A Conversation With Theaster Gates And Chance The Rapper
“Chance the Rapper has had an explosive jump from young Chicago poet to sound artist and cold-blooded MC philanthropist,” cover-stories Cultured. “His latest interdisciplinary endeavors—including ‘The Highs & The Lows,’ a music and visual arts hybrid that he premiered at Art Basel, ‘Child of God,’ an exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Black Star Line Festival in Accra, Ghana in January 2023—cross the definitions and expectations of art and entertainment to connect, represent, and advance Blackness.” Chance converses with Theaster Gates, “whose two concurrent New York exhibitions at the New Museum and Gagosian 976 Madison Avenue join his long CV of works that try to intellectualize, understand, and, in many ways, salvage the human experience.”
Chance: “I’m trying to document where Blackness is in 2022 and 2023 as it pertains to being on the precipice of revolution, and how that feels for all these people from around the world. I’m from Chicago, Yannis [Davy Guibinga] is from Gabon, and Joey [Bada$$] is from New York; having all these different expressions around the same idea gives the true and clear experience of what we deem it to be.” Gates: “I think of you going from Chicago to the Venice Biennale in your video for ‘The Highs & The Lows.’ You got your crew. Y’all got these frames. You’re showing everyday Black life in Venice—artful Black life—and using the medium of film to reposition yourself as a musician. It’s not just about rap, rhyme, or language. You’re framing Venice so that the person that might feel completely foreign to the art world can be like, ‘No… I’m in the frame. My boy Vic is in the frame. Thelonious is in the frame. We’re in the frame.’ These moves that you’re making are at the edge of a contemporary moment where the music world doesn’t know what the fuck to do with it and neither does the art world. You got the Kehinde Wiley puffer on, and you’re moving from what historically had been a silo into a new world.”
Indianapolis Embraces Black Artists
“The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, the state’s largest and most influential art institution, had alienated many during the nine-year tenure of its former president and chief executive Charles L. Venable, who resigned in February 2021 after criticism of a job posting for a director who would diversify its visitor base while ‘maintaining the Museum’s traditional, core, white art audience.’ The outcry from artists reverberated across the country,” reports the New York Times. “Inside a former car factory here, some 8,000 visitors to a local art fair strolled among two halls of work by Black artists… during four days in September… The fair, named Butter, was organized by the Indianapolis cultural development firm GANGGANG, a nonprofit with an uphill mission: to showcase the work of Black visual artists here and across the country. ‘I’ve been to a lot of art fairs, but I’ve never experienced anything like this,’ said a Chicago-based painter known as Edo. ‘It’s putting Indy on the map.'”
Comfort Station Opens “Between You And I”
Comfort Station features new work by Hale Ekinci, whose “colorful mixed-media works investigate the social organization in divergent cultures by combining Islamic ornamentation painting, photocollages of cordial females, crochet and embroidery,” the site relays. “Having recently become an American citizen, the artist often yearns for her roots in a collective culture while embracing her individualistic tendencies. Through a femme-centric perspective embellished with symbolic Ottoman patterns, such as the mighty tulip or the loving carnation, the artist reveals an ambiguity in relations, the interpretation of touch in distinct cultures, and the meanings behind humans’ representation of the natural world. Ekinci explores the intersection between ‘you,’ ‘I’ and ‘it’: the immigrant, the Western, the Eastern, the woman, the lover, the human, the other, the plant, the tongue. The works investigate expressions of intimacy and ambiguous readings of closeness.”
“Comfort Station was built to be a refuge for commuters seeking shelter. In this spirit, the space is transformed into a cozy environment filled with colorful, patterned paintings on domestic textiles. These surfaces, such as the used, patterned bedsheets, hold personal and bodily history, invoking feelings of home and intimacy. Architecture, like textiles, covers, houses, and protects the body, but is historically attributed to male labor. Extending the rigid walls and sharp corners with soft fabric and crochet edgings reminiscent of women’s work imagines a cuddly shelter.” December 3-25; opening Saturday, 4pm-7pm. More here.
Are Cities Like Chicago In An “Urban Doom Loop?”
“Scholars are increasingly voicing concern that the shift to working from home, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, will bring the three-decade renaissance of major cities to a halt, setting off an era of urban decline. They cite an exodus of the affluent, a surge in vacant offices and storefronts and the prospect of declining property taxes and public transit revenues,” essays Thomas Edsall at the New York Times. “Insofar as fear of urban crime grows, as the number of homeless people increases, and as the fiscal ability of government to address these problems shrinks, the amenities of city life are very likely to diminish… As major cities are caught in a downward fiscal spiral, the forces driving the process will be felt in varying stages. The loss of transit ridership fares and sales taxes is immediate; declining residential, retail and office property taxes will take longer to phase in as new appraisals are performed; drops in income tax revenues will occur as families moving outside city limits change their legal residence.”
The Times also surveys how cities differ in their approach to homelessness, as New York’s mayor announces that those on their streets judged mentally ill will be subject to involuntary imprisonment: “In Chicago, homelessness is an endemic problem that has become more visible since the pandemic, particularly as encampments have grown under viaducts near Lake Michigan and in parks throughout the city. But advocates for the homeless say that they have never heard of city employees—from the police department or elsewhere—sending homeless people to hospitals against their will in the manner” that New York’s mayor proposes.
Permits Issued To National Public Housing Museum
The National Public Housing Museum in the near West Side neighborhood on the corner of West Taylor and Ada has been issued renovation permits, reports Chicago YIMBY. “The project is part of the larger Roosevelt Square Plan that seeks to further connect the Taylor Street corridor. The developers are Related Midwest, who continue to work in conjunction with Chicago Housing Authority and local firms HED Architects and Landon Bone Baker Architects.”
Ukrainian Institute Of Modern Art Sets Maker’s Market
The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art will celebrate artists with their second Maker’s Market, December 10-11, featuring over twenty-five local vendors, local drink sponsors and a raffle filled with prizes from these small businesses. The $5 entry and $1 raffle tickets go toward museum operations. Participants here. Tickets here.
DINING & DRINKING
White Sox Building New Outdoor Bar
“The Chicago White Sox plan to add a new outdoor bar,” reports the Sun-Times. The plans were revealed by a city building permit. “The renovation requires demolishing eight rows of seats and rearranging entrance and exit stairs.” Not to fear, the new outdoor bar will include a “premium seating skybox.”
Munno’s In Uptown Closing, But Coming Back
Twice Michelin-rated Munno’s is closing for a while, reports Uptown Update. But the “authentic rustic Italian cuisine” will return this winter in a different form.
Whole Foods Won’t Sell Maine Lobster
“Whole Foods said it will stop selling lobster from the Gulf of Maine at hundreds of its stores around the country, citing moves by two sustainability groups to take away their endorsements of the U.S. lobster-fishing industry,” reports AP (via the Sun-Times).
Pilsen Gourmet Returns
The producers of Pilsen Fest announce the return of Pilsen Gourmet, a diverse sampling of the distinct Pilsen area. Over twenty-five restaurants will join under one roof to feature some of today’s leading Latino chefs making an impact in the industry. Four well-known chefs will be honored and will speak about the evolution of the Latino culinary scene around the world: Dudley Nieto of Fat Rosie’s (consulting curator of Pilsen Gourmet); Carlos Gaytán of Tzuco; Diana Dávila of Mi Tocaya Antojeria and Rodolfo Cuadros of Amaru. Beyond recognizing pioneers and the wave of Latino culinary prowess in Chicago, the evening will highlight the importance of the Latino labor force in the industry. Tickets include unlimited samples of culinary specialties and an array of mezcal, tequila, craft beer and Mexican beverages such as sodas and micheladas mixes, and music from local DJs. Friday, December 16, 7-10pm, Apollo’s 2000. More here. $40 tickets here.
Channel 5 Exec Leaving After Nearly A Quarter-Century
Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news at WMAQ-TV Channel 5, will be retiring from the station after twenty-four years, reports Crain’s.
Lin Brehmer Audio-Essays His Return To The Air
“Lin Brehmer returned from his medical sabbatical Monday morning and brought us a new Lin’s Bin answering the question he received a lot while out, ‘How are you doing?'” WXRT posts the recording here.
NPR Faces Huge Cuts
NPR CEO John Lansing has announced “a projected $20 million-plus shortfall in sponsorship for current fiscal year,” posts NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. “Says network will need $10 million in cuts to reach planned $5.2 million operating deficits. (New revenues have offset some of drop.)” No layoffs are planned, but “new hiring will be greatly slowed; discretionary spending and travel cut. Factors to consider > ad/sponsorship slowdown affecting digital & legacy media > ongoing added cost of covering war in Ukraine.”
Yevgeny Faniuk Appointed CSO Assistant Principal Flute
Music Director Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have announced the appointment of Yevgeny Faniuk as assistant principal flute, becoming the newest member of the woodwind section. Faniuk performs his first concerts in the role December 1-6. Faniuk succeeds Richard Graef, who served as the Orchestra’s longtime assistant principal flute from 1968 until his retirement in 2019. More here.
Redtwist Theatre Names Artistic Director
Redtwist Theatre announces Dusty Brown as the group’s artistic director, also adding Eileen Dixon as community director and Michael Dias as development director. Brown previously had the role of production manager on one of Redtwist’s first shows post-pandemic. They hope to continue the work of their predecessors. “I strive to ignite my collaborator’s passions, engage the community around me and inspire the audience’s imaginations,” Brown says in a release. “In every process I aim to create brave spaces where actors and designers can bring their authentic voices to the work.” As community director, Eileen Dixon will focus on building Redtwist’s connections with the shops, restaurants and other businesses in the Bryn Mawr historic district. She will also be leading marketing and public-facing relationship building at Redtwist. As development director, Michael Dias will focus on increasing Redtwist’s foundational support through grant development and submission. More on Redtwist here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Christmas Ship Returns To Navy Pier
More than 1,200 Chicago families will receive free Christmas trees when Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw returns to Navy Pier as Chicago’s Christmas Ship on Saturday, December 3. The tradition of serving the city’s communities continues for the twenty-third year through coordination led by Chicago’s Christmas Ship Committee and its logistical partnership with the Coast Guard and Ada S. McKinley Community Services. The committee procures the trees in Northern Michigan through private donations and the Coast Guard transports them to Chicago while conducting a regularly scheduled mission maintaining buoys on Lake Michigan. Once the trees are unloaded, they are distributed to community nonprofits, coordinated by Ada S. McKinley Community Services. More than 26,000 trees have been distributed at no charge to families across the city over the past two-plus decades. As an important part of Chicago’s maritime heritage, this event honors the crew of the schooner Rouse Simmons, the original Chicago Christmas Ship, lost with all hands during a gale November 23, 1912, while transporting 5,000 trees to Chicago. The tree offloading begins Saturday at 8:30am, with the official tree ceremony at 10am. A choir will perform, along with members of the Coast Guard Academy Glee Club and the Coast Guard Silent Drill Team, and Christmas Ship balladeer Lee Murdock will entertain the crowd. Free public tours of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw will be available Friday from 1:30pm-3:30pm and Saturday, 1:30pm-4pm.
A Stopper’s Guide To The Winter Overnight Parking Ban
Chicago’s winter overnight parking ban on thoroughfares that begins tonight “is enforced whether or not there’s snow on the ground. Violators will face a minimum $150 towing fee and a $60 ticket,” posts Block Club, providing a how-not-to guide. “The ban prohibits drivers from parking on 107 miles of city streets 3-7am daily December 1-April 1.”
Bally’s On Temporary Casino Inside Medinah Temple
“Community members attending the hearing at the Voco hotel on the Bally’s casino at Medinah Temple expressed concerns about safety, parking, traffic and minority hiring,” reports the Sun-Times. “Chicago police First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter gave a brief presentation on the department’s plan to work with Bally’s to keep patrons safe. The plan includes more patrols in addition to Bally hiring private security, increased surveillance cameras and training officers on safety issues generally associated with casinos. ‘We’ve done everything we can to work collaboratively with Bally’s to ensure public safety in and around the venue.'”
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