Coney Family Fund Awards Two Artists
Chicago Artists Coalition has announced 2022 Coney Family Fund awardees Breanna Robinson and Ireashia M. Bennett, who will each receive $5,000 in unrestricted funds. The funds are intended to support outstanding Chicago visual artists who identify as Black or African American. “The Coney Family Fund is committed to holding up exceptionally talented and driven Black artists by helping sustain their studio practice and artistic career development through direct funding.” Launched in 2017, the award “recognizes the Coney Family and CAC’s mutual commitment to supporting a more inclusive arts community and creative economy in Chicago.” Since 2017, the Coney Family and CAC have administered $40,000 in unrestricted funds to eight artists.
Man Charged With Manufacturing Ghost Guns In South Side Apartment
“Ghost guns are often made by hobbyists with a 3D printer or from kits that can be purchased online. People assembling ghost guns also are able to avoid background checks the state requires to obtain a firearm,” reports Jason Meisner at the Tribune. “In Chicago and nationwide, the number of ghost guns used in crimes has drastically increased over the past several years. Chicago police Superintendent David Brown has said they are the ‘subset of guns seized that is growing the most in the city.'” Investigation into the twenty-two-year-old suspect’s “alleged trafficking of ghost guns began on January 3 when a Chicago police informant tipped law enforcement to a man who ‘ordered firearm parts from the internet’ and was assembling them for sale in the city’s Grand Crossing neighborhood.” A study on gun shows and universal background check laws across state lines has been published: “The presence of excess gun shows in counties near states with universal background check laws is consistent with the hypothesis that gun shows service demand from people seeking to circumvent prohibitions against gun purchases.”
AIDS Garden Chicago To Be Unveiled Thursday
Governor Pritzker, Mayor Lightfoot and civic leaders including lieutenant governor Juliana Stratton, state representatives Greg Harris and Margaret Croke, alderman Tom Tunney, Park District CEO and general superintendent Rosa Escareno, Chicago Parks Foundation executive director Willa Lang and members of the LGBTQ community will unveil the long-in-the-works AIDS Garden Chicago, the city’s first public park to memorialize the early days of Chicago’s HIV epidemic, and to honor those who continue to fight against the disease. The dedication will be at 10am, Thursday, June 2 on the lakefront just south of Belmont.
Amazon Pulling Back On Vast Expansion
“Amazon.com Inc.’s decision to throttle back on its e-commerce operations threatens to slow the growth of the industrial-space sector, one of the hottest areas of commercial property,” reports the Wall Street Journal… “Retailers led by Amazon, Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. gobbled up record amounts of space at warehouses and distribution centers. These growth trends are slowing in some markets, in part because Amazon is now subleasing warehouse space after reporting in April its slowest growth in about two decades. Amazon is one of the largest users of U.S. industrial space, owning or leasing some 374 million square feet at the end of 2021.”
Before The Ruins At Pheasant Run
“Pheasant Run had become a hollow shell of its former self even before the St. Charles landmark went up in flames,” reports the Daily Herald in a history of the site before its abandonment two years ago and its torrential fire last week. “In its prime, the resort was the only game in town for miles, a ritzy retreat and four-season playground surrounded by farmland and not a whole lot else.” And over the weekend, Grand Bear Resort near Starved Rock in Utica went up in flames, reports WGN-TV. “As many as fifty-seven fire crews responded to the resort off of Route 178 to combat the blaze that started just before 5:30pm and lasted about ninety minutes. Seven cabins were destroyed, each of them holding four units. The cabins are privately owned and are separate from the lodge area of the resort.” The fire is under investigation.
DINING & DRINKING
Taste Of Chicago Vendors And Acts Announced
“Established in 1980, this uniquely-Chicago summertime tradition returns with an impressive array of eateries showcasing the city’s culinary excellence and diversity,” DCASE writes of the free-of-charge 2022 edition of Taste of Chicago, which will spread across the city. DCASE commissioner Erin Harkey says in a release, “After an all-virtual Taste in 2020 and community pop-ups in 2021, we are thrilled to bring Taste back to Grant Park and back into our neighborhoods in 2022. We are excited to showcase the food and music of Pullman, Austin and Little Village this summer.” Taste of Chicago Austin will be June 11 (vendors and music here); Taste of Chicago Pullman, June 18 (vendors and music here); Taste of Chicago Little Village, June 25 (vendors and music here) ; and a “bite-sized” Taste in Grant Park, Friday–Sunday, July 8–10 (vendors and music here). Cash or credit card accepted; food tickets have been done away with. Full details here.
Surveying The State Of Union Negotiations In Chicago Area
Axios headlines Starbucks union successes, but bullet-points management recalcitrance, where negotiations have been dragged out at local institutions, including The Second City, SAIC, WTTW and the Old Town School of Folk Music. The Sun-Times reports on a unionizing drive for Intelligentsia Coffee: “Local 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is seeking to represent the chain’s employees.” (Local 1220 also represents Colectivo workers.) The union “has filed a petition for a union election covering workers at the five Intelligentsia storefronts in Chicago, plus its Chicago Roasting Works warehouse at 1850 West Fulton. If accepted by the National Labor Relations Board, the petition could lead to an election that decides if the workers unionize.”
Private Equity Cool To Infant Formula Maker
Chicago-based Reckitt Benckiser Group asked private equity firms for $7 billion for its infant nutrition subsidiary, Mead Johnson, by the end of May, reports Axios. “Reckitt Benckiser last month kicked off a sale process for what remains of the baby formula business it acquired five years ago via the purchase of Mead Johnson. Several big buyout firms have passed; in part ‘spooked’ by the ongoing U.S. shortages. Clayton Dubilier & Rice is among the exceptions, having submitted a non-binding bid… Reckitt Benckiser late last year sold its Chinese baby formula biz to private equity firm Primavera for $2.2 billion.” Reuters: The British consumer goods company “Reckitt has reportedly long been looking to sell the formula business to focus on its higher margin household and consumer brands that range from Dettol disinfectants to Durex condoms.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Matt Damon To Be Honored With Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award
The Gene Siskel Film Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has announced Matt Damon as recipient of the Film Center’s Renaissance Award during an event on Saturday, June 25, when he will be interviewed in a live, virtual conversation led by Gene Siskel Film Center board member Robert Downey Jr., which will be projected on the Film Center’s two screens. The event will commemorate the Film Center’s fiftieth-anniversary year. “As the Gene Siskel Film Center celebrates fifty years of bringing filmmakers, archivists, scholars, critics, and movie lovers together for our critically acclaimed film programs at a true center for film, we are proud to have Matt Damon and Robert Downey Jr. join us for these festivities and can think of no better way to celebrate this milestone than honoring writer, producer and actor Matt Damon on our big screen,” Jean de St. Aubin, executive director of the Gene Siskel Film Center says in a release. “Matt’s prolific career and discerning choice of roles makes him one of the most effective filmmakers of our generation and we cannot think of anyone more deserving of the 2022 Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award.”
Kwame Amoaku Leaving Chicago Film Office
Kwame Amoaku posts on Facebook that Friday is his last day at the Chicago Film Office. “I have been a proud member of the Chicago Film Community for almost thirty years. This community is like a family to me. I grew up here and I have worked with many of you for most of my career. I love this city, all of it from Howard to 127th Street. I remember the first job I ever worked. It was P.A. on a music video with Maria Roxas producing and Rakim Jihad directing. From that moment, I was all in. That started a journey that took me all over the world and finally back here to step into the huge shoes of Rich Moskal. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Commissioner Mark Kelly welcomed me into the DCASE family in July of 2019, where I met an amazing group of public servants whose sole purpose was to bring joy and culture to the people of Chicago. Over the last three years I am proud of the progress and growth I have witnessed. I am proud to have been a part of the awesome success we have had, increasing film production by 125%; working with State and City Health Departments to get COVID guidelines that allowed film to be declared essential manufacturing in Chicago [which allowed] us to return to work quickly during the pandemic; improving the deconfliction process and working with neighborhoods to allow for the increase in production; creating a workforce development program to expand employment opportunities to underserved areas of the city; creating a marketing program to promote the importance of film production to the local economy; working with developers to get purpose-built infrastructure online by 2023 and working with existing providers to expand capacity; and building the creative content infrastructure in Chicago’s independent film community by supporting filmmakers with funding and professional development. I am confident that with Commissioner Erin Harkey, we will continue [to build] the film industry here in Chicago. The Chicago Film Office team, deputy Betsey Grais [who will lead the department until a replacement is appointed], independent film coordinator Thavary Krouch, and project managers John Hundriser and Tim Olson, will continue to be the small but mighty team that provides the very best service to this incredible community that I have been blessed to call home for almost three decades. Those of you that know me know I have been through many personal challenges over the last few years. I want you all to know that the support that I have received from this community has been truly a blessing that I am beyond thankful for. I took this job because I wanted to give back to a community that has given me so much love. I hope that I was able to do that in the short time that I was here.”
Chicago Studio City Adds “State Of-The-Art” Stages
Three new “state-of-the-art” stages are being added to the three stages at Chicago Studio City, reports Reel Chicago. “When completed, the expansion will add a total of 185,000 square feet of new production space to the campus.”
A History Of Evanston’s Bookends & Beginnings
Bookseller Nina Barrett and her Bookends & Beginnings, as well as her lawsuit against Amazon, are profiled at Evanston RoundTable.
Libraries That Drop Late Fees See Users Return
“Before going fine-free, in January 2019, about 42,000 St. Paul cardholders—seventeen percent of patrons in the system—had their borrowing privileges blocked due to racking up fines of $10 or more. Though fine revenue represented a tiny fraction of the library’s budget, for some patrons, paying fines meant skimping on groceries,” writes the Star-Tribune. “After zeroing card balances and reinstating borrowing privileges, St. Paul library staff held their collective breath: Without threat of punishment, would patrons hoard all the books? It turns out that in St. Paul, blocked cardholders came back in droves. In 2019, that group checked out some 85,000 items. Now only one-percent of cards are blocked, due to a patron not returning or paying the replacement cost of an item by forty-one days after its due date. Patrons still brought items back in a timely manner.” (The Sun-Times wrote in 2020 about Chicago libraries dropping late fees here.)
Garrison Keillor Publishes Two Books In His Eighth Decade
“He is a changed man. No more heavy drinking in the hours following a sold-out performance, no more headlining at the Hollywood Bowl, no more racing between airports, no more dealing with corporate overseers, no more unhappiness at home. That’s all in the past. He is different, but contented, because he is, undeniably, old. That is what’s new. Time to begin shuffling off the stage. He is entirely okay with this, he says. Nature taking its course. And because he is sort of a genius and also hyper-self-aware, Keillor, who will be eighty this year, is savoring this special time,” reports Cable Neuhaus at The Saturday Evening Post. “Had Garrison Keillor not experienced a fall from grace in 2017, he might still be filling auditoriums across America with audiences eager to be seated at his ‘Prairie Home Companion’ singalongs, with millions listening in on radio. An accusation of sexual harassment by a former researcher quickly led to his firing… ‘I think I should quit while I’m ahead, while people are still having a good time… I don’t want people walking away from the theater feeling pity for the guy up on stage.'”
Should Newspapers And Other Media Publish Photos Of Those Killed In Shootings?
A debate is taking place in some newsrooms about whether to publish photos taken after mass shootings. “What sort of country needs not only to know that a classroom full of children was brutally massacred, but to see it, too? Is this really a country that an image might redeem?” asks Jon Allsop at the Columbia Journalism Review.
Epiphany Center For The Arts Sets Summer Blues Music Series
Starting this weekend and running through the end of July, Epiphany Center for the Arts will present free music and ticketed shows, as well as a photography exhibition highlighting Chicago’s “Women of the Blues.” A list of performers and tickets are here.
Chicago Philharmonic Society Announces Summer Series
Chicago Philharmonic’s ten-concert summer series kicks off June 10 and will be held throughout the Chicago area. “The concert series includes the full spectrum of Chicago Philharmonic concerts with community-focused events for music-lovers of all ages and levels, a Juneteenth weekend Chicago debut of ‘Black Panther in Concert’ at The Chicago Theatre, virtuosic tango-inspired chamber programs, a week of pops concerts at Ravinia Festival, and the world premieres by Jennifer Higdon and Thea Musgrave at the close of the National Flute Association’s Fiftieth Annual Conference.” The summer series begins June 10 with Johnny Mathis and the full orchestra at the Four Winds New Buffalo Casino. Tickets and more here.
House Theatre Of Chicago Folds After Twenty Years
The board of directors of The House Theatre of Chicago announced that it is winding down operations after the May 29 closing of “The Tragedy of King Christophe.” The non-profit ensemble company completed twenty productive years as the home to acclaimed original productions. “The company’s unique blend of innovative stagecraft and joyful storytelling has been widely celebrated for bringing new, younger and more diverse audiences to theaters throughout Chicago and across the country,” the theater relays in a release. Highlights include “Death and Harry Houdini,” “The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan,” “The Sparrow,” “The Hammer Trinity,” “Rose and the Rime,” “United Flight 232” and “The Nutcracker,” which, in total, garnered more than fifty Jeff Awards and nominations. “The House’s entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to developing new work also led to unique long-running programs like ‘The Magic Parlour’ and ‘The Last Defender.’ Through a founding partnership with the University of Chicago’s Chicago Performance Lab, The House commissioned and supported the development of dozens of new plays and projects by Chicago artists.”
“The House Theatre of Chicago originated in 2001, helmed by Nathan Allen and a group of co-collaborators who shared theater training from Southern Methodist University and the British American Drama Academy. When Allen stepped down in 2020, The House programming went dark for much of the pandemic, reemerging in 2021 with a limited operational footprint and a new artistic director, Lanise Antoine Shelley. The board mobilized to support her vision and ambition to produce two new plays during this artistic year. Though the board is informing all stakeholders of the wind down, the funding, resources and talent were kept fully in place to make ‘The Tragedy of King Christophe’ an artistic success and a fitting finale to The House’s legacy of excellence.”
Story Theatre Premieres “Marie Antoinette And The Magical Negroes”
The Story Theatre will present the Chicago premiere of “Marie Antoinette and the Magical Negroes,” written and directed by Chicago playwright and governing ensemble member Terry Guest. Guest’s play explores rebellion and Black liberation through the perspective of the French Revolution. “This is a play about rage. Revolt. Revolution. Revenge. It is about what happens when Black people grow tired of sitting down and turning the other cheek. What are we left to do? Do we scream? Pray? Should we be peaceful? Should we riot? Can the tools we have used in the past possibly work for the future or do we need to write a new script?” the theater writes. “Using trap music, fashion shows and the backdrop of the French Revolution, Guest’s play reimagines the myth of the lost monarchy and puts it into the hands and mouths of Black people.” The play runs June 30–July 17 on Raven Theatre’s Schwartz Stage. Tickets are available here.
ARTS & CULTURE
Butterflies Return To Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo’s “Butterflies!” is open for the first time since 2019. Zoogoers can explore the outdoor garden and surround themselves with butterflies native to North America through September 5. The species include painted ladies, monarchs, zebra longwings and swallowtails. Multiple species of moths will share the habitat. The exhibit is open during regular zoo hours of 9:30am-6pm. More here.
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