SKIN + MASKS, Curated By Vic Mensa, Now Through April
EXPO CHICAGO, the Magnificent Mile Association and Kavi Gupta Gallery will present a third iteration of “SKIN + MASKS,” co-curated by artist Vic Mensa and Kavi Gupta Gallery director Chanelle Lacy. The group show presents emerging and established Chicago-based contemporary artists at 535 North Michigan through April 15. As part of a continued effort to bring visual art to Michigan Avenue that included Nick Cave and Bob Faust’s “Rapt on the Mile” installation last Fall, The Magnificent Mile Association has partnered with EXPO CHICAGO and Kavi Gupta Gallery. For his curatorial debut, Vic Mensa deploys a text by author Frantz Fanon as a foundation for a group art exhibition aimed at decolonizing art beyond the politics of visibility.
In his 1952 book “Black Skin, White Masks,” Fanon presented “a psychoanalytical tour-de-force, exposing how colonization weaponized skin as an agent of alienation, imposing an existential divide on people. ‘SKIN + MASKS’ features work by artists who, like Fanon, are striving to understand and express the meaning of identity not from the vantage point of white gaze, but from the perspective of individual realities.” Says Mensa in a release, “‘SKIN + MASKS’ is a cultural conversation spanning bandwidth of race, identity and art, created in collaboration with Kavi Gupta Gallery. Since its launch in July, it has seen multiple different iterations, and we are ecstatic to expand it into its next existence as a limited engagement installation on Michigan Avenue.” More here.
Edra Soto’s Largest Exhibition At Hyde Park Art Center
Hyde Park Art Center announces “Destination/El Destino: a decade of GRAFT,” the largest exhibition to date of the Puerto Rican artist, educator and community organizer Edra Soto. Rooted in themes of cultural hybridity, the exhibition features a new large-scale commission of the artist’s “GRAFT” series with porous sculptures, documentary photographs, drawings, and games that take advantage of the Art Center’s indoor and outdoor main gallery. Creating a playful and open environment for dialogue, transformation and communal healing, “Destination/El Destino: a decade of GRAFT” will be on view from April 23-August 6.
“‘Destination/El Destino’ is the culmination project of a year-long residency of Edra Soto at the Art Center, and focuses on the decade-long evolution of the artist’s multimedia ‘GRAFT’ series, which explores the architecture of Soto’s native Puerto Rico and its ties to the African Diaspora and Afro-Caribbean tradition. ‘GRAFT’ addresses the unsung influence of Afro-diasporic cultures on Puerto Rico’s decorative architecture. The series references two common domestic architectural elements: quiebrasoles, made of concrete blocks, and rejas, ornamental grilles or screens typically cast in wrought iron. In Puerto Rico, quiebrasoles and rejas are arranged in decorative geometric patterns to create shade or act as a protective barrier between the street and the home.” More here.
Former Chicagoan Aay Preston-Myint Named Executive Director SF Camerawork
SF Camerawork has appointed Aay Preston-Myint as executive director. A Bay Area-based artist, educator and curator with over twenty years of experience in arts administration, justice and equity work, and programming, Preston-Myint comes to SF Camerawork from the Headlands Center for the Arts, where they have served as Senior Manager of Public Programs and Fellowships since 2018. Previous to Headlands, Preston-Myint was based in Chicago, where they were a founder of No Coast, an artist partnership that prints and distributes affordable contemporary artwork.
“They founded and co-directed the Chicago Art Book Fair, a national arts event dedicated to showcasing emerging directions and diverse legacies within small press arts publishing. They were studio manager and equity committee member at ACRE Residency, as well as DJ and organizer for Chances Dances, a party supporting and showcasing the work of queer artists in Chicago. Preston-Myint worked as editor-in-chief of Monsters and Dust, an independent art journal on queer thinking and poetics, and adjunct professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where they were also elected Faculty Senator to represent the needs and interests of over 600 part-time faculty to the school administration.” More here.
Costs Of Converting LaSalle Street Financial District To Affordable Housing Questioned
At Crain’s in an extensive multimedia report, Judith Crown listens to ideas about the feasibility of Mayor Lightfoot’s hope to convert fallow downtown office space in the financial district to affordable housing. The prognosis is not good. (The piece is free to all readers.) “Meeting the enormous demand for affordable housing could be accomplished more efficiently by focusing on less-expensive neighborhoods, advocates say. An estimated 160,000 units of affordable housing are needed in Cook County, according to the DePaul University Institute for Housing Studies. That’s largely in North Side neighborhoods where longtime residents are being priced out… While affordable housing is much in need, bringing these units to the Loop will be a challenging exercise.”
“Construction is more expensive downtown and especially in the historically significant buildings along LaSalle Street. The location away from the lakefront and a lack of amenities could constrain rents for market-rate units… Advocates for affordable housing say the addition of affordable units is always needed, but they question the wisdom of building downtown. Lacking schools and supermarkets, the Loop isn’t designed for families, the demographic perceived to be most in need of affordable housing, advocates say. Most downtown units are studios and one-bedrooms, appealing to singles, couples without children and empty nesters.”
Area Transit Authorities Getting $185 Million In Fed Funds To Improve Station Accessibility
“Chicago will receive a total of $185 million in federal funding to make several CTA and Metra stations accessible for disabled riders,” reports the Trib, “part of a new program tucked into the bipartisan infrastructure law signed by President Biden last year… Chicago will receive the second-largest bundle of grants, after New York City, under a provision in the massive $1 trillion bill that sets aside $1.75 billion for transit agencies to improve their stations’ accessibility. That program was championed by [Senator Duckworth], who modeled it after CTA’s own twenty-year plan to place elevators in all stations.”
DINING & DRINKING
Mondelez: Out Of Gum
Snack giant Mondelez is exiting the market for chewables, selling its gum lines, including Trident, Chiclets and Bubblicious to European firm Perfetti Van Melle Group for $1.35 billion, reports the Tribune. A Rockford plant is part of the sale.
Eight Best Chicago Hot Dogs?
Beefy prose followed by a porky list: Dennis Lee waxes tubular for Bon Appétit. “A Chicago-style hot dog is sort of headache inducing, if you think about it: a frankfurter most often nestled into a poppy seed bun, topped with a combination of yellow mustard, diced onions, tomato slices, shockingly neon green pickle relish, a whole pickle spear, sport peppers (a real type of pepper, by the way), and celery salt. But the thing is, we Chicagoans don’t really think about our hot dogs too much. We don’t have to. They’re just there when we need one. Hot dogs are practically within arm’s reach in most of Chicago’s neighborhoods, with stands dotted all across the city.” The list starts here.
George Trois Group Introduces Fonda
Chef Michael Lachowicz has announced plans for his first new restaurant in four years. Planned for early 2023, Fonda marks a major departure from the George Trois Group’s French cuisine at fine dining George Trois and French brasserie Aboyer. In downtown Evanston, Fonda “will script a memoir of Mexico, taking diners through a cultural journey of the country’s joyful regional cuisine,” the group says in a release. “The new concept will serve up delicious and soulful Mexican preparations to patrons and has been a long time coming for Michael, who worked closely with his core George Trois Group team members to bring this meaningful vision to life. Michael tasked his long-time managing partners of The George Trois Group, Miguel Escobar (chef) and Sergio Angel (wine director, manager) to lend their guidance and expertise to the concept’s realization, and seasoned Aboyer sous chef Carlos Cahue with commanding the new kitchen. Industry veteran Emlyn Thomas will join as the team’s general manager. Regional dishes from Carlos and Miguel’s hometowns of Huandacareo, in Michoacan, and Huitzuco, in Guerrero, will be the highlight of the concise menu. Most dishes are inspired by their childhood and cooking with their families.” More on George Trois Group here.
Why So Many Food Industry Union Actions?
“At Starbucks, Chipotle, McDonald’s and more, service workers turned to collective action in 2022,” reports Bon Appétit. “Hospitality workers turned to collective action in an unprecedented way this year—disrupting the status quo in fast food and beyond… Why are so many workers in the restaurant industry unionizing? The rising gap between executive pay and employees’ wages is a good place to start, particularly in one of the few industries where subminimum wages are allowed. The public perception of unions also may have something to do with the recent surge in organizing—more Americans have a positive view of unions than they have had in decades.”
Gas Stoves Could Be Banned Come 2023
“Citing studies that link gas stoves to health problems, including asthma in children, a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission official said his agency will begin a formal review process that could lead to new regulations,” reports the Trib. Says Commissioner Richard Trumka, “We need to be talking about regulating gas stoves, whether that’s drastically improving emissions or banning gas stoves entirely.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Final Pickwick Theatre Classic Film (For Now): “Shawshank Redemption”
Posts programmer Matthew Hoffman, “Things can always change (and we get a last-minute reprieve from the governor), but as of right now, January 11, 2023, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is slated to be our final show at the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series.” Tickets here.
Making Book Banning Bad Politics
“A new round of censorship has sturdy roots in a right-wing movement that uses slogans around ‘parental rights’ to defend removing books from libraries in the name of ‘protecting’ children,” writes E. J. Dionne at the Washington Post. “2023 should be the year when progressives change the terms of debate on a series of cultural issues in the right wing’s arsenal. Battling book bans is one of the most important. The shift requires moving from defense to offense and insisting that efforts to close the minds of the next generation will not make its members stronger, more resilient, more intelligent or, for that matter, more moral.”
Mutter Virtuosi Tour Chicago
The Mutter Virtuosi makes its second-ever visit to North America with their founder and mentor, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, for a seven-city tour that includes performances in West Palm Beach, Florida, Miami, Atlanta, New York, Toronto and Chicago. For several of the newer scholarship recipients, this tour marks their first tour as members of the Virtuosi ensemble. Mutter has selected a wide-ranging program of string orchestra concertos from both familiar and less well-known composers from the Baroque and Classical periods—Vivaldi and Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges—as well as a piece she commissioned for the Virtuosi from South Korean Composer Unsuk Chin. More here.
After Ticketmaster Mess, Mexican President Asks Bad Bunny To Play Free Concert
After another huge ticketing foul-up by Ticketmaster, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has asked Puerto Rican reggaeton star Bad Bunny to perform for free in Mexico City’s Zócalo square. He says “that the government could pay for the lights, stage and sound system—and even install a zip line in the central plaza,” reports NPR.
National Geographic Live Explores Tulsa Race Massacre At Auditorium
The Auditorium Theatre will present National Geographic Live’s “Greenwood: A Century of Resilience,” with Tulsa-native archaeologist Dr. Alicia Odewale on Sunday, January 29. Dr. Odewale shares how archaeology can be used as a tool for recovering lost stories, reclaiming a narrative and pursuing restorative justice. More here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Trib Surveys Coldest Snaps In Chicago For Slightly Warmer Feeling About Weather
“While the coldest temperature of -27 degrees was recorded on January 20, 1985, many of the city’s lowest recorded temperatures came from arctic snaps in 1872 and 1899. The 1980s and 1990s saw frigid temperatures among the city’s coldest recorded, however only three days at or colder than 16 below—January 6, 2014 and in two in January 2019—took place after the year 2000,” reports the Tribune. “The record number of days with a temperature below zero was in 1912 with ten. In the 2015 polar vortex Chicago hit six days in a row with subzero temperatures.”
NASCAR Looks To Chicago To Refine Its Image
“After a decade of dwindling relevance, NASCAR is looking to Chicago for a jump-start,” reports Crain’s. “NASCAR is making a $50 million wager Chicago can turbocharge its push to reach the young, diverse crowd it needs to survive… The stock car racing circuit’s street race around Grant Park next July will be its boldest move yet in a broader effort to re-enter the mainstream sports conversation with a younger, more diverse crowd. Instead of staging the first such event in its seventy-five-year history in a NASCAR stronghold, the sport’s leaders are about to spend more than $50 million—among its largest outlays ever for an event—on a first-of-its-kind track in the middle of an urban center where it has historically struggled to gain traction.”
Homelessness About The Same Since Pandemic’s Start
“The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that in federally required tallies taken across the country earlier this year, about 582,000 people were counted as homeless,” reports AP (via the Daily Herald), “a number that misses some people and does not include those staying with friends or family because they do not have a place of their own. The figure was nearly the same as it was in a survey conducted in early 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic hit the nation hard. It was up by about 2,000 people—an increase of less than one-percent.” A new federal plan announced Monday “highlights racial and other disparities that have led to inequity in homelessness. It seeks to expand the supply of affordable housing and improve on ways to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.”
Google: $3 Million Toward Indiana University Philanthropy Database
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Purdue University Indianapolis “is creating a first-of-its-kind centralized philanthropy database that will measure and track funding for under-resourced groups… The project will be funded in part by a $3 million grant by Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org,” reports Crain’s, “providing the industry new data to identify funding gaps.”
Eight Of 141 Targeted Drag Acts Were In Illinois
“The organization GLAAD found 141 anti-LGBTQ incidents targeting drag events specifically, eight of which were in Illinois,” reports the Trib, picking up on a report from November. “While several reports happened in smaller cities and towns in the Southern and Midwestern parts of the U.S., many also took place in areas with large LGBTQ populations and within LGBTQ-inclusive communities.”
World Of Weed Permitted To Take Location Of Logan Square J&M Laundromat
“A plan to open a cannabis dispensary in a Logan Square laundromat won key city approval over the objections of dozens of neighbors,” reports Block Club. “The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals granted World of Weed Inc. a special-use permit to open a dispensary at 3115 West Armitage, the current home of J&M Laundromat.”
Purdue Northwest Asks Chancellor’s Resignation After Graduation Ceremony Racist Display
In Hammond, Purdue University Northwest’s faculty has given its chancellor-CEO Thomas Keon an ultimatum to resign “after a racist comment he made has brought unwelcome attention and pain to the campus,” reports the Post-Tribune (via the Trib). “Thomas Keon has been under fire this week after footage of him pretending to speak a made-up language that sounded Chinese at one of the campus’s two December 10 graduation ceremonies went viral.” While Keon has offered what he terms an apology, faculty still want him to resign.
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]