Phyllis Bramson Represented By ENGAGE Projects
ENGAGE Projects has announced representation of Chicago artist and educator Phyllis Bramson. “A visual storyteller of romantic folly, tragedy, and comedic relief, Bramson is a surrealist painter best known for her maximalist style and cosmic disorder. A self-described ‘painter-comedian,’ Bramson’s palette is a colorful array of beauty, humor, love, and lust. Bramson is a Rococo artist of the present day with an acute awareness for painting’s long history of male gaze media. Engaging with imagery that depicts women as objects of affection rather than humans of individual agency, Bramson flips this narrative by centering women’s empowerment and pleasure with her erotic anecdotes,” the gallery writes. Bramson received her BFA in Drawing and Painting from the University of Illinois-Urbana in 1963 followed by her MA in Painting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1964 and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1974. Bramson is an advisor to MFA students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. More here.
Monique Meloche Gallery Celebrates Ebony G. Patterson’s David C. Driskell Prize
Monique Meloche Gallery announces the High Museum of Art’s award to Ebony G. Patterson of the 2023 David C. Driskell Prize in recognition of her contributions to the field of African American art. “Based in Kingston, Jamaica, and Chicago, Patterson is known for her multilayered works in a variety of media that contrast beautiful, lush imagery, color and texture with darker underlying themes addressing societal and political injustices. Her complex compositions, which appear celebratory, but draw the viewer in to discover deeper truths relating to race-based class issues, social division and political violence. These interrogations explore the legacies inherent in postcolonial spaces, often memorializing and honoring the lives of those who have been deemed socially invisible or ‘unvisible.’ Named for the African American artist and art scholar, the Driskell Prize was established in 2005 as the first national award to celebrate an early- or mid-career scholar or artist whose work makes an original and significant contribution to the field of African American art or art history.” Patterson will be honored at the eighteenth annual Driskell Prize Gala on April 28, where her work will be recognized with a $50,000 cash award. More here.
Chicago Cultural Center Sets Winter And Early Spring Exhibitions
DCASE announces new visual art exhibitions for the Chicago Cultural Center. Highlights include “Surviving the Long Wars: Reckon and Reimagine,” featuring artwork of Indigenous artists responding to the “American Indian Wars” alongside artists from the Greater Middle East and its diasporas reacting to the “Global War on Terror.” “The exhibition explores how these works complicate and relate to the creative practices of Black, Indigenous and People of Color veterans whose experiences profoundly challenge the dominant histories of these long wars.” Presented as part of the second Veteran Art Triennial and Summit, there will be adjacent exhibitions and programming at the Hyde Park Art Center and Newberry Library. In February, Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy present “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited,” showcasing photography, poetry, prose, and film to convey the long legacy of Black philanthropists. This spring, the Cultural Center also welcomes A Long Walk Home’s artists Scheherazade Tillet, Leah Gipson, and Robert Narciso as artists in residence in The Learning Lab. As part of the “Meet an Artist” series, visitors will be invited to participate in the creation of “The Black Girlhood Altar” “to honor and create awareness for missing and murdered Black girls and young women. The artists seek to transform public spaces from sites of trauma to places of collective remembrance and power.” More here.
Two-Week Reprieve For Little Village Discount Mall
“The Little Village Discount Mall will stay open until at least February 16, when vendors, city officials and the mall owner will meet, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez says.” Reports the Sun-Times: “Some vendors have been told to vacate by February 6… The announcement came a day before the mall was set to shut its doors.”
Boeing Delivers Last 747 Jumbo Jet
Boeing delivered its final 747 jumbo jet after fifty-five years as thousands of workers, past and present, looked on, reports the Sun-Times. “The final plane is the 1,574th built by Boeing. Thousands of workers joined Boeing and other industry executives from around the world—as well as actor and pilot John Travolta, who has flown 747s—Tuesday for a ceremony in the company’s massive factory north of Seattle, marking the delivery of the last one to cargo carrier Atlas Air.”
Lead Water Pipes May Be Here To Stay
“President Biden has promised to replace all of the lead service lines in the country, but there’s not enough money and not enough time,” reports the American Prospect. In a post-Flint era, it’s the President’s “promise that became part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was passed in 2021. The IIJA designated $15 billion toward replacing lead service lines. Another $11.7 billion was granted to improve drinking water systems, some of which could go to lead pipe removal. In all, the bill earmarks $50 billion to water programs… The amount allocated is the largest investment in the removal of lead pipe in the history of the country, and the total water investment package has been hailed as historic by the Biden administration. But $15 billion is not enough money to replace every lead service line in the country—estimates lie anywhere between $28 billion and $60 billion… The work of replacing these lines falls to water agencies… which face a fundamental challenge. Water agencies can only replace the lines they own; the rest of the responsibility falls on private owners, many of whom are less than keen given the logistics. To fulfill their mission, water agencies must persuade owners of the benefits of lead removal, and manage the costs. And that’s if the agencies can find all the lead service lines in the first place.”
DINING & DRINKING
Fifty-Five-Dollar Cocktails In Aquarium Bar Hit Lakeview
Lost Reef, a reservation bar from the people behind Cheesie’s Pub & Grub, has opened in Lakeview, reports Eater Chicago. “The ultimate date spot,” they call it, at the northeast corner of Sheffield and Belmont. “Lost Reef’s marine theme and aesthetics extend to the cocktail menu, an upscale collection of classics like gimlets and boulevardiers, and signature submissions such as the smoke bubble-topped Anchor Aweigh (Ketel One Citroen, apricot liqueur, five-spice syrup), and booze-free ‘Knot-Tails.'”
FILM & TELEVISION
“Waiting For The Light To Change” Takes Slamdance Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize
“Waiting For The Light To Change,” made on a $20,000 budget by director Linh Tran and executive producer James Choi, filmed in Michigan with a Chicago cast and crew, won Slamdance’s Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature. Screen caught Tran’s acceptance speech in Park City. The film, which co-stars Sam Straley (“Welcome to Flatch” on Fox), is a meditation on female friendship, with a female Asian and Asian American ensemble cast, its makers citing influence from filmmakers such as Hong Sang Soo, Jim Jarmusch and Éric Rohmer, as we reported earlier. A ten-minute video interview with Tran, Straley and executive producer Choi [Newcity Film 50] before Slamdance is here.
Barnes & Noble Comes Back
“Barnes & Noble had an excellent pandemic. The chain, long in contraction, is expanding for the first time in a decade. It plans to open thirty new stores this year, including some in locations where Amazon tried and failed to build good brick-and-mortar bookstores. It is increasingly seen as an ally, rather than the enemy, of indie booksellers,” writes Ezra Klein at the New York Times. “‘How is it that bookstores do justify themselves in the age of Amazon?’ James Daunt, the chief executive of Barnes & Noble, asked [in 2020]. ‘They do so by being places in which you discover books with an enjoyment, with a pleasure, with a serendipity that is simply impossible to replicate online. And to do that, you have to have a good bookstore.'”
Reader Hires New Publisher; Exiting Baim Wishes Well
Starting mid-February, Chicago-area media strategist and nonprofit executive Solomon Lieberman is the new CEO and publisher of the Reader Institute for Community Journalism, which operates the fifty-one-year-old Chicago Reader, announces the Reader. “Lieberman, who has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, most recently worked as founding executive director of the Institute for Political Innovation, a national think tank that researched and advocated for nonpartisan election reform. Previously, he served in several capacities at the nonprofit Better Government Association in Chicago, most recently as vice president of strategy and civic engagement. He has a bachelor’s of arts in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. ‘I keep pinching myself,’ Lieberman says in the release. ‘I get to follow Tracy Baim’s lead, serve a beautiful, interdependent community of makers, members, readers, leaders, business owners and donors, and support community journalism at its finest.’”
Baim adds: “After more than four years of saving the Reader from multiple catastrophes, and pushing it over the finish line of its fifty-first anniversary last fall, I knew the newspaper–and our Chicago Independent Media Alliance project—were ready for the next phase. Sometimes leadership is about knowing when to move on. The team at the Reader is incredible. From editorial to business, sales to circulation, we have almost forty people who help produce the biweekly newspaper, digital content, and CIMA, as well as dozens of freelancers and contractors. The board of directors, led by the amazing Eileen Rhodes, who recruited me to this job, is also strong. The paper is in very capable hands.”
Like Kenny, Gawker Killed Again
Website Gawker, which emerged in its second incarnation as a major outlet for book coverage, has been killed again. Current owner Bustle Digital Media Group abruptly announced its death, according to Variety. Gawker relaunched in July 2021, after the original version ceased operations in 2016, when “Gawker’s parent company went belly-up after losing a legal battle with wrestler Hulk Hogan” financed by billionaire investor Peter Thiel. Owner Bryan Goldberg to employees: “Gawker published a lot of brilliant pieces in these nearly two years. But in this new reality, we have to prioritize our better-monetized sites. It’s a business decision, and one that, reluctantly, must be made.” Observes TIME TV critic Judy Berman: “Extremely dangerous to make journalism a luxury good, sustainable only in a strong economy.”
Beyoncé Includes Chicago
Beyoncé announced her Renaissance World Tour 2023 on Instagram. Chicago’s stop is at Soldier Field on July 22. Registration for a chance to buy tickets, which ends tonight at 11pm, is at Ticketmaster here.
Kurt Elling Releases Cover of Al Jarreau’s “Boogie Down”
Vocalist Kurt Elling released a new rendition of Al Jarreau’s “Boogie Down,” the second single from his upcoming six-track EP, “Guilty Pleasures,” featuring guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Nate Smith. “I’ve finally had the chance to cover some Al Jarreau!” says Elling. “Al was always so kind to me and full of joy and dancing, and I’m excited to tip my hat to his loving memory.” Listen to Kurt Elling’s version of “Boogie Down” here.
Handel Week Festival 2023 Tunes Oak Park
Across three Sunday afternoons, The Handel Week Festival will present the composer’s music at the sanctuary of Pilgrim Congregational Church in downtown Oak Park. Details on each concert are here; tickets here.
General Director Leaving Chicago Opera Theater
The Board of Directors of Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago’s producer of contemporary and reimagined opera, is launching a national search to replace Ashley Magnus, the Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson General Director, who departs the company Friday, March 3. Magnus is leaving the Chicago area to unite with her family in Southwest Michigan. She has been with Chicago Opera Theater for seven-and-a-half years, including as General Director since January 2019. Chicago Opera Theater director of development Meaghan Stainback Smallwood will be the interim general director. “COT’s board and staff will miss Ashley very much but support her decision,” board president Susan J. Irion says in a release. “Ashley provided outstanding leadership and expertly secured solid financial footing for COT. Now as COT continues its fiftieth anniversary celebration, our board has full confidence in Meaghan’s ability to bridge the transition from Ashley’s tenure.” More here.
First Folio Closes After Quarter-Century
Oak Brook’s First Folio Theatre will cease operations on March 1, after its current production, “And Neither Have I Wings to Fly,” with founder and executive director David Rice in the lead, ends February 26. The planned production of “Twelfth Night” that was to follow is cancelled. Over its run, the theater employed over 650 actors. More here.
“Wild & Sublime: Valentine’s Spectacular” At Constellation
“‘Wild & Sublime’ takes an expansive view of sexuality and covers a range of topics, including those specific to the LGBTQ+, kink and polyamorous communities,” write the show’s producers. “‘I wondered when ‘Wild & Sublime’ would get back to Constellation,’ said Karen Yates, the producer and host of the inclusive talk show and podcast about sex featuring expert interviews, panel conversations, demos and entertainment. The show (initially known as Super Tasty) produced to full houses monthly from 2018 to 2020, mostly at Constellation, until the pandemic, when Yates turned it into a podcast. ‘In 2022, we started the show again at Hungry Brain, which has more of a cabaret feel, but it’s time to do a bigger show. Each show has a little something for everyone, but pretty much people can expect to be entertained and informed.’” For this show, Yates will have a short panel with experts on how to negotiate intimacy, followed by an interview with the authors of “The Pegging Book.” Burlesque and erotic storytelling round out the offerings. “Wild & Sublime: Valentine’s Spectacular” at Constellation, Saturday, February 11, 8pm, $28. Tickets here.
Court Theatre Names Director Of Education
Court Theatre has appointed Jarrett King as director of education. King will work closely with Court’s director of engagement, Kamilah Rashied and lead Court’s partnership with Chicago’s South Side public schools, create and maintain quality theatrical programming for young people, and implement various education outreach programs. “Jarrett brings with him a great wealth of insight and experience as our new Director of Education, having an extensive background in youth-focused arts outreach and teaching,” Rashied says. “But what really sets him apart, is his experience working within organizations to advance change and develop new programs with core values at the center.” King has held educational and administrative positions at theaters throughout Chicago, including Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare and Silk Road Rising. Originally from Austin, Texas, King is an associate artistic director of Austin-based Penfold Theatre Company. Says King, “As a longtime educator and storyteller, I see much alignment between Court’s mission to innovate and expand the theatrical canon and my mission to awaken the need for artistic contact through education.”
Chicago Magic Lounge Marks Five Years
Chicago Magic Lounge celebrates its five-year anniversary with a weekend of signature shows featuring fan favorites Danny Rudnick, Walter King, Jr., Paige Thompson, Luis Carreon and Trent James. The February 23-26 weekend includes Chicago magicians who have contributed to the growth and success of Chicago Magic Lounge. Tickets for all shows are available here.
Griffin Theatre Premieres “Heisenberg”
Griffin Theatre Company continues its thirty-fifth season with the Midwest premiere of the drama “Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle” by Simon Stephens, directed by Nate Cohen, February 23–March 26 on Raven Theatre’s Schwartz Stage. The production features Scott Anderson and Laura Coover. More here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Loop Alliance’s State Of The Loop Quarterly Report Shows Upswing
Chicago Loop Alliance released its State of the Loop quarterly operations report on downtown activity, similar to continuing operations reports that have been released since July 2020. CLA’s report tracks pedestrian activity, parking volumes, hotel occupancy, number of office workers on-site, arts and culture and investment. Notable recovery activity in the Loop between October 1-December 31, 2022 included: Theatre and performing arts drew nearly 700,000 visitors to the Loop and $190,059,129 in direct economic impact; Public transit reached a pandemic-level recovery rate high of seventy-three percent of 2019 levels; Major investment announcements in the downtown economy included Saks OFF 5th reopening, Vivid Seats headquarters, and Toys ‘R’ Us opening inside Macy’s on State Street. Abundant holiday programming and shopping influenced strong pedestrian activity in the Loop and the active retail corridor along State Street, reaching eighty-five percent of 2019 levels. Hotel occupancy reached eighty-five percent of 2019 levels; Parking rates continued to exceed pre-pandemic levels despite a slight dip, likely due to growth in public transportation ridership. The full report is here.
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]