on a limited schedule, reports the Trib. “The automated train, officially called the Airport Transit System, will operate 10:30am-8:30pm to start. The Chicago Department of Aviation expects to return the train to… 24/7 operation in early 2022… Work on the train has been going on for more than six years, and the system has been shut down completely since January 2019.”
Toronto “Year Of Public Art” Inspired By Chicago
“My real dream is to have a very large iconic sculpture or art piece that’s comparable to The Bean in Chicago,” Toronto mayor John Tory tells the Toronto Star. “Something that’s iconic that people will go to see from all over the city, the region and all over the world. Secondly, I would like to see more public art spread across the city because, let’s be candid, the concentration of public art has been downtown, both because it’s where people are concentrated during the day and also because that’s where a lot of development has taken place and we’ve mandated developers to include it. And thirdly, I would like to see more engagement for the hundreds of artists who live and work in the city. Overall, I see this as a general continued commitment, including continued investment in this area by the city and the other governments.”
Every Which Way But Loos?
At Axios Chicago, Monica Eng joins the Loop facilities safari: “Sparked by the Chicago Tribune’s story on the dearth of public bathrooms [we] shared some of our secret downtown bathroom spots. And when we asked for yours, you delivered a gusher of great locations just in time for downtown holiday visits and shopping.”
DINING & DRINKING
Spiffed Wiener’s Circle Slings Booze
The revamped Wiener’s Circle previewed over Halloween as Krusty Burger and Moe’s Tavern, reports Eater Chicago. “‘Duff Pilsner’ was on draft with a Ravinia Brewing brew masquerading… A bartender also poured frosé (which was called the ‘Basic Bitch’)… Management wanted to [but] no Flaming Moe’s were served… The hot dog stand is in flux with hours; they’re not yet ready for prime time. And with restaurants struggling to fill open jobs, they’ll play it by ear to see if they have adequate staff to stay open during their customary late-night hours. The city approved its liquor license on Friday, so the opening was rushed.”
Replay Lincoln Park Pops-Up “Squid Game”
Replay Lincoln Park at 2833 North Sheffield launches its “Squid Game”-themed pop-up on Friday, running until November 28 (or until Netflix catches wind). The bar’s gaming areas are transformed “into a ‘Squid Game’-inspired haven (or hell) with childhood-inspired tabletop games throughout, weekly karaoke, along with K-Pop DJ guests during their weekly DJ sets, weekly ‘Squid Game’-inspired competitions, themed cocktails and food menu, a ‘Squid Game ‘ costume celebration on November 13, and a marbles guessing game where participants can win 583,855 won [almost $500]. This event and all of the games are free, with no reservations, tickets, or tokens required.” More here.
Chiya Chai Opens Loop Location
Family-owned business Chiya Chai has opened its second venue—a chai-focused, quick café in the Loop at 79 East Madison. It will “bring its expansive chai program—over 150 combinations—to Chicagoans and visitors alike so they may explore new yet comforting ways to unwind in the hustle and bustle of daily life.” “We are so grateful to bring our chai program and chai-inspired Nepalese and Indian menu favorites to even more Chicagoans,” says Rajee Aryal in a release. “We’re enthusiastic to share our love for the art of chai with our customers and hope this spin-off of our Logan Square café and restaurant brings even more expansion in the future.” The food menu will complement the beverages, with chaat, dumplings, savory pies and curry bowls.
FILM & TELEVISION
Dionne Warwick Doc Takes Black Harvest Film Festival Prize
The Siskel Film Center announced the 2021 winners of the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Black Harvest Film Festival Prize, a cash prize awarded to both the best feature film and best short film screening at the Twenty-Seventh Annual Black Harvest Film Festival, as selected by a jury. Best feature goes to Dave Wooley, writer, producer and co-director (with David Heilbronner) of “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” a portrait of her ongoing six-decade career. The award will be presented in person to Wooley on Friday, November 5 at the festival’s opening night screening of the film, with Warwick attending and answering questions via Zoom. 2021 is the fourth year that the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Black Harvest Film Festival Prize has been awarded to a short film director and the first year the prize has been expanded to also honor a feature film director. The prize awards $2,500 to the best feature film and $1,000 to the best short film screened during the Black Harvest Film Festival, as chosen by a jury.
CPS School Newspapers Impaired By New Tech Rules
There aren’t many Chicago schools with newspapers, but those there are have been impaired by new rules, reports Block Club Chicago. “High school journalists across Chicago Public Schools are pushing back against a law they say has ‘hindered’ their ability to publish news.The law, called the Student Online Personal Protection Act, is meant to protect students’ data and give their parents control over how it’s used. But CPS added extra stipulations to it that some companies have not or can’t meet,” which can include management software Student Newspapers Online and design software from Adobe. “Students said that’s making it so they can’t use software that’s key to producing news about their schools and communities. They’re struggling to publish and fear losing access to years of archived stories and photos.” The Sun-Times: “Online privacy advocates… pushed Illinois lawmakers to force school districts to protect student data—but some Chicago Public Schools teachers say they were ‘blindsided’ by the district’s enforcement of the law that’s led them to lose access to key programs used to teach thousands of students… At CPS, the way officials have applied the law has meant popular educational tools have been taken away from thousands of students and forced teachers to reinvent their curricula. ‘We’re depriving hundreds of thousands of students from proven effective, often free resources,’ said Jeff Solin, who teaches computer science at Lane Tech High School. Among the software products that violate the law, CPS now says, are programs like Code.org, which is widely used in computer science classes, and Adobe applications used for artistic design and newspaper page layouts. That has left many high school newspapers unable to produce their print editions. Also off limits is Scratch, software to create interactive stories, animations and games.”
Fugees Reunion Moves To March
“Dates for our upcoming 25th anniversary tour are moving to early 2022 to ensure the best chance that all cities on the tour are fully open so we can perform for as many fans as possible,” the group relayed on Instagram. The new United Center date is March 2.
93.9 LITE FM Returns To Annual Christmas Music Roadblock
“Around-the-clock Christmas music by today’s biggest artists along with classic Christmas hits” return to 93.9 LITE FM. Personalities Melissa Forman, Robin Rock and Mick Lee will host a two-hour commercial-free holiday kick-off today, starting at 4pm. “Fans can listen in as the holiday music officially starts and will be able to send in song requests, and participate in on-air festive games to get in the holiday spirit.” More here.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company Opens Lefkofsky Center
Steppenwolf has opened its new 50,000 square foot theater building and education center, the Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill FAIA of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, with theater design and acoustics by Charcoalblue and construction by Norcon. Among its features: the arts-driven learning for Chicago youth space of The Loft, Steppenwolf’s first dedicated education space. The expanded Steppenwolf campus also features bright new lobbies and two full-service bars designed by fc STUDIO, inc. Opening to the public this month as in-person performances return to Steppenwolf, the Lefkofsky Center is the largest permanent cultural asset to open in the City of Chicago in 2021. The $54 million building is part of Steppenwolf’s multi-phase $73 million Building on Excellence expansion campaign. “Working with Steppenwolf has been a special experience—their clear intention of accessibility for all has transformed the space,” says architect Gordon Gill in a release. “Architecturally the design fits within the character of the neighborhood, while embodying the personality of this singular company: inviting, intimate, and rugged. The concrete honors the founders, their strength and the original foundation they built while the complementary warm wood tones and splashes of color celebrate the newer ensemble members and next chapter.”
Writing About Dance No Longer A Profession
“The truth is that culture writing that doesn’t involve celebrities or popular culture or scandal fills an increasingly small niche in the mainstream press,” writes Marina Harss at Dance magazine. “Articles about dance that don’t address larger societal issues, and that really focus in on the details of the art, are seldom put on the front page of the arts section… What we need is more voices, representing more of our world: more Asian writers and Hispanic writers and Black writers, writers of every background, interest, social class. But how can they be drawn into a profession that isn’t really a profession? Many intelligent, ambitious young people give arts writing a try for a few years until, understandably, they form a more accurate picture of the labor situation and move on. As it is organized now, this is not a field that can sustain talented people while they devote years to really understanding the ins and outs of interpreting dance, and develop the perspective needed to place things into historical context… American dance writing has become a field of (excellent, enthusiastic) quasi-volunteers.”
“A Christmas Carol” Cast At The Goodman
“Nearly two million people have experienced Goodman Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol,'” reports the theater in a release, “returning to the stage for its forty-fourth annual production following a year of darkened stages. Director Jessica Thebus returns after co-adapting and directing the 2020 audio
ARTS & CULTURE
The 3Arts Next Level/Spare Room Awards Go To…
Three women visual artists who are past 3Arts honorees have received $50,000 unrestricted cash awards, the second annual 3Arts Next Level/Spare Room Award. 3Arts, the Chicago-based nonprofit grantmaking organization, announced the recipients during its fourteenth annual 3Arts Awards Celebration, held virtually on November 1. With support from an anonymous donor at the Chicago Community Foundation, this year’s awards went to visual artists Tirtza Even, Aram Han Sifuentes and Candace Hunter. “The Next Level program is an uncommon concept in the grantmaking field in which a second award at a higher level is distributed to a past recipient,” says 3Arts Executive Director Esther Grisham Grimm in a release. 3Arts also awarded 134 artists including ten 3Arts Awards recipients who received $30,000 in unrestricted cash grants. Another 121 artists were selected by past 3Arts awardees to receive $4,000 unrestricted grants through a major expansion of “Make a Wave,” an artist-to-artist grant program, with one-time support from “Make a Wave” presenting partner The Joyce Foundation. These announcements—together with $230,000 in emergency relief grants given to 3Arts artists in 2021—make this the largest award year in 3Arts history. With registration, the event can be viewed here.
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]