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Elmhurst Art Museum Superpowers Alex Ross Exhibition
The Elmhurst Art Museum announces its summer blockbuster exhibition, “Marvelocity: The Art of Alex Ross,” celebrating one of the most renowned artists in the field of comic books. From his home in the Chicago area, Ross has revitalized classic superheroes into works of fine art for thirty-plus years, illustrating characters such as Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Storm from the X-Men, the Avengers and Black Panther. The show will be on view June 3–August 20. More here.
Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts Reopens In Jeanne Gang Digs
“While Little Rock is Arkansas’ capital, it hasn’t always been its most visible cultural hub,” reports Town & Country. “But when the eighty-six-year-old Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts reopens on April 22 after a $155 million renovation, it will be… crystal clear that there’s more than one arts destination in the ‘Natural State.’ To create the 133,000-square-foot space, which houses a collection of international art dating back to the 1400s, architect Jeanne Gang overhauled and connected nine existing buildings, creating new galleries, an art school, a theater, and more. ‘We wanted to work with the unique spirit and existing infrastructure to create something that unfolds new possibilities,’ Gang says. Your move, Bentonville.”
West Loop Boom Delineated
YIMBY Chicago breaks it down in an article that will become a wiki page: “The unique blend of mixed-material modern towers and the existing low-rise brick infrastructure in the West Loop will continue to cultivate a unique urban landscape similar to Brooklyn or Manhattan’s SoHo. These projects not only add a significant new wing to Chicago’s skyline but also present the challenge of balancing apartment demands with other uses such as office space, condominiums, and retail, all adapting to the post-pandemic world. With more than 6,500 new residences coming to the West Loop” as well as other buildings, the site reviews projects in a long listing organized by height ranges.
Amtrak Adding Overnight Cars Nationwide
“For the first time in more than forty years, Amtrak is getting new long-haul train cars,” reports AFAR. The cars “will be rolled out on fourteen overnight routes, including the popular California Zephyr, which connects Chicago and San Francisco; Coast Starlight between Seattle and Los Angeles; Crescent from New York to New Orleans; Empire Builder from Chicago to Portland; and Southwest Chief, which runs between Chicago and Los Angeles.”
Ninety-Fifth-Floor Signature Room In Hancock For Sale
“The owner of the Signature Room restaurant near the top of the former John Hancock Center has put the property on the market, an offering that will measure investor appetite for high-end dining real estate along the Magnificent Mile,” reports Crain’s. “A venture led by New York-based Madison Capital and Newark-based PGIM Real Estate has hired brokers in the Chicago office of Cushman & Wakefield to sell the 26,168-square-foot restaurant space on the 95th and 96th floors of the tower… There is no formal asking price for the property, which includes the Signature Room restaurant as well as the Signature Lounge cocktail bar above it.”
Another Michigan Avenue Landlord Folds
New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition “is facing a painful reckoning over its investment in the retail space at 625 North Michigan, a property it acquired just months before the pandemic,” reports Crain’s. “Two key tenants vacated, endangering the $61 million mortgage, and the property’s lender, Barings, has taken control of the space and is preparing to put it up for sale.”
A Greening Paris Puts “Trottinette” E-Scooters To A Vote
Will enough Chicagoans get irritated, too? Residents of Paris “will decide in a referendum whether to oust shared electric scooters [known in French as ‘trottinettes’] from the city, in what could be a global test for micromobility regulation,” reports Bloomberg. “The city has tried for years to contain the rapid growth of the motorized vehicles, reducing the number of scooter-share operators to three, creating dedicated parking zones and imposing speed limits. But Paris officials, acknowledging that they lack the authority to fully regulate them, are now turning to a referendum to see whether voters will opt to ban them instead. ‘It’s been a very divisive topic,’ Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said when she announced the vote. ‘Personally, I think we need to stop this.'”
Chicago Man Was On Mushrooms When He Fabricated Viral Balenciaga Pope
“Pablo Xavier, thirty-one, a utility worker and longtime Chicagoan, told the Tribune he had been high on mushrooms when he began playing around with Midjourney, an AI art tool. In a flash, inspiration struck as he typed his prompts: Catholic Pope Francis. Balenciaga puffy coat. Streets of Paris.” Of AI art, he says, “It can be used as a force for good. But, at the same time, there’s this dark side to it… I don’t think anybody was expecting to see him wandering around in a black leather jacket or snazzy sneakers or a puffy white jacket.”
Englewood Nature Trail Will Cost $72 Million
“Plans to transform a 1.75-mile abandoned railroad line into a prime destination for Englewood neighbors are moving forward with a construction date slated for spring 2026,” reports Block Club.
Chinatowns Endangered Nationwide But Chicago’s Doing Well
“Threats to some of the nation’s oldest Chinatowns in Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York City have raised concerns about displacement for Asian Americans who see Chinatown as both a symbol of their resilience and a place to protect in the wake of anti-Asian hate,” reports Axios. “Chicago’s 110-year-old urban Chinatown is thriving and growing—an anomaly in North America. The Asian American population in the neighborhood, located just south of downtown, grew by thirty-one-percent in the last census.”
Urbana-Champaign’s PLATO Then; Our World Now
“Bright graphics, a touchscreen, a speech synthesizer, messaging apps, games, and educational software—no, it’s not your kid’s iPad. This is the mid-1970s, and you’re using PLATO,” reports Ars Technica. “Far from its comparatively primitive contemporaries of teletypes and punch cards, PLATO was something else entirely. If you were fortunate enough to be near the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign around a half-century ago, you just might have gotten a chance to build the future. Many of the computing innovations we treat as commonplace started with this system, and even today, some of PLATO’s capabilities have never been precisely duplicated.” The site looks back on “this influential technological testbed and… how you can experience it now.”
DINING & DRINKING
Miko’s Brings Spring
“The beloved Italian ice spot is opening for the season… earlier than usual this year. ‘My staff is eager to get back to scooping, bringing smiles to our customers’ faces,’ owner Zach Roombos” told Block Club.
Monadnock Gets Bistro
“The owners of Victor Bar and Love Street have launched a bistro inside the Monadnock Building,” reports Eater Chicago. “Bistro Monadnock, a French bistro inside the 130-year-old Monadnock Building” replaces Cavanaugh’s, an Irish pub that closed in 2017 after nearly thirty years, “[and] embodies a middle ground between a bar and fine dining.”
Eighty-Eight-Year-Old White Castle Serves Last Sliders
The Whiting, Indiana White Castle ends its run, reports NWI.com. “The landmark building, one of the oldest in the Chicago area with the original castle design, has served its final slider… The eighty-eight-year-old building will be razed to make room for an outdoor picnic area with a few benches and a historic marker chronicling… White Castle’s long presence at the heavily trafficked intersection.” With a new building, the location “will go from thirty employees to fifty. It will have a larger kitchen, with eight griddles instead of four to get orders out faster. It will have a display case with the spatula that served the final slider.”
Seventy-Plus-Year-Old Forest Park Bar Doc Ryan’s Closes; Will Become Dispensary
“The building housing Doc Ryan’s bar, a Madison Street corridor staple for seven decades, is… being sold to a cannabis dispensary,” reports Forest Park Review. The bar closed April 1, according to its Facebook page. “Mayor Rory Hoskins confirmed that the building is being sold to Euphoria LLC, an Olympia Fields-based company… He touted it as a way to bring in much-needed tax revenue to Forest Park, which, as non-Home Rule town, is more limited in its ability to raise taxes.”
Starbucks Fires Employee Who Sparked Union Drive
“Starbucks fired Alexis Rizzo, the employee responsible for igniting the Starbucks Workers United union campaign,” reports CNBC, only hours after recurrent Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz appeared before Congress. “She said they told her it was because she had been late on four occasions—two of which were instances where she had been one minute late. Rizzo suspects she was let go as a result of Wednesday’s Senate hearing.”
FILM & TELEVISION
COVID Safety Measures On Television And Film Sets End May 12
“Key protocols used on film and TV sets to limit the spread of COVID-19 are set to end in May,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “The dropping of restrictions for Hollywood productions will coincide with the end of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency declaration…The so-called Return to Work agreement, which provided for sick pay for cast and crew as well as mandating social distancing measures and mask wearing, will end on May 12… Any shoot with a mandatory vaccination policy prior to May 12, 2023, may continue to apply that policy for the remainder of the production.” Posts director Jessica Ellis, “Fuck this all ways and upside down… If I’m ever recovered enough from Long Covid to direct again, here is my promise: no one’s life will be needlessly at risk on my set. No immunocompromised or high-risk person will lose out on a job because they can’t risk their safety in an unmasked environment.”
CAN-TV Reaches Heights
“Nearly a year ago, Chicago public access television station CAN-TV welcomed Darrious Hilmon as its new executive director,” reports Crain’s. “Since stepping into his position, the station has begun a livestreaming platform, built a new website and has regular programming. Hilmon has taken pride in repurposing the forty-year-old station’s mission to ‘create and produce public affairs programming addressing the concerns, interests, and cultures of the people of Chicago.'”
Lake Theatre Reseated
Classic Cinemas Lake Theatre in downtown Oak Park is “replacing its seating with heated recliners in all of its auditoriums, beginning with its biggest,” reports Wednesday Journal. “This is like first, first class,” Classic Cinemas CEO Chris Johnson told the paper. “These will be amazing seats.”
Axios Likes Fulton Market Rooftop Movies
“Seeing a movie in Chicago can include wireless headphones, skyline views and a cushioned loveseat,” reports Axios Chicago. “Rooftop Cinema Club in Fulton Market offers a skyline view while you watch a movie on an LED screen. You’ll have to wear wireless headphones, which the theater says helps you ‘live in those memorable cinematic moments and not get disturbed by the outside world.'” This anomaly in wealthy precincts is cited as an exemplar in a list of existing Chicago cinemas, rather than looking into excited rumors that Apple or Amazon could buy into the exhibition industry. For now, “The Chicago area is home to a number of theaters offering unique experiences and luxury seating, in addition to the many AMC, Cinemark, Regal and Alamo Drafthouse theaters that have reclining seats and dine-in services.”
OverDrive App For Library Users Shuts Down May 1
“OverDrive app users who digitally access a library’s collection will need to upgrade to Libby, a newer app from the same company that also lets you rent library ebooks for free,” reports the Verge. “OverDrive’s digital platform started in 2002 and.. is often accessed via a library’s own OverDrive website… but the app effectively has the same purpose of distributing publisher books digitally for free, just like Libby.”
Muti On Leaving CSO
“At my age, I don’t have to have success. Even when I was younger, for me music was… to say it is a mission is too arrogant…. ‘A mission.’ No, I am not a missionary,” Riccardo Muti tells VAN. “I really believe, and I’ve fought in my country for decades against governments or anyone [else who] stops music from being played. The importance of music is not because music is some sort of rhetorical phrase; it is the music. Music is important because it doesn’t have words. So, it cannot have political messages. But it can be used for political purposes… Music generally has no political message, but rather a spiritual message.” (Dennis Polkow went behind the scenes with Muti for Newcity last September here.)
Falls On Leaving The Goodman
“Tall, bearded Robert Falls could almost be a mascot for the City of Broad Shoulders,” writes Rob Weinert-Kendt at American Theatre. “But the longtime artistic director of Chicago’s flagship theater, the Goodman, who stepped down from the post last fall after thirty-six years in the job, doesn’t just loom large physically. He has long had ambitions to match, building the Goodman, alongside executive director Roche Schulfer, up from a taken-for-granted local fixture into a national leader with its eyes as much on new work as classics, and minting or reconceiving some American classics along the way. But for all his strong individual artistic vision, Falls did not run the Goodman as an aesthetic autocrat but fostered an Artistic Collective of associates with a stake in the programming (which also, as a side benefit, allowed him to forge a busy career as a director both at the Goodman and outside of Chicago, including repeatedly on Broadway).”
“Falls, who recently turned sixty-nine and whose successor is Susan Booth, is directing ‘The Cherry Orchard’ at the Goodman (through April 30)… There is no mistaking the valedictory quality of this choice… ‘Chicago is in a giant transition right now, not just with me, but all over the place, in terms of artistic leadership. And as with ‘Cherry Orchard,’ that transition is pretty profound. Obviously, there’s a profound change from what was essentially a second generation of artistic directors.” (Falls talks to Mary Wisniewski about endings and beginnings and “Cherry Orchard” for Newcity here.)
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Storms Strike And Tornados Touch Down Closer To City
The National Weather Service confirmed twelve tornadoes in northern Illinois and Indiana, reports CBS 2. “Crypta, a Brazilian death metal band, had just finished a set at an Illinois theater on Friday when the venue made an announcement: The show would be paused for a half-hour because of dangerous weather raging outside. A few minutes later, the roof caved in,” reports the New York Times. The tornado, which struck Belvidere’s Apollo Theater, seventy miles from Chicago, killed one and left at least forty injured. (There were 260 concertgoers.) It was one of several in the South and Midwest as part of a pattern of heavy weather close to Chicago that may repeat this week. “Friday’s night of deadly tornadoes comes just one week after a rare, long-track twister killed twenty-six people in Mississippi,” adds the BBC.
“More than sixty tornado reports across several states were recorded by the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center on Friday and Saturday, bringing death to Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi and Tennessee,” adds the Post. The National Weather Service posts a chart and stats of Friday’s weather here. The Tribune has a photo gallery here. Posts the paper’s Jake Sheridan with a video: “Eerie scene. Power out. The Apollo Theater’s marquee is crashed on the ground. A [building’s] exterior bricks pulled down. The band is loading its van.”
Pastcasting The Pod
Chicago magazine profiles Pete Kastanes’ “Vanished Chicagoland” project: “Nostalgia, it has been written, is the white man’s malady—especially in a big city like Chicago, where waves of ethnic succession remake neighborhoods in a generation. [Fifty-nine-year-old Pete] Kastanes grew up on the South Side in the 1960s and 70s—in South Shore, Roseland, then Ashburn. He remembers Gately’s Peoples Store. Wieboldt’s. Peacock Alley in Ford City Mall. Southport Lanes. White Hen Pantry. Bob Collins and Wally Phillips on WGN. National Food Stores. Twice a week, Kastanes goes down to the basement of the house in Oak Lawn he shares with his mother and brother, and records those memories for his Vanished Chicagoland Stories, the Podcast, which is devoted to Chicago businesses that have passed into history. He has recorded more than 200, and they’ve been listened to nearly 200,000 times. He doesn’t have a radio voice—it’s high pitched, soft spoken—but he has a friendly voice, and his childhood was the childhood of so many Chicagoans who have also moved away.”
How Inaccurate Census Data Cheats Illinois
“The Census Bureau’s faulty estimates did vast reputational harm to the state during the previous decade and centered intense public debate around proposed policy fixes to halt what was thought to be a huge population decline, which turned out not to be real when actual noses were counted. And even then, a post-count examination found the physical headcount was short by a very large margin,” writes Capitol Fax publisher Rich Miller at the Sun-Times. U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi “has written yet another letter to the Census Bureau demanding answers. The latest estimate ‘appears to echo’ earlier data ‘that drove misleading narratives and rhetoric surrounding purported population losses in Illinois which were subsequently revealed to be unfounded.’ … And the numbers don’t just harm the state’s reputation and provoke public debates based on faulty data, but they can have a major impact on federal funding the state receives. ‘Beyond the implications such data have for our understanding of our state’s population dynamics… Census Bureau data will be utilized over the next decade to allocate roughly $1.5 trillion in federal funding through approximately one hundred programs, including Medicaid, SNAP, Medicare, Highway Planning and Construction, and Pell grants.'”
Three State Universities Prepare For Strikes
“Hundreds of faculty and professional staff at three state universities could go on strike next week. For over a year, the employee unions at Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University and Governors State University have been bargaining with their respective employers to secure fair contracts,” reports the Tribune. Chicago State University’s faculty and staff is slated to strike today, reports Crain’s.
Downtown Evanston Loses Executive Director
“Annie Coakley, the executive director of Downtown Evanston–the organization which provides marketing, special event, placemaking and management services to downtown–will leave her post at the end of the month to join a destination marketing organization in Oak Park,” reports Evanston Roundtable. “Coakley, executive director of the Downtown Evanston organization since 2014, will join Visit Oak Park, which serves that suburb and twenty-one other communities in western Cook County, on May 1.”
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