Milwaukee’s National Bobblehead Hall Of Fame Museum Crafts Its Mona Lisa
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has issued a limited-edition bobblehead of the Mona Lisa, the first bobblehead featuring Leonardo da Vinci’s painting. The bobblehead features a replica of the Mona Lisa in a golden frame; each copy is individually numbered to 2,021 and available only through the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum’s online store for $25 each here.
Puppies Puppies Wins Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland’s Prize
“Jade Kuriki Olivo, an artist who works under the moniker Puppies Puppies, has won Toby’s Prize, a biennial award given out by the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland in Ohio,” reports ARTnews. “In the past, the award came with $50,000, $25,000 of which went toward a new commission by the museum. The museum’s announcement did not state how much money Puppies had won, however, and a representative for the institution said that the artist had requested that the amount not be listed.” Here’s a special project Puppies Puppies created for Newcity in 2014.
Chicago-Based Artists Select Twenty Awardees For “The Artist Grant”
The Artist Grant, a community-driven grant making initiative from The Reva and David Logan Foundation, has awarded twenty individual artists with unrestricted grants of $2,500 each. A group of Chicago-based artists working in diverse disciplines acted as “designers” of the end-to-end process, which was designed to emphasize accessibility and inclusion, without “burdensome platforms and elitist selection processes,” the foundation relays. The purpose “is to recognize artists working in Chicago who may or may not be working within the mainstream art world. The call for applications yielded 650 applicants. The original intent was to award ten grants; however, due to the volume of applications, the Foundation extended the award to twenty recipients. The only stipulations within this low-barrier application were that the applicant must be 18+, live within the city limits of Chicago, and self-identify as an artist. Artists with a disability, BIPOC, queer, and/or self-taught/non-formally trained artists were encouraged to apply.”
The 2021 Artist Grant recipients are Alencia, Lorell Augustine, Tara Betts, Scott Vincent Campbell, Alma Domínguez, Colette Ghunim, Aaron Holland, J’Sun Howard, Dawn Renee Jones, Molly Jones, Roah Karim, Osiris Khepera, Thomas Kong, Jovan Landry, Amy Mall, Elizabeth Myles, Felicia Oduh, Arthur Sangster, Jacqueline Sinclair and Hope Wang. The 2021 designers of The Artist Grant are Megan Carney, Sydney Chatman, Jenn Freeman / Po’Chop, Robin Hustle, Kevin Iega Jeff, Ronnie Malley and eliza myrie. The Foundation intends to fund future iterations of this initiative, encouraging each new set of appointed designers the opportunity to design the application and evaluation processes. More here.
Field Museum’s Africa Display To Get First Update Since 1993
“Foreman Bandama, the Field Museum’s new assistant curator of African anthropology, says the thirty-year-old exhibit is out of date. A new exhibit will highlight African innovation,” reports the Sun-Times. “‘If you said let’s go to the Africa hall today, I would not want to go with you,’ Bandama said… In his new role as assistant curator of African anthropology, he wants to reimagine the exhibit… Bandama says museum-goers do not typically expect to find innovation in the Africa exhibit, Bandama said, like they do with European exhibits. He wants to change that. ‘Africa objects outside of Africa must speak to the African story. They must highlight what Africa was able to do, that Africa was also a place of knowledge production.'”
Libération reports that Louis Vuitton has changed the display cases in its stores in cities including Paris, New York, Tokyo and Istanbul to “the colors of Virgil’s sky.” “This rainbow refers to the first collection of the designer for the brand of the LVMH group in 2019,” the daily reports (in French). “This gradient of warm and bright colors, inspired by the fantastic universe of the Wizard of Oz, representing for Abloh humanity in its great diversity. On the front of the shops is inscribed ‘Virgil was here.'” Earlier, the opening of a store in Miami became an Abloh tribute forty-eight hours after his passing, reported the New York Times: “A Louis Vuitton runway show meant to mark the opening of a gleaming new men’s wear store in Miami’s Design District became a moving tribute to Virgil Abloh, as friends, collaborators and fans paid their respects under fireworks and a drone light show.” The Louis Vuitton page, including video.
CTA Trains And Buses Reduced During Pandemic
“As CTA ridership plummeted to a fraction of its normal levels during the pandemic, the transit agency touted its level of service, writing in a budget recommendation made public in October that it was ‘the only major U.S. transit agency that did not reduce or cut back on service,'” reports Sarah Freishtat at the Trib. “But the agency ran far fewer of its scheduled train trips on some lines during the pandemic than it did in the early months of 2020, a Tribune analysis of CTA data shows.” (Short-staffing is a key problem.)
Commercial Property Tax Boosted To Fund Security For Michigan Avenue Stores
“A City Council committee agreed to raise commercial property taxes along North Michigan Avenue to bankroll security improvements,” reports Fran Spielman at the Sun-Times, through the creation of another taxing district. Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) told Spielman: “The Mag Mile Association and the Department of Planning did a very good job… properly socializing [sic] the plan, getting more buy-in from [affected] property owners. And they also completely reworked their budget proposal, which now prioritizes public safety investments over marketing events and programming.”
Jahn Tower Rises Again
“With a $304.5 million loan, developers are starting construction on a building designed by the late Helmut Jahn,” reports David Roeder at the Sun-Times. Developers “will restart construction on a residential high-rise at 1000 South Michigan… Work will begin this month because Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank have pledged $304.5 million toward a construction loan, the developers said. The seventy-story building… is expected to be finished in three years.”
Jerome Butler, Ninety-Three, Led 1970s Navy Pier Restoration
“Former Chicago city architect, Public Works Commissioner and Aviation Commissioner Jerome R. Butler has died at the age of 93,” reports CBS Chicago. “The University of Illinois at Chicago noted that Butler studied at the old University of Illinois Navy Pier campus for his first two years of undergraduate education, and went on to help lead the restoration of the auditorium at the east end of Navy Pier in the 1970s.”
Chicago Fashion Incubator Designers At Randolph Street Market
Chicago Fashion Incubator designers-in-residence Lola Osire (Lola Elan) and Pam Kendall (Qui Collection) will be selling at Randolph Street Market as the market pops up at 830 North Michigan Avenue on Saturday, December 11 and Sunday, December 12, 10am-5pm. Tickets $10 in advance.
DINING & DRINKING
McDonald’s Commits A Quarter-Billion Dollars Toward Starting To Diversify Owners Of Its Restaurants
“Facing a lawsuit from former franchisees that alleges discrimination, McDonald’s said today it will commit $250 million in a five-year plan to diversify the ranks of its restaurant owners,” reports the Sun-Times. “This comes toward the end of a year filled with criticism of McDonald’s, with one incident involving the company’s CEO and his texts to Mayor Lori Lightfoot following the shooting deaths of two children.”
The 2021 Eater Awards Set Their Table
Eater Chicago picks its favorites of the year, or two years, in this case. “These winners represent a wide swath of the city’s unique dining culture. Each of the winners will receive an iconic Eater tomato can.”
Lee Enterprises Rejects Alden Global Capital’s “Unworthy” Attempt To Buy Its Local Papers
“The board of Lee Enterprises [has] unanimously rejected hedge fund Alden Global Capital’s unsolicited offer to purchase the company, saying the proposal lowballs Lee’s true value ‘and is not in the best interests of the company and its shareholders,'” reports the Washington Post. “Lee owns at least ninety newspapers in twenty-six states, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Buffalo News. Alden, a hedge fund that has become one of the largest newspaper owners in the country, with a reputation for slashing staffs and gutting newsrooms, proposed buying Lee in late November for $24 a share in cash. Alden, through an affiliated entity, already owns about six percent of Lee, one of the last large, publicly traded independent newspaper chains in the country.”
Remembering NEO’s Thirty-Six Years (1979-2015)
“Suzanne Shelton had been DJing at a failing Lincoln Park disco called Hoots, but she spent all her free nights at O’Banion’s, a run-down gay bar in River North that DJ Nancy Rapchak had turned punk the previous summer,” writes Leor Galil at the Reader. “Shelton didn’t care much for disco, and it didn’t help that she had to spin its commercialized hits over and over for work. But the music that Rapchak and her fellow DJs played at O’Banion’s was another matter. ‘To this day there are some songs, I can close my eyes and I’m on the O’Banion’s dance floor,’ she says… The state of O’Banion’s itself put her off. ‘The place was such a dive… The ladies’ room was out of order for six months, and they were not interested at all in fixing that. The men’s room—we all probably needed typhoid shots from going in there.’ She had a hunch she could launch her own club devoted to punk rock’s arty sibling, and make it a place where she wouldn’t have to hold her pee to hang out. She even had a venue chosen—in fact she already worked there. In July 1979, she pitched the owners of Hoots, Larry Acciari and Eric Larson, on her new-wave concept. They gave her three weeks to prove it could work. She did it in one night.”
WFMT Turns Seventy With All-Day Celebration On December 13
WFMT celebrates its seventieth anniversary on Monday, December 13 with a day of performances featuring a roster of special guests. The all-day celebration will air and stream live from Northeastern Illinois University’s Jewel Box Recital Hall on 98.7FM, wfmt.com, and the WFMT app; and video of the performances will be streamed on Facebook and wfmt.com. “In 1951, Bernard and Rita Jacobs, having pawned their car and luggage, acquired full ownership of a struggling Chicago radio station,” the station relays in a release. “On December 13 of that year with Bernie serving as engineer and Rita as the announcer, WFMT signed on for the first time as Rita famously asked, ‘Is anybody listening?’ Their goal: to produce and present fine arts content on the radio that they could enjoy, respect and share with others. Seven decades later, that idea still guides WFMT, a world-renowned brand with a reputation as a champion of classical music that presents world-class performances from Chicago and around the world accompanied by enlightening context from its knowledgeable hosts. To celebrate the past, present and future, WFMT invites its community of listeners to join WFMT’s 70th Anniversary Day of Celebration throughout the day.” More here.
June 2022 Evening With John Williams Canceled
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has canceled “An Evening With John Williams,” scheduled for June 9, 2022, due to an unexpected schedule conflict for conductor John Williams. According to a statement from his management, “John Williams greatly regrets that due to a scheduling change in a prior film commitment, he will be unavailable to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on June 9. He very much looks forward to reuniting with the orchestra and rescheduling this concert as soon as possible.” The new program for the June 9 concert, which is part of the CSO’s thirty-first Annual Corporate Night benefit evening, will be “Kelli O’Hara Sings Broadway” and features the Tony Award-winning soprano singing songs from the Broadway catalog with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Steven Reineke. The CSO’s Corporate Night is a fundraising event presented in partnership by CSOA, and the League and Overture Council of the CSOA. Proceeds benefit the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s artistic, educational and community engagement programs in Chicago worldwide.
Congo Square Returns To Live Performance
Chicago’s Congo Square Theatre Company, one of the nation’s premier African American theaters, marks its return of live performance with two “Homecoming”-themed programs on February 5, 2022, both at Bridgeport’s Zhou B Art Center. Congo Square’s first live performances in nearly two years start with the return of the company’s popular Festival on the Square, inspired by the original Congo Square located in New Orleans, celebrating arts, healing and Black joy. More here.
American Blues Theater Ensemble Member John Mohrlein Was Seventy-Four
American Blues Theater ensemble member John Mohrlein passed away on December 8, the company reports. “John was an incredible visual and theater artist,” said artistic director Gwendolyn Whiteside. “He saw beauty in everyone and everything. His talent, enthusiasm of life, profound generosity, and passion will be long remembered. An Ensemble member for twenty-five years, John strengthened every production on or off stage. There will never be another man like him. Bells are ringing.” Here’s Newcity’s 2011 profile of Mohrlein, on the occasion of “It’s A Wonderful Life: Live At The Biograph!” in which he played both Mr. Potter and Clarence the angel.
Theater Wit Themes Its Cocktails
At the Reader, Kerry Reid debriefs a Theater Wit publican on themed drinks.
ARTS & CULTURE
Where Does The $563 Million In Illinois Weed Tax Go?
“Total tax collections on pot sales have now jumped to nearly $563 million. And since February, pot sales have brought in a whooping $100 million more in taxes than booze,” reports the Sun-Times. The paper breaks down the outlay.
U.K. Makes Masks Mandatory At All Venues
“With just weeks to go until Christmas, the U.K. is almost repeating what happened in 2020 and tightening COVID-19 restrictions, this time in response to the rising omicron variant,” writes the Hollywood Reporter. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is implementing “what he called ‘Plan B,’ which included the reintroduction of the enforcement of face mask wearing in venues including cinemas and theaters. Johnson also said that, from Friday, COVID-19 passes showing vaccination statuses would be required for entry into nightclubs and larger venues, including unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, and once again encouraged people to work from home.”
The Midwest’s Biggest Pop-Culture Convention, C2E2, Returns To McCormick Place
Reports City Cast Chicago: “The Midwest’s biggest pop culture convention is back at the McCormick Center this weekend, just weeks after the omicron variant was possibly contracted at Anime NYC. C2E2, or the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, has long been a spot for local comic book, video game, and anime fans to connect, meet celebs, shop, and cosplay (aka dressing up as characters from fandoms).”
Lee Bey On “The Demise of America’s Onetime Capital of Black Wealth”
Writer-photographer Lee Bey looks at the state of Black business in Chicago at Politico. “Since the 1920s, Chicago—with one of the nation’s largest concentrations of Black residents—has been a capital city for Black millionaires and businesses. Their footprint wasn’t just local, but national: Chicago was headquarters to global brands such as Ebony and Jet magazines, and Afro Sheen hair care products. No longer. Johnson Products, the parent company for Afro Sheen, shuttered its South Side factory. Oprah Winfrey moved Harpo Studios from the West Side to West Hollywood. Gladys’ Luncheonette, which served up smothered chicken and peach cobbler to the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., comedian Redd Foxx and a host of politicians and other luminaries, is now gone. Significant regional businesses like Independence Bank disappeared. And, as the Chatham streetscape shows, others are vanishing, too, thanks to a variety of factors, including disinvestment, globalization and the nationalization of local businesses.” More.
Celebrating a Decade of The Magic Parlour At The Palmer House
Third-generation magician and mind-reader Dennis Watkins has announced that “Dennis Watkins’ The Magic Parlour,” Chicago’s longest-running magic show with 1,500 performances playing to over 30,000 guests, will kick off its tenth year at the Palmer House Hilton with ten events over the course of this year, including a special New Year’s Eve performance. The Magic Parlour will celebrate its tenth anniversary and ring in 2022 with a New Year’s Eve performance. Following the 7pm performance, the 9:30pm show will conclude with a reception, anniversary cake and champagne toast at midnight. The 7pm show is $89, while the 9:30pm show is $109 and includes reception, cake and toast. Tickets to all performances include beer, wine and soft drink selections. More here.
“Par Excellence Redux: The Front 9” Mini-Golf Moves To IU Northwest
“Indiana University Northwest invites the public to experience the Mini-Golf Course Challenge, a free and interactive miniature golf course of playable works of art by local and national artists,” a release relays. “The custom-built miniature golf exhibit features five holes that are open for public play through January 29 in the John W. Anderson Library Conference Center, on the IU Northwest campus. Previously displayed at the Elmhurst Art Museum, the exhibit, ‘Par Excellence Redux: The Front 9,’ was curated by Christopher Jobson, founder and editor-in-chief of Colossal, an international online platform for contemporary art and visual expression. The exhibit pays homage to ‘Par Excellence,’ which opened in 1988 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The hole designs range from a challenging spiraling cone, to a maze-like castle with the potential for a hole-in-one.” More here.
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