SAIC Names Season Of Visiting Artists
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago presents a new season of the Visiting Artists Program—”a public forum that features today’s most influential practitioners and thinkers,” SAIC relays. Formalized in 1951 with the establishment of an endowed fund by Flora Mayer Witkowsky, the Visiting Artists Program has featured more than 1,000 international artists, designers, and scholars representing more than seventy countries. All events are free and open to the public. The visiting artists are Brendan Fernandes, Torkwase Dyson, Whitaker Malem (Patrick Whitaker and Keir Malem), Haas Brothers (twin brothers Nikolai and Simon Haas), Athena LaTocha and Firelei Báez. More here.
Water Tower Place Redevelopment?
There are plans afoot to salvage Water Tower Place, “often called the world’s original vertical mall,” reports CoStar, which would “slash retail space… MetLife considers converting upper floors of Magnificent Mile shopping center to medical offices or other new uses.”
Manhattan Pockets Little Bean
“After years of delays, a smaller version of Chicago’s iconic ‘Cloud Gate’ sculpture has been unveiled in New York City,” reports NBC 5. The New York edition of “The Bean” is lesser brethren to Chicago’s original, only forty tons where the original weighs a hundred tons, plus it’s buried under a tall building where Kapoor has a four-bedroom apartment. Adds Curbed: “It is, it turns out, really hard to make a big outdoor bean… Kapoor’s British installation crew couldn’t enter the country, and the parts themselves got caught in shipping delays… Tribeca has finally achieved a bean. It is, however, still untitled—the naming ceremony isn’t until spring.”
Totally Totes: How A Patch Of Branded Canvas Came To Indicate Status
“As far as branded merch goes, totes are relatively easy to produce. Unlike T-shirts, they’re one size fits all, and unlike mugs, they provide a flat surface that allows for an easy image transfer,” writes Maija Kappler at Canada’s The Walrus. “Totes also have something of an antifashion aspect: plainness is the point. But scarcity can be part of their value too.” Still, there could be a million New Yorker totes out there: “Everyone wants to replicate the success of The New Yorker’s tote, but that’s hard to do. The magazine didn’t invent the literary tote bag, but it capitalized on the idea at the right time. The design was first floated in 2013. But the bag, in its current look, really took off in 2014, when a promotion for a free tote with a yearly subscription started in full force—the same year the website put up its metered paywall… The literary tote is the perfect signifier for this moment in time because of its inherent contradictions: its lofty, high-minded ideals are represented by an item that’s earthy and utilitarian. It communicates rarefied taste, but it’s too functional to be pretentious.”
DINING & DRINKING
Eatery-Drinkery-Cannabisery Opens In Wheeling
In Wheeling, Okay Cannabis, a 12,000-square-foot space, “is unlike any other business in the state, hosting licensed cannabis sales under the same roof with West Town Bakery, which serves beer, wine and liquor as well as bakery goods and other food,” reports the Tribune. “The majority owner is Charles Mayfield, who is interim chief operating officer for Chicago Public Schools, while Chicago 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar and others are minority owners. They formed a partnership with West Town Bakery to include a café and an event space that can be rented out for birthday parties or other occasions… Through Mayfield, who is African American, the owners qualified as among the first social equity dispensary owners to open in the state, and in the suburbs specifically.”
Chef Bill Kim On A Decade-And-A-Half Of UrbanBelly
Behind his success, writes Lynette Smith at Chicago magazine, Bill Kim “credits the members of his team; his family, his cooks, and his staff. ‘Everything I have done wasn’t calculated; it was a lot of luck, a lot of hard work, and a lot of great people who helped us. Everyone thinks the restaurant business is about food; but without the people, you won’t get anywhere.’ … The UrbanBelly concept continues to grow throughout the country, in food halls and on college campuses. Kim sees these partnerships as the biggest opportunity for chefs, especially those chefs with strong brands. ‘We as restaurateurs have to realize that our intellectual capital isn’t used enough’… International expansion is, perhaps, on the horizon.”
Indian Pioneer Vermilion No Longer Latin Fusion, Now Indo Chinese
Vermilion, the Indian and Latin fusion restaurant that opened in 2003 on Hubbard Street, has changed its menu, reports Eater Chicago. On Sunday, owner Rohini Dey is ending Vermilion’s Latin fusion menu, which featured favorites like tandoori skirt steak. “Dey wants to introduce Chicagoans to ‘the best-kept secret for anyone who’s not Indian.'” Vermilion’s new, Indo Chinese menu “features Indianized versions of Chinese dishes. The flavors rely on what Dey calls the holy trinity: soy sauce, vinegar and chili…. Dey recalls growing up in Delhi where restaurants offered three menus: The ‘normal’ Indian menu, an Indo Chinese version, and a continental, [referring to] Western cuisine. Indo Chinese cuisine is just part of life in India: ‘It’s comfort food for Indians.'”
Frozen Pizza Technology May Have Arrived, At A Price
“Rapid advances in blast-chilling technology and express-shipping logistics have made it possible to freeze pizza in peak condition,” reports Julia Moskin, taking in a big piece at the New York Times. “The challenge of pizza is to cook each element to peak deliciousness at once. When ice and shipping are added to the equation, that becomes even more complicated. Fresh mozzarella becomes clumpy, tomatoes dry out, crusts become soggy… In the United States, industrially produced pies from companies like DiGiorno and Red Baron are engineered for freezing using dough conditioners, additives and processed cheeses. The crusts are infused with sugar and oil, the dough is par-baked, and the sauce and cheese are applied raw, to be cooked in your oven.” For high-end bakers, “this completely ignores the essential nature of pizza: the slow, natural rise of the dough, and an oven’s high heat to fuse the ingredients and char the crust… For products made with unprocessed ingredients, quick freezing is essential in preserving taste, aroma and texture… Blast-chilling technology now has a much smaller footprint and is available to mom-and-pop pizza chains at relatively affordable prices.”
Books Removed From African American AP Course Appear To Match DeSantis List
Wednesday was “the first day of Black History Month. The College Board marked the occasion by releasing a revised framework for its new Advanced Placement (AP) course for African American Studies. The new version of the course, however, appears designed to mollify right-wing criticism,” reports Popular Information. “The College Board—the nonprofit group responsible for administering SATs and AP classes—has been working on developing an AP African American Studies course for more than a decade… Right-wing pundits have relentlessly attacked the curriculum. Last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his state would prohibit public high school students from taking the course. AP African American Studies is ‘inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,’ the DeSantis administration said… DeSantis accused the College Board of pushing a ‘political agenda’ because it touched on topics like queer studies and reparations… The College Board’s revisions address nearly all of the objections raised by the DeSantis administration. The new curriculum, for instance, eliminates lessons on Black Lives Matter, the case for reparations, and queer studies—all topics listed as ‘concerns’ by DeSantis officials… The DeSantis administration claimed the announcement as a victory.”
The New York Times: “The expunged writers and scholars include Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, a law professor at Columbia, which touts her work as ‘foundational in critical race theory’; Roderick Ferguson, a Yale professor who has written about queer social movements; and Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author who has made the case for reparations for slavery. Gone, too, is bell hooks, the writer who shaped discussions about race, feminism and class… PEN America, a free speech organization, echoed that concern. While the College Board had said the changes were not political, the board ‘risked sending the message that political threats against the teaching of particular types of content can succeed in silencing that content.'” Author Jamie Ford: “The College Board removing Ta-Nehisi Coates from the AP African American studies course only validates everything he was saying in ‘Between the World and Me.'” A partial list of removed authors is here. (Meet the trustees and board here.)
The Sun-Times Celebrates Seventy-Five
“On February 2, 1948, you could pick up the first edition of the Chicago Daily Sun and Times—and find an investigation on page 1 that was the first story in what has become a proud tradition of… investigative reporting [with impact],” writes Stefano Esposito at the Sun-Times in a brief assay of three-quarters-of-a-century of the tabloid. Writes Neil Steinberg: “For me, on staff exactly half of those seventy-five years, thinking of the newspaper immediately conjures up colleagues long gone, answering the call to gather in the newsroom of memory. M.W. Newman drags in, rumpled, slump-shouldered, a dour man who wrote incredibly. In 1967, he described a killer hurricane this way: ‘Death came dancing and skipping, whistling and screaming, strangely still one second and whooshing and bouncing the next.’ I never saw him smile.” (A PDF of the entire first edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, from February 2, 1948 is here.)
Sueños 2023 Lineup Includes Wisin y Yandel, Becky G, Grupo Firme, Ivy Queen
Sueños, the two-day Latin music festival, will take place in Grant Park May 27-28, with early access tickets on sale now, relays Block Club Chicago. The lineup includes “reggaeton superstars Ivy Queen, Arcangel and Chencho Corleone,” as well as “Becky G, El Alfa, and Myke Towers, red hot acts Ryan Castro and Young Miko, and regional Mexican risers like Junior H and Gera MX. The festival will feature DJ sets, including Chicago local DJ Miriam, returning for a second year.”
A Red Orchid Sets Chekhovian Incubator Shows
A Red Orchid Theatre presents two experimental projects as part of its 2023 Incubator Series. “Act Five,” directed and devised by Dado and inspired by Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” runs February 15–March 9 at Facility Theatre. “What if the orchard was not destroyed, and we return years later to find our musicians still playing out there? In this exploration of an imagined Act Five of Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard,’ we finally get to meet and experience the offstage musicians in person. ‘Act Five’ will be shared with our patrons via five concerts.” Single tickets are on sale here.
“Reawakening Desire,” directed by Shade Murray, digs into Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya,” and there will be a working reading on March 5 at A Red Orchid Theatre. “Leaning into the sexy, the giddy, and the heartbreaking of Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya,’ this project aims to investigate a world where desire is ignited in the most wonderfully unexpected ways. This workshop will culminate in a free, salon-style reading.” More here.
American Blues Gets $2.5 Million For Lincoln Square Home
After thirty-seven itinerant years, American Blues Theater is getting city financing for a permanent roost on North Lincoln, reports Block Club. In the works since 2022, the site got City Council approval for “$2.5 million in tax-increment finance funds… The funding will add to money collected via the theater’s fundraising campaign, which has collected more than $4 million to date…The campaign is ongoing with a goal of $7.8 million to pay for the building’s renovation and create a $500,000 reserve fund.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Chicago Announces $11 Million In DCASE Grants For Chicago Nonprofit Arts Organizations
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced the 2023 DCASE Cultural Grants Program plans, including $11 million to be distributed to Chicago nonprofit arts organizations through a new Chicago Arts Recovery Program, providing $4.5 million in project grant funding to aid arts organizations in recovery from the pandemic; and the annual CityArts Program, with $6.5 million in general operating support for nonprofits of all sizes and artistic disciplines. “Nonprofit arts organizations are essential to the fabric of our city,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a release. “The 2023 Cultural Grants program will support the nonprofits that empower artists and creative workers and ensure their continued recovery. This latest program builds upon our ongoing commitment to revitalize and strengthen our city’s diverse arts community.” Applications for 2023 CityArts Program grants open on February 10, with $6.5 million slotted for general operating support for local arts and cultural organizations. “CityArts” general operating grants are one-time renewable awards of $10,000-$50,000 for each recipient. These renewal grants introduce multi-year organizational support as a standard practice for “CityArts.” Organizations not previously awarded support in 2022 will be eligible to apply for funding in 2023. Learn more and apply here. The 2022 impact report is here.
UChicago Names Vice President For Civic Engagement
“Christian Mitchell has agreed to lead the University’s Office of Civic Engagement as its next vice president,” writes Paul Alivisatos, president of the University of Chicago. “An alumnus of the College, Mitchell attained a bachelor of arts with honors in public policy in 2008 before beginning a career that has spanned community organizing, political advocacy work, and public service. Mitchell was the deputy governor for public safety, energy, and infrastructure to Governor Pritzker, where he managed multiple state agencies, with the departments of transportation, military affairs, and innovation and technology. He was also responsible for complex statewide initiatives, including the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act focused on equity-based renewable energy. Prior to joining the governor’s leadership team, Christian was the interim executive director for the Democratic Party of Illinois and served as state representative for the 26th district to the Illinois House of Representatives for six years. Mitchell will be responsible for fostering deep partnerships across the University with the South Side, as well as with our many Chicago-based stakeholders.”
BMO Putting Down Hubert The Harris Lion
Over a hundred years old, corporate mascot Hubert the Harris Lion will be retired along with the Harris Bank name, reports Crain’s. “BMO Financial Group, the Toronto-based parent of BMO Harris Bank, will formally do away with the Harris name.” BMO has acquired San Francisco-based Bank of the West, and the next entity “will be called BMO Bank North America once systems integration for the two banks is completed… The Harris name has adorned the Chicago bank for well over a century. It’s perhaps best known among Chicagoans of a certain age for Hubert the Lion, the bank’s familiar icon and beloved doll of many children of Harris Bank customers.”
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