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Dealers Report Strong EXPO Sales
EXPO director Tony Karman “said the fair opened ‘to fantastic response,’ and that the exhibitors saw ‘strong sales and many placements with institutions and important collections,'” writes Artnet. “A couple dealers reported selling out their booths by the end of day one, including Half Gallery, which presented works by Yoora Lee at prices ranging from $5,500- $24,000 (buyers included trustees of the Whitney Museum and Brooklyn Museum).”
Original Floors Ripped From Oak Park Prairie School Masterpiece
“Removing nineteenth-century wood floors from Pleasant Home, a masterpiece of Prairie School architecture in Oak Park, was wasteful and pointless, preservationists say,” reports Crain’s. “The lavishly detailed thirty-room mansion designed by architect George W. Maher, built in 1897, still had its original old-growth wood flooring, along with stained glass, tile, painted murals and other craft details… Staff at the foundation that operates the house under the auspices of its owner, the Park District of Oak Park, discovered that the district removed about 1,900 square feet of original wood flooring from three rooms and tossed it into the trash.” Stephen Kelley, a preservation architect who lives nearby, made the discovery while walking his dog. “The wood was old-growth wood brought in from virgin forests in Wisconsin,” he said, and “they had cut it into little pieces and thrown it away. They didn’t even try to restore it.”(Photos here.)
DINING & DRINKING
Logan Square’s The Freeze Is On The Block
“Beloved ice cream stand and fast food joint The Freeze is for sale,” licks Block Club. “Longtime owner Tony Zarcone put the property on the market for $1.2 million. The real estate listing includes The Freeze at 2815 West Armitage and the lot next to it.” Zarcone is looking for a developer that “will keep The Freeze open and [ideally] fix it up to modern standards. ‘There’s no need to panic. It’s not going to close. It’s going to continue.'”
After Nine Years, New Resto Opens In John Barleycorn Space
“Bad Apple, North Center’s popular burger spot, is taking over John Barleycorn, or Barleycorn’s,” reports Eater Chicago, “opened in 1963 in the shadow of Children’s Memorial Hospital. Infamous for the building’s history as a speakeasy during Prohibition, gangster John Dillinger used to frequent the space, blocks from where federal agents shot him.” The bar and its history shut down in 2014 and the building was “vacant for nine years, trapped in a legal battle” until a year-and-a-half-ago. Fresh attractions for the storied location will include “the Abe Froman, a tribute to the Sausage King of Chicago from ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” …served with spicy Italian sausage, giardiniera, pulled pork, and a spicy barbecue sauce.” The new Bad Apple will feature “poutine, flatbreads and more appetizers.”
Tasting The Final Unagi Course At Sushi By Scratch
“Near the end of our omakase at Sushi by Scratch Restaurants in Chicago, we were instructed to eat a nigiri course immediately after it appeared in front of our sushi bar seat (one of ten),” writes Liz Grossman at Plate. “But it was unagi! And bone marrow! My instincts wanted to savor the fire-torched fish crisped up in rendered fat as long as I possibly could. But there’s a method to chef-owner Phillip Frankland Lee’s madness. ‘After we saturate the eel with bone marrow fat and hit it with a torch until crispy, it’s a race against the clock to turn off the torch, hit it with soy ponzu, lemon, sea salt, and our poblano yuzu kosho and tell the guest to hurry up and eat while it still has a little bit of crispness, but will melt in your mouth,’ he says of the signature course he now calls his one-two flavor punch developed seven years ago at Scratch Bar in Los Angeles.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Writers Authorize Strike
The mad economics of streaming—too much product, too much competition—have come crashing down, and nowhere more crushingly than on those who write series and reality television and movies. With the current contract expiring within days, the members of the Writers Guild of America took a vote: 97.85 percent of members who voted have authorized a strike. “The WGA’s three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers—the trade association that represents Hollywood studios, including Disney, Netflix, and Warner Bros. Discovery—is set to expire on May 1. If the two sides can’t agree on new terms, Hollywood could see its first writers’ strike in fifteen years,” reports Vanity Fair. WGA West posted on Twitter, “WGA members must demonstrate our willingness to fight for the contract writers need and deserve by supporting a strike authorization vote… Over the past decade, the companies embraced business practices that slashed our compensation and undermined our working conditions. We are asking to restore writer pay & conditions to reflect our value to this industry. The survival of our profession is at stake.”
Vanity Fair: “Last year, Hollywood released nearly 600 original scripted shows… writers, who are typically paid per episode, have seen their earnings decimated by shorter season orders (typically just 6–12, episodes compared to the 22–24 episode orders of yore). Longer production times—consider the twenty-month gap between the second and third seasons of ‘Stranger Things’—also mean they have to stretch their pay further. Outside of a handful of bold-named writer-producers—like Shonda Rhimes, Greg Berlanti, and Ryan Murphy—stories abound about writers who are barely scraping by.”
Writer John Rogers: “Nobody wants to strike. We want to get paid enough to make a steady living, and young writers can advance in their careers. We want certain execs at the companies to stop pillaging the industry and instead join in building it. We’re willing to strike if necessary to do that.” More Perfect Union posts a video explaining the stakes: “Writers are making less than they were ten years ago, while corporate profits have skyrocketed.” The Los Angeles Times’ Mary McNamara: “We cannot afford a writers’ strike. The entertainment industry can’t afford it, Los Angeles can’t afford it and neither can the many parts of the country where TV and film production help fuel the local economy… A strike is a decision made by two groups, not one. AMPTP needs to stop screwing around and come to the table with reasonable responses to the WGA’s core demands for its new three-year contract before the old one expires on May 1.”
Kartemquin Launches New Website
State Wants To Protect Online Video Child Stars
“State legislation that would set a rate for how much someone under sixteen is compensated when they appear in at least thirty-percent of [an online channel’s] monetized video content… passed unanimously by the Senate and is now before the House,” reports the Trib. The legislation would also “require that a minimum of half a video’s earnings, prorated based on the amount of time the person under sixteen appears, be set aside in an account that is accessible only to the child when they turn eighteen. So, if a video made $100 and a minor was in half of the video, then that minor would be paid at least $25 for their work. If there are multiple children in the program, they would share the money evenly.”
Forty-Two Stores Participate In Indie Bookstore Crawl
The Indie Bookstore Crawl is being held again on Independent Bookstore Day, the one-day national event celebrating indie bookstores, on Saturday, April 29. Participants: 57th Street Books; after-words bookstore; The Book Bin; The Book Cellar; The Book Stall; The Book Table; Booked; Bookends & Beginnings; Bookie’s; The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn; Bucket Of Blood Books & Records; Centuries & Sleuths; City Lit Books; Da Book Joint; Exile in Bookville; Lake Forest Bookstore; Love’s Sweet Arrow; Madison Street Books; Rosenberg Bookshop at the Newberry; Open Books Logan Square; Open Books Pilsen; Open Books West Loop; Page 1 Books; Pilsen Community Books; Powell’s Books Chicago; Prairie Path Books; Quimby’s Bookstore; Roscoe Books; Sandmeyer’s Bookstore; Secret Agent Supply Company; Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery; Seminary Co-Op; Skunk Cabbage Books; Three Avenues Bookshop; Town House Books & Cafe; Unabridged Bookstore; Uncharted Books; The Understudy Coffee and Books; Volumes Bookcafe Wicker Park; Volumes Bookcafe Gold Coast and Women & Children First. Details on how to participate, including a map of stores, are here.
What Does The Killing Of Bookforum Mean To Culture?
“The American magazine is in a state of decay. Now known mostly as brands, once sumptuous print publications exist primarily as websites or YouTube channels, hosts for generic scribblings, the ever-ubiquitous ‘take.’ Meanwhile, a thousand Substacks bloom, some of them very good, with writers in the emancipated state of being paid directly by their readers,” writes Christian Lorentzen in a crisp report at the Washington Post. “One haven from culture war and dwindling standards of intellectual discourse in recent years has been Bookforum, a scrappy quarterly with an outsize impact in the world of letters. When the news dropped in December that the magazine had been shuttered, it struck many of us who’ve written for it as if the house we’d grown up in had burned down… What made Bookforum so special? Its editors were wise talent spotters who gave many young writers their first shot at ambitious long-form criticism. Bookforum took in the whole world: not only literature but also art, cinema, music, philosophy, politics, technology, history, food, sports and fashion… Bookforum was an international magazine with a downtown sensibility. It trafficked in ideas and contributors from the academy, but you’d never call it academic.”
USA Today Editor-In-Chief Joins Gannett Exodus
Since December, the top three people overseeing news at Gannett have left: “USA TODAY Editor-in-Chief Nicole Carroll will step down on May 1 after leading the news organization for more than five years. Carroll, who is also Gannett’s President of News, championed greater diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Smaller Concert Halls Out Of The Shadow Of Stadiums
“As live entertainment rebounds, developers are using midsize venues to anchor their projects and energize the surrounding neighborhood,” reports the New York Times. “‘In the U.S., the top ten markets like L.A., New York and Chicago are doing more shows than ever, yet the next forty cities collectively have been adding even more growth—which just shows how much opportunity there is for midsize venue developments,’ Jordan Zachary, a co-president of U.S. concerts at Live Nation Entertainment said.”
Luminart Names 2023 Winds Fellow
Momoko Hasselbring Seko will receive $10,000 and continued support from the Luminarts Foundation through professional development, performance opportunities, and additional project grant funding. More on Seko, a French horn player, here. More on Luminarts here.
Lyric Announces “West Side Story” Cast
Ryan McCartan, who has starred in Broadway productions of “Wicked” and “Frozen,” and Kanisha Marie Feliciano, who starred in “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Flying Over Sunset” on Broadway, make their Lyric debuts in the upcoming production of “West Side Story” in the roles of young lovers Tony and Maria. Amanda Castro returns in the role of Anita, joined by fellow original Lyric production castmate Brett Thiele with his portrayal of Riff, the leader of the Jets. The production introduces Chicago audiences to Yurel Echezarreta, a Broadway performer who appeared in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” The cast is supported by a forty-person ensemble of singers and dancers. Tickets and more here.
Steppenwolf’s Gala Celebrates Forty-Seven Years
The Steppenwolf Ensemble and Board of Trustees will host the Steppenwolf 2023 Gala, an evening celebrating forty-seven years of storytelling. “As ensemble members, the gala is one of our most treasured nights of the year,” Steppenwolf Theatre co-artistic directors Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis say in a statement. “It’s the one night when we get to gather as an artistic family alongside our greatest supporters to celebrate the past and dream about our future.” Single tickets starting at $1,500 and tables for the 2023 Gala are available by contacting Steppenwolf’s Special Events Department. Emceed by ensemble member Gary Cole, this year’s event takes place at The Old Post Office, 433 West Van Buren, Saturday, May 13 at 6:30pm. More here.
The Once And Future Festival Presents Six New Plays By Chicago Playwrights
“Six Chicago playwrights have come together to self-produce their own plays, their way, for The Once and Future Festival. Inspired by previous self-producing collectives like 13P, the festival will feature two world premieres and four staged readings. The world premiere productions will take place at the Greenhouse Theater Center’s Studio 44 Theater and will be performed in rep with each other every night, while the reading series will take place on Monday evenings.” Details here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Mayor Lightfoot And CPD Will Strictly Enforce Millennium Park Curfew And Beach Bag-Check
The controversial “curfew for minors at Millennium Park is back, and bag checks at beaches will be enforced after youth gatherings this weekend Downtown turned violent,” reports Block Club. Police say they will be “working closely with youth and outreach workers for when these gatherings occur… Resources include an increased police and command staff presence at these gatherings citywide. Our Strategic Decision Support Centers will also be monitoring all activity and police cameras to assist in the… reallocation of resources when necessary.”
Tribune Editorial Board Weighs Mayor-Elect’s Response, Finds Words Wanting; Crain’s, Too
“Brandon Johnson has not yet taken office as mayor of Chicago, but he still put out a statement Sunday after unruly teenagers descended en masse on Millennium Park and downtown Chicago, some of them breaking car windows, setting vehicles ablaze and firing off shots. The statement’s existence, content and syntax all were revealing,” avers the Tribune’s editorial board in a spirited salvo. “Johnson’s condemnation of violence felt like an obligatory preamble hoping to ward off criticism. The statement’s real rhetorical energy came only at the end: Johnson and his fledgling transition team apparently saw the weekend violence downtown as a chance to offer a sociological admonishment to those who were frightened. No criticizing the kids, the mayor-elect says, even if you ran hard and fast at the sound of gunshots or decided to check out of your Loop hotel early, eat the bill and take your next spring break in a city other than Chicago. Mr. Mayor-elect, this is not going to work.”
“For starters, Chicagoans were not ‘demonizing youth’ but reacting to criminal behavior… That hardly means standing by as a bus is set on fire… We’re on his side when it comes to offering alternatives to setting vehicles on fire, and we mean that without irony… Johnson’s statement, and where it placed its emphasis, likely has already cost the city real money that Johnson is going to have to replace with higher fees and taxes… Here’s the other thing, Mr. Johnson. You are not the only messenger, and if Americans start seeing your mayoral statements as progressive propaganda, they’ll stop listening to you or believing what you say.”
Crain’s talks “agenda,” too: “Events have a way of overtaking even the most carefully crafted political agenda, and melees this past weekend in the Loop and at 31st Street Beach are only history’s latest example.” The editors describe the events in scenario form: “In the background of so many of these snippets, viewers could catch glimpses of some of Chicago’s iconic downtown landmarks: Millennium Park. The Bean. The Chicago Cultural Center. The Chicago Theatre’s State Street marquee. Chase Tower. A Marshall Field’s clock. Spots Chicagoans normally think of with pride but, on Saturday night, became the backdrop of a dystopian drama. In the unrest, two teens were shot.”
And WBEZ reviews five ideas: “Public safety experts and youth advocates are pitching a range of ideas to prevent crime and chaos by young people in downtown Chicago: paid peacekeepers, summer jobs, improved transportation and more police.”
Iowa Senate Passes Bill To Legalize Child Labor
“The Iowa Senate passed a child labor law before dawn” on Tuesday, posts More Perfect Union. “The bill lets fourteen-year-olds work six-hour night shifts, fifteen-year-olds work on assembly lines, and sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds serve alcohol. The Senate went through the night, and voted on child labor at 4:52am… The bill moves to the Iowa House. We recently investigated this bill, and uncovered that it began in the office of Governor Kim Reynolds and was written by top corporate lobbyists led by the restaurant association.”
Driehaus Foundation Awards $5 Million To Chicago Organizations
“Two years after philanthropist Richard Driehaus died, his foundation is awarding grants to support preservation, arts and journalism,” tallies the Tribune. “The largest grants in the foundation’s thirty-one-year history… will primarily benefit three Chicago-based organizations, Preservation Chicago, Arts Work Fund and the Better Government Association.” Preservation Chicago, the small nonprofit “best known for its annual list of the city’s most endangered historic structures, tops the recipients with a $2.3 million grant—nearly five times its annual budget. The two-year grant, the largest in Preservation Chicago’s twenty-one-year history, will be used to establish an endowment fund and hire a full-time development director.”
“Last week, Preservation Chicago helped get preliminary landmark recommendations for The Warehouse… as well as the Century and Consumers buildings… facing demolition in the Loop.” Others: “A $1.43 million legacy grant to the Better Government Association to expand the nonprofit news organization’s reach beyond Chicago… $1.5 million to Arts Work Fund, a collaborative fund that provides grants for small arts and cultural organizations in Chicago and Cook County.”
Illinois Department Of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Sets $50 Million in Grant Money
Owing to advocacy efforts by a statewide coalition led by Arts Alliance Illinois, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will distribute a historic $50 million in grant money to assist businesses, nonprofit organizations, sole proprietors, freelancers, and independent contractors in the creative sector that have struggled because of the pandemic. Eligible entities include: Sole Proprietors, Freelancers, and Independent Contractors; Independent Live Venue Operators; Performing or Presenting Arts Organizations; Arts Education Organizations; Cultural Heritage Organizations and Museums. Applications are open until May 10. Eligibility and information on how to apply for the B2B Arts (Illinois Creative Recovery) Grant is here.
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