Laura Mott To Lead Detroit’s Cranbrook Art Museum
“Detroit’s Cranbrook Art Museum has named Laura Mott, who joined the institution in 2013 as senior curator of contemporary art and design, as chief curator. In her new capacity, she will play a major role in shaping collections, mentoring curators, and organizing and overseeing exhibitions,” reports Artforum.
Lee Bey looks at the year since Helmut Jahn’s passing in his monthly architecture column at the Sun-Times. Jahn’s firm “is continuing design work on the Thompson Center and seeing other projects nearing completion, such as the Pritzker Military Archive Center, in Somers, Wisconsin, sixty-five miles north of Chicago…The firm is also rebranding itself from JAHN to Jahn/—with the forward slash. It’s the third branding of the eighty-five-year-old firm… ‘When we talk about what the new graphical element really represents… this most important thing—this Jahn slash—is the opening of what comes next,’ Evan Jahn said. ‘Trying to convey the optimism of what the future holds.’”
Expanding On “Durbin Renewal”
Architectural historian and co-founder of Preservation Futures Elizabeth Blasius, whose posts we quoted from in recent days, expands on her thoughts about the necessity to preserve at the Century & Consumers Buildings at the Trib. “Federal money has been allocated for the demolition of the Century & Consumers Buildings, two early 1900s skyscrapers at the corner of State and Adams streets in Chicago’s Loop. This demolition could be a part of the larger story of urban renewal, the mid-twentieth century practice of using federal money to raze older buildings perceived as emblematic of decay in America’s cities to clear a path for new development. But this isn’t history. This is happening now, and this isn’t urban renewal. This is ‘Durbin Renewal.’ U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin helped earmark $52 million for the demolition of the Jenny, Mundie & Jensen-designed Consumers Building, completed in 1913, and the Holabird & Roche Century Building, in 1915, known collectively as the Century & Consumers Buildings… According to Durbin, demolition of the Century & Consumers Buildings is the only option to protect the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse and the public servants inside from a potential act of domestic terrorism… As an architectural historian who has worked in disaster recovery, I’ve helped clients in the public sector determine how historic architecture can be adapted to protect the people it serves… These outcomes rarely include the demolition of one viable building to ensure the safety of those in another… South State Street already has dozens of retail vacancies. [Demolition] would be bad for business: it would create a void on Chicago’s most iconic thoroughfares [and] also bad for the planet… Sending millions more pounds of the Century & Consumers Buildings’ terra cotta, brick, glass and metal into an area landfill would be anti-environment.” More at the link. Lynn Becker adds: “‘Durbin Renewal’ = irresponsible destruction… Blasius patiently and factually demolishes Durbin’s justification for spending $52 million to destroy two classic Chicago skyscrapers for specious claims of ‘security.'”
City To Plant 75,000 More Trees
A new initiative to greatly expand Chicago’s tree canopy over the next five years has been announced by the city, which will plant 75,000 trees, making a priority of “historically overlooked areas on the South and West sides to make tree coverage across the city more equitable,” reports the Sun-Times. “Fewer trees means higher temperatures,” Michael Dugan, director of forestry for the conservation group Openlands, tells reporter Cadence Quaranta. “Concrete and other surfaces absorb heat during the day, and radiate heat at night, he said, making urban centers much hotter than other areas. Trees help deflect some of that radiation.”
Landmark Chicago Neon Signs Go Under The Hammer
“Hundreds of loyal customers and curious buyers flocked to a public auction Saturday of Chicago restaurant memorabilia,” reports the Trib. Signs “for the now-closed Chicago Joe’s and the possibly soon-to-be-shuttered Orange Garden, sold [at] $32,450 and $20,060, respectively. The sign for Lakeview’s Dinkel’s Bakery, which officially sold its last pastry Saturday, will be auctioned next month. The auction—which brought nearly 300 people—was held inside Chicago Joe’s, 2256 West Irving Park, where every collectible had been ripped down and displayed for buyers. Tables, milkshake cups, plates, framed newspaper articles, light fixtures, sports items and even the Rock-Ola jukebox were for sale.”
Lake Point Tower’s Seventieth-Story Cité Restaurant Back On Market
“Cité, the restaurant atop Lake Point Tower just west of Navy Pier, is back on the market,” reports Crain’s. “A sale could end a long battle between owner Evangeline Gouletas and her creditors, who are owed nearly $6.1 million.”
Franciscan Alliance Flattening 1898 Hammond Hospital; “People Are Gonna Die”
The nonprofit “Franciscan Alliance plans to largely demolish Franciscan Health Hammond, a 226-bed hospital that opened in 1898. The Catholic hospital system says the Hammond hospital has few patients and that its aging infrastructure is costly to maintain,” reports the Sun-Times. They plan to “demolish most of the 226-bed Franciscan Health Hammond complex, leaving only eight beds, an emergency department and outpatient services… The news stung many in this city of nearly 80,000… ‘It’s deplorable that a Catholic institution like the Franciscans would make a financially motivated decision and leave thousands of people potentially at risk,’ said Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., who says he was informed of the downsizing only two hours before it was announced. ‘I’m not trying to be alarmist, but people are gonna die because of this decision. And they know it.'”
Trump Tower Property Taxes To Leap And Bound
“A year ago, former President Donald Trump got a $330,000 tax break after Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi slashed the value on the largely vacant retail space at the Trump International Hotel & Tower by thirty-seven percent,” reports the Sun-Times. “This year, Trump’s property taxes are likely to skyrocket because Kaegi now says the storefronts are worth sixty-eight percent more than the value he placed on them last year.”
Sixteen States Sue USPS Over DeJoy Edict For Decades Of Gasoline-Powered Postal Trucks
“‘Louis DeJoy’s gas-guzzling fleet guarantees decades of pollution with every postcard and package,’ said Scott Hochberg, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, referring to the postmaster general,” reports NPR. “California and fifteen states that want the USPS to electrify its mail delivery vehicles are suing to halt purchases of thousands of gas-powered trucks as the agency modernizes its delivery fleet. Three separate lawsuits, filed by the states and environmental groups in New York and California, ask judges to order a more thorough environmental review… Plaintiffs contend that purchases of fossil fuel-powered delivery vehicles will cause environmental harm for decades to come.”
Illinois Gets C- From Civil Engineers For Infrastructure
“The Illinois American Society of Civil Engineers unveiled the state’s 2022 Infrastructure Report Card,” which comes out every four years, reports WGN-TV. “Illinois received a ‘C-‘ grade, precisely what it was four years ago in 2018 and four years before that in 2014… Are improvements being made? Engineers point to progress in state dams and inland waterways, but Illinois’ drinking water infrastructure grade is declining.”
Neiman-Marcus Building Sold To Houston Investment Firm
“The Michigan Avenue building rented to Neiman Marcus has a new owner. While some details are undisclosed, the circumstances of the sale indicate the retailer of luxury goods intends to stay on the swank but troubled retail street,” reports the Sun-Times. “Neiman Marcus occupies all 195,500 square feet… Neiman emerged from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020 when pandemic lockdowns hit its finances… The buyer was Silvestri Investments, a family-owned firm based in Houston. The price was undisclosed and no deed has yet been filed with Cook County. The broker said it arranged a seven-year acquisition loan.”
DINING & DRINKING
Amazon’s Whole Foods Closing Stores, Including Englewood, Reestablishing Food Desert; Also DePaul
“Whole Foods will close two of its twelve Chicago area stores, including an Englewood location it opened six years ago in a neighborhood considered a food desert,” reports the Trib. “Mayor Emanuel worked with Whole Foods to open the store in 2016, giving the company more than $10 million in tax subsidies to make it happen… For years afterward, Emanuel praised the store as a ‘game changer’ with transformative ripple effects for the neighborhood.” At the time the project was announced in 2014, the city quoted Alderman JoAnn Thompson: “So as to maintain a healthy lifestyle, every community deserves fresh produce, fresh meats, and other nutritionally sound foods. The residents and I applaud Whole Foods grocery store…” The 2016 opening press release from Mayor Emanuel’s office: “Whole Foods Market Englewood is bringing better access to fresh, healthy food to Englewood and surrounding South Side neighborhood residents, plus more than a hundred new jobs and economic opportunities. The new 18,000-square-foot store represents three years of community collaboration and will have products from more than thirty-five local suppliers on its shelves.” The TRiiBE: “When the Englewood store closes, there will only be two stores in Chicago south of Madison, South Loop and Hyde Park.” (In February, WBEZ reported on what it’s like when a food desert reappears, after the closure of an Aldi in Garfield Park.)
Whole Foods Opens 66,000-Square Foot Space Across Street From Holy Name Cathedral
The dreadnought-scaled Whole Foods is open in the One Chicago skyscraper on the block with Holy Name Cathedral, reports Eater Chicago. The store replaces a location on Huron Street and its opening parallels the closing of the Amazon subsidiary’s closure of stores at Halsted and 63rd and another in Lincoln Park near DePaul University.
Spirit Elephant Spins off Fast-Casual Elephant + Vine
Established Winnetka vegan eatery gets Lincoln Park and Evanston variations, with elephant + vine from owner CD Young and hospitality company Wild Thing Restaurant Group. “This plant-based expansion will take the delicious ‘this can’t be vegan’ vegan food to a quick service model. Spirit Elephant’s motto of ‘Eat plants, feel beautiful’ represents the idea that eating plant-based is a simple way to positively affect the planet and its inhabitants, and that feels beautiful,” the group relays in a release. “Plant-based eating is a direct way that we as individuals can help improve the health of the planet and everyone on it,” says owner CD Young. Elephant + vine has “a fresh, modern ambiance with a chic industrial design. The Evanston location will be a 2,000-square-foot loft-style space featuring exposed pipes and dozens of plants to enliven the area with vibrant green hues. The Lincoln Park space will be nestled in a 1,935-square-foot space adorned in a sleek and linear design with natural woods and metals running throughout.” More here.
Labor Department Agrees With El Milagro Employees On Complaint
“El Milagro was fined $11,200 for meal break violations, but the Illinois Department of Labor says the company has not paid that fine,” reports the Trib. “The findings, which were released to the Tribune through a Freedom of Information Act request, come after workers at El Milagro filed a complaint with the Department of Labor in late October 2021.”
S.K.Y. Sommelier Jean Banchet Nomination Pulled
Jelena Prodan of S.K.Y. in Pilsen “was among five nominees in the sommelier category for the awards recognizing Chicago’s restaurant and bar industry, now in their twentieth year—and the only woman,” reports Eater Chicago. Prodan was involved “when a racially diverse party of diners say restaurant staff showed racist and homophobic behavior toward them, questioning whether they could afford a fifty-six-dollar-per-pour Scotch. The restaurant, meanwhile, claims its staff wanted to prevent its customers from being surprised after they asked for their check… S.K.Y. owner Stephen Gillanders says he’s not considering terminating Prodan on account of the incident. He says he believes the decision to rescind the nomination was a rash conclusion given that the Banchets did not contact him.”
FILM & TELEVISION
No Chicago Streets For Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino won’t be directing the pilot of “City Primeval,” doubling Chicago for Detroit, after all; no details yet, reports Screen magazine, but veteran series director Michael Dinner will be handling the FX “Justified” sequel with Timothy Olyphant instead of the man who says he has but a single feature left in his quiver.
Spudnik Press Spring Break
Spudnik Press announces that the group is taking a spring break of sorts, reducing its offerings while selecting their next executive director and “continu[ing] to prioritize strengthening engagement with our members and community. This decision is a necessary step to ensure that the organization manages this time of change and transition with care and transparency. This plan centers our staff and our internal community–members, and those who are currently engaged in our programs,” the group writes in their newsletter. Artists and students enrolled in current programs will not be affected. (Full details are here.)
Why The Sun-Times Can No Longer Endorse
“The Sun-Times is now a nonprofit news outlet, an affiliate of Chicago Public Media and a partner with WBEZ. This partnership—one of the largest nonprofit news operations in the country—is supported by private foundations and other donors who stepped up because they believe the Chicago metro area must maintain [strong], competitive local media,” the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board advises. “Readers have told us they’re excited to see how this partnership unfolds. But as the 2022 election season kicks into high gear, with the June 28 primary and the November 8 general election on the horizon, many readers have also asked: ‘What about endorsements?’ As a nonprofit, the Sun-Times can no longer make endorsements. The IRS guidance governing 501(c)3 nonprofits is clear on this point, and we want to make sure our readers are aware of that.”
JBTV’s Jerry Bryant Holds On Thirty-Eight Years In
“Despite health challenges and financial setbacks that might have brought down the curtain on anyone else,” reports Robert Feder at Crain’s, “Chicago TV legend Jerry Bryant isn’t finished with JBTV, the longest-running music television show in the country. Since 1984 Bryant has been the genial host of the weekly showcase he founded for presenting live performances and in-studio interviews with emerging artists.”
Playwright, Author And Disability Activist Susan Nussbaum Was Sixty-Eight
“In person, on stage or on the page, Susan Nussbaum was a delight, a ferociously talented actor, writer and passionate disability activist. She could be, when appropriate, deadly serious, but she also possessed great humor, lively intelligence and a playful nature,” writes Rick Kogan at the Tribune. “When she was twenty-four, she was struck by a car that robbed her of the use of her legs and partial use of her arms and caused her to need a wheelchair… Her last produced play was ‘No One as Nasty,’ at Victory Gardens Theater in 2000. Though she continued to act and direct, she devoted an increasing amount of her time and energies to disability rights organizations, with which she was long involved. For Access Living, she created The Empowered FeFes, a series of award-winning documentaries… Frustrated by the theater scene, she turned her literary talents to fiction… Nussbaum was co-writer and co-producer of the documentary, ‘Code of the Freaks’… ‘Susan combined activism and artistry to extraordinary effect,’ said Tribune theater critic Chris Jones.” Nussbaum’s survivors include her father, the ninety-eight-year-old working actor Mike Nussbaum.
Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards Nominees Announced
Broadway In Chicago has announced the twenty-four nominees for the 2022 Broadway In Chicago Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards, which celebrates excellence in high school theater throughout the state of Illinois and is the regional program that feeds into the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, or, The Jimmy Awards. The nominees were selected from over 200 student applicants from seventy-six participating schools and have been invited to participate in the Awards program. Additionally the ceremony will feature a student group number and Broadway workshop supported by “Wicked.” The students are taught the music number and are staged by a show representative and given the experience to work with a Broadway professional on a Broadway stage. Additionally, the show representative sits on the panel of judges made up of industry professionals in the city of Chicago to adjudicate and select the top six finalists along with Best Actor and Best Actress. (The list of participating schools is here.) The event will be held at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place on Monday, May 23, hosted by Channel 5’s entertainment reporter LeeAnn Trotter. More here.
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]