James Little’s Limelight
“James Little, Unapologetic Abstractionist Painter, Catches the Limelight,” the New York Times pronounces in the wake of the seventy-year-old painter’s Whitney Biennial debut. “Mr. Little waited more than forty years to show his work in the Whitney Biennial. This year, he prepares for two gallery shows and a collaboration with Duke Ellington’s music… At his longtime studio on Hope Street in Williamsburg, the artist said that working outside the limelight allowed him to find his voice and personalize his art. ‘I knew the recognition was going to happen sooner or later,’ said Mr. Little, who has stayed true to his labor-intensive approach to abstraction emphasizing color, design and structure… ‘I come from a family of construction workers who used to mix mortar and lay bricks… That had an effect on me.’ … Mr. Little was preparing for his first show with the Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago, opening November 12, called ‘Black Stars & White Paintings.’ It will include more of his two-tone black paintings, a theme he has explored in variation over the last decade. He spends three months on each piece, painstakingly building their intersecting vectors in up to twenty layers of hand-blended pigments that he mixes with hot beeswax to seal the color and give it a kind of sheen.” More on the Kavi Gupta show here.
Boots And The Art Of The Sidewalk Message
“Her short poems about heartache, self-love and advice can be found stenciled in black or purple on sidewalks, there to perhaps brighten up the day for passersby walking with their heads down,” writes Adriana Pérez at the Tribune of Pilsen resident and street artist Boots. Currently in her thirties, she “hopes to visit and spray paint her messages in all fifty [states] by the time she turns forty… ”
E-Bike Subsidy Works In Denver
Chicago is not the only city making and shifting plans for bicycle use: Denver spent more than $4 million to get Coloradans onto e-bikes, reports FastCompany. “When Denver started offering a rebate for residents to buy electric bikes, the city thought that the funding would last for three years. Instead, so many people wanted to participate that it was gone in six months. The first set of 3,000 vouchers—with $400 for a standard rebate, $1,200 for low-income residents, and an extra $500 for anyone buying an electric cargo bike—were claimed within days of the program’s launch… Then the city released more vouchers… and ‘they were gone in twenty-two minutes,’ says Grace Rink, the city’s chief climate officer. ‘We thought it might be popular. We just didn’t know how popular it was going to be.'”
Fulton Market Association Wants To Tap TIF For A Hundred Police Cameras
“According to a 2021 year-end report, the Kinzie TIF corridor has a balance of about $271 million, which is set to expire at the end of this year unless extended by the city,” reports Block Club. “The Kinzie tax-increment financing corridor spans parts of Humboldt Park, West Town, East Garfield Park and Near West Side communities [and] collects incremental property taxes to be used for neighborhood projects such as public infrastructure, schools, parks [and] leveraging private investment.” The Fulton Market Association, headed by Roger Romanelli, is asking for at least a hundred additional police cameras to be placed in and around Fulton Market, to be paid for by TIF money. “Police cameras cost about $25,000 each, which includes installation costs and three years of maintenance… If TIF won’t cover the costs, [Ald. Walter] Burnett said he’s willing to pay for them out of pocket… ‘You have no idea how many cameras I paid for for the police in my ward… Whenever they asked for it, I do it with the priority that they have, because they are police.'”
DINING & DRINKING
Is The “Paywalled” Restaurant Workable?
“‘I think there’s a demand for curation,’ said Noah Tepperberg, the co-CEO of Tao Group Hospitality, which next year is opening a private club in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, in collaboration with the restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You,” reports Rachel Sugar at the New York Times. “In the grand tradition of private clubs—from New York City’s Union Club to San Francisco’s Bohemian Club to the recently rebranded ’Quin House in Boston—these exclusive clubstaurants require not only cash but status.” Says one New York entrepreneur, “One of the great things about being a private member’s club, is the fact that you really can tailor everything on the food and beverage side to your customers at an even higher level than you can, obviously, when you’re just a public restaurant.”
Suckling Pig And Wine Tasting At Ancient Roman-Inspired Testaccio Harvest Fest
Ancient Roman-inspired Testaccio’s Harvest Festival is this Thursday evening, October 27. The celebration kicks off on Testaccio’s Logan Square patio, where wine distributors will set up for tastings with the option to purchase. Chef Michael will also roast a whole suckling pig on the patio and serve farm-focused bites using autumn produce. Tickets are available on Tock for $55 here.
White-Collar Employees’ Faith In Starbucks Shaken
“Starbucks Corp. white-collar employees’ faith in the coffee chain’s ethics and social impact dropped to a historic low this year, according to an internal survey, with corporate staff voicing concern about the company’s response to the union campaign spreading through its cafés,” reports Bloomberg. Posts Starbucks Workers United: “Over 250 Starbucks stores have won their union election, and only three have had their first bargaining sessions. Why? Starbucks delay tactics. Starbucks workers have been filing for union elections—and winning—since December 2021. After workers win a union election, companies are legally required to come to the bargaining table and negotiate a contract with workers. Yet Starbucks is doing everything in its power to delay the bargaining process. The company is spreading misinformation about the bargaining process while attempting to confuse and frustrate.” More in the Twitter thread here.
Rushdie’s Agent Reflects On “Maus”
In an interview with the Guardian, Salman Rushdie’s agent Andrew Wylie shares that the writer, stabbed repeatedly by a fanatic attacker, has lost sight in one eye and the use of one hand. “Wylie said the world was going through ‘a very troubled period… I think nationalism is on the rise, a sort of fundamentalist right is on the rise.’” Art Spiegelman, author of Chicago’s 2022 One Book, One Chicago selection, is another of Wylie’s authors. Asked about its banning in some American schools, Wylie said, “You know, that’s the religious right behaving as they behave. It’s ridiculous. It’s ludicrous. It’s shameful. But it’s a big force in the country now.”
“Books Change Lives” This Week
Sourcebooks, the Naperville-based woman-owned publishing house, presents the Sourcebooks Annual “Books Change Lives” event on October 24 at the American Writers Museum, in conjunction with The Book Cellar. An inclusive panel of authors—Sulari Gentill, Eva Jurczyk, Shauna Robinson and C. J. Carey—will join in conversation with Donna Seaman of Booklist.
Polish-Language Grand Opera Premiere By Chicago Opera Theater
Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago’s leading producer of contemporary and reimagined opera, begins its season with the Chicago premiere of “King Roger,” by composer Karol Szymanowski and his cousin, librettist Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, the first Polish-language opera presented by the company. “King Roger” (“Król Roger” in Polish) will be presented in a semi-staged production featuring a chorus of 120 singers and a seventy-two-piece orchestra at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in two performances only: Friday, November 18 and Sunday, November 20. Tickets and more here.
Raven Theatre Artistic Director Cody Estle Moves On
The board of directors of Raven Theatre announce that Cody Estle will step down as the company’s artistic director at the end of November, after serving as the company’s artistic leader since 2017. Estle will join Milwaukee’s Next Act Theatre as artistic director. During his five-year tenure, Estle oversaw the company’s transition from non-Equity to Equity status, the commissioning of seven new plays and the remodeling of Raven’s two theater spaces. Under his leadership, the company received twenty-eight Jeff Award nominations and six Jeff Award wins. Raven will begin a search process to fill the position.
More On Impresario Drabinsky Vs. Actors’ Equity
“Following the closure of ‘Paradise Square,’ Equity placed Drabinsky on its ‘Do Not Work’ list, effectively barring him from Broadway producing, after company members wrote a letter saying that the producer ‘had withheld benefits and pay from many company members, and have created an unsafe, toxic and frequently hostile work environment,'” writes the Hollywood Reporter. “Equity spokesperson David Levy said in response to the suit, ‘The lawsuit filed against Equity is entirely without merit, and Equity is confident it will prevail in this lawsuit. Equity will vigorously contest the suit and demonstrate that our actions were fully consistent with our legal responsibilities to protect our members.’ In the defamation suit, Drabinsky, who also produced ‘Show Boat’ and ‘Ragtime,’ uses his work on these shows, which feature many Black cast members, and his actions on ‘Paradise Square’ to fight back against the allegations. Drabinsky specifically references an instance during the Chicago run of the musical, on October 2, 2021, in which the suit says he called a meeting to address ‘the complex issues addressed in the musical,’ which include slavery and racial tensions in New York in the mid-1800s. The suit says Drabinsky referenced his work on the 1993 revival of ‘Show Boat,’ in which he says he and the late producer Hal Prince decided to keep an opening refrain that included a racial slur in order to ‘shock audiences to fully understand the harsh reality of the Black experience in America.’ ‘Drabinsky related this difficult experience so that everyone present would understand that the racial issues of “Paradise Square,” while challenging and sometimes overwhelming, had to be emphatically confronted,’ the suit reads.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Shedd Adds Otters
Shedd has welcomed two stranded sea otters to the aquarium’s rescued population. Two female juveniles—temporarily referred to as Otter 926 and 929—mark an evolution in Shedd’s sea otter program because they come from Aquarium of the Pacific, a partner institution in Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Surrogacy Program. These newest additions at Shedd will remain until they are mature enough to be surrogate mothers to orphaned sea otter pups and return to a partner institution in the conservation effort. Surrogates help teach pups the skills necessary to survive in the wild so they can potentially be released. More otter news here.
City Colleges Teachers Union To Set Strike Date
“The union for City Colleges of Chicago faculty and professional staff are poised to set a strike date this week after authorizing a walkout earlier this month,” reports the Trib. “Setting a strike date would be the next step toward a potential faculty and staff walkout as contract negotiations remain stalled.”
How Hedge Funds Siphon Hundreds Of Millions Out Of Chicago Taxes
“Thanks to a ‘little-known loophole,’ hedge funds, private equity firms and real estate investors have ‘siphoned’ approximately $280 million from schools, parks, libraries, fire departments and other government agencies between September 2015 and September 2022,” reports WTTW. “Private investors are exploiting an ‘arcane’ Illinois law to profit from the property tax debt owed on thousands of properties, fueling disinvestment in communities that are home to Black and Latino residents, according to a new study from the Cook County Treasurer’s office,” writes Heather Cherone.
Colorado Wastewater Ready For Reuse
Water, water, anywhere? As water shortages grow, innovation is needed everywhere. “Colorado’s water quality agency gave unanimous preliminary approval to regulate direct potable reuse—the process of treating sewage and sending it directly to taps without first being dispersed in a larger water body. Pending a final vote in November, the state would become the first to adopt direct potable reuse regulations,” reports AP (via the Tribune). “Brewing beer, cooking food, and refilling water bottles with recycled wastewater could soon become standard practice in a state that’s synonymous with its pristine-tasting snowmelt and mountain springs.”
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