Get Chicago culture news sent to your inbox every weekday morning. Subscribe to Newcity Today here.
Van Gogh Exhibition’s Lighthouse Immersive Files For Bankruptcy
“The Canadian company behind popular immersive art exhibitions featuring the work of Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Gustav Klimt and Claude Monet has filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy in the United States,” reports ARTnews. “The Toronto-based Lighthouse Immersive Inc. submitted the legal filing in Delaware, along with its affiliates. The filing protects the company’s assets in the United States while insolvency proceedings take place in Ontario. Lighthouse’s website says it operates in twenty-one cities in North America and has sold more than seven million tickets to its exhibitions.”
St. Ignatius Acquires Architecturally Significant Lakeside Bank Building Designed by Stanley Tigerman
“The former Lakeside Bank branch that was originally an architecturally innovative library for the blind and disabled has been bought by its across-the-street neighbor, St. Ignatius College Prep,” reports Lee Bey at the Sun-Times. “This two-acre parcel will allow us to continue to enhance our athletic programs at Rice Park,” a St. Ignatius athletic space just east of the bank, the school relays. “In the short term, the building will provide washrooms, storage space and expansion for our strength and conditioning programs.”
U.S. #1 Vintage’s Dominique Darabi Was Seventy-Five
“Dominique Darabi was a bridge between the ‘wild’ Wicker Park of years past and the more expensive, sanitized one that exists today,” reports Block Club. “A former French chef, the longtime vintage and antique picker operated U.S. # 1 Vintage Clothing in the neighborhood for almost thirty years. As a consummate collector, Darabi sold clothing and memorabilia that ranged from T-shirts to rare vintage finds from the fifties… U.S. # 1 Vintage closed in late 2020 after an illegal partial demolition of its Milwaukee Avenue building ultimately forced Darabi out. But he remained a regular presence in Wicker Park, setting up racks of clothes outside.”
Will Google’s Opening In Three Years Help The Loop?
“Google surprised many last year when it agreed to buy the James R. Thompson Center in the heart of the Loop. The tech giant hasn’t revealed its plans for the Helmut Jahn-designed building, where it plans to open an office by 2026, but that hasn’t stopped speculation that the project may give downtown Chicago a much-needed jolt,” front-pages the Tribune. “The Google effect has already worked its magic in Chicago. The Fulton Market neighborhood just west of downtown was largely occupied by food wholesalers and distributors in 2015 when the tech giant planted its Midwest headquarters [in] a mammoth former cold storage building renovated by developer Sterling Bay. The neighborhood is now one of the nation’s hottest office markets, with new skyscrapers and streets crowded with shoppers and diners.”
Neighbors Call For Solution To Humboldt Park Tent City
“Humboldt Park neighbors are begging officials for solutions as the unhoused population in the neighborhood’s namesake park continues to swell,” reports Block Club. “The park’s tent city has since grown to include about forty people, their bright orange tents visible from North and California avenues… Disquieted neighbors want the city to help residents of the park find stable housing… Some also have health and safety concerns… like residents using the park and nearby alleyways” as a toilet.
Real Estate Behemoth Jones Lang LaSalle Wants To Unload A Third Of Aon Center HQ
Jones Lang LaSalle has “put almost one-third of its Aon Center office up for sublease, a telling move about the staying power of remote work,” reports Crain’s. “The Chicago-based company this month formally began marketing more than 61,000 square feet at its Aon Center headquarters for sublease… The space on the 47th and 48th floors represents about thirty-percent of JLL’s workspace in the East Loop skyscraper, where its lease runs through May 2032.”
Canadian Developer Proposes Another 2,500 Apartments On Seven Acres Near Casino
“The Canadian developer aiming to build more than 2,600 apartments on the southern tip of Goose Island has unveiled plans for three more residential towers across the Chicago River from the project, a proposal that would add almost 2,500 more rental units to the riverfront and a major development next to the site where Bally’s intends to build a massive casino and hotel complex,” reports Danny Ecker at Crain’s. “Vancouver, B.C.-based Onni Group wants to develop the seven-acre property at 700 West Chicago with a trio of apartment buildings rising as high as fifty-seven stories and totaling 2,451 units… The site is immediately north of the planned Bally’s casino property and south of the Goose Island property at 901 North Halsted where Onni is preparing to begin work on Halsted Pointe, a group of high rises with 2,650 apartments.”
DINING & DRINKING
Reservations are open beginning Saturday, August 5 for Ummo, from Somos Hospitality, a team that includes Mexican superstar chef Carlos Gaytán, reports Eater Chicago. Chef José Sosa, a veteran chef who has worked at Gibsons Restaurant Group, is in charge of the kitchen. “A native of Mexico City, Sosa has created a regional Italian menu that is served inside the former home of a landmark River North bar. Billy Dec’s Rockit Bar & Grill closed in 2019.” Dishes will include “carpaccio di pulpo served with Calabrian tomato aioli; risotto al funghi with wild mushrooms and winter truffle juice; grilled halibut with tomato-mussels broth, dry-aged beef and pasta.” (“Ummo” is derived from the word “fumo” in Italian, which translates to “smoke.”)
Yokocho Reopens In Fulton Market
Yokocho, named one of the best new restaurants of 2019 by Chicago magazine, is reopening. “Conceived by the visionary Susan Thompson (Sushi Dokku and Booze Box Lounge), Yokocho showcases an innovative blend of two authentic Japanese dining experiences‚ Yokocho (Japanese alley bar) and Omakase (‘Trust the Chef’),” the restaurant relays. “Guests enter via a vibrant Japanese alley where they can savor meticulously crafted dishes in a relaxed yet elegantly casual setting, evoking the nostalgic charm of a traditional Japanese Yokocho.” Yokocho is open for lunch (delivery and pick up only), dinner and drinks. More here.
Aikana, “the third restaurant in the space that was Grace and Yugen” on West Randolph, is closed, reports Mike Gebert at Fooditor. “The South American concept never got much attention… Now comes this announcement: ‘The Aikana Family is honored to have the recent opportunity to grow and expand our experience. To allow this to come to life, we have to take a momentary pause in operations.’ … Maybe there’s a new concept coming. But even the need for one suggests that the once-three-Michelin-starred space is now a cursed location where nothing can… do well.” Website here.
Tavern Pizza Pie Squared Nationwide
“In the world of pizza, Chicago will forever be associated with the gut-busting deep-dish version,” pens Bloomberg. “But recently, it’s the city’s crisp-crusted, tavern-style pie that’s dominating menus from New York to Los Angeles. ‘Nothing is more Chicago than a cracker-thin pizza,’ maintains Tony Scardino, a Windy City pizzaiolo who runs the Professor Pizza pop-up. His family started serving tavern pies to Chicagoans eighty years ago.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Summer Soirée Celebrates Forty Years Of CAN TV
CAN TV will commemorate four decades of work at their Fortieth Anniversary Summer Soirée. “Established by the City of Chicago in 1983 to maximize the involvement of Chicago residents and groups in cable television, CAN TV delivers over 140 hours of original, hyperlocal programming each week.” More here.
Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Virtual Reality “Letters From Drancy” Has Venice Debut
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center’s virtual reality film, “Letters from Drancy,” will debut at the eightieth edition of the Venice International Film Festival of La Biennale di Venezia. It is one of forty-four projects from twenty-five countries selected for Venice Immersive, the XR–Extended Reality section of the festival. Created by the Museum and production company East City Films, “Letters from Drancy” uses virtual reality to share Holocaust survivor Marion Deichmann’s story while illuminating the power of an unbreakable bond between mother and daughter.
“‘My mother was my world, and she was taken from me,’ says Marion. ‘This film is a tribute to her and the millions killed during the Holocaust.’ … Filmed on location in Paris and Normandy, her story is brought to life using 360 video technology alongside 3D environments, motion capture, and a spatial soundtrack. Marion’s childhood memories are shared through powerful animated sequences to visualize their deepest memories and highlight the moments seared into her consciousness. Archival images, documents, and videos are interspersed with live video to paint a picture of life before and during the war.” “Letters from Drancy” will premiere to the public at Illinois Holocaust Museum in October. More here.
StoryStudio Turns Twenty This Week
Ravenswood-based non-profit StoryStudio Chicago is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its founding. Jill Pollack “created StoryStudio Chicago in 2003 to bring the power of storytelling to the Chicago community,” the group relays. “StoryStudio Chicago has provided instruction to more than 10,000 writing students and more than a hundred books have been published as a direct result of StoryStudio Chicago instruction and classes.” “StoryStudio Chicago has surpassed my wildest dreams,” Pollack says. “Our community has grown exponentially and now covers the globe. Community is a much overused word these days but it really does apply here.” More here.
Two Decades At Oak Park’s The Book Table
“The Book Table is celebrating twenty years as an independent bookstore in Oak Park,” reports Wednesday Journal. “The local book retailer has defied stunning changes in the book business… ‘The store has grown and changed in ways we never expected, but in good ways,’ said co-owner Rachel Weaver. ‘It’s been a great twenty years.'”
Talking Pilsen Community Books With Its Employee Owners
“Pilsen Community Books, founded in 2016, made a historical shift in 2020,” reports South Side Weekly. “The shop became Chicago’s only employee-owned and operated independent bookstore… When the store went up for sale in 2019, its former owners found it imperative that the cozy shop on 18th Street landed in hands that were passionate about bookselling. As career booksellers, Mandy Medley and her friends made the decision to buy the store…. ‘We wanted to try to model a different way of owning a business, where the workers own the whole store and are entitled to the profits they make to split equally… The current business model under capitalism is not sustainable for the people who actually put in the work to build the “things,” more specifically the book industry.'”
Twenty-Eight Texas School Libraries Converted Into Punishment Centers
“The Houston Independent School District will eliminate librarian positions at twenty-eight schools this upcoming year and [use] some of the libraries as ‘Team Centers’ where kids with behavioral issues will be sent,” reports KPRC 2. “Mayor Sylvester Turner believes the move is unacceptable. ‘You don’t close libraries in some of the schools in your most underserved communities, and you’re keeping libraries open in other schools.'”
Jackalope Updates On Armory Move
“The City of Chicago has officially announced its plan to temporarily house legal asylum seekers at Broadway Armory Park, where Jackalope has produced its mainstage productions since 2013,” the company relays. “This emergency, along with other operational issues that we are navigating, resulted in the cancellation of our scheduled world premiere production of ‘Pretty Shahid’ by Omer Abbas Salem, along with the postponement of our annual gala and our sixteenth season… One thing is for certain: Jackalope is here to stay. We are assured by the strength of our relationship with the Parks department, along with the broader Chicago theater community, and we are working to secure a new home base…Though the response to asylum seekers disrupting Chicago Park fieldhouse programming in other parts of the city was met with resistance, Jackalope fully intends to respond with the opposite–creating a culture of welcome and support to our new American residents who have endured so much to arrive in this safe place. It is at the very core of our mission to expand the American identity.”
Links Hall Names Interim Executive Director
Emmanuel Neal becomes Links Hall’s interim executive director in mid-August. “Neal is an experienced consultant, executive coach, and arts professional,” Links Hall relays. “He has worked with many arts organizations, including serving as the interim executive director of Chicago Human Rhythm Project in 2020. He volunteers with the Arts & Business Council and is working on an executive group coaching program for arts leaders. Emmanuel will be with Links Hall across the fall as the Links Hall executive director search committee continues its process.” More here.
Goodman’s “In My Granny’s Garden” Plants In The Parks
A sensory, hands-on experience for the whole family comes to Chicago Parks in Pearl Cleage and Zaron Burnett Jr.’s “In My Granny’s Garden.” The one-hour play includes an interactive workshop for youth under age five and their caregivers, and helps young audiences understand that food doesn’t just come from the grocery store: it’s grown in the ground. Directed by Goodman Theatre BOLD artistic producer Malkia Stampley, this free three-week engagement, which spans thirteen park locations citywide, is produced in partnership with DCASE and culminates in two special encore appearances at Chicago Botanic Garden. “In My Granny’s Garden” will appear August 3-19 at Chicago Park District locations; each location has two performances followed by an interactive workshop, 9:30am and 11:30am. Register and more here. On August 20, “In My Granny’s Garden” appears at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe at 10:30am and 12:30pm. The event is free, but Garden general admission and parking fees apply for nonmembers. More here.
See Chicago Dance Honors Homer Hans Bryant, Ginger Farley
See Chicago Dance, the dance industry’s nonprofit service organization, has announced its 2023 Community Celebration & Awards Presentation, Tuesday, September 19 at Venue West. The annual Community Celebration gathers 250 dance supporters and artists to celebrate Chicago’s dynamic dance community and honor two people who have made a significant, sustained impact. The See Chicago Dance Legacy Award will go to Homer Hans Bryant, founder and artistic director of the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center & Hiplet Ballerinas. Also honored will be former executive director of Chicago Dancemakers Forum Ginger Farley, who is being presented with the Distinguished Service to the Dance Field Award. Tickets are $275 here.
Zowie, It’s YippieFest Weekend
YippieFest returns with its seventh annual happening of onstage acts August 4-6. Theater and performance are among the more than thirty acts to be presented at the Pride Arts Center. YippieFest began in 2017 as an event inspired by the Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Festival, which was a Lakeview tradition, 1989-2016. YippieFest will donate proceeds to local charities Howard Brown, Brave Space Alliance and Greater Chicago Food Depository. Day passes are $15 and a weekend pass is $30. More here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Corporate Cannabis Deals Harshed
“Chicago-based Cresco Labs and Columbia Care called off their $2 billion cannabis megamerger, citing ‘evolving’ market conditions that include falling stock prices, tightening credit and flattening industry sales,” reports the Tribune. They “also scratched the $185 million sale of cannabis facilities in Illinois, New York and Massachusetts to Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, which were part of required antitrust divestitures for the merger.”
Some Indoor Pools Closed As Lifeguards Patrol Beaches
“Indoor pools are closing Friday as lifeguards are reassigned to work at beaches and outdoor pools,” reports Block Club. “The indoor closures could run for at least a month… Outdoor pools will remain open through August 20… Staffers at indoor pools said lifeguards will be redirected toward the city’s beaches since some lifeguards must leave to go back to school.”
Customers Dunned For ComEd’s Self-Promotion
“Switch on Summer. EV Rally. Solar Education & Outreach. All brought to you by Commonwealth Edison. ComEd promotes itself as a force for environmental and social justice progress, helping to create the ‘Community of the Future’ through actively marketed events,” reports Crain’s. “The utility’s reputation is in dire need of burnishing after three years of relentless public focus, in the press and in the court system, on its near decade of public corruption.” Ratepayers are paying for these “PR campaigns, which include the celebratory turning on of Buckingham Fountain in mid-May, which ComEd calls Switch on Summer. ComEd most recently promoted the event with three hours of family fun, live music and giveaways… Then there’s the EV Rally, where teen girls are encouraged to ‘build and race their own electric go-karts.'”
Texas Teacher Fired For Attending Drag Show
A Houston-area teacher was fired for attending a drag show at a downtown bar, reports the Houston Chronicle. “The nineteen-year veteran teacher was let go based on social media posts on her personal account from a drag performance at Houston’s Hamburger Mary’s… The school’s senior pastor referenced the school’s operating policies manual when asked about the firing. The pastor specifically cited a line stating that employees ‘will act in a godly and moral fashion at work, on Facebook and in my community.'” Kristi Maris “agreed to the clause but wasn’t aware attending a drag show violated it… ‘They’re entertainers. I would’ve never thought in a million years that this would happen. Never. We were in disbelief. We still are. We were heartbroken. We had relationships with parents and the kids, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye to a lot of the kids.'”
Yellow Trucking Company Shut Down At End Of July, Even After $700 Million Pandemic Bailout
“Yellow, the beleaguered trucking company that received a $700 million pandemic loan from the federal government, notified staff on Friday that it is shutting down and laying off employees at all of its locations,” reports the New York Times. “The move comes ahead of an expected bankruptcy filing by Yellow… The closure of the company would mean the loss of approximately 30,000 jobs and mark the end of a business that just three years ago was deemed so critical to the nation’s supply chains that it warranted a federal bailout… Yellow is one of the largest freight trucking companies in the United States, and its downfall could have a ripple effect across the nation’s supply chain.” (Shutdown notice has been served to the Teamsters.)
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]