Art On theMART Lights Up Year Of Chicago Dance
“The Year of Chicago Dance is in full swing and Art on theMART is pleased to continue our alignment with this City of Chicago initiative,” Cynthia Noble, Art on theMART executive director, says in a release. “As a large-scale, centrally-located platform, Art on theMART is a new kind of stage for performing artists and shows the world the breadth and depth of Chicago’s creative talent.” The fall 2022 program is slated to premiere Thursday, September 8 and will feature two new projections: “Love Letters” by internationally renowned, Chinese-born, Chicago-based artist Yuge Zhou; and “Trap Moulin Rouge,” a commissioned piece from local performing artist Jasmin Taylor.
“Love Letters” “portrays a lively courtship dance between two urban dwellers searching for each other through a labyrinth of colorful geometrics with growing curiosity, electricity and affection. “Love Letters” features original choreography by Hannah Santistevan, performances by Rebecca Huang and Joffrey dancer Xavier Nunez, computational animation by Mary Franck and Patrick Steppan and sound by Ori Zur. “Trap Moulin Rouge” by Jasmin Taylor, in co-production with Motion/Pictures Dance Project, takes audiences to Chicago’s South Side to showcase the vibrant Black culture and dance that comes from there. Taking inspiration from the 2001 movie “Moulin Rouge,” “Trap Moulin Rouge” “combines classical, R&B and jazz melodies with multiple dance styles with the aim of creating and promoting equity in Chicago through the performing arts. ‘Trap Moulin Rouge’’s production team is ninety-five-percent Black and one-hundred-percent women, with funding for the project going directly to the collaborators.” More here.
Lightfoot Considers Encasing Soldier Field With Dome
“A mayoral panel is poised to recommend the city ‘explore the feasibility’ of putting a dome atop Soldier Field in an effort to make the stadium more attractive to potential users, including the Chicago Bears,” reports Greg Hinz at Crain’s. “An early draft of the proposal obtained by Crain’s estimates costs in the ballpark of $400 million-$1.5 billion, which would likely be subsidized by taxpayers,” adds WGN-TV. “Other revenue-generating ideas mentioned in the report include moving Northerly Island’s concert venue to the property and constructing year-round restaurants and a hotel on campus.”
Amtrak Negotiating With Canadian Pacific To Expand Service Between Twin Cities, Milwaukee And Chicago
“Amtrak has money to expand, but it doesn’t own the railroad tracks,” reports the Washington Post. Among a list of areas where Amtrak is working to expand service, the concern “is also negotiating with Canadian Pacific to add service between Chicago, Milwaukee and the Minneapolis area.”
DINING & DRINKING
Scammers Slam Sochi Saigonese With Google One-Star Reviews
“Over the past ten days, Sochi has been inundated with a series of one-star Google reviews which have driven down its overall ratings, according to an employee who posted in a private Facebook group for members of the Chicago hospitality industry,” reports Eater Chicago. “Owners Chinh Pham and Son Do received an email from an individual claiming responsibility for the barrage of negative reviews and demanding a $75 Google Play gift card to stop… ‘We sincerely apologize for our actions, and would not want to harm your business but we have no other choice,’ the email, reviewed by Eater, reads. ‘The fact is that we live in India and see no other way to survive.’ Pham and Do’s efforts to contact Google have thus far been unsuccessful.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Jacqueline Stewart Named President And Director Of Academy Museum
“The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has named Jacqueline Stewart [Newcity Film 50] as the institution’s director and president,” reports Variety. “Stewart will guide the vision of the Academy Museum and oversee all aspects of its operations… In 2020, Stewart was appointed chief artistic and programming officer of the museum. As a leading scholar, curator, and public educator on cinema, she put together exhibitions and programs… In addition to [this] new role, Stewart holds an appointment as professor of cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago, and previously served on the faculty of Northwestern University.”
Anti-Book Activists Become Anti-Librarians
“As highly visible and politicized book bans have exploded across the country, librarians—accustomed to being seen as dedicated public servants in their communities—have found themselves on the front lines of an acrimonious culture war, with their careers and their personal reputations at risk,” reports the New York Times. “They have been labeled pedophiles on social media, called out by local politicians and reported to law enforcement officials. Some librarians have quit after being harassed online. Others have been fired for refusing to remove books from circulation… Frequently, these battles are portrayed as liberal librarians defending left-wing books, but Carolyn Foote, a retired librarian and a founder of the group Freadom Fighters, which organizes to defend librarians, said the idea that everyone in the profession is liberal isn’t true, especially in a place like Texas, where she lives. For most librarians, she said, the issue is not one of politics but of professional ethics.”
Tim Youd Steps Up To The Platen With Algren At Newberry
Performance artist Tim Youd will tap his way through a familiar Algren tome in public. As part of his “100 Novels Project,” Youd will retype Nelson Algren’s “The Man with the Golden Arm” in the Newberry vestibule from July 26 to August 12. Algren did research for the novel, published in 1949, at the Newberry. “Youd will retype ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’ on the same make and model typewriter that Algren used, a Remington 17. When retyping, Youd types all the words of the novel onto one page (which is backed by a second sheet) by running it repeatedly through the typewriter. The words become illegible, and the accumulated text forms a rectangle of black ink inside the larger rectangle of the white page. Upon completion, Youd separates the two highly distressed pages and mounts them side-by-side in diptych form. This performance relic becomes a formal drawing, a representation of two pages of a book. The novel is present in its entirety, yet the words are completely obscured.” (Here’s Mary Wisniewski’s profile of Youd from Newcity’s June issue.)
$10 Million Grant Awarded To City Bureau To Expand Documenters Project
“City Bureau has been named a recipient of the Stronger Democracy Award for its work creating the Documenters Network, which equips local residents to cover public meetings in their communities. As one of three recipients, it will receive $10 million of the $22 million award. ‘When people think about democracy, they think about the voting booth, but public meetings do more to shape the actions of local governments than state or national elections,’ said Darryl Holliday, co-founder and executive director of national impact at City Bureau, where he manages the Documenters Network. ‘We’ve shown that enlisting local residents to cover public meetings can be transformative, and there’s no reason it can’t be done in every city and town.’ Launched in 2016 on Chicago’s South Side, the Documenters Network now operates across Chicago as well as in Cleveland, Detroit and Minneapolis, where the sites are operated by local partners…. The award will allow the network to deepen its work in Chicago, expand to several additional cities, and hold up a model that can be replicated with local partners nationwide.”
“The Stronger Democracy Award is a grant competition designed to address systemic barriers and advance structural reforms in three key areas: voting and elections, policymaking and civic engagement. The award is managed by Lever for Change in collaboration with ICONIQ Impact, and sponsored by Additional Ventures, The Patchwork Collective, and philanthropists Cipora and Vlado Herman.” More about the award and the other recipients here.
Sun-Times Editor On Running Lynn Sweet’s Highland Park Photos
“When Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet arrived on the scene of the Highland Park shooting moments after it had occurred, she took photos on her phone that included pictures of victims who had been shot to death. We considered for more than twenty-four hours—consulting fellow journalists, journalism ethics experts and other leaders, in multiple meetings—whether or not to use any of those images, weighing the journalistic value of documenting this tragedy against the potential impact to the families of the victims. We waited to make sure the victims had been identified and next-of-kin notified, waited to get more information from the police and to see what other documentation might arise,” writes Jennifer Kho at the paper. “Photos of these types of mass shootings are rare because most happen within closed walls, not in public outdoor spaces, and it’s also rare to have a journalist on the scene just moments after the attack. In this case, other images have not been forthcoming, so these may be the only images of the Highland Park shooting available. We believe that information about these shootings serves a strong public interest, and that an image… can convey far more information than any words.”
Ravinia Closes Through July 10
The Ravinia Festival has canceled or postponed all events through July 10. Canceled events include Lyle Lovett, John Fogerty and “‘Goonies’ In Concert.” From Ravinia’s release: “This decision was made after careful consideration and in close consultation with many stakeholders, including neighbors, public officials, artists and patrons. Our shared hope is that the reduced activity—both within the park and in the neighborhoods surrounding Ravinia—will give the community the space and quiet to reflect and heal.” More here.
The Musicality of Poetry Marvin Tate At Experimental Sound Studio
“The Musicality of Poetry,” an exhibition by multidisciplinary artist and arts activist Marvin Tate at Experimental Sound Studio, “features recent visual work by Marvin, as well as a newly commissioned sound installation by Marvin in collaboration with olula negre and Hunter Diamond.” Opens July 15 and runs through October 2. More here.
Exodus At Victory Gardens; Artistic Director On Leave
“On Tuesday, the Victory Gardens board of directors informed the staff that the current artistic director, Ken-Matt Martin, had been placed on leave and that the final candidate for the open position of executive director, Marissa Lynn Ford, had withdrawn. Acting managing director Roxanna Conner had also told staffers that she is resigning at the end of the month,” writes Chris Jones at the Chicago Tribune. “A group of affiliated artists — resident directors Lili-Anne Brown and Jess McLeod, and ensemble playwrights Marisa Carr, Keelay Gipson, Isaac Gómez and Stacey Rose — announced in an online post that they too had resigned from the theater, which operates at the historic Biograph Theatre.” The expressed disagreements are “harshly critical of the board of directors, accusing the volunteer board of a ‘lack of transparency’ and past ‘toxic behavior.'”
In a lengthy post on Medium entitled “We Resign” (and also on Victory Gardens social media accounts for much of the day, until removed), Isaac Gómez shared a detailed chronology of the events that led up to this, along with a June 16 letter signed by “the entire remaining team of full-time staff, excluding the Artistic Director and Acting Managing Director,” culminating with the resignation of the entire cohort of resident artists and a demand that the board resign, saying, “There is a saying that a fish rots from the head down. In the case of Victory Gardens Theater, the head of the fish is a Board of Directors that has rotted this institution — body and soul. If this institution can be saved — and that is a big ‘if’ — the only path forward is to carve out the decay and start anew.”
The board of directors circulated a reply that reads, in part, “As we grapple with the broader issues facing small theaters everywhere with the slow recovery from the pandemic shutdown, the Board of Directors of Victory Gardens Theater is focused on the work needed to carry the theater well into the future. We will put interim administrative leadership in place while we develop those strategies and continue our search for the right executive director to help lead the theater forward… We know well the delicate balance of managing the artistic well-being of the theater with our fiduciary responsibility. We have invited our playwrights and resident directors to board meetings to weigh in on various issues but ultimately, certain decisions must happen at the board level. We regret the resignation of our playwrights’ ensemble, which was shared today, but we stand by the difficult and significant decisions we have made as a board that have kept this theater financially solvent for so many decades, including through the unprecedented COVID shutdown… The real estate transaction mentioned by the playwrights’ ensemble appears to be misunderstood. The transaction concerns the ownership of the theater property and will have no adverse impact on the financial stability of the theater or its artistic direction. In fact, this minor investment preserves the fabric of the Biograph theater, gets us out from under a challenging co-owner situation and ultimately, saves money in the long run.”
A Red Orchid Lines Up Season
A Red Orchid Theatre has announced its thirtieth season, starting with the world premiere of “The Malignant Ampersands,” written by ensemble member Brett Neveu and directed by ensemble member Dado, running September 29-November 20. The season concludes with the Chicago premiere of “Is God Is,” written by Aleshea Harris and directed by Marti Gobel, starting April 6, 2023. Additional work in a “winter of experimentation and incubation by ensemble members will include opportunities for audience engagement.” Says artistic director Kirsten Fitzgerald in a release: “Cycles make for familiar processes and helpful tools for growth. Cycles can also be harmful—destructive, even—and are perhaps best broken. There is a cycle of theatrical production, and while it would be easy to let that cycle become a bit of a hamster wheel—to do it all the same—not all stories, not all artists, and not all times call for the same processes. I am thrilled to bring two plays in our thirtieth year that dig into cycles.” Subscriptions are on sale here.
American Players Names Managing Director
American Players Theatre’s director of communications, Sara Young, is taking the position of managing director as outgoing managing director, Carrie Van Hallgren, departs. 2022 marks Young’s twentieth season with APT. She was hired for a special publications project in 2003, and moved into the newly created Director of Communications position in 2005. Young has a BA in Theater from the University of Northern Iowa and started her career as a stage manager in Chicago and Milwaukee, and was Director of Marketing and Development at Madison Repertory Theatre before coming to APT. “I am honored beyond measure to serve as APT’s Managing Director. This is a time of great promise, yet also holds some uncertainty as we continue to navigate and recover from the pandemic,” Young says in a release. “I look forward to carrying on APT’s track record of strong financial planning and responsible growth, and to renew our commitment to the strategic initiatives set forth in the strategic plan. I’m especially eager to continue the work set out in APT’s Anti-Racism Vision and Action Plan.”
Dance Data Project Ranks Top 150 Ballet Companies
The Joffrey Ballet is number nine in the Dance Data Project’s fourth annual study of the largest U.S. ballet companies. For the 2022 Report, the researchers produced rankings for a total of 150 U.S. ballet companies. “The Largest 150 U.S. Ballet & Classically Based Companies & Financial Scope of the Industry Report gives information on the aggregate expenditures of all three groups, demonstrating the considerable economic contribution of the classical dance economy, as well as the significant disparity in size between the largest few companies and the rest.” The report is here (pdf).
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Times Headlines Highland Park As A Chicago Area “Mayberry”
“Landscape architects carefully laid out Highland Park over a century ago as a leafy retreat, drawing generations of Chicago residents seeking safety and quiet. Jewish families, unwelcome in other suburbs up and down the North Shore, made this suburb their home, opening synagogues, kosher butcher shops and a golf club,” write Ellen Almer Durston, Campbell Robertson and Dan Simmons at the New York Times. “It was always affluent, and still is, but leaders have made efforts to promote the building of affordable housing. When consumers started driving westward for giant shopping centers by the expressway, Highland Park focused on revitalizing its downtown… The town is small at about 30,000 people, but in many ways felt even smaller. Neighbors became friends in downtown shops and congregations. Chicago, just twenty-five miles away, struggled with a spiking murder rate and the nation endured mass shooting after mass shooting.” A shopkeeper tells the reporters, “when I would drive through here, the first thing I said is, ‘One day I’m going to live here.’ Because it was beautiful. It reminded me of Mayberry.”
Chicago Air And Water Show Returns In August
“The Chicago Air and Water Show returns in August as a full-scale extravaganza for the first time since 2019, it was announced by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events,” reports the Sun-Times. The dates are August 20-21, 10am-2pm each day.
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]