“Alex Katz: Collaborations with Poets” At Poetry Foundation
Organized by the Poetry Foundation with guidance from the artist and his son, and with support from GRAY, “Alex Katz: Collaborations with Poets,” running through May 20, offers an opportunity to experience the painter’s deep interest in an art form whose forms and tactics he considered “more stimulating than painting.” The presentation of Katz’s extensive collaborations with poets will be followed by a poetry reading by his son, Vincent Katz. The event will premiere with a video conversation between Alex and Vincent, looking at some of the works on view. Spanning works created over the past sixty years, the exhibition includes print portfolios, editioned books, portraits of poets and unique cutouts, all concerning poets and poetry. The opening is Saturday, February 18 and will also be live-streamed for those who register. More here. Free registration here.
City Looks At Half-Dozen LaSalle Street Conversions To Apartments
“Mayor Lightfoot’s administration has shortened the list of LaSalle Street office projects that could win public subsidies to be turned into apartments, a step forward in the city’s plan to revitalize the Loop thoroughfare with residents,” reports Crain’s. “Six projects totaling $1.1 billion in estimated costs are set to be unveiled with more detail at a March 2 community meeting… The developers behind the proposals are seeking tax-increment financing and other incentives to help finance the projects.”
LaSalle Aglow Lights Downtown Corridor
As part of the effort to enhance the Loop during the planned revitalization, Chicago Loop Alliance has furnished twenty windows along the LaSalle Corridor from Madison to Jackson. Over thirty artists with Paint the City participated in art installations backlit by dramatic lighting, which will be on display through March 31. The installation is made possible through the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) Small Business Storefront Activation Program. More here.
DuSable Black History Museum Commemorates Release Of Bessie Coleman Quarter
Bessie Coleman, the first African American and first Native American woman pilot, will be the sixth woman featured on the U.S. quarter as part of the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters program. To celebrate her legacy, the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, in partnership with the National Women’s History Museum, the United States Mint, and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, will host “Historic Change: The Soaring Life of Pilot Bessie Coleman Community Day” on Saturday, February 18. The free community day will include a reenactment performance by her great-niece, Gigi Coleman, art-making activities and story times. The event is free, with recommended registration here.
Atop A Pharma Executive’s $6 Million Lincoln Park Mansion
“‘It’s nice to pick dinner,’ says the CEO of Xeris Biopharma Holdings,” reports Crain’s. “The head of a pharmaceutical firm is asking just under $6 million for a Lincoln Park home that has a full-scale vegetable garden on the roof.” The owner said that with his wife, “he grows six varieties each of tomatoes and carrots, as well as potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and other vegetables in the 520-square-foot garden atop their Fremont Street house.”
DINING & DRINKING
Uptown Dive Max’s Place Under New Ownership
“A classic Clark Street dive bar, Max’s Place, is getting a second shot at life under new ownership,” reports Uptown Update. On the same block as Carol’s Pub, “the new owner plans an interior renovation that stays true to Max’s dive bar roots while making the bar more welcoming from the exterior. Plumbing and electrical in the vintage building are being upgraded.” The new owner is also co-owner of Atmosphere (5355 North Clark) as well as The North End and The Lucky Horseshoe, both on Halsted.
Harold’s Chicken Shack Expands To Culver City, California
A new Harold’s Chicken Shack and Sports Bar, the second in the Los Angeles area after a Hollywood location opened in 2019, has opened “at the Westfield Culver City, not far from Fox Hills, Ladera Heights, Inglewood, and other proudly Black LA neighborhoods,” reports Eater Los Angeles. “For seventy-three years Harold’s has been a South Side Chicago staple, an icon of Black entrepreneurship for the city, and a beacon of greatness in one of America’s most food-obsessed cities.”
Chefs Rewrite “Whitewashed” History In Majority-Black New Orleans
“A generation of Black chefs and scholars… say they want to dismantle the ‘whitewashed’ stories on which the tourist economy of New Orleans rests—deeply abridged versions of the past that are at odds with the experiences of Black residents,” reports the New York Times. “Their emphasis on the influence of Europeans, especially the French, is belied by the legacy of Black chefs in New Orleans kitchens, said Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans-born writer and food authority… ‘What does it do to your notions of white superiority, to know this thing that we thought was all French is not all French? … To know that the creators of this great culinary tradition were people of African descent?'”
Starbucks Refuses CEO Schultz Testimony Before Bernie Sanders-Led Committee
“Starbucks informed Senator Sanders they do not intend for CEO Howard Schultz to testify in his Senate hearing on the company’s response to [union] organizing,” posts Huffington Post labor reporter Dave Jamieson. “They want to send a different executive instead. Sanders has said he might try to subpoena Schultz.” Starbucks general counsel Zabrina Jenkins wrote to Sanders, “Given the timing of [Schultz’s latest exit in April], his relinquishment of any operating role in the company going forward and what we understand to be the subject of the hearing, we believe another senior leader with ongoing responsibilities is best suited to address these matters.” Co-founder Schultz “has been deeply involved in the company’s battle with Starbucks Workers United, the labor campaign that has unionized nearly 300 stores since late 2021.”
Germany Gets Plant-Based McNuggets
“McPlant Nuggets, made from peas, corn and wheat with a tempura batter, are the second product McDonald’s has co-developed with Beyond Meat,” reports NBC 5. The “rollout to more than 1,400 restaurants in Germany follows a limited-time test at nine restaurants in Stuttgart…Availability of the McPlant nuggets and burger in future markets will depend on customer demand.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Jennifer Reeder’s “Perpetrator” Premieres In Berlin
Horror-noir from Chicago filmmaker Jennifer Reeder, starring Kiah McKirnan and Alicia Silverstone, world-premieres in Berlin. “Perpetrator” was shot by Sevdije Kastrati and edited by Justin Krohn; “Knives And Skin” collaborators, costume designer Kate Grube and production designer Adri Siriwatt, return. A ninety-second first-look clip is here.
Illinois’ Largest Movie Screen Being Built In Batavia
A “Super EMX” auditorium is “being built inside a former Randall 15 IMAX theater, located in Batavia, about forty-four miles west of Chicago [to] become the ‘Emagine Batavia’ theatre.” The screen is ninety-six feet wide, reports NBC 5.
Profiling The Romance Novelist Of Champaign
Kathy Lyons, writes Christopher Borrelli at the Trib, “has written more than eighty books and sold about a million copies. She has fans and the respect of peers. In return, publishers have remained mostly indifferent. Which makes her average for this profession.” Working “from her home in an upper-middle-class subdivision of Champaign, [she] writes 2,000 words a day. Roughly eight pages of a novel. She does not allow herself days off. She says, bluntly, that if it wasn’t for her husband’s salary… what she makes annually on her romance writing would place her uncomfortably below the poverty line. She budgets about $15,000 a year for promotion—advertising, author appearances—all of which comes out of her pocket. Because many of her books now appear first as e-books, a typical one will sell for only about $2.99.”
Paramount Still Hopes To Offload Simon & Schuster
“Paramount Global is again seeking to sell Simon & Schuster, months after the media company’s $2.2 billion deal to sell the book publisher to Penguin Random House collapsed,” reports Reuters. “Paramount reiterated that Simon & Schuster remained ‘a non-core asset’ that ‘does not fit strategically within Paramount’s broader portfolio.'”
Florida Governor Says Teachers Trying To Make Him Look Bad
“The Florida governor now says that teachers are ‘manufacturing’ a book ban to suit their ‘narrative,'” reports the Daily Beast. “The governor, who’s made removing ‘critical race theory’ from education a key component of his platform, is… accusing the school district of trying to get publicity from their ‘outlandish’ stunt in removing the book… ‘They’re manufacturing that to try to create a narrative,’ he said during a press conference.” He “was backed by Florida’s Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, who called the controversial rules that have forced costly reviews and book removals ‘fake news.'” The book in question, a biography of baseball’s Roberto Clemente “is one of 1.6 million titles under review following the state’s restrictive new laws.”
New York Times Writers Campaign Against Paper’s Anti-Trans Bias
“A group of almost 200 journalists and writers released an open letter addressed to the New York Times, sharing their ‘serious concerns about editorial bias in the newspaper’s reporting on transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people’ and criticizing how the Times has ‘follow[ed] the lead of far-right hate groups in presenting gender diversity as a new controversy warranting new, punitive legislation,'” reports New York City news site Hellgate. (Thousands more have since signed.) “The open letter, whose signees include regular contributors to the Times and prominent writers and journalists like Ed Yong, Lucy Sante, Roxane Gay, and Rebecca Solnit, comes at a time when far-right extremist groups and their analogues in state legislatures are ramping up their attacks on trans young people; [this week] South Dakota became the sixth state to ban or restrict gender-affirming care for youth, efforts that one conservative activist recently acknowledged was merely the first step toward their goal of banning transition care altogether.”
The Times responded to a different letter from GLAAD, reprinted by NiemanLab: “[W]e recognize that GLAAD’s advocacy mission and The Times’s journalistic mission are different. As a news organization, we pursue independent reporting on transgender issues that include profiling groundbreakers in the movement, challenges and prejudice faced by the community, and how society is grappling with debates about care… Our journalism strives to explore, interrogate and reflect the experiences, ideas and debates in society—to help readers understand them. Our reporting did exactly that and we’re proud of it.” Critic and editor Carolyn Kellogg replies: “The NYT response is shameful and not journalistic. It seems to show that the anti-trans stories and op-eds it keeps publishing are not outliers but fully supported by the power structure.”
Times Publishes Opinion Column In Defense Of J. K. Rowling
Concurrent with its full-throated defense of its news coverage, New York Times’ star opinion columnist (and former longtime editor of the New York Times Book Review) Pamela Paul writes, “This campaign against Rowling is as dangerous as it is absurd. The brutal stabbing of Salman Rushdie last summer is a forceful reminder of what can happen when writers are demonized… You might disagree—perhaps strongly—with Rowling’s views and actions here. You may believe that the prevalence of violence against transgender people means that airing any views contrary to those of vocal trans activists will aggravate animus toward a vulnerable population.” Defector’s Kelsey McKinney: “Paul’s column is a belabored, exhausting defense of Rowling written for people who have already decided she’s a victim, nestled amongst some warmed-over meditations on separating the art from the artist. All this column can give you is a better understanding of what it must be like to be cornered at a party by Bill Maher.”
DJ Spinderella Curating Music Room At Public Housing Museum
The National Public Housing Museum has announced that the “most influential and iconic female DJ in hip-hop music,” DJ Spinderella, will enter new territory by joining the Museum as curator of the music room, “which celebrates the historic role public housing plays in the development of the American musical landscape.” “The story of public housing’s influence on American musical tradition and culture is largely untold,” DJ Spinderella says in a release. “The National Public Housing Museum will finally tell this story, which is deeply personal to me. This history is also crucial to understanding how American music as a whole, from country to rock, soul to hip-hop, evolved and grew out of the close-knit communities within public housing. Music tells us about our history, helps us survive the present, and inspires us to imagine the future.” The Museum’s permanent home is under construction at the historic Jane Addams Homes on Chicago’s Near West Side, and is set to open to in early 2024. More here.
Live Jeff Awards To Celebrate Forty-Ninth Anniversary Of Non-Equity Theater
The Joseph Jefferson Awards hosts its forty-ninth Non-Equity Awards ceremony on Monday, March 27 at Park West. Hosts of this year’s program are entertainers Honey West and Michael J. Fain. They are collaborating with director Adrian Abel Azevedo and music director Dr. Michael McBride in the first live non-Equity awards ceremony for the Jeff Awards since 2019. More here.
Demonstrators Protest Joffrey’s “Anna Karenina”
“The Joffrey has stood firm in its decision to stage [Ukraine-born] Yuri Possokhov’s ‘Anna Karenina,’ based on the novel by Russian author Leo Tolstoy, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” reports the Sun-Times. “A few dozen pro-Ukrainian demonstrators gathered Wednesday night outside the Civic Opera House to denounce the Joffrey Ballet’s staging of a ballet based on a Russian novel amid Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine. ‘I’m from Ukraine; I’m offended by the lack of sensitivity,’ said Lise Korneichuk, twenty-six, a student at the School of the Art Institute. ‘The theater should show solidarity instead of promoting Russian culture.'”
German Dachshund-Owning, Critic-Assaulting Ballet Director Fired
“The German ballet choreographer who smeared dog feces on the face of a newspaper critic has been sacked,” reports BBC News. Still, he contends, “critics should not write in ‘a personal and hateful way.'”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Waukegan Temporary Casino Opens
“The Temporary by American Place officially opens at 8pm Friday near the Fountain Square shopping center in Waukegan, bringing casino gambling to Lake County, and with it a hoped-for economic boost for the area,” reports the Lake County News-Sun. “Once the casino opens, it will operate twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week until the permanent American Place resort and casino opens in approximately three years.”
Chicago Audubon Society Prepares To Shed Audubon Name
“The Chicago Audubon Society, an environmental organization, wants to cut associations with John Audubon, a naturalist who engaged in ‘scientific racism'” and “had ties to a genocidal campaign waged against people of color,” reports the Sun-Times. “The Chicago Audubon Society said it would determine a new name within the year if the National Audubon Society does not announce a new name… Audubon did not found any of the organizations that bear his name; they were named after him posthumously beginning in the 1880s and 1890s because of his deep association with North American birds.”
Bears Purchase Arlington Racecourse For Nearly $200 Million
The Bears “have acquired the 326-acre former Arlington International racecourse as a potential site for a new stadium and a ‘multipurpose entertainment district,'” reports the Sun-Times. “The sale by Churchill Downs was for $197.2 million, a sale that severs the ninety-five-year-old track’s connection to the horse racing business.”
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