Allison Glenn Named Public Art Fund Senior Curator
“Public Art Fund, the New York–based arts organization that stages public art installations across the city, has appointed Allison Glenn, one of the country’s leading curators, as senior curator,” reports ARTnews. “Glenn is best known for her critically acclaimed 2021 exhibition ‘Promise, Witness, Remembrance’ for the Speed Art Museum in Louisville that brought together the work of twenty-three artists to honor the life of Breonna Taylor, who was from Louisville. In planning the exhibition, which came together in just a few months, Glenn worked closely with Taylor’s family and assembled local and national committees to advise on the exhibition.” Glenn was on Newcity’s Art 50 earlier in her career, when she was at Monique Meloche Gallery.
TimeLine Theater And Uptown Social Services Building Set For $12 Million In City Funds
“City officials on Tuesday gave initial approval for giving $12 million in tax-increment finance dollars for the rehabbing of the GreenRise social services building and the new home of TimeLine theater,” reports Block Club Chicago. “The GreenRise building at 4750 North Sheridan is seeking $2 million in TIF funding for a planned $21 million renovation of the historical building housing many social services agencies… The project will renovate the hundred-year-old building by updating its systems, replacing windows, restoring historical masonry and overhauling its lobby.”
Durbin Demolition Passion Project Questioned
“Pork returned to Congress this year, and Illinois had quite the haul. Among the earmarks for the state in the latest federal budget, Illinois legislators notched [multiple building projects] and one item meant not to build but to destroy: $52 million to tear down a pair of century-old, terracotta-clad skyscrapers in Downtown Chicago,” writes Henry Grabar at Slate. “That grant is the work of Senator Dick Durbin, who scored the earmark to level a half-block of the Loop because the buildings there offer a dangerous vantage point onto the courthouse next door… Never mind that the condemned towers were built in 1913 and 1915, and the courthouse in 1974, and all three have happily co-existed across ninety feet of sky ever since. Times have changed, and taxpayers are now set to fund what looks like an architectural, environmental, and economic debacle in the name of counterterrorism. It’s not even clear the plan makes sense from a security perspective. The widespread application of this standard—that a tall building near a courthouse is a security risk—would require rigging American downtowns with thousands of pounds of TNT to liberate American government buildings from their contexts.”
Who Would Pay For Infrastructure Associated With A Bally’s Casino?
“No matter what the city says, you can be sure the casino will cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” is the subhead of Ben Joravsky’s skeptical column at the Reader. “Mayor Lightfoot is sort of pretending the project has no public costs. As though Bally’s is shouldering the expenses… I hope no one in Chicago actually believes it—that would mean you’ve learned nothing over the last few decades… Lightfoot is not the first Chicago mayor to cover up the real costs of her fantasies—and I’m sure she won’t be our last… They want to build a super-big casino on a site where a… printing plant has been operating for over forty years—so there’s a lot of wear and tear on the property…. Before they actually build the casino, someone is going to have to pay to buy the property, demolish the printing plant, rid the site of any toxins, and probably do something about those unsightly train tracks. Plus add traffic lights, widen and pave streets, and do whatever else it takes to assure locals that said super-big casino won’t overwhelm the nearby River West neighborhood with traffic.”
Opponents To Gambling In River North At Medinah Temple Gather
“The plan to put the temporary casino inside Medinah Temple while the permanent structure is under construction has been widely panned by area residents,” report Alice Yin and Robert Channick at the Trib. “Deborah Gershbein, president of… the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, said members were ‘very, very surprised’ to learn of the temporary casino plans ‘because it is such a congested area already, and I just can’t imagine how it would accommodate the additional traffic… It just doesn’t make any sense at all, frankly… We do think it would be detrimental to the community and our quality of life.’”
City Expands Use Of ShotSpotter
The city’s installation of ShotSpotter technology, which is supposed to hear gunshots and report them to police, have been placed largely in Black and brown neighborhoods, report Grace Del Vecchio and Matt Chapman at the Reader, as the publication and independent research organization Lucy Parsons Labs map the placement of the surveillance devices across Chicago. “Our analysis located more than 750 apparent ShotSpotter devices spread throughout the city, including in districts the CPD has not publicly acknowledged as having them.”
Architect Mark Dewalt Was Seventy
“A founding principal of the firm Valerio Dewalt Train, Mark Dewalt was the ‘better call Mark’ guy anytime a client or a project was in a tough spot,” reports the Sun-Times. “Dewalt handled many assignments for the Merchandise Mart, such as converting its first and second floors into public spaces. His work included the Art on the Mart feature of images projected onto the building’s river-facing façade… With Joseph Valerio, Dewalt designed the Ford Calumet Environmental Center, a bird-friendly building in Chicago’s Big Marsh Park that has its own wastewater wetlands system.”
Inside The Construction At Lincoln Yards
“When you’re building a city within a city–it takes a lot of planning,” Andy Gloor, CEO of Sterling Bay, tells WGN-TV as they take an “exclusive” tour. Sterling Bay has begun converting fifty-three acres of “North Side riverfront property once occupied by the A. Finkle & Sons steel plant and other industrial sites, into a new community of homes, offices, entertainment venues, restaurants and parks.”
DANK Haus German American Cultural Center Up For $1.5 Million In City Funding
Lincoln Square’s DANK Haus is looking at renovations to improve accessibility, reports Block Club Chicago. “The German American cultural center and nonprofit is applying for TIF funds [to start a $2.3 million renovation] to upgrade the bathrooms, front entrance and aging plumbing at the Western Avenue building.”
DINING & DRINKING
Chicago Food Production Workers Turn To Collective Bargaining
“El Milagro was the most high-profile worker-led fight locally, but Authentico and other Chicago-area workers are part of a national wave of worker organizing spurred by the pandemic,” reports Sarah Conway at City Bureau. “Spurred on by a pandemic that exacerbated workplace inequalities for low-wage workers who were deemed essential, worker organizing is gaining steam in Chicago. The trend is particularly strong among immigrant workers who are employed at food production sites in the city’s Southwest Side and the suburbs.”
Behind The Baby Formula Shortage
“This isn’t a matter of families being unable to find their preferred brand of pureed peas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that eighty-four percent of babies are breastfed at some point in their lives. But almost three-quarters of U.S. infants will eat some formula by the time they’re six months old,” writes opinion columnist Alyssa Rosenberg at the Washington Post. “It’s a disgrace that parents have been forced to make these wrenching choices… It’s shocking how few suggestions formula manufacturers and government agencies have offered to help desperate families. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Connecticut), chair of the House Appropriations Committee… sounded a note of fury when I asked her what should be done. ‘Parents shouldn’t have to pay a price because Abbott has a contaminated product,’ DeLauro said, adding that ‘there had to be a way to induce other formula manufacturers to get products onto shelves more rapidly.'”
Reports the American Prospect: “A nationwide shortage of baby formula has parents scrambling and businesses rationing. Why is this happening, exactly? Monopolization has something to do with it; four companies control eighty-nine percent of the U.S. market… Any disruption to one of their products will be magnified, whether it’s a recall for Similac or inability to source ingredients. A few companies in the market relying on the same sources creates a much more fragile supply chain. Keep in mind that baby formula consists mostly of dehydrated cow’s milk, vitamins, and a ton of sugar. Yet it somehow costs at least $150 and as much as $428 a month.”
Starbucks Vs. Union Sticking Around
It’s been a couple of days since Farmer Hoggett (activist James Cromwell) superglued his hand to a Midtown Manhattan Starbucks counter in protest of upcharges for plant-based milks; meanwhile, union organizers are gaining ground against the conglomerate. Huffington Post labor reporter Dave Jamieson: “The NLRB has gone to court seeking an injunction to get the seven Starbucks workers in Memphis who were fired reinstated. These workers are known as the Memphis 7 and they’ve been waiting for this.” “The first Starbucks stores in California have unionized as a national campaign pushes on,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Workers at two Santa Cruz stores voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the national union, called Workers United. The wins added to the momentum of a union campaign that went public in late August and reversed decades of failed attempts to form unions at Starbucks.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Chicken Soup For The Soul Buys Redbox
“The throwback Redbox vending machines are expected to keep dispensing DVDs for years to come as some movie viewers are slow to transition to streaming services,” reports the Trib, as Chicken Soup For The Soul Entertainment acquires the Oakbrook Terrace-based corporation for $375 million in stock and debt. “Redbox, which went public in October through a special purpose acquisition company, saw revenues fall by nearly half last year to about $288 million, as a dearth of new movie releases dried up DVD rentals. Losses mounted and last month Redbox announced it had laid off 150 employees, or more than ten-percent of its workforce.”
JustKids Book Festival Launches
51st Ward Books, “Chicago’s first dedicated anti-racist and bilingual children’s bookstore, invites caregivers, teachers, families and the community to attend the first annual JustKids Book Festival. According to the latest census figures, nearly eighty-one percent of Chicago children are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), making Chicago a People of Color city with a multicultural future. Despite this reality, there is no singular literary event in children’s and young adult literature that focuses on BIPOC and historically excluded readers, authors and illustrators. ‘We are incredibly excited to partner with like-minded collaborators to expand access to culturally responsive and culturally affirming literature for children,’ says Nina D. Sánchez, 51st Ward Books co-founder in a release. ‘This is more than just business–it is a mission to ensure that Black, Latinx, American Indian, Asian-Pacific American, LGBTQIA+ and disabled children see their identities, language, skin, and culture reflected back to them from the bookshelf.'” Free. Saturday, June 18 at the Chicago Teachers Union Center, 1901 West Carroll. RSVP here.
Black Leaders Form Committee For Honorary Street Sign For “Cliff Kelley Show”
A range of prominent Chicago Black leaders are advocating an honorary street sign for WVON’s “Cliff Kelley Show,” relays the Crusader Newspaper Group in a release. “For twenty-six years, the show was a beloved institution as it guided Black Chicago through difficult times by giving thousands of listeners a voice to speak truth to power. Governors, mayors, congressmen, influential clergy and journalists were among the hundreds of distinguished guests who addressed Black issues that have too often been left out of the mainstream media. ‘Black Chicago and WVON wouldn’t be what it is today without the pioneering efforts of the “Cliff Kelley Show,”‘ said Chicago Crusader publisher Dorothy Leavell. ‘From politics to education to Black history, the “Cliff Kelley Show” defined “woke” before it became a term in the conversation of race, social injustice and voting rights.'” A group will assemble on Friday, May 20, at Chicago Crusader Newspaper, including Congressman Danny K. Davis; Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader Newspapers; Father Michael L. Pfleger, pastor, Saint Sabina Church; State Senator Mattie Hunter and Charles (Chuck) Bowen.
Profiling Twenty-Year-Old DIY Whirlwind Eli Schmitt
“Don’t let anyone else tell you, ‘It has to be this way, you have to follow these set of rules.’ Go out there, do it, and figure out the rest later,” Eli Schmitt, “jack-of-all-trades in Chicago’s young DIY arts and music scene,” tells Leor Galil at the Reader. Schmitt “moved to Chicago a couple years ago to attend DePaul, where he studies journalism and art history… He’s become a crucial connector in an emerging youth arts movement best known for its bands, which include Lifeguard, Post Office Winter, Friko, Dwaal Troupe, and Horsegirl.” Schmitt “plays the bands’ music on his Tuesday-night Radio DePaul show and books local DIY concerts. In his apartment, he shoots the live-performance YouTube series New Now and hosts an ongoing informal music-listening hangout he calls Record Club.”
Dance For Life 2022 Slated
Chicago Dancers United, which supports the health and wellness of Chicago’s professional dance community, has set the program for its thirty-first annual fundraiser, Dance for Life. The complete lineup of companies includes Chicago Dance Crash, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, Giordano Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, NAJWA Dance Corps, and Trinity Irish Dance Company. Randy Duncan will choreograph a world premiere finale. Dance for Life raises money for The Dancers’ Fund, which provides Chicago dance industry professionals with financial support for preventative health care and critical medical needs. The event showcases the city’s dance traditions and styles by bringing together professional dance companies and dancers from throughout Chicago to support their peers by donating time, energy and artistry. Dance for Life 2022 will be Saturday, August 13 at the Auditorium Theatre, followed by an afterparty. More on Chicago Dancers United here.Tickets go on sale June 6 here.
Theater In The Time Of COVID
Even with understudies and swing performers, Milwaukee Rep had to cancel fifteen out of forty-nine total shows of “Titanic: The Musical” “due to the quantity of cases and people involved. That’s about a third of the total run,” reports Milwaukee magazine. “Early estimates suggest The Rep will lose out on at least $255,000 in revenue and concessions.” Dance is drying up in the dance capital of Seattle, reports Crosscut: “Even as pandemic restrictions ease and theaters and clubs start to re-open, choreographers… and many others are struggling to stay in Seattle. [One choreographer] charges that nobody at City Hall, or anywhere outside the dance community itself, seems concerned that artists are being priced out of the city.”
“There’s a financial cliff ahead of us,” an observer tells the Los Angeles Times: “We’re swerving and bumping and jogging, and there’s still a cliff there… We know it’s coming, but we have no idea when we’re gonna get there. And that makes it even even harder in a way.” “The lack of additional funding comes at a perilous moment when operating costs have gone through the roof, they add. Part of that has to do with the continued threat of COVID-19, which has made necessary… extra costs… Then there’s the wildcard of general inflation, which caused a precipitous rise in the price of lumber for building sets, along with just about every other item needed to stage a production and operate a venue—materials for costumes, food, furniture, soap, sanitizer and paper towels have all skyrocketed in price.”
ARTS & CULTURE
Saturday Is Chicago Academy For The Arts Day
The Chicago Academy for the Arts, “the nation’s premier performing and visual arts high school” celebrates its fortieth anniversary as Mayor Lightfoot proclaims Saturday, May 14, 2022 as Chicago Academy For The Arts Day in the city. Its students “are immersed in three-to-five hours of daily arts training in one of six disciplines: Dance, Media Arts (filmmaking, animation, and writing), Music, Musical Theatre, Theatre, and Visual Arts. This is in addition to a rigorous academic program built upon core studies in English, mathematics, science, social studies, and world languages… Alumni from CAA have won dozens of Grammy and Emmy Awards and nominations and more than a hundred industry-related awards and honors in music, television, film, theater, dance, and stage,” CAA relays in a release.
The Roe Beat
“Abortion rights demonstrations continue in Chicago with protesters gathering downtown after a failed Senate attempt to codify abortion rights,” reports the Sun-Times. They “promise to stay in the streets.”
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