Terrain Exhibitions Adds Board Directors
Terrain Exhibitions has added eleven artists, educators and public art advocates to their board of directors, including Stephanie Graham, Stevie Cisneros Hanley, Chrissy LaMaster, Rusty Cook, Charlie Roderick, Nancy Gildart, A.J. McClenon, Hannah Radeke, Sarah Aziz, Erica Norman and Sarah Belknap. They join returning members Tom Burtonwood, Holly Holmes, and Bhagya Ajaikumar. More here.
Chicago Harbor Lighthouse Could Be Restored And Become Museum
“A group of architects and lighthouse lovers are working to restore the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse near Navy Pier to protect it from the elements and create a resource for visitors,” reports Block Club.
Independent Toy Stores Are Game In Chicago
“Independents in busy, dense neighborhoods count on their locations as a major asset. ‘A local mom comes in here in a hurry, with car keys in her hand, on her way to pick up her son at soccer and then cook dinner. She wants a Lego for her son, and she isn’t likely to drive on to a big-box store just because it’s cheaper,’ Building Blocks owner Katherine Nguyen tells Crain’s. ‘Our entire store is its own brand, sort of like Lululemon is for women shopping for workout clothes. The women don’t ask about the price—it’s the brand that’s important.'” Nguyen left a job as an accountant at Arthur Andersen “to open her first Building Blocks toy store in 1996 in Lincoln Park, with capital of $150,000 raised from her own savings and that of friends and family. She’s opened two more stores around the city since then… Nguyen grossed more than $2 million among her three small spaces—the biggest shop measures 1,800 square feet—last year and says she kept growing through the pandemic.”
DINING & DRINKING
Chef Donald Young Announces March Duck Sel Pop-Ups
Michelin-starred Duck Sel chef-owner Donald Young has announced pop-up dinners for March. The dates for the “surprising multicourse menus served communally during exclusive ticketed pop-up events held in a secret location” are Friday, March 17 at 7pm (fifteen-course); Saturday, March 18 at 5:30pm (seven-course) and Saturday, March 18 at 8:30pm (fifteen-course). “A cross between a dinner party and a fine dining restaurant experience, up to sixteen attendees will enjoy fifteen courses of Michelin-caliber contemporary American cuisine, featuring seasonal ingredients and intriguing preservation and dry-aging techniques during these unique culinary journeys.” Among Young’s creations: “Quako” Yaki with katsuobushi, mango habanero and shio komb; Winter Squash Crème Brulee with squash, endive and truffle, Black Cod with carrot, kish mish and blossoms; Memories of Culver’s with Reeses, cookie dough and chocolate. The location of each event will be revealed to attendees twenty-four-to-thirty-six hours in advance. More here. Reservations ($225) here.
Evanston Gets Fifth Devil Dawgs Location
Devil Dawgs is coming to Evanston this summer at 921 Church. More here, including a $1 Chicago Dog and Polish sausage special to note the stands’ new partnership with Vienna Beef.
Lettuce’s Oakville Grill & Cellar Will Feature 750 Wines
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises is poised to open a long-awaited outpost in Fulton Market. “Last year, LEYE lured Max Robbins away from his job at Land & Sea Dept. where he oversaw the development of Parson’s Chicken & Fish and the kitchen at Logan Square’s Longman & Eagle,” reports Ashok Selvam at Eater Chicago. Robbins is now Lettuce’s culinary director, and his debut project is at 163 North Green – the Oakville Grill & Cellar, taking up two floors. “Robbins will bring a Midwest sensibility to the menu that will change depending on the featured wines of the month… LEYE’s wine director Richard Hanauer has connected with vineyards in the Napa Valley and plans on bringing 750 different wines.” He will also be “overseeing a tasting room where customers can pretend they’re in Yountville, California and sip on wine flights.”
Uno Sells Frozen Pizza Line
“A slice of the Uno deep-dish pizza empire has been sold to Great Kitchens Food, a company with operations in Romeoville and Chicago Heights,” reports the Sun-Times. The company “acquired the frozen and refrigerated branded pizzas and other products of Uno Foods…. The sale does not include the original Pizzeria Uno restaurant at 29 East Ohio… or other company-owned or franchised eateries. Those remain with Uno Restaurant Holdings, owned by Newport Global Advisors.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Jane Williamson Joins Cinespace Studios As Head Of Client Services And Studio Operations
Jane Williamson will join Cinespace Studios Chicago as head of client services and studio operations in Chicago. Williamson was most recently production supervisor on season two of “Power Book IV: Force” and “Night Sky.” Reporting to Eoin Egan, COO and co-managing partner, Williamson will be responsible for all day-to-day studio operations, business development and client relations. Williamson is a native Chicagoan and rose through the ranks of commercial, non-scripted and scripted TV production starting as a production assistant. “Jane has worked on the Cinespace lot for many years in several different roles and understands the needs of a production and the Chicago film and TV community,” Egan says in a release. “We’re excited to have her lead our operations team and bring a new perspective to the client experience.” Says Williamson, “Joining Cinespace is a unique opportunity for me to work with the film community in a new and exciting way. My experience on the lot as a client gives me unique insight and I’m looking forward to providing personalized service to productions’ needs.”
Nick Pissios will support Jane through the transition and then work with his brother Alex Pissios on new business ventures. “It’s been a privilege to work with Nick in the operation that he built with his brothers and late Uncle Nick Mirkopoulos,” Egan says. “His immense pride in the business and knowledge of the day-to-day has been essential to the operational transition. We wish Nick well in his future endeavors and he will always be welcome on this lot since his Cinespace pass will never expire.” Nick Pissios says, “It has been an amazing journey working alongside my brothers, supporting our clients on the lot and seeing firsthand the success and growth of the industry in Chicago. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my career and excited to see the studio grow to the next level.”
Chicago Irish Film Festival Makes It Twenty-Four
The Irish Film Festival returns for its twenty-fourth edition with features, shorts and documentary films from “The Land of Storytelling” as a hybrid fest, with in-person events at Theater on the Lake, AMC New City, Chicago History Museum and Society for Arts Gallery Theatre through March 5, and an online format with digital tickets for at-home screenings March 6-12. Films and more here.
Chicago South Side Film Festival Now The XL Film Fest
The Chicago South Side Film Festival is now the “XL Film Fest,” a weekend festival that will “expand beyond film, showcasing Black storytellers from multiple disciplines,” the group relays in a release. “Founder of the Chicago South Side Film Festival Michelle Kennedy will remain executive director while co-chair for Black Harvest Film Festival and film curator of Soho House Chicago, NK Gutierrez will oversee programming. Troy Pryor will be chairman of the festival and connect to the larger Cypher ecosystem.” Say Pryor, “I’m grateful to have helped build programming for a variety of institutions and will continue consulting on their DEI initiatives. Inclusive community leadership is key for our overall growth. It’s also critical that Black-targeted programming is Black-owned and Black-led to ensure the highest quality of authenticity.” Launching in August, the festival will include the “Creative Cypher Film XLerator,” which identifies rising creators, provides monetary grants, physical equipment, studios and industry mentors. More here.
Magnolia Pictures Observes “A Compassionate Spy”
Magnolia Pictures has taken North American rights from Participant to “A Compassionate Spy,” the new documentary from Steve James (“Hoop Dreams,” “Life Itself”), relays Kartemquin. “The film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and has had a successful festival run, is the story about controversial Manhattan Project physicist Ted Hall, who infamously provided nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, told through the perspective of his wife Joan, who protected his secret for decades. Magnolia will release the film in theaters later this year.”
Black Representation In Horror As Seen By Northwestern Prof
“By day, she works out of an extremely uninteresting office tower in downtown Evanston, where she serves a sobering, indispensable professional function: She is Northwestern University’s vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion,” Christopher Borrelli writes in a profile of Northwestern’s Robin Means Coleman (Newcity Film 50). “She also doubles as the school’s Ida B. Wells and Ferdinand Barnett Professor in Communication Studies.” But “for at least a decade… she’s also been known by a far more unusual distinction: Coleman is our preeminent scholar on Black representation in horror movies… Coleman said you can’t really understand contemporary Black horror without ‘understanding a history of scrappy, low-budget films Black people have been making for ages, sometimes spooky religious-themed movies that urge a kind of respectability politics: Go down that road and you are a disservice to the race. Plus, you go to hell…'”
Crews Clear Out Bookman’s Corner Two Weeks After Owner’s Death
“The workmen said they were hired to toss out everything inside following the death of owner John Chandler,” reports CBS 2. The “organized chaos” is no more. “When Bookman’s Corner opened at Clark and Wellington, one of Chicago’s premier off-Loop stage theaters–the Ivanhoe–was located kitty-corner in the castle that now houses a Binny’s, and crowds were dancing to lively bouzouki music just down Clark Street at Deni’s Den.” CBS 2 contacted Chandler’s family “to find out what is going to happen to all the books. We have not heard back.”
Barnes & Noble Endorses Indie Bookstore Style
“This year, Barnes & Noble will open thirty new locations on top of the company’s existing 600,” reports Fast Company. CEO James Daunt “has applied the lessons he’s learned over three decades as an indie bookseller to these corporate bookstore giants. He empowers booksellers at each location to curate books based on their own quirky, idiosyncratic tastes. It’s a strategy that leads to more engaged workers and more interesting stores.”
James Bond’s Racial References Taken, Not Stirred
An anniversary edition of Ian Fleming’s oeuvre gets Dahl’ed: “James Bond novels have been rewritten to remove a number of racial references from Ian Fleming’s work,” reports The Telegraph. The disclaimer: “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace. A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Has New Editor
“Greg Borowski, who has covered Milwaukee’s City Hall, mentored numerous young journalists and edited national prize-winning stories, has been named the executive editor of his hometown newspaper,” reports the Journal Sentinel. “He has been in that newsroom, knows that newsroom, loves the community,” USA Today Network senior vice president Amalie Nash told the paper. “One thing that was clear in the process was how much support he has in that newsroom.”
Why Black Playwrights Withdraw Shows
Already-mounted shows are being scuttled by Black playwrights, reports Michael Paulson the New York Times. “In Chicago, Erika Dickerson-Despenza forced Victory Gardens Theater to stop its production of ‘cullud wattah,’ her Flint water crisis-prompted family drama, in the middle of its run last summer to protest actions that included the ouster of the theater’s artistic director… The steps by playwrights to halt productions of their own work reflects concerns by Black artists frustrated by what they see as a failure of theater administrators to live up to the lofty promises made during and after the spring of 2020… In theater, an anonymously-led coalition of artists, known by the title of its first statement, ‘We See You, White American Theater,’ circulated a widely read set of demands for change… Although actors are often still paid, the playwrights can lose fees and the theaters lose box office revenue and sunk production costs. And there are reputational risks: Will theaters still want to hire these artists? Will artists still want to work at these theaters?”
Actors’ Equity Sees Diversity Gains
“The latest installment of Actors’ Equity Association’s annual hiring and wage report–covering the year 2021 and titled ‘Progress During an Atypical Year’–finds that the theater industry made small but steady progress in diversity and equity in union jobs for stage managers and actors,” reports Deadline. The sixty-seven-page report is here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Ricky Jay Collection Auction Prestidigitates Nearly $1 Million
The first of three planned Ricky Jay Collection sales at Potter & Potter Auctions, held February 25, netted over $980,000 from 369 lots. “This sale exceeded expectations in every imaginable way—from the incredible material gathered by Ricky Jay, so much of it one-of-a-kind—to the incredibly spirited bidding in the auction hall,” Gabe Fajuri Potter & Potter Auctions president says. “We’re looking forward to doing it again in October.” Posters promoting little-known nineteenth century acts took top lot slots. Among them: Lot #185, “Herrmann. Decapitation,” took $38,400. “This hand-painted poster maquette from c. 1878 was printed in Chicago by The Jeffrey Printing Co. It depicted magician Alexander Herrmann holding a sharp tool and standing beside a horrified man. The man’s eyes bulged as the magician drew the steel across the victim’s neck. This was the first Herrmann poster maquette Potter’s experts ever handled, and one of a handful of maquettes extant for any poster produced during magic’s golden age.” A pdf of the seventy-nine-page catalog is here.
Obama Launches Leadership Initiative
“Former President Barack Obama announced the launch of the Change Collective initiative in a video,” reports the Sun-Times. “The initiative — which will launch in Chicago, Detroit and Jackson, Mississippi—will aim to ‘develop, connect and elevate change-makers across the country who are already working to strengthen communities,’ Obama said… ‘It’s a way to bring emerging leaders from different identities and backgrounds together, and help them build relationships and solve problems in their communities.'” Applications are due April 14 here.
Thirty Million Will Lose Pandemic Supplemental Food Benefit
“When a pandemic-era boost ends,” reports the New York Times, “more than thirty million people will lose a significant amount of assistance… Under the pandemic-era policy, each recipient got a monthly average of $251. That is expected to decline by about a third, or $82… Those who qualify for the minimum benefit under the standard income guidelines—many of whom are older Americans relying on Social Security—will see the steepest decrease, from $281 in monthly benefits to only $23.”
Loyola To Close Vietnam Center
“The Loyola Vietnam Center in Ho Chi Minh City will close permanently after the end of this semester,” reports the Loyola Phoenix. “The University remains committed to providing impactful and diverse study abroad opportunities for our students,” the university wrote in a release. “Throughout our twelve-year presence in Vietnam, we have developed meaningful partnerships with local agencies and universities to provide our students with research, academic internships and service-learning opportunities.”
“Apocalyptic” Hungarian-Style Goals Come To Florida Education
“Many on the American right admire the way [Hungarian ‘strongman’ Viktor] Orban uses the power of the state against cultural liberalism, but few are imitating him as faithfully as the Florida governor and likely Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis,” writes Michelle Goldberg at the New York Times. “One of DeSantis’ legislative allies filed House Bill 999, which would, as The Tampa Bay Times reported, turn many of DeSantis’ ‘wide-ranging ideas on higher education into law.’ Even by DeSantis’ standards, it is a shocking piece of legislation that takes a sledgehammer to academic freedom. Jeremy Young, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America, described it as ‘almost an apocalyptic bill for higher education,’ one that is ‘orders of magnitude worse than anything we’ve seen, either in the recent or the distant past.'”
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