The Great Migration An Unfinished Journey For Black Artists
“At the Mississippi Museum of Art, Mark Bradford, Theaster Gates Jr., Carrie Mae Weems and others explore the personal legacy of the era-shaping movement from the rural South,” reports Holland Cotter at the New York Times. “The idea that vast histories are embodied in material culture—in specific, transportable things—is the essence of Theaster Gates Jr.’s installation called ‘The Double Wide.’ The multipart piece memorializes childhood summer trips from his home in Chicago to visit family in Mississippi, where an uncle operated a candy store out of a double-wide trailer, which became a juke joint at night. Gates has turned his version of the trailer—a pair of boxy structures made from salvaged barn wood, into a personalized shrine-on-wheels to the South, stocked with canned and pickled goods, religious images and jazzy videos of gospel singing by the Black Monks, a music group he founded.”
Gaetane Verna New Executive Director At Wexner Center
Canadian art historian and administrator Gaetane Verna will become the fourth executive director of the Wexner Center for the Arts, reports the Columbus Dispatch. “Verna, director and artistic director of Toronto’s Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery since 2012, will [replace] Johanna Burton, who left the post after two years in November 2021 to become executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles.”
Meet The New Butter Sculptor Of The Minnesota State Fair
“Gerry Kulzer, the new butter sculptor at the Minnesota State Fair, is ready to capture the likenesses of the dairy princesses, if only he can sculpt their tresses in time,” writes Christina Morales at the New York Times. Of his first effort, “Mr. Kulzer—who had created only four other butter busts before, compared with the hundreds [his mentor] made over fifty years—was tasked with sculpting ninety-pound blocks of Grade AA salted butter into soft reflections of the dairy-princess contestants who sat in front of him, as [his mentor] kept a close eye via Zoom on an iPad. ‘To capture a person’s likeness is really tough,’ said Mr. Kulzer, fifty-three, of Litchfield, Minnesota. ‘Especially when you’re in a forty-degree refrigerator.'”
Sculptor Ted Sitting Crow Garner On The Statues
“I am the person that took down that Christopher Columbus sculpture,” writes Ted Sitting Crow Garner in a letter to the Sun-Times. “I am a long-time resident artist in Chicago who has made and installed sculptures here for nearly fifty years, both of my own design and the works of others. I am also of American Indian and Caucasian ancestry, on both sides of my family… I was asked to consider participating in the removal on very short notice, having installed and removed numerous artworks for the Chicago Park District and other municipal and cultural entities here in the city, regionally and nationally. Once it was determined that we could obtain the required equipment on such a short schedule, the team proceeded. We were delayed by the need for police to remove first the protesters, then the counter-protesters, including a large contingent from the Fraternal Order of Police. Feelings were running high… My motivation was public safety, having seen the previous removal attempt on media. Also, I have had my own artwork destroyed. Destroying artwork is wrong, whatever the reason—but most particularly because you don’t agree with it. That is the way of Nazi Germany, who destroyed many works by artists who have since become pillars of the modernist tradition, while stealing works that had passed conventional muster and had considerable monetary value at the time… The eventual disposition and locations of the Columbus (and other) sculptures is best dealt with in more cool-headed times. Something that happened during the removal may be instructive: Some of the historic physical anchors holding the piece let go suddenly and without warning, letting the piece fly free before we had achieved optimal lifting conditions. Luckily, good lifting practice and preparation in advance prevented the event from being catastrophic.”
CTA Finds $30 Million For Return Of K-9 Patrols To Trains
“Under a new contract, unarmed security teams working with dogs will help patrol Chicago Transit Authority property in an effort to deter crime,” reports the Sun-Times. “CTA officials said they signed an eighteen-month contract with security service Action K-9 worth more than $30 million that will provide a hundred unarmed guards and fifty canines per day for patrols. The figure also includes the costs of supervision and supporting equipment.” The Tribune: “Dog teams, including those provided by Action K-9, previously patrolled the CTA for years. The agency switched to a new company in spring 2019, then months later ended the contract after learning most dog handler applications for the new guards were deficient.”
Kenosha-Milwaukee Commuter Rail Proposal Gets New State Support
The Wisconsin Department Of Transportation provides federal sponsorship for a private company’s plan for local commuter rail, reports Trains. “The state of Wisconsin has filed a brief document with the Federal Transit Administration in support of a private corporation’s plan to provide commuter rail service between Milwaukee and Kenosha, a long-discussed but moribund project dating to 1998. The two-page ‘Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee Commuter Rail Project Development Profile’ was filed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in conjunction with the Wisconsin Transit & Realty Group. It proposes a thirty-three-mile operation from the Kenosha station served by Metra’s Union Pacific-North line to the downtown Milwaukee Intermodal Station, with seven intermediate stops.”
H20 Plus Ending Production
“H2O Plus, a line of skincare products that made a splash in the Chicago area when it launched in 1989 and expanded on the Near West Side a few years later, is ending production,” reports the Sun-Times.
DINING & DRINKING
Navy Pier Hosts Chicago Old Fashioned Fest
This Saturday, August 27, is Chicago Old Fashioned Fest at Navy Pier. “The fest features old fashioned cocktails made with whiskey, tequila, bourbon and gin, washed down with live music and chef appetizers. The Old Fashioned is, in every sense of the word, a classic,” relays the Pier. “It is a drink that everyone does differently, from bar to bar, and bartender to bartender. It’s an Old-Fashioned experience you don’t want to miss.” Sessions are 11am-5pm and 6pm-11:30-pm with fireworks show at 10pm. Tickets are $30-$75 here.
Food Deserts Could Be Challenged By Investment Firms
“Two Black-owned portfolio companies [have] pledged to invest $25 million into Save-A-Lot stores throughout Chicago’s South and West sides to address population decline by investing in Black communities. Grassroots organizations like the portfolio companies 127 Wall Company and Yellow Banana, and Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) aim to revitalize low-income communities by increasing viable food options,” writes Joshua Burrell at the Chicago Reporter. “By June 2023, all six sites owned by the 127 Wall Company and Yellow Banana are expected to be open for shoppers with the hope that more grocery stores will encourage people to stay in their communities.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Dark Matter And Chicago International Partner On Director’s Cut
The Chicago International Film Festival and Dark Matter Coffee today unveiled the 2022 limited edition Director’s Cut product line, celebrating the fifty-eighth edition of “the longest-running competitive film festival in North America” (taking place October 12-23). “Featuring exclusive artwork by Chicago muralist Oscar Joyo, this year’s Director’s Cut line includes a Coffee Cold, a chocolate bar, and a custom coffee blend. The Director’s Cut product line’s packaging design features more than thirty figures inspired by cinematic history gathered to enjoy the communal experience of watching a film on the big screen.” Director’s Cut Coffee is available online and at Dark Matter Coffee locations beginning today, August 26.
Poetry Foundation Launches Strategic Plan
The Poetry Foundation has introduced a new Strategic Plan, a three-year plan designed to address the immediate needs of the Foundation as well as lay groundwork for the road ahead. “Since June 2020, the Foundation has been actively evolving into a more transparent and antiracist organization that better reflects, respects, and represents the poetry ecosystem; part of that process was the development of this strategic plan, the Foundation’s first since 2006,” the Foundation says in a release. “The Foundation partnered with Lord Cultural Resources, a global practice leader in cultural sector planning, to assist in its strategic planning process. One main focus of the Strategic Plan was to adopt sharing as a central value of the organization. As a result, Poetry Foundation board, president, and staff collaboratively participated in this months-long process designed to underline the principles reflecting diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and commitment to anti-racism in all forms. The process entailed revisiting the mission and vision, crafting core values, setting impactful goals and developing measurable objectives.” Details here.
Jazz Trumpeter Jaimie Branch Was Thirty-Nine
“The Chicago-rooted jazz trumpeter’s tragically early death has deprived the world of a generous, good-humored soul and decades of her thrilling and powerful music,” writes Bill Meyer at the Reader. “Not everyone who plays free jazz projects that kind of big love—the music doesn’t necessarily require it. Total improvisation often trades in smaller-scale intimacies and epic energies, and Branch could deliver both of those too, with absolute technical and conceptual assurance. People noticed that right away when she began establishing herself in Chicago’s improvised-music community in 2006. But while Branch was particular about the music she embraced, she wasn’t exclusive. She grew up transcribing solos by Miles Davis and Chet Baker, and she fell hard for punk, ska, and hip hop; she had a feel for abstract styles, and just as firm a grasp on music that communicated directly.”
Park District Hears From West Siders Over Douglass Park Music Fests
“Riot Fest and two other music fests take over Douglass Park each summer,” reports Block Club. “When the park is locked down for forty-seven days in the summer, our kids have no place to go,” one neighbor told the public hearing. “Neighbors told parks CEO Rosa Escareno private corporations should not be profiting at the expense of the people who live there. They said the festivals disrupt their lives by creating intense traffic, obstructing access to hospitals and disrupting youth programs.” The Tribune: The first speaker “pleaded, ‘What will it take to get mega-fests out of our parks?’ The majority of those who spoke wanted them removed, [with] complaints of lack of access to the park, disruptions to two nearby hospitals, traffic, parking tickets and lack of investment of the money back into the park. Ald. Monique Scott, 24th, said she was disappointed how much of the conversation focused on the money that comes in from the festivals and how it is used. ‘I don’t have a say or a stance…,’ she told the Tribune after the event. ‘I wanted to hear more about what could be done in Douglass Park.'”
Cuarteto Latinoamericano Kicks Off Music Institute Of Chicago Season
The Music Institute of Chicago starts the Nichols Concert Hall 2022–23 season with the world-renowned Cuarteto Latinoamericano Saturday, October 15 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. Presented in partnership with the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, the concert celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and features classical works for string quartet by composers from Central and South America. (It will also be available via livestream.) Cuarteto Latinoamericano is “a multiple Grammy Award-winning string quartet from Mexico City celebrating forty years as an ensemble. Founded in Mexico, the Cuarteto has toured extensively throughout the world. They have premiered more than a hundred works written for them and continue to introduce new and neglected composers to the genre. The October 15 program includes Música de Feria by Silvestre Revueltas, String Quartet No. 3 by Leo Brouwer, String Quartet No. 1 by Alberto Ginastera, and String Quartet No. 17 (1957), the final string quartet by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, who is the focus of the Music Institute’s One Composer, One Community program this year. One Composer, One Community focuses on the life and work of a single, often underrepresented BIPOC composer. A prolific composer, Villa-Lobos penned more than 2,000 orchestral, chamber, instrumental, and vocal works.” Tickets and more here.
Riot Fest Releases Hourly Schedule
“Riot Fest announces the hourly schedule for 2022 and the schedule is beer! We’re partnering with Goose Island for the third year in a row to bring back the Riot Fest Sucks Pale Ale. Peel off the label and find your weekend schedule wrapped around a cold one—it’s delicious, it’s informative, and it’s already in your hand,” the event writes in a release, while providing the full line-up here.
“You Couldn’t Say No To Myrna Salazar”
Sandra Delgado remembers Chicago Latino Theatre Alliance founder Myrna Salazar at American Theatre. “Over the course of many conversations, as we bonded over music from Los Panchos to La Lupe to El Gran Combo, over motherhood, over her memories from Dominguito, Puerto Rico, to Chicago, Myrna and I became something else: friends. At the very first reading of [“La Havana Madrid”] at the Goodman Theatre, Myrna sat in the front row. To say I was nervous was an understatement. Would the character that Myrna inspired be up to her standards? Myrna was a truth-teller; there was no sugar coating with her, and I can’t imagine it’s easy to see a version of yourself up onstage. I couldn’t help but keep looking at her throughout the course of the reading to gauge how she was taking it all in. She wept, she sang along with the songs, and afterwards, with arms outstretched, she grabbed me and whispered, ‘Sandrita, how did you do that?'”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Steve Albini On Education
Recording engineer and champion poker player Steve Albini takes to Twitter on education in light of the recent student debt forgiveness. “Baked into the discussion of student debt is the idea that the function of education is to prepare someone to work, that it is a ticket for the ride of employment. This is a dangerously toxic notion that deserves no respect. Education is learning, literally anything. The role of education is to have enlightened, informed people, so their decisions, their values, and their relationships will be comprehensively informed by more facts and ideas, broader philosophy and comprehension. It makes society better when people are educated,” Albini writes. “This idea that you spend money on an education as a cover charge to a career should be laughed out of the room. Most people don’t work professionally in their field of study, but their studies helped form and complete them as people, and that is actually a better use of them.” Here’s the world Albini wants: “Does a butcher need a degree? Fuck yes. Classics, physics, painting, dance, pick one. I absolutely want a broadly-educated population, with every house a little study group and every person an expert in some ridiculous arcane specialty. Yes, yes, please let us have that world.”
Mapping Sex Work In Chicago
At the Reader, Sam Stroozas writes about Heaux History, “a multimedia archive that explores the history of Black, Brown, and Indigenous sex workers and erotic labor.”
Roots Of Dark Money Contributions By Billionaire Chicago Industrialist Run Deeper Than First Reported
“This isn’t the first time that Barre Seid, the mega-donor who just handed Leonard Leo and the far-right more than $1 billion in dark money artillery, has used his fortune to push a far-right agenda behind the scenes,” posts Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in an extended Twitter thread. “In 2016, George Mason University received $10 million from the Charles Koch Foundation—plus another $20 million from an anonymous donor—to rename its law school after the ultra-conservative late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. GMU admitted that their ‘anonymous donor’ arranged this donation after approaching none other than Leonard Leo. But that wasn’t the whole story. Students, faculty and alumni were rightfully concerned about giving far-right billionaires control over their university. They pressed GMU for answers about what strings were attached to these donations and who exactly this mystery donor was. In response to public information requests, GMU was eventually forced to reveal some of the behind-the-scenes communications about these donations. It turns out that the Kochs, Leo, and Leo’s ‘anonymous donor’ wanted a lot more than a name change—they sought to influence faculty hiring and get the university to pump money into right-wing projects. He also funds infamous dark money groups like the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise institute, and the Heartland Institute, and has funneled millions through the Koch’s ‘dark money ATM,’ Donors Trust. These are the tactics creepy billionaires use to secretly manipulate the public square and shape American life. Enough is enough.” (Links to articles are in the Senator’s thread.)
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