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Polka Dots Transfix West Loop
WNDR Museum, the “immersive art and technology experience” in the West Loop, will host the U.S. debut of the yellow “Dots Obsession,” a “three-story immersive infinity installation” by the ninety-four-year-old global success Yayoi Kusama, starting Friday, May 12. “Featuring a series of floating yellow and black polka dots alongside walk-in and peep-in installations, ‘Dots Obsession’ will fill WNDR’s atrium and transport visitors into Kusama’s obsession with polka dots, repetition, celestial bodies and the experience of the infinite.” “Since my childhood, I have always made works with polka dots. Earth, moon, sun and human beings all represent dots; a single particle among billions,” Yayoi Kusama has said. More here. (Will Gompertz writes about the “terrors” mastered by Kusama to make her art.)
ART On THE MART Lights Up With Derrick Adams
ART on THE MART, the digital art project that transforms Chicago architectural landmark the Merchandise Mart into a larger-than-life canvas, opens this year’s programming with a commission by internationally renowned artist Derrick Adams and the return of the projection of work by Chicago Public Schools seniors. Adams’ projection will be on view nightly at 8:30pm, April 14-July 5. The CPS projection runs April 27-May 14, immediately following Adams’ work. “‘Funtime Unicorn: Ruby Rides Through Four Seasons’ builds on Adams’ ‘Funtime Unicorn’ project celebrating Black joy, love and play. The animation–realized in collaboration with graphic designer The Channel–unfolds across four seasons.” More here.
Larger-Than-Life Mural Of Harold Washington Unveiled
In 2022, Harold Washington College celebrated the hundredth birthday of its namesake and Chicago’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington, and as an extension of that 2022 celebration, Harold Washington College, the Student Government Association and the Harold Washington Centennial Celebration Committee commissioned artist Judith Mayer to create a visual piece that would capture the spirit and essence of the man. Karen Stone, niece of Harold Washington, says in a release, “The bigger-than-life tribute rivals our Uncle Harold’s altruistic personality and it is an active crowning glory to his legacy of creating a better Chicago through education and inclusivity. He was a unifier and the mural and its messages to Chicago are now more important today than ever before. The mural is also a testament to the open horizon, the possibilities, for Chicago’s up-and-coming leaders of today and tomorrow.”
What A Piddling $23,000 A Month Gets You In Fulton Market
“Want to live in one of the highest apartments in the Fulton Market District? It’ll cost you as much $23,275 a month,” writes Alby Gallun at Crain’s. “That’s what Chicago developer Related Midwest is asking for the most expensive penthouse unit in the Row Fulton Market, a 300-unit luxury rental tower slated to open in June… At forty-three stories, it’s the tallest building in Fulton Market.”
Wave Of Violence Connected To Bus Driver Shortage?
“Union leaders say violence is affecting the city’s transit system for both those who use it and those who operate its conveyances,” reports CBS 2. “That’s where we are losing a lot of people at—that sense of security,” Keith Hill, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, tells the station.
Restaurants And Retailers Bring Grid To Electrified Customers
“There are more than 51,000 electric vehicles registered in the Chicago area,” reports the Sun-Times. “But with only 1,300 public charging stations installed across the state—there’s a lot of catching up to do in the charging infrastructure. Businesses are stepping in to fill that gap.”
Aon Center’s New York Owners Say They Can’t Pay Debt On Time
“The New York real estate firm that owns the Aon Center came up short on its mortgage payment last month and is asking its lender for more time to pay off the loan as a July deadline approaches,” reports Crain’s. These are “red flags that the city’s second-tallest office tower could add to the rampant distress plaguing downtown real estate.”
DINING & DRINKING
Potbelly Turnaround Looks Toasty
“Potbelly is showing signs of a recovery after years in the red, indicating that its push for growth through franchising might be getting some traction,” reports Crain’s. “The Chicago-based sandwich chain on Tuesday reported preliminary earnings for its first quarter, which ended March 27. Adjusted EBITDA was $5.2 million to $5.6 million. It marks the first time that measure—earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization—was positive since pre-pandemic. It’s also an improvement over the same period in 2019, when Potbelly reported adjusted EBITDA of $3.9 million.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Warner Bros. Discovery Tosses Aside HBO Name For Streaming Entity
“Max Streaming App Aims to Win Viewers by Losing ‘HBO’ From Its Name,” headlines the New York Times. “The service, which will debut on May 23, will try to broaden appeal by including reality series like TLC’s ‘Love & Translation’ alongside HBO dramas like ‘Succession.'” The chairman of HBO, Casey Bloys, says of the maneuver, “What I am most concerned about is protecting the HBO brand… It is a premium brand. It’s not designed to be for mass audiences. And the more that you ask the HBO brand to take on more programming, I think the further it stretches it.” Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara: “By turning HBO Max into just Max and jamming it with Discovery+ content, the company is spitting on one of the most important brands in television.”
HBO Boss Expects Viewers To Separate J. K. Rowling Public Comments From Her Intellectual Property
Max, the successor streaming service to HBO Max, has announced a Harry Potter TV series. “Max has ordered the first-ever scripted television series, a faithful adaptation of the iconic book series,” the company posted on its @HBOMax Twitter feed. “Your Hogwarts letter is here.” At a press conference announcing the series, a Variety reporter asked about Rowling’s connection to the product, considering her ongoing commentary on trans issues. “Our priority is what’s on screen,” said chairman and CEO of HBO and Max content Casey Bloys. “No, I don’t think this is the forum… That’s a very online conversation, very nuanced and complicated and not something we’re going to get into… Obviously, the ‘Harry Potter’ story is incredibly affirmative and positive and about love and self-acceptance. That’s our priority—what’s on screen.” She “will be involved. She’s an executive producer on the show. Her insights are going to be helpful on that.”
Booklist Editor-Publisher Bill Ott Was Seventy-Six
The American Library Association remembers Bill Ott, who died on April 8. “Ott made innumerable contributions to both Booklist Publications and to ALA during his thirty-nine years on the Booklist staff, thirty of them at the helm,” relays ALA News. “When Ott came to Booklist in 1980, Booklist’s annual revenue was around $800,000. He consistently increased that number, with revenue reaching over $5 million several years in a row… In addition to the print publications, under his leadership Booklist added a complex website and seventeen other digital products, including newsletters, webinars, white papers, sponsored eblasts, and live events. He conceived and built a licensing program that continues to get Booklist content in front of a much wider audience while also generating new revenue. Booklist’s total number of reviews increased from around 6,000 in 1980 to the current 8,000, and the number of features from five bibliographies a year to more than 150 columns, essays, interviews, lists, read-alikes, and more. Ott personally wrote more than 3,000 reviews and 400 Back Page columns.”
Keir Graff, former Booklist executive editor, worked with Ott for eighteen years and remembers him as a mentor: “Bill was big on writers. Most of the two dozen or so staffers contributed reviews, regardless of job description, and I suspect he would have loved it if every single one of them did. Bill was also big on identifying talent and promoting from within… I’ve worked with many editors since then, and I’ve never found a better one. It’s so rare to find someone who both teaches you and tells you the truth. Bill himself was a clear and elegant writer, both in his reviews and his Back Page column, about which he was always self-deprecating… He often wrote essays—about authors and books, mostly, but also about life at Booklist and life in general—that were as good as anything in the New York Review of Books. Actually better, because Bill’s clarity of thought made reading every one a pleasure. I think the real secret to his success was that he never thought of Booklist as a trade journal or a review mill. He thought of it as a bona fide literary publication that always respected the intelligence of its librarian subscribers.”
WFMT Looking For General Manager/Program Director
WFMT is searching for a new General Manager/Program Director. “WFMT is one of the world’s most respected classical and folk music radio stations, accessible via broadcast at 98.7FM, streaming live at wfmt.com, and on the WFMT app,” the job notice reads. “The WFMT General Manager/Program Director reports to the President and CEO of WTTW and will work cross-functionally to manage operations and produce and present relevant, best-in-class classical music content that drives audience growth; map station activities to strategic plan initiatives and goals; and align with the organization’s mission, vision, values, and purpose.” More of the job description here.
Vanity Fair Cover-Stories The Falls Of Fox News’ Rupert Murdoch
The past few years of life in America and behind the scenes at Fox News has been eventful, to say the least: Gabriel Sherman’s epic Vanity Fair cover story on the powers that be, plans for succession and the likelihood of a post-Rupert, post-$1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems is online now. Typical color: “One of the terms of the [divorce] settlement was that [Jerry] Hall couldn’t give story ideas to the writers on ‘Succession.'”
Chicago Classical Review Says Chicago Needs “Two Or Three New Opera Companies”
“Chicago opera has been mired in mediocrity for the past decade—undone by a lack of stars, dull programming, uneven casting, inconsistent conducting, and stage directors who should be institutionalized rather than helming performances,” offers Lawrence A. Johnson at Chicago Classical Review. “What Chicago needs is a new opera company. Make that two or three new opera companies. [Companies] that can start small with one or two performances a year, gain an audience and grow into something solid and sustaining by performing great operas on a high artistic level.”
Stage Drama Worldwide
“Actors in Chicago lent their voices to a growing chorus of traveling Broadway performers who say they are fighting for better conditions.” Before Wednesday’s opening night of “Jagged Little Pill” at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, reports CBS 2, “actors and stage managers with the Actors’ Equity Association spoke out, saying they want promises of safer working conditions, and wages that reflect growing inflation, for the 50,000 members of the union.”
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival needs $2.5 million to make it through the season, reports the Oregonian. Dallas theaters are struggling, reports the Dallas Morning News. The DMN also reports post-COVID drops on the arts scene: “Dallas’s big seven arts groups depend more heavily on attendance than others in the region.”
The fresh mounting of “Oklahoma!” got great reviews but strong reactions from audiences on the road, writes Christopher Bannow, who played Jud Fry in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical. “You know how some movies bomb with critics but still make millions at the box office? We were the inverse of that. We had walkouts, of course, but also snickering, jeering, dumbfounded faces, searing reviews, refunds demanded, boos, audience members standing with both thumbs pointed down, vomiting in the balcony, sleeping, Facebook posts, Instagram messages, and emails.” Half of British theater front-of-house staff want to quit over increasing audience behavior that includes violence.
Martin McDonagh says theaters have refused to produce his plays because of strong language and “petty outrage,” reports the BBC: “I think it’s a very frightening time,” the director of “The Banshees Of Inisherin” tells BBC Radio 4’s Today, “suggesting new writers should ‘get off social media,’ ‘stop checking the internet’ and ‘go out and outrage.'”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
DePaul Anticipates $56.6 Million Deficit And Big Cuts
“DePaul University welcomed faculty, staff and students back for the spring quarter with a big announcement: The school anticipates a $56.6 million budget deficit for its next fiscal year and cuts are being made,” reports Crain’s. “The private Catholic school, which said it typically makes budgetary decisions in the fall, moved that date to March to get ahead of the sizable deficit, which DePaul said is a result of ‘slowing enrollments, increasing financial aid, rising costs and the loss of COVID-related federal funding.'” One example of cuts: “Erika Sánchez, hired in fall 2019 as the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Chair in the Department of Latin American & Latino Studies, was informed that her contract would not be renewed for the next academic year.”
NASCAR Says It Can Keep The Noise Down
“NASCAR officials plan to modify race cars, limit track time and wrap up festivities by 10pm in an effort to limit noise and crowding for the summer race slated to take over part of Grant Park for several weeks,” reports Block Club.
City Announces Millennium Park Summer
The city of Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have announced the free arts programming of the Millennium Park summer season. Artist lineups were announced for the Millennium Park Summer Music Series (Mondays and Thursdays, June 22–August 21), including Big Freedia, Carla Morrison, Kurt Vile, PJ Morton and Yemi Alade. The ten-part music series showcases a range of genres on the Pritzker Pavilion stage. Kicking off the series is a tribute to Chicago jazz legend Ramsey Lewis (June 22). Full list of events, including film showings and previously announced Chicago Gospel Music Festival, Chicago Blues Festival and Grant Park Music Festival are here.
Staff At Museum Of Science And Industry Looks To Unionize
“Workers at the Museum of Science and Industry announced their intention to unionize,” reports the Trib. “The museum staff are seeking representation with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, which has over the last year and a half won union elections at the Art Institute and its affiliated school, the Field Museum and the Newberry Library.”
More Judges Rule On Abortion Pill: It’s Okay, For Now, But With Their Added Restrictions
“The judges blocked the drug from being sent to patients through the mail and rolled back other steps the government had taken to ease access,” reports the New York Times. The Fifth Circuit appellate panel, “considered the country’s most politically conservative,” “said the FDA’s approval of mifepristone could stand because too much time had passed for the plaintiffs, a consortium of groups and doctors opposed to abortion, to challenge that decision. The court also seemed to take into account the government’s view that removing a long-approved drug from the market would have ‘significant public consequences.'”
Meanwhile, “Walgreens Boots Alliance says it will dispense alternative drug misoprostol in states where it is legal,” reports Crain’s. “While the two drugs are typically prescribed together by a doctor to end a pregnancy, providers, including Planned Parenthood of Illinois, say they will turn to solely using misoprostol if mifepristone is tightly restricted nationwide. Misoprostol, also used to treat stomach ulcers, is not affected by the legal fight.”
California Senator Denies State Representation
An infirm Dianne Feinstein holds onto power despite being confined to her California home. “The eighty-nine-year-old California senator has spent nearly two months away from the Capitol, including a stint in the hospital,” reports Politico. “She has asked Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer to temporarily replace her on the Judiciary Committee so that the panel could process [judicial] nominations—a highly unusual move… Democrats can’t move President Joe Biden’s judicial picks without her vote.”
Talking Points Memo pundit Josh Marshall posts: “This isn’t something that shld be playing out in the press or on Twitter. Sen. Schumer and Gov. Newsome shld speak to Sen. Feinstein and her family and make clear that the state needs a full time Senator. This is unseemly and unkind.” Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), the party’s No. 2 and the Senate Judiciary Committee chair said, “I’m anxious, because I can’t really have a markup of new judge nominees until she’s there.”
Franklin, Tennessee Council Meeting On Pride Parade Goes Deep And Wild
A meeting on banning a Pride parade was held in Franklin, Tennessee. Reports NBC senior investigative reporter Mike Hixenbaugh: “a council member just held up a photo of what she described as a drag queen biting into ‘a live, beating heart’ in explaining why she’s going to vote against granting a permit for a LGBTQ pride festival. ‘This could have happened here.’ This same Franklin alderman is scolding pride festival organizers for refusing to offer a booth to [a religious group called Equip], which believes that homosexual attraction is the result of Original Sin and teaches gay youth to embrace a lifetime of celibacy. Another Franklin alderman is floating the possibility of approving the pride festival permit on the condition that they don’t have any live performances. Another option he said might be to make the event 18+ only.”
Another: “Young people are already struggling… with mental health. The answer for these people is Jesus, not more sin.” Organizers got a surprise Tuesday night: “After months of heated debate, the Franklin Pride festival is on. Franklin’s mayor cast the tie-breaking vote, granting the festival its event permit. ‘It was really a surprise to us,’ [said] the president of Franklin Pride.” No restrictions were placed on the June 3 event, which agreed in advance to forgo drag activities.
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