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Art Institute of Chicago Workers United Gain First Contract
The bargaining committee for staff at the Art Institute and School of the Art Institute of Chicago have reached a tentative agreement on their first union contract with management, the union announces.
South Side Artists In Sacred Spaces Launches
Arts Alliance Illinois, Partners for Sacred Places and Bustling Spaces have begun South Side Artists in Sacred Spaces: a city-funded program that connects neighborhood artists in need of sustainable and affordable work environments with local congregations that have available space. The program will offer capital grants to participating congregations and rent subsidies to resident artists. Details here.
Restoration Of “Builders of the Cultural Present,” South Shore Public Art Mural, Begun
Dorian Sylvain Studio, alongside artists Bernard Williams and Damon Lamar Reed, launched the restoration of “Builders of the Cultural Present,” a public art mural located in the South Shore Business District, on Monday. “This is the mural’s second restoration since it was created by Mitchell Caton and Calvin Jones in 1981. Located on the northeast corner of East 71st and South Jeffery, ‘Builders of the Cultural Present’ is a twenty-by-twenty-foot art piece, depicting an African aesthetic, as represented by ancestral masks, symbols and patterns. Designed as a tribute to African American creators and changemakers, ‘Builders of the Cultural Present’ features poet Gwendolyn Brooks, sculptor Marion Perkins, and Illinois Democrat Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. The mural restoration is intended to be a two-week project with an expected completion date of August 11. A culminating event will be held in front of the mural in early September.”
Mana Contemporary Director Of Community And Programming Exits
S. Y. Lim, now-former director of community and programming at Mana Contemporary, writes that she “will be working at the Public Media Institute as a programming director, assisting with running MdW Fair and Co-Prosperity.” She also shares developments from her role as executive director of 062: “In addition, a few months ago, Tokyo Art Book Fair invited 062 to put up an exhibition with Thomas Kong at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo in conjunction with the Tokyo Art Book Fair later this year.” More Mana here.
Commissioner Gia Biagi Announces Departure from CDOT
The city relays: “Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commissioner Gia Biagi today announced the resignation of her post, effective Aug. 11, 2023. Biagi was appointed in December 2019 and led the department during a transformative period, delivering hundreds of innovative transportation projects citywide, creating a nation-leading strategic plan focused on safe, sustainable, and efficient mobility options and building equity into its daily operations.” Streetsblog shares reactions from the active transportation community.
CPS Faces Driver Shortage
“Some Chicago Public Schools students will not have bus service to class on the first day of school as the district [grapples] with a bus driver shortage,” reports the Sun-Times. “CPS will implement the system it approved last year due to the shortage, prioritizing bus service for students with disabilities and those who are housing insecure who have requested transportation.”
Malls Plunge In Value
Local malls are in a valuation “death spiral,” reports the Wall Street Journal, singling out Crystal Mall in Waterford, Connecticut, which was worth $150 million in 2012, but was recently offloaded for a mere $9.5 million.
DINING & DRINKING
Picante Returns In Original Location In Wicker Park
Picante Taqueria, which closed in 2022 after two decades of burritos, is reopening Friday at 2016 West Division, reports Block Club. “Owner Felipe Caro decided to shutter the taqueria amid staffing shortages and a diminished post-pandemic late-night bar scene. That included losing longtime chef Isaac Reyes.” While other notions filled the space, “nothing quite stuck” and Caro is reopening Picante with Reyes in the kitchen. “Never say never….At one time I said ‘You know what, I’m done.’ But [Picante] is really what got everything going for me. It was really the key to my success, so I’m going back to my roots.” Omnivore commenter on politics, baseball, statistics and myriad other topics Nate Silver got his start as a burrito baby, reviewing local Mexican food; Silver’s 2007 take on Picante is here: “The wait times from the kitchen tend to be longer than average, perhaps because the kitchen is as cramped as the rest of the establishment and so it’s hard to prepare multiple orders at once. Picante manages to be at once off-putting and endearing.”
Great American Lobster Fest Returns To Navy Pier
The Midwest’s largest lobster and seafood festival, Great American Lobster Fest (presented by White Claw), will celebrate its eighth annum at Navy Pier on Saturday, August 19, 1pm-11pm and Sunday, August 20, 1pm-8pm, sharing the weekend with Chicago’s Air & Water Show. “The live lobsters will be flown in fresh from the cold waters of the East Coast, prepared, and served for ticketholders daily. The fest will also feature other seafood selections, non-seafood related food, sweets and vegetarian options.” Reservations and details here.
Urban Luxe Café Comes To South Shore
“A café and neighborhood gathering spot with plans to give back to the community through giveaways and scholarships is set to open on 79th Street” in South Shore, reports Block Club Chicago. Urban Luxe Café “will feature coffee and ‘heavy bites’ like breaded oysters, egg rolls and personal pizzas that start at $10.99. Sandwiches start at $10.99 and include the ‘grown folk PB&J’ and a plant-based-chicken patty.” Twenty different coffee drinks start at $3, and there will be freshly made seasoned popcorn. Menu here.
Soule To Soule Supplants Soule In West Town
“Soule, which moved to a larger space in January in North Lawndale, is… returning to West Town” on Friday, reports Eater Chicago. Chef and owner Bridgette Flagg didn’t want the same vibe at both her restaurants, so there will be changes including a BYO bartender who will mix cocktails using liquor that customers provide.” Soule to Soule “will have boxes where customers can keep them [mobile phones] out of the way so their focus will be on socializing face-to-face. No one will be scorned for using their phones—customers are still free to take photos of food for their social media accounts.”
Street Vendors Speak Out
“From Albany Park to Pilsen, Chicago street vendors have faced challenges for years around licensing and public health requirements,” reports WBEZ. “As Mayor Johnson and a new City Council settle into a new agenda, these small business owners hope they’ll get some more help around licensing and crime.”
NPR Concerned: Who Will Pick Crops And How Will “Work Ethic” Be Instilled?
All Things Considered wonders where the agricultural labor force will come from, headlining a report. “As these farmworkers’ children seek a different future, who will pick the crops?” NPR asserts, “For farmers across America, finding enough labor has become a top concern. Decades ago, whole families of migrant farmworkers, the majority of them from Mexico, would travel around the U.S., following a route from Texas, through California, and eventually making their way to Washington. Back then, the U.S.-Mexico border was quite porous… In communities across rural America, a generational shift is contributing.” Adds the program, speaking with a third-generation farmworker, “Looking back, she says the migrant life instilled in her great morals, values and work ethic, qualities she wanted to pass on to her children. But she also wanted to give them a better life.”
Meanwhile, in Chicago, reports CBS 2, “Migrants sell whatever they can for a living as they wait for work permits.” “The Magnificent Mile is known for its luxury shops. But… it is a place where some–like newly arrived migrant Maria–come to sell simpler things, like candy, just to get by… ‘Asi me toca vender para darle de comer a mis hijos,’ or, ‘So I have to sell to feed my children’… Maria is one of more than 11,000 people who have arrived in Chicago… and like so many, she had to cross rivers and jungles… ‘Los pescados-ese nos salvava a nosotros,’ or, ‘The fish, they saved us.'”
FILM & TELEVISION
When Will The Never-Ending Film Industry Strike End?
“This week, the Writers Strike rolled past its ninety-day mark, on track to handily break the hundred-day barrier of 2007-08, while the SAG-AFTRA walkout, in its infancy, is still only yet learning to walk,” observes Richard Rushfield of the Ankler industry newsletter. “How long will it last? No end in sight remains the operative depressing estimate. Many thousands, likely tens of thousands out of work, sidelined… Is this the end of the world? (The world being, obviously, Hollywood.) It may be, but not because of the strikes per se. The strikes are a symptom of the larger disease that very much has the capacity to kill this industry. But the strikes themselves, well, in the words of Robert Duvall’s Colonel Kilgore, ‘Someday this war’s gonna end.'”
Regal Owner Cineworld Emerges From Bankruptcy
Cineworld Group, the world’s second largest cinema chain operator behind AMC Entertainment, “has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy after nearly eleven months, coming out with lower debt and a new slate of management and board,” reports Reuters.
South Loop Theater Security Guard Dies After Altercation
“A seventy-two-year-old security officer died after an altercation with a juvenile at ShowPlace ICON Theatre & Kitchen at Roosevelt Collection in the South Loop on Saturday night,” reports the Sun-Times. “Police were at the theater [around] 10pm when they were flagged down by security officer Jackey R. Fisher… seeking help in restraining and removing from the theater a female juvenile who had allegedly hurled a slushy at another security officer… Fisher told police he witnessed the incident and was not attacked… After the police escorted the teen away, the officers heard screams for help after Fisher passed out in the revolving doors of the theater.” A doctor who was at the theater “tried to administer CPR and used a defibrillator on Fisher.” He “had worked at the theater for several years and was known as an ‘older uncle’ who was ‘wise’ around the theater, especially to the younger employees.”
“Publishing Didn’t Used To Be Better”
“Conglomerate publishing in America is not in a great place, either because of pay inequity, diversity, profit-mongering, and lack of imagination,” posts Belt Magazine founder and publisher Anne Trubek. “Major publishing, however, is much, much, less blatantly sexist and racist than it was in the 1950s… And overall it offers more opportunities than ever before.” But “there are far, far, far more options for authors to have their books published today than there were at any time in the past. Self-publishing has made gatekeepers an option rather than a necessity, and offers writers the freedom so many desire. There are far, far, far more small presses, university presses, and non-Big Five presses for authors seeking a different experience than the Big Five… What upsets me most about this line of thinking… is not that it misreads history so much that it is fundamentally conservative. The past was no place for most of the best writers of today to succeed. Imagining a new publishing ecosystem is a more hopeful and radical task.”
Joyce Foundation Grant For UI Springfield’s Public Affairs Reporting
“A grant from the Joyce Foundation will significantly boost the financial support for students in the University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Affairs Reporting program, the renowned ten-month master’s degree program that trains journalists to cover government and politics,” UIS relays. “The two-year, $100,000 grant will supplement and enhance the funding PAR students receive while they are working for professional news organizations as full-time reporting interns in the state Capitol.”
New Wilco Album Next Month; Lead Single Now
Wilco have announced a new album, “Cousin,” available worldwide September 29 on dBpm Records, and present its lead single, “Evicted,” here. “I’m cousin to the world,” frontman Jeff Tweedy says in a release. “I don’t feel like I’m a blood relation, but maybe I’m a cousin by marriage.” The release continues, “Produced by the singular Welsh artist Cate Le Bon, ‘Cousin’ marks the first time Wilco have handed the reins over to a producer outside their immediate circle of collaborators since ‘Sky Blue Sky.’ Le Bon’s influences—among them the inclusion of saxophone, cheap Japanese guitars, and a cinematic, New Wave-style drum machine—drive the album into the future.”
Jazz Record Art Collective Series Turns Ten
Fulton Street Collective celebrates the ten-year anniversary of its jazz series Jazz Record Art Collective with seven August performances. The series, directed by Chris Anderson, features line-ups of Chicago musicians who perform a reinterpretation of iconic or overlooked jazz records in their entirety. The first performance was in September 2013, with Neal Alger Quartet performing Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil.” Since then, Jazz Record Art Collective has hosted over 300 performances. Tonight’s show: Trevor Hill Sextet will perform Harold Land’s 1960 “West Coast Blues.” All shows will be at 1821 West Hubbard, 7:30pm. More shows here.
Joffrey Has A New Academy Director
Former Joffrey company artist and rehearsal director Suzanne Lopez has been appointed as Abbott Academy Director of the Joffrey Academy of Dance, official school of The Joffrey Ballet. Lopez takes over after nineteen years as a company artist, fourteen years as academy faculty, and most recently, seven years as rehearsal director. “Educated by Joffrey Ballet co-founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, Lopez intends to embrace Robert Joffrey’s founding principles into the curriculum of the Academy and its Pre-Professional and Trainee Programs, leading it into a new area of excellence and elevating its reputation as a premier institution for dance education.” More here.
American Blues Theater Sets Blue Ink Festival Of New Plays
American Blues Theater presents the 2023 Blue Ink Festival of new plays, featuring four staged readings of works by the 2023 Blue Ink Award winner and featured finalists. The line-up includes award winner Kristoffer Diaz’s “Things With Friends;” and finalists “Trouble (at the Vista View Mobile Home Estates)” by Audrey Cefaly; “Cold Spring” by Victor Lesniewski; and “Uhuru” by Gloria Majule. August 12-13. Tickets and more here.
Deeply Rooted Dancer Gets Princess Grace Award
Deeply Rooted Dance Theater company dancer Emani Drake has received a 2023 Princess Grace Dance Performance Honoraria Award in recognition of her immense talents and her contribution to the artform of dance. More here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Northwestern Brings In Loretta Lynch To Supervise Hazing Investigations
“Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will lead a sweeping review of Northwestern University and its beleaguered athletics department,” reports the Trib.
Bradley University Restructures Over Finances
Bradley University, “citing a budgetary shortfall in the millions, announced it will be undergoing restructuring and cost-saving measures,” reports WMBD-TV Peoria. “Bradley University president Stephen Standifird released a statement [about] financial challenges… including a budget shortfall of $13 million for fiscal year 2023, nearly ten-percent of the school’s overall operating budget… ‘Instead of continuing down its current path, Bradley must keep up with changes in market demands and evolve to better serve today’s students. As we continue to grow and adapt to these changing demands of higher education, we must become more agile and responsive to the needs of our community and the world at large.'”
Hoosier Near-Total Ban On Abortion Takes Effect
“An Indiana law banning most abortions—with narrow exceptions for rape and incest—[was expected to go] into effect Tuesday,” reports AP (via the Tribune). “The law, which was passed in a July 2022 special session after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal right to an abortion, had been held up by an injunction until the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in late June that the ban does not violate the state constitution.” Also in the Tribune: “The state of Illinois is launching a service to help connect women seeking abortions who have more complex medical issues with the proper providers when standalone clinics can’t provide the necessary services.”
Crain’s on the $23 million Illinois will invest: “While our neighboring states revert to forcing back-alley abortions, Illinois will remain a safe haven for women,” Governor Pritzker said Monday… “And I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure widespread equitable access to reproductive rights.” To expand Illinois’ capacity to care for the sharp increase in abortion-seekers, the state’s Department of Public Health will spend $10 million to create a hotline to aid callers in finding providers and making appointments… The hotline is in its beginning stages as IDPH puts out a request for proposals.”
Pickleball Pops In Fulton Market
“Big City Pickle is opening a temporary location on a vacant lot at the corner of Green and Lake that will operate for at least the next year,” reports Block Club. Opening this week with nine courts that should expand to forty by spring, Big City Pickle already “has two locations, in Gold Coast and Goose Island… The company plans to enclose some of the courts during the winter so that players can compete in inclement weather.” Cocktails will be served and provisions are being made for caterers and food trucks for rentals.
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