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Michael Rakowitz Creates “Hanging Garden” For Asylum Seekers
“A living installation at the Baltic Centre in Gateshead [England] uses horticulture to send a political message while also offering solace,” reports the Financial Times. “Sparkling turquoise streams fed by a mighty aqueduct, lush rows of variegated trees and shrubs: a bearded Assyrian king, in a red-and-gold hilltop palace, surveys his paradisiacal gardens. This ancient scene, captured in recycled-cardboard-and-foil relief on a monumental wood panel, forms the centrepiece of ‘The Waiting Gardens of the North,’ Michael Rakowitz’s inspiring installation. This transforms the sky-lit top gallery of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in northeast England into a fragrant greenhouse—a fount of memory and a catalyst for human exchange. Chicago-based Rakowitz, whose Iraqi-Jewish maternal grandparents fled Baghdad in 1946, is best known for the Assyrian winged bull that occupied Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth in 2018-20.”
DOCUMENT Represents Kiah Celeste
DOCUMENT is co-representing artist Kiah Celeste alongside Swivel Gallery, which coincides with her solo exhibition at DOCUMENT Lisbon, “What In The World Becomes Me,” and a two person-exhibition at Swivel Gallery, “Woolgather.” “Celeste primarily uses recycled industrial and synthetic materials to build into abstract three-dimensional forms, rendering them anti-functional. The stability of each piece relies on the interdependence and embrace of the objects in question. Celeste allows these objects to use the autonomy they are bestowed with by their physical qualities. Using weight, flexibility, shape, tension, pressure, and color to her advantage, they become an object of affection, texturally and aesthetically, retiring their original functions.” More on Kiah Celeste’s work here.
UMMA Acquires Work By McArthur Binion
The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) has acquired McArthur Binion’s “Self:Portrait,” 2022, GRAY relays. “Binion is recognized for creating mixed media works that blend the visual vocabulary of Minimalism with imagery and found materials from his own life. The paintings in the ‘Self:Portrait’ series feature a core layer of personal iconography, developed from copies of photos and personal documents, including the artist’s passport and birth certificate. This collaged surface is covered with rhythmic, geometric patterning in a range of vivid colors, using oil paint stick. The resulting abstract compositions offer a distinct amalgam between object and experience and artist and work. The painting is the first work by the artist to enter UMMA’s collection and reflects the museum’s commitment to expanding its holdings of works by artists of color and those with ties to Michigan and the region. A portion of proceeds from the sale will go to support Binion’s Detroit-based foundation Modern Ancient Brown, which nurtures BIPOC artists and writers.” More here.
Museum Entrance Fees Going Up
Is Chicago next? It’s $30 to get into many New York museums now: “Audience sizes just aren’t what they used to be at the Guggenheim Museum, where membership—once a dependable source of income—has declined by nearly sixteen percent since 2019,” reports the New York Times, “and attendance in June slumped by twenty-six percent, from 89,600 to 65,900, over the same time frame. What has increased is the cost of running the institution. A newly unionized work force has bumped up salary expenses, while inflation is driving up the cost of everything from heating to shipping artworks, according to senior museum officials.”
Titan Walls Turns Five
Chicago’s annual mural festival, Titan Walls, is returning for its fifth and biggest year August 7-12 at District Brew Yards. Titan Walls, hosted by local art agency Muros, partners with emerging and globally recognized artists to beautify buildings around the West Town and Ukrainian Village neighborhoods. The free, outdoor festival will feature live DJs, food options and art experiences. Attendees can watch large scale art come to life all around District Brew Yards by artists like Sentrock, Mr. B Baby and Blake Jones. Tickets here.
Intuit Seeks Marketing And Communications Manager
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art is looking for a marketing and communications manager, dedicated to raising public awareness of the museum and works with the museum’s leadership team and board of directors to build the organization’s marketing strategy. Listing here.
Oak Park Considers Not Demolishing Harry Weese Edifice
Clamor over the potential teardown of Oak Park Village Hall at a cost of $118 million has been heard: “The Oak Park village board has backtracked on its bombshell July 5 decision to proceed with designing a new building to replace the current, historic structure. The hope is now to preserve the structure, while updating it to accommodate modern needs,” writes Wednesday Journal. “This is good to see. Oak Park has a change of heart about demolishing its Harry Weese-designed village hall. And continued kudos to Wednesday Journal for breaking and staying on top of this important story,” posts Sun-Times architecture critic Lee Bey, “specifically [journalist] Stacey Sheridan for breaking and staying on top of this story.”
Metra Adding Electric Line Blue Island Trains
Metra is adding four trains—two daily round trips—to the weekday schedule for the Metra Electric District’s Blue Island Branch starting August 14, reports Trains. “Those trains, and adjustments to the current eighteen daily trains on the branch, will also address ridership trends and service gaps to Hyde Park and areas south of the 115th Street/Kensington station. Reverse-peak ridership on the Electric line now exceeds pre-pandemic levels, Metra says, and the new schedule addresses this.” The new schedules are here.
Bag Prohibition In Evanston
“Businesses in Evanston are no longer allowed to give out single-use plastic shopping or produce bags. Grocers may still give out compostable plastic produce bags,” reports CBS 2. “The ordinance also includes a ten-cent tax on remaining types of single-use bags, and requires single-use paper bags to be made of at least forty-percent recycled materials.” And for the fine print: “The bag tax does not apply to restaurants, bags provided by pharmacists for prescription drugs, newspaper bags, or bags used to carry items purchased by Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program participants or people with Illinois Link cards or other government food assistance programs, non-chain stores, or retailers with less than 10,000 square feet of space.”
Wheaton All Night Flea Market Returns
Zurko’s All Night Flea Market returns to DuPage County Fairgrounds Saturday, August 19, 3pm-1am, including pop culture attractions such as “The BOZEUM,” showcasing hundreds of original vintage Bozo the Clown treasures from 1946 onward. Offered for sale will be “thousands of treasures by dealers from across the Midwest. Dealers will be bringing an eclectic mix of antiques, collectibles, toys, sports collectibles, crafts, artwork and pop culture.” The “market will be held Rain or Moonshine, as dealers will be in buildings, sheds, tents and open-air.” Admission is $10 with free parking. More here.
DINING & DRINKING
Judson & Moore Brings Whiskey And Music
Judson & Moore, the family-run craft whiskey distillery located in Avondale’s Rockwell on the River, is bringing music with its whiskey in coming weeks. On Thursdays and Fridays, doors open at 7pm for performances from national touring acts and local artists. “Judson & Moore was created as a community space for those who appreciate amazing local talent and quality whiskey,” the distillery says. This week’s shows: August 3, Julie Williams, noted by CMT Next Women of Country; and August 4, Little Mazarn, the experimental-folk banjo-saw duo of Lindsey Verrill and Jeff Johnston. More here.
Pitmaster Rodney Scott Returns To Spice House
The Spice House, purveyor of spices, herbs, blends and extracts, will again celebrate their collaboration with barbecue pitmaster Rodney Scott. The Spice House x Rodney Scott was developed alongside Scott to bring new tastes to barbecue fans and grillers. Four new rubs have been added: Ginger Chile Espresso Maple Rub, Black Chile Coffee Cocoa Rub, Black Garlic Sesame Gochugaru Rub and Porcini Garlic Herb Pepper Rub. The James Beard Award Winner returns to the brand’s Old Town store on August 24. Light bites and signature cocktails will be served while Chef Rodney autographs his signature collection gift set for ticketholders. Tickets and more here.
FILM & TELEVISION
Chicago Industry Exchange Opens Registration
Industry Days is the Chicago International Film Festival’s hub for filmmakers and industry professionals to connect, share ideas, and find inspiration: “Meet with executives, agents, and producers in our Decision-Maker Roundtables, informative panel conversations, master classes and networking events.” Early registration is open here.
Chicago Filmmakers Adds Board Member
Experimental filmmaker Chi-Jang Yin is the newest member of the Chicago Filmmakers board of directors. “Twenty years ago,” she posts, “I interned at Filmmakers as a film festival assistant and worked under Patrick Friel and Brenda Webb. Always inspired by Patrick’s film programs, I loved sitting in the comfy dark room and watching films all day. At that time, Chicago Filmmakers was located in the old Andersonville address. I missed the simple big rooms filled with files, boxes, film reels, and second-hand furniture. Now is the time to give back to the incredible film community that has nurtured me all these years. Excited to work with filmmakers and brilliant minds—Raul Benitez, Gaylon Emerzian, Floyd Webb, Adam Salasek, Peter Kuttner and Michael Woods to support the growth of inclusivity in the experimental films and independent film industry.”
“Drinking water at a crowded festival like Lollapalooza means you’ll probably have to end up in line for the [washroom] at some point—which can cause some attendees to limit their water intake. But that can quickly lead to dehydration,” reports the Sun-Times. “Excessive sweating, irritability, nausea and lightheadedness are signs that someone might be experiencing dehydration… Anyone experiencing those symptoms should get out of the sun as soon as possible, peel off some layers of clothing and use a wet rag or towel on the back of their neck and wrist.”
Rachel Barton Pine Makes Hollywood Bowl Debut
“When soloists make their Hollywood Bowl debuts, you usually expect them to trot out the warhorse concertos—Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Beethoven, or something else familiar for the picnickers in the great outdoors,” reports San Francisco Classical Voice. “Not Rachel Barton Pine. In making her belated Bowl debut at age forty-eight on July 27 with Stéphane Denève and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago-based virtuoso violinist chose a relatively new large-scale concerto that had been written for her by jazz pianist and sometime classical composer Billy Childs. Pine’s enterprising choice shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, though, because her first concerto album, made at age twenty-three, consisted of little-known concertos by Black composers… That led to her starting a Music by Black Composers initiative through her foundation, which at last count had accumulated more than 900 works by more than 450 different composers.”
Pine also has a new album, “Dependent Arising,” on Cedille, which explores “unexpected confluences between classical and heavy metal music. The album pairs Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with Earl Maneein’s heavy metal-influenced classical concerto ‘Dependent Arising’—Concerto for Violin and Orchestra—which was written for Pine—performed with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Tito Muñoz. Pine, who is a heavy metal enthusiast, explores connections between modern classical music and heavy metal showcasing her own experiences within these genres. Both concertos explore themes of struggle, oppression, and defiance, which define Shostakovich’s oeuvre and resonate deeply with the essence of heavy metal.”
Ruth Page Center Opens House
Ruth Page Center for the Arts’ free summer open house will be August 6 from 10am-2pm. Led by Ruth Page Center’s professionals and instructors, the event will offer free classes for those who want to experience the variety of dance programming at the center. Ruth Page Center for the Arts recently celebrated fifty years of service to the Chicago dance community, and “more than just a building, it is a hub for creative exploration, education, connection and expression.” Optional registration here.
Congo Square Looks At Class In “Welcome To Matteson!”
Congo Square Theatre Company will present “Welcome To Matteson!,” a dark comedy by Chicago-born playwright Inda Craig-Galván, looking at issues like housing injustice and classism. The play follows two Black couples over the course of a dinner party; one couple has lived in the Chicago suburb of Matteson for years, the other has just moved in after being forcibly relocated from the Cabrini-Green housing projects. Tensions rise as each couple is forced to confront their own biases.” Directed by Congo Square Theatre Artistic Director Ericka Ratcliff, the play features Congo Square ensemble members Ronald L. Conner, Anthony L. Irons, and Alexis J. Roston alongside Sydney Charles. The run is at Abbott Hall at Northwestern Campus, 710 North DuSable Lake Shore, September 7–October 1. More here.
Louisville Ballet Needs $3 Million
Donations are needed to “sustain [the] future of [the] Louisville Ballet,” reports the Courier-Journal. “The ballet hasn’t released a figure on how much it’s lost over the past three years, but [the ballet’s CEO] says it has set an unprecedented fundraising goal of $3 million in contributions for this year to help buoy the struggling organization… What we need is the community to come forward, and provide their support as patrons as well as their gifts, in order for us to sustain the future of the Louisville Ballet.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Chicago Humanities Adds Three
The fall programming for the Chicago Humanities Festival will include sixty or more attractions, and will be announced in coming weeks; already set are novelist Zadie Smith on September 19; Keegan-Michael Key and his wife Elle Key on October 5; and “Queer Eye”‘s Bobby Berk on October 21. Details at the links.
Shedd Marks Major Renovations, $500 Million Across Eight Years
“Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium unveiled new details on Tuesday for its yearslong renovation plan that will make waves for both visitors and animals, including new immersive exhibits with bilingual signs and updating animal habitats,” reports the Sun-Times. “This summer marks the start of the major changes of the eight-year, $500 million transformation.” Bridget Coughlin, president and CEO of the Shedd Aquarium, tells the paper, “Over the course of the next four years, we are going to lean in to our ability to connect people with the natural world, come eye to eye with nature, build compassion, and then be a catalyst to a groundswell of community efforts in conservation.”
Michigan Adds Money For Kids
“The Michigan budget includes [$16.5 million] funding for a pilot program to give every pregnant person a $1,500 one-time payment plus $500 each month for the first year of their child’s life. The program will be tested starting in January in Flint, where the childhood poverty rate is fifty-percent,” relays More Perfect Union. “The Rx Kids program has secured enough funding to run for at least three years, and will provide poor families in Flint with direct cash assistance to help alleviate the symptoms of poverty, including worse health outcomes.” Details here.
Pritzker Military Foundation Grants $500,000 To National Coast Guard Museum Association
In honor of National Coast Guard Day, Friday, August 4, the Pritzker Military Foundation has announced a commitment of $500,000 to support construction of the National Coast Guard Museum in New London, Connecticut, as well as the development of galleries and exhibits and programming. An additional $500,000 in matching funds are available under the grant. The gift is in honor of the National Coast Guard Museum Association’s “When the Most is Expected” Capital Campaign. This year, the association will receive $100,000, the third installment of a five-year gift totaling $500,000. More here.
Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Takes Aim At Governor
The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board proffered a sharp critique of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker published over the weekend, writes Marcus Gilmer at Crain’s. “The editorial touches on what it considers consequences for ‘workers in the private economy’ as well as Illinois’ pension woes, while labeling the governor a ‘union boss.’ There’s also a reference to Pritzker’s reported White House aspirations and a bold prediction: ‘Mark it down: Democrats will demand a federal taxpayer bailout when Illinois pensions become unaffordable.’ Pritzker previously raised their ire following the signing of a new law that requires any constitutional challenge to state laws to be filed in either Cook or Sangamon counties.”
Philanthropic Longtime CEO Of ComEd James O’Connor Sr. Was Eighty-Six
“‘He was an extremely nice man,’ Fred O’Connor, O’Connor’s son,” told the Tribune. “‘People thought he was very funny, he was kind, he was generous. He was human too, by the way—plenty of foibles—but my goodness, it was a package that I think most of us would be envious of.'” James O’Connor Sr. “was CEO of ComEd, formerly known as Unicom Corp., from 1980 until 1998. While CEO, he received the Order of Lincoln, the highest award given by the state of Illinois.” O’Connor led “the Chicago Chamber of Commerce from 1990 to 1994. He also served on the board of Chicago and national corporations including United Airlines, Armstrong World Industries, Tribune Publishing, Corning, the Chicago Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.”
“‘My dad really was a worker,’ Fred O’Connor said. ‘He almost couldn’t help himself. If you think of an important institution in Chicago, from the Lyric Opera to the Adler Planetarium to the Field Museum to the Art Institute… He’s a lifetime trustee or donor… You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who did more of that.’ … O’Connor was also a trustee of Northwestern University and chaired the Chicago Urban League, Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, the American Cancer Society and the 100 Club.”
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