MCA Goes “Public”
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has announced its annual “Dialogue” series—this year’s theme is “Public”—that “features eminent speakers presenting innovative interdisciplinary work, panel discussions, and opportunities for open discussion with the Chicago community.” “The decade-plus long project is part of the MCA’s museum-wide commitment to sustained inquiry into museum practices, accessibility, and inclusion,” Madeleine Grynsztejn, director of the MCA, says in a release,“Events like this invite diverse audiences into conversation and contemplation with respected artists, writers, and thinkers.” Writes the MCA, “While ‘public’ is traditionally understood as open, free, and accessible—in contrast to the closed, unfree and inaccessible world of the private sphere—this year’s speakers question this common assumption, while also finding alternative pathways for engaging with and generating new publics.” Events are presented with the Chicago Humanities Festival as part of their “Year of Public” and with the Public Art Fund based in New York City. More here.
“Can You See Me?” Ask Weinberg/Newton Gallery, SkyArt And Arts+Public Life
Weinberg/Newton Gallery, the noncommercial gallery dedicated to promoting social justice causes, has partnered with South Side youth arts nonprofit SkyART and Arts + Public Life, which fosters the arts on the South Side, to present “Can you see me?” “Across three galleries, artwork by incarcerated young people, contemporary artists and arts-justice organizations will explore themes of ascendance, innocence and freedom. The exhibition aims not only to highlight the humanity and potential of young people affected by the juvenile justice system, but also to explore new aspirational possibilities for how art can be a tool of justice and healing. Extensive public programming will bring together diverse audiences and practitioners to create important dialogue and accessibility for new communities. Visitors will have the opportunity to interact with and contribute to the exhibition, and will leave with a lasting impression of humanity in place of criminality, perseverance in place of violence and hope in place of despair.” The “Can you see me?” exhibition at Weinberg/Newton Gallery will open on October 14; Arts + Public Life will present FREEDOM SPACE, beginning October 21; and SkyART presents “Can you see me? Envisioning the future” at their studio space in South Chicago from October 28. More here.
Australians Buy Skyway From Canadians
“Atlas Arteria, an Australian toll road company, has agreed to buy a sixty-seven-percent stake in the Chicago Skyway from two Canadian pension funds for $2 billion,” reports the Trib. The deal “would give the publicly traded firm majority control of the 7.8-mile elevated toll road connecting the Dan Ryan Expressway to the Indiana Toll Road on Chicago’s South Side, pending approval from regulators and the city.” The Sun-Times estimates that the latest transaction will net the city about $25 million. “The mayor’s office refused to say how the money would be used, only that the latest sale is a ‘win for the city, generating a tax payment in the tens of millions of dollars.'”
DINING & DRINKING
After, “an other-worldly escape serving high-quality spirits, wines and cocktails,” opens October 27 in Fulton Market and is taking reservations at Tock. Created by chef Curtis Duffy and business partner Michael Muser of the Ever Restaurant Group, the experience “will be a perfectly calibrated symphony of spirits, agaves, whiskeys, wines and cocktails.” “The room is as breathtaking as twilight,” Muser, who oversees After’s beverage menu, says in a release. “When guests enter After, they can finally exhale.” The cocktail lounge is located next door to Michelin two-starred Ever and will feature a menu of caviar, grilled bites and small plates for sharing. After is for Ever’s patrons who want to extend their experience right next door. “We want our neighbors to visit often, as our corner of Chicago explodes with new residences and businesses,” Duffy, who lives in the neighborhood, says. “So we will offer affordably priced beverages like beer alongside rarer spirits and elevated cocktails. There will be something for everyone at every price point.”
Lawton Stanley Architects designed After, a continuation of the modern luxury of Ever, which Lawton Stanley also designed. “The curving entry gives itself away slowly, much like the entry at Ever. The room is centered around the theater of cocktail creation. The back bar is a modern, abstracted take on a classic Chicago bar, with a back-lit walnut liquor display. The dramatically composed convex walnut and mirror back wall multiplies the action at the bar and reflects the entire room. The deep blue hue and velvet curtains at the back bar are meant to evoke a twilight evening, just after sunset.” “The lighting, the acoustics, the comfortable Eero Saarinen-designed chairs, everything is designed so our guests feel relaxed,” Muser says in the release. “Almost every seat will be reserved in advance, so the room will not become overcrowded or loud.” Reservations are recommended as all patrons will be seated.
Forthcoming The Meadowlark Sets Beverage Director
Meadowlark Hospitality has announced Abe Vucekovich as beverage director of The Meadowlark, a Logan Square “back-alley craft cocktail bar” located behind Lardon and Union through a back-door entrance on Palmer Street, opening in October. Vucekovich, with almost a decade in craft cocktails, is the former lead bartender at The Violet Hour. “In between the openings of both Lardon and Union, partners Steve Lewis and chef Chris Thompson have been intermittently building out the bar space before bringing on Vucekovich,” the group advises. “We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do with the space, but when we started talking to Abe about the first menu concepts and their potential, we knew he was the right person to lead the charge,” says Lewis.
“In advance of The Meadowlark’s opening, Vucekovich will present an innovative cocktail program with his signature flair for whimsical and well-balanced drinks. He plans to rotate drink offerings every few months with each menu presenting a new theme of eclectic craft cocktails, drawing inspiration from influences including New York City’s CBGB music punk scene in the 1970s, to the cocktail revolution in Paris in the 1920s, to more esoteric influences like movements in modern architecture… The team is remaining tight-lipped about their first menu concept, but ‘It’s pretty imaginative and will be a lot of fun,'” says Vucekovich, who “will take on the role of beverage director for Meadowlark Hospitality group as a whole, crafting a cocktail menu that leverages Union’s extensive whiskey collection and complements its beer program. He will also enhance Lardon’s nod to French and Italian café culture with aperitivo-style drinks that celebrate the area’s unique bitter liqueurs.” More here.
Chicago Handshake Passport Party Lands At Emporium Logan Square
Transit Tees has announced The Chicago Handshake Passport Party on Thursday, September 22 at Emporium Logan Square. A portion of the night’s sales benefit Another Round Another Rally, a nonprofit that continues to provide relief assistance for Chicago bars, restaurants and hotels. “Visitors can support local bars and distillers at the most Chicago party of the year where that notorious, love-hate Chicago Handshake combo, an Old Style beer and a shot of Malört, will be on special. The exclusive menu features Chicago-style Vienna Beef hot dogs and other food with a Chicago Handshake twist.” Free registration as well as specialty packages are available for purchase here.
Kimski Space Goes Pop-Up
“While chef Won Kim gets a breather, the restaurant at Maria’s will rotate chefs from November to March,” reports Eater Chicago. “Kim says the time away from Kimski will allow him to recharge and explore other opportunities. For example, last week he collaborated with chef Bo Fowler for a special dinner at Bixi Beer in Logan Square. Kim is also a DJ and artist.”
Starbucks Raises Pay, Benefits, But Only For Nonunion Workers
“Federal labor board [alleges] that Starbucks Corp. illegally gave pay raises and benefits to nonunion workers and denied them to union workers [to] illustrate the legal minefield employers must navigate when they have these types of mixed workforces,” reports Bloomberg Law. “The National Labor Relations Act generally prohibits employers from changing union workers’ job terms and conditions without bargaining, with some exceptions. At the same time, the NLRB can consider it unlawful discrimination if a company fails to provide union workers the benefits and wage bumps given to nonunion workers.” Reuters: “Starbucks announced new student loan repayment tools and a savings account program for all U.S. employees who are not union members… The move comes ahead of the chain’s annual Investor Day on Tuesday, when Wall Street expects it to lay out next year’s growth prospects.” Starbucks has about $3 billion in cash “and is expected to generate another $3.5 billion in free cash next year… In December, the company forecast long-term earnings growth of ten-to-twelve-percent per share.”
World’s Fair-Inspired All Day Bar In Loop
“An expansive new all-day restaurant and bar from the Chicago group behind cafe mini-chain Fairgrounds Craft Coffee & Tea is coming to a prominent Loop location across from Lyric Opera,” reports Eater Chicago. “Kinsley by Fairgrounds, a distinctive project from the brand in both its scale and scope, will marry contemporary food, drink, and design to architecture drawn from the city’s 1893 World’s Fair. ” Kinsley opens September 19 inside the office tower at 1 North Upper Wacker.
Chicago’s Ramsey Lewis Was Eighty-Seven
“Ramsey Lewis, who died today (9/12) in Chicago—the city where he was born and raised, where he attained success in his early twenties, and where he remained throughout his illustrious career. As a pianist, radio host, curator (of the Ravinia jazz series), innovator of jazz-pop genres, and bandleader—remember, Maurice White of EWF got his start in Lewis’ band—he was renowned worldwide but remained a symbol of Chicago music,” posts Neil Tesser. Lewis’ “1965 recording of ‘The “In” Crowd’ brought him to a place few jazz musicians reached in that era: the Top 10,” headlines the New York Times in its obituary. “His success on the pop and R&B charts—where he returned in 1974 with ‘Sun Goddess,’ an album partly written and produced by Mr. White and featuring members of Earth, Wind & Fire—led some jazz purists to view him with skepticism. But that skepticism was long gone by 2007, when the National Endowment for the Arts named him a Jazz Master, the nation’s highest honor for a jazz musician. Commenting on the perceived conflict between ‘jazz as entertainment and jazz as art’ in a 2007 interview with DownBeat magazine, Mr. Lewis noted, ‘Count Basie and Duke Ellington’s playing was for dancers, but something happened where jazz entertainment came to be looked down upon by musicians.’ He himself, he said in another interview, had ‘always had a broad outlook. If it was good music, I could dig it.'” Adds the Washington Post, “When not on concert tours, Mr. Lewis had a second career as a radio DJ with a daily program in Chicago. He was also the host of a weekly television show on the BET cable network, called at different times ‘Jazz Central’ and ‘Sound & Style.’ His syndicated radio program, ‘Legends of Jazz,’ was adapted for television on PBS in 2006. In addition to performing and broadcasting, Mr. Lewis wrote music, including a ballet suite, a string quartet and a symphonic portrait of Abraham Lincoln, ‘Proclamation of Hope’ (2009), which drew on African American musical traditions.”
ONO Reissues “Kate Cincinnati”
ONO, the Chicago-based “industrial avant-gospel group” founded in the 1980s, will release their 1982 debut full-length album, “Kate Cincinnati,” for the first time digitally and on vinyl as a forty-year anniversary reissue on November 18 via American Dreams. “For forty-two years and counting, the long-running experimental Chicago group has been committed to exploring gospel’s darkest conflicts, tragedies and premises as an experimental, noise, and industrial poetry performance band, charting a defiant course through a sea of seemingly disparate influences,” ONO relays. “One of few Black bands taking part in the 1980s industrial and experimental underground, ONO’s first album ‘Kate Cincinnati ‘ is a crucial document, showcasing them as a trio composed of bandleader P. Michael Grego, multi-instrumentalist Ric Graham, and enigmatic frontperson travis. ‘Kate Cincinnati’ was originally self-released in 1982 in an edition of 300 tapes alongside an accompanying libretto zine. The trio traverse a variety of sonic environments—travis’ singing, bass, and lap steel move effortlessly between gospel, blues, opera and noise suggestions; Graham plays a maelstrom of music on horn and guitar; Grego quietly orchestrates arrangements while adding keyboards, electronics, and percussion. This important archival release follows their acclaimed 2020 album ‘Red Summer’.” Here’s “Kate Cincinnati” on Bandcamp.
“Sweepin’ The Clouds Away”: Second City CEO Hails From Sesame Street
Ed Wells is the new chief executive officer of The Second City. Wells joins The Second City from Sesame Workshop, where he served as executive vice president and global head of media and education. Wells’ experience in global media, entertainment, consumer products and live events includes executive leadership roles at WWE and Paramount. Prior to joining Sesame Workshop in 2017, Wells was executive vice president and head of international for WWE, Inc., where he was responsible for the global strategic development of WWE’s brand and businesses, including the launch of the direct-to-consumer subscription service, WWE Network. Prior to that, he worked across the Viacom International Media Networks brands based in New York, Singapore and Japan, where he served as vice president and general manager of Nickelodeon.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Amtrak Canceling Chicago Routes In Anticipation Of Rail Strike; Metra Could Be Affected
“Amtrak is canceling trips on some long-distance routes out of Chicago, as the deadline for a possible strike by freight rail workers looms,” reports the Tribune. “The passenger rail agency is suspending service on routes between Chicago and San Francisco, the Pacific Northwest and Los Angeles. Service will also be suspended along part of a fourth route out of Chicago, between Los Angeles and San Antonio.”
Illinois Arts Council Agency Announces 2022 Artstour Artists Roster
The Illinois Arts Council Agency and Illinois Presenters Network have released the 2022 Artstour Artists Roster. Hundreds of Illinois performing artists and ensembles applied to be listed in this resource to Illinois presenters. The roster lists over 350 performing artists, companies and groups working in dance, mime, interdisciplinary performance, music, performance poetry, spoken word, storytelling and theater. Roster artists are evaluated by a jury of Illinois presenters based on the artistic and technical quality of the artist’s work as demonstrated by materials submitted; their professionalism demonstrated through management, promotional materials, and references; demonstrated ability to tour; and the quality of the documentation submitted. The Artstour Roster can be used by Illinois presenters including schools, libraries, park districts, arts and community organizations, and performing arts presenters to identify performing artists to perform in their communities. More here.
Downers Grove Firework Over National Coming Out Day Drag Bingo
“Vitriolic” threats prompted Downers Grove Public Library to cancel a drag bingo event geared toward seventh through twelfth graders on October 11, National Coming Out Day. Reports NBC News, “the library announced it was not moving forward with the program because ‘it is not possible to provide a safe place for everyone due to the threats made’… ‘Hate did not win today. We stand by the event and Aurora Divine’… The program was going to feature drag queen Aurora Divine, several rounds of bingo games and a ‘short, age-appropriate’ lip-sync performance of Katy Perry’s ‘Firework.'”
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