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Whitney Appoints Meg Onli Curator-at-Large
“New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art announced a new curatorial appointments, its curator-at-large position, which hasn’t been filled at the museum in nearly fifteen years,” reports ARTnews. “Writer and curator Meg Onli will take this role, curating exhibitions, proposing acquisitions and serving as an ambassador and advisor on special projects. Onli is co-curating the 2024 Whitney Biennial with Chrissie Iles, a curator at the museum. Additionally, Onli is co-curating the Whitney’s upcoming 2026 Roy Lichtenstein retrospective—the first in more than thirty years in New York.” A 2008 SAIC graduate, Onli was associate producer of the “Bad At Sports” podcast and blog from 2006-2010, and in 2010 founded the “Black Visual Archive”; Onli was also program coordinator at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Dubuque Displays Major Homer
“In anticipation of building a new home, the Dubuque Museum of Art invites visitors to take a fresh look at its permanent collection. A rarely seen work by Winslow Homer, one of America’s most important nineteenth-century painters, will make its Dubuque debut,” the museum relays. “The work can be seen inside a new ground-floor installation of highlights from DuMA’s 2600-piece collection. Homer’s ‘The Shepherdess’ (1879) is on long-term loan from a private collection and has not been seen in public since a 1996 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In fact, the painting has rarely been seen, as it was owned for nearly a century by the Lawson Valentine family whose upstate New York farm provides the painting’s setting.” More here.
Bally’s Hands Out First Look At Medinah Temple Casino
“‘Anyone can build a temporary casino, but not everyone gets a chance to build a temporary casino in a beautiful, historic building such as this,’ said Mark Wong, vice president and general manager of Bally’s Chicago Casino,” relays the Sun-Times, with Bally’s own photographs. “The new layout is like a layer cake of casino games under Medinah’s rotunda, with escalators and glass-door elevators—both positioned in front of the walled-off temple stage—connecting three floors of temptations.” The Trib: “Bally’s Chicago has moved hundreds of slot machines and table games into place.” Said Chris Jewett, director of corporate development for Bally’s during a tour: “It’s a wow factor just walking in. It’s unique.”
Google Turning Millions Toward Chicago Businesses
“Google is pouring millions of dollars into Black and brown-owned businesses in Chicago,”reports CBS 2. Fourteen Chicago business owners “were presented with $150,000 checks from Google. The money came from Google’s ‘Founders Fund,’ which has distributed more than $34 million to startups across the country since the fund was created in 2020.”
Notion For Out-Of-The-Way One Central Transit Hub Naysayed
“A resounding no,” writes the Sun-Times’ editorial board. “It’s often hard to kill a good urban design idea in Chicago. Developers and planners dreamed of redeveloping Wolf Point—the spot downtown where the Chicago River’s Main Branch splits off north and south—since the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the last decades that skyscrapers finally started rising there… Meanwhile, the bad ideas… are usually sent to the ashcan of history. And that’s what should happen to the $6.5 billion state-funded transportation center that’s being proposed as part of the private One Central Chicago development scheme for west of Soldier Field. No transportation agency, from the CTA to Amtrak, has voiced any real support for the center since it was proposed three years ago, which is telling. But they haven’t slapped it down, either, which is troubling. Now the state is evaluating which consulting firm will get paid up to $500,000 to conduct a feasibility study to determine if the [multi-billion-dollar] center should be built—and ultimately paid for—by Illinoisans. Based on what we’ve seen so far, we believe we know the answer already: a resounding no.”
DINING & DRINKING
Lula Cafe’s Booking
“The first book about Chef Jason Hammel’s bustling hotspot Lula Cafe–one of Chicago’s most-loved eateries, known for its creative, seasonal cuisine,” Phaidon Press announces. “The Lula Cafe Cookbook: Collected Recipes and Stories” “is a collection of recipes and stories from the beloved restaurant that has been a pillar of Logan Square, Chicago since 1999. Hammel made Lula Cafe an early pioneer of the farm-to-table movement.” The introduction “shares the origin story of the restaurant,” and each recipe is stamped with a date, reflecting the restaurant’s daily menus and history, with chapters on Cafe Classics that have been served since 1999 and never left the menu, such as “Pasta Yiayia” and “Beet and Strawberry Bruschetta,” appearing alongside seasonal dishes like “Celery Root & Almond Bisque” and “Chickpea & Fennel Tagine.” Hammel’s cornerstone classics also include “Baked French Feta with Marinated Olives” and “The ‘Tineka’ Sandwich.” “Intensely personal recipes and stories are woven throughout ‘The Lula Cafe Cookbook,’ spanning two decades of cooking, romance, love, friendship, and community told through food.”
Three Decades Of Uncle Mike’s Place On West Grand
“Uncle Mike’s Place, nestled on a corner in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, is usually bustling with folks enjoying pancakes, eggs, bacon, and coffee—typical diner fare. But a second glance reveals more: fried silog… atop a bed of garlicky fried rice, plump red loganisa, and juicy bistek tagalog,” writes Eater Chicago. “It’s a Filipino breakfast spread that might seem out of place for a diner in a Chicago neighborhood [that was traditionally] densely populated with Ukrainian and Polish immigrants. The restaurant didn’t always serve Pinoy food over the course of its more than thirty years in West Town, but since introducing the expanded menu in 2008, Filipino breakfast has vaulted Uncle Mike’s from an ordinary greasy spoon to a Chicago institution.”
Republican 2024 Priority: Ban Universal School Lunches
“As states across the country move to make sure students are well fed, Republicans have announced their intention to fight back,” reports the New Republic. “The party boldly declares its priority to eliminate the Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP, from the School Lunch Program… As California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, and as of this week, Vermont, all move to provide universal free school meals in one form or another—and at least another twenty-one states consider similar moves—Republicans are trying to whittle down avenues to accomplish that goal.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Warner Bros. Discovery Cuts Out Heart Of TCM; Top Execs Fired
Cultural critic Mark Harris calls it “a catastrophic talent purge… underway at Turner Classic Movies, one of the few undisputed jewels of the cable universe and a pillar of the preservation and celebration of film history… This heedless and unnecessary purge of the highly respected staff of a beloved institution will send shockwaves throughout the creative community in a way that I believe will cost WBD far more than whatever its leaders incorrectly imagine it gains them.”
After the savage drubbing at the box office of “The Flash”—”I watched ‘The Flash’… three times. It’s a very emotional movie. You’re going to go through all the emotions,” said Warner Bros. Discovery chieftain David Zaslav, “to me, it’s the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen”—comes another burst of corporate firings. “More top brass from Turner Classic Movies are on their way out as Warner Bros. Discovery layoffs are underway across the conglomerate’s TV networks division,” TheWrap reports. “TCM’s senior vice president of programming and content strategy Charles Tabesh, vice president of studio production Anne Wilson, vice president of marketing and creative Dexter Fedor and TCM Enterprises vice president Genevieve McGillicuddy will all exit…TCM general manager Pola Chagnon is leaving the company after more than twenty-five years.”
Film critic-historian Matt Zoller Seitz posts, “My working theory on a lot of the post-Discovery merger bloodletting is: Zaslav knows he built his fortune on garbage & it stings to know it, so he wants to force subscribers to pretend his garbage is the equal of actual art made by the Time-Warner legacy operations he bought.” EW senior writer Maureen Lee Lenker: “He likes playing studio boss and surrounding himself with the symbols of those who came before him who had more knowledge and intellect about art and moviemaking in their little finger than he does in his entire being. I urge any celebs who are lovers of TCM, be it Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader, Spielberg, PTA, Martin Scorsese and whoever else to tell Zaslav this is a HUGE mistake and catastrophic to the history of our industry.”
Prior to the gutting of the movie-love channel, Richard Rushfield of the Ankler newsletter advised, “If David Zaslav brings Warner Discovery out of its debt hole and leads it to the top rank of studios, everything that was a flaw will become a virtue overnight… If the plan doesn’t succeed, he’ll be laughed out of town down the trail of tears trod by so many moguls before him.”
Inside Blackstone, The City’s Oldest Library Branch
“Blackstone is the city’s oldest library branch, built in 1904. It’s the only branch that matches the classical grandeur of the original Central Library, now the Cultural Center,” reports Chicago magazine. “Every other neighborhood library fits some category of functional public architecture: the venerable Kelly, in Englewood, looks like a police station. Chicago Lawn, built in 1960, looks like a highway rest stop. Edgewater, built in a style [akin to] ‘Faux Lloyd Wright,’ could be a suburban village hall.”
Are We At The End Of The Useful Internet?
“We are living through the end of the useful internet. The future is informed discussion behind locked doors, in Discords and private fora, with the public-facing web increasingly filled with detritus generated by LLMs, bearing only a stylistic resemblance to useful information,” writes Alex Pareene at Defector. “Finding unbiased and independent product reviews, expert tech support, and all manner of helpful advice will now resemble the process by which one now searches for illegal sports streams or pirated journal articles. The decades of real human conversation hosted at places like Reddit will prove useful training material for the mindless bots and deceptive marketers that replace it.”
Reddit’s CEO Ready To Cut Away Users
“Despite facing protests from users, Reddit’s CEO is refusing to back down on charging for access to the social media platform’s API, even though it’ll shut down some third-party apps,” reports PC. “According to Reddit’s chief executive Steve Huffman, it’s become too costly to keep the API access free when the platform itself is struggling to make ends meet. ‘Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use.'” (Huffman’s statement on Reddit is here.) Huffman also vented to NBC News, expressing admiration for Elon Musk: he admires the “pretty violent changes and violent surgery” the billionaire made, including failure to pay bills. “Long story short, my takeaway from Twitter and Elon at Twitter is reaffirming that we can build a really good business in this space at our scale.” Posts Nicholas De Leon of Consumer Reports: “‘We’re not going to subsidize other people’s businesses for free,’ said the CEO of a message board whose entire business model is predicated on people contributing content, moderating, etc. for freeeee.”
The Warehouse Inches Closer To Landmark Status
“A 113-year-old West Loop building that once housed a dance club that became the birthplace of house music will become a Chicago landmark, thanks to designation poised for final City Council approval,” reports the Sun-Times. The Block Club was at the zoning meeting on Tuesday: “‘It was at this club, with the iconic DJ Frankie Knuckles at the helm, that house music was developed. From The Warehouse this new sound spread from Chicago living rooms to the rest of the world,’ Max Chavez, the director of research and special projects with Preservation Chicago, said… ‘This landscape of world music, because of The Warehouse, because of Frankie Knuckles and because of Chicago was changed forever.'” The zoning committee “also approved several West Loop residential towers, two controversial apartment buildings in Wicker Park, the redevelopment of a now-closed Englewood public school and… other projects across the city.”
Ragtime Revivalist Max Morath Was Ninety-Six
Duluth resident “Max Morath, who stepped out of the 1890s only a lifetime late, and with syncopated piano rhythms and social commentary helped revive the ragtime age on television programs, in concert halls and in nightclubs for nearly a half-century,” was ninety-six, reports the New York Times. “Having learned the rudiments of music from his mother, who played a tinkling piano in movie theaters for silent films, Mr. Morath—after false career starts as a radio announcer, newscaster and actor—found his calling in a fascination with ragtime, the uniquely syncopated, ‘ragged’ style whose heyday spanned two decades, roughly from 1897 to 1917.”
The Lasting Influence Of Boom Chicago
On the occasion of comedy company Boom Chicago’s thirtieth anniversary, “its current cast and famous alumni—including Seth Meyers, the ‘Ted Lasso’ co-creator Brendan Hunt and the comedian Amber Ruffin—are celebrating by staging a two-week festival in Amsterdam in July. They’re also releasing a book, ‘Boom Chicago Presents: The 30 Most Important Years in Dutch History,’ with book events and performances in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago throughout July,” reports the New York Times. “Boom’s founders, Andrew Moskos and Pep Rosenfeld, met in elementary school in Evanston, and both attended Northwestern University. As aspiring comedians, they were in the right place at the right time: Chicago in the 1980s.” (The seed of “Ted Lasso” was also sown there, as Jason Sudeikis worked there for a time.)
Definition Theatre Announces Amplify Festival Finalists
Definition Theatre has announced the finalists of its Amplify Series Three: New Play Commissioning Program. Chosen based on feedback from the theater’s artistic advisory board and the Definition Theatre ensemble, the commission finalists are India Nicole Burton, Maiya A. Corral, Rachel DuBose, Alfonzo Kahlil, Osiris Khepera, Jarrett King, Doriane Miller and Jessica Posey. The Amplify New Play Festival is a free, two-day event, August 4-5 at the Logan Center for the Arts, alongside artist workshops, pop-up shops, readings and screenings of scenes from the finalists’ new plays. More details and free tickets here.
Musical Memoir “LatinXoxo” At Center On Halsted
The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago and the Center on Halsted announced today that Venezuelan actor and transdisciplinary artist Migguel Anggelo will bring his “outrageously queer and gender-bending theatrical experience” to the Center’s main stage, with “sumptuous song selections–spanning decades of pop hits, his own compositions, and the Spanish boleros–Anggelo peels back an onion layer of personas, stripteasing ‘Latin lover’ clichés, and reckoning with the tragic death of his homophobic and disapproving father. ‘Eleven years ago, someone told me that my art was too deep to understand so I decided to try new endeavors in New York, where I was welcomed with open arms and where I have been able to develop my art. With ‘LatinXoxo’ we are reaching a very diverse audience within the United States where I can tell my personal story,'” Anggelo says. $35, July 20-22. More here.
Chicago Return of “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” Postponed
Corella Productions Dinner Theatre announced today that its production of the return of “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” is postponed. The production was scheduled for this weekend. Ticket holders may transfer their tickets to the future performances or receive a refund. “I had to make the difficult decision to delay the opening until the fall,” said artistic director Patty Corella. “We had a key cast member who is unable to perform due to surgery. All of us at Corella Productions are proud of the production and look forward to bringing this classic comedy back to Chicago.”
Saint Sebastian Players Announce Forty-Second Season
The Saint Sebastian Players have set the company’s forty-second season, featuring “Nunsense,” “An Enemy Of The People” and “Barefoot in the Park.” Performances take place at their home in the lower level of St. Bonaventure, 1625 West Diversey. More here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Chicago Humanities Adds Henry Winkler, Naomi Klein
“Join social activist Naomi Klein for an intellectual adventure on digital reflections, warped reality and the cure to the collective vertigo,” announces Chicago Humanities for September 19. And on November 4, it’s “Being Henry Winkler,” in “a fun and lighthearted evening with the actor as he discusses his legendary Hollywood career, finding self-fulfillment, and the power of truth in his memoir, ‘Being Henry.'” Tickets and more here.
Perks Noted For High-End Democratic Convention Donors
“Top donors to the Chicago 2024 Democratic convention host committee will get special VIP access to credentials, exclusive hotels and suites in the United Center, with $5 million contributors getting the most,” reports the Sun-Times. “‘All sponsorships are customizable and can be tailored to your specific needs,’ said a pitch sheet soliciting sponsorships being circulated by the Chicago 2024 Host Committee. ‘Other options include: signage within United Center, building out activation spaces, sponsoring hospitality spaces, etc.'”
Grocery Tax Exemption Ends June 30; Minimum Wage Gets Boost
Last July 1, reports NBC 5, “Illinois’ one-percent grocery tax was suspended as part of a 2022 $46.5 billion state budget plan aimed at providing relief to families struggling with rising costs of goods and inflation. Officials said the extension [may have saved] taxpayers upwards to $400 million through the fiscal year.” Also, “Chicago’s hourly minimum wage is set to increase from $15.40 to $15.80 for employers with twenty-one or more employees, with an increase from $14.50 to $15 for employers with four to twenty employees… The hourly minimum wage for tipped employees will increase from $9.24 to $9.48 for employees of large businesses, while tipped employees of smaller businesses will see their minimum wage increase from $8.70 to $9.”
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