Get Chicago culture news sent to your inbox every weekday morning. Subscribe to Newcity Today here.
Chicago’s Only Chalk Art Fest Returns To Rogers Park
Chicago’s only chalk art festival, Chalk Howard Street, returns to transform the street surface into blank canvases for national and local street artists, hosted by the nonprofit Rogers Park Business Alliance, along Howard Street between Paulina and Ashland, east of the Howard stop on the Red Line. The free street art festival features live music, local vendors, food and drinks, and immersive street art, along with street squares available for public purchase. Saturday, August 26, 11am-8pm. More here.
No Money Woes For LACMA Edifice-Building: Private Donors Pay Up $750 Million For New Galleries
“Officials at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art revealed that the museum has raised more than the $750 million it needed to build its planned David Geffen Galleries,” reports Artforum. “Private donors accounted for eighty percent of the funding, with the remaining twenty percent coming from Los Angeles County… Among the donors to the controversial project were its namesake, David Geffen, who ponied up $150 million; collector and resorts magnate Elaine Wynn and the foundation of the late oil baron W. M. Keck, who each contributed about $50 million; and New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch, who gave $20 million or more.”
Gig At Gang For Former Transportation Chief
Former City Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi will return to Studio Gang as principal of urbanism, reports Lee Bey at the Sun-Times. “She’ll lead Studio Gang’s planning and urban design work nationally. The firm will merge ‘how we think about cities, how we revitalize them, and how that connects to other important systems, whether that’s emphasizing ecology or looking at the important public policy questions on the ground’… The result of the new focus would be to ‘try to put our tools in service of helping communities solve problems’… Biagi worked for Studio Gang from 2015 to 2019, when she was hired as transportation commissioner by former Mayor Lightfoot.”
Alder Makes Damen Silos Statement
“I stand with my community in their efforts to preserve the historic Damen Grain Silos and to repurpose them in a way that will not only honor the legacy of industry on the Southwest Side of Chicago, but also create equitable economic development opportunities with recreational green space along the riverfront,” Alderwoman Julia Ramirez said in a statement posted to the platform formerly known as Twitter. “I sent a letter requesting that the Department of Buildings delay the review of demolition permits for the structures located at 2900 South Damen, until an agreement can be reached between the city, the current property owner, and community groups on future redevelopment plans for the site.”
“At a community meeting held on August 22, McKinley Park community members… overwhelmingly expressed their desires to preserve the Damen Silos. In December of 2022, State of Illinois auctioned off the Damen Silos property, a 23.4-acre site… to MAT Limited Partnership without a development plan or consideration of community feedback.” Reports the Sun-Times: “City officials promised residents that the planned demolition of the massive century-old grain storage structures known as the Damen Silos on the Southwest Side would be done with safeguards aimed at avoiding environmental hazards.”
Checking Into The Obama Presidential Library In Hoffman Estates
“The gray brick exterior of 2500 Golf Road in the northwest suburb of Hoffman Estates, once a Plunkett Furniture showroom and warehouse, has decorative front and side portico entrances. But there’s no grand architectural detail or even a sign to suggest that inside, for the past seven years, it’s been the temporary home of the official Barack Obama Presidential Library,” writes Lynn Sweet at the Sun-Times. “Inside the fortified and climate-controlled incognito Obama library… twenty-three staffers—mostly archivists and technicians—were digitizing, cataloging, photographing and preserving records and artifacts from Obama’s two terms. That’s about twenty-five million unclassified paper documents… and 35,000 physical artifacts, including gifts given to the Obamas.”
Fine Arts Building Replacing City’s Last Manually Operated Elevators
“We have been in conversation with our elevator operators and their union, and we celebrate and honor the work they have contributed to the Fine Arts Building over the decades. Our elevator operators are not only essential to the fabric of the building, they are also our friends and colleagues. We are making every effort to identify opportunities for them to remain a part of our community,” proprietor Erica Berger of Berger Realty Group and Managing Artistic Director Jacob Harvey of the Fine Arts Building say in a statement of the 125-year-old artists’ edifice. “We have made the difficult decision to convert our manual elevators to updated mechanical elevators over the next two years. The continued maintenance and repair of these manual elevators (the last in the city) are cost-prohibitive and challenging. As we modernize the elevators, we are replicating their appearance as much as possible to maintain their legacy, while following city ordinances.” The conversion of the first of three elevators is expected to be done by spring 2024. “Visitors to the Fine Arts Building will continue to have the opportunity to experience riding in a manually operated elevator until late 2024 to early 2025, when we anticipate the final manual elevator will close for upgrades.”
Study Says Chicagoans Lose $8,000 Annually By Commuting
“Chicago commuters lose over $8,000 in wages each year thanks to time spent in traffic, according to a new study analyzing expensive commutes nationwide,” reports the Sun-Times.
Irving Park Blue Line Commuters Duck Pigeon Poop
Breaking: “Commuters who frequent the Irving Park Blue Line stop are no strangers to dodging pigeon droppings on their way to work,” reports NBC 5. “The stop sits underneath the Kennedy Expressway on Irving Park and North Keystone… NBC Chicago news crews could tell a sign nearby the stop used to say ‘Do Not Feed Pigeons’; however it’s completely faded and needs replacing. The stop is split between the 39th Ward to its north and 45th Ward to its south. CTA oversees a small portion of the underpass, but says Illinois Department of Transportation is in charge of the rest.”
Construction In Eighth Year At Closed Kankakee River State Park
“From the shady trees to a calm wind and the sounds of nature, the Kankakee River State Park is ripe for relaxation, but things at Chippewa Campground are a little too quiet,” reports CBS 2. “A project to overhaul the water system wrapped up last year. It took the state seven years to complete, and even though construction ended there in August 2022, the site is still closed.” Tens of thousands of dollars in campground revenues have been sacrificed. “This time, it’s due to water testing. A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said crews have spent the past year collecting samples from the new well water system… The final step that needs to happen at Chippewa is a state health inspection. It could be scheduled as soon as this week.”
Wells Fargo Taking Over Former Bank Of America Branch In Flat Iron Across North Avenue From New Chase Branch
“Wells Fargo is planning to open a branch in the middle of Wicker Park, the second bank to make a move to the Milwaukee-Damen-North intersection,” reports Block Club. “The bank, which operates a handful of ATMs in Downtown Chicago, is moving into the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1585 North Milwaukee.”
Almost 70,000 Chicagoans Experienced Homelessness In 2021
A new estimate from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, reports the Tribune, “finds that 68,440 people experienced homelessness in 2021, a 2,829 increase from the previous year… The research shows shifts in the way people experienced homelessness, citing that 7,985 more people were staying on the street or in shelters as opposed to those temporarily staying with others compared with 2020 data. The majority of people experiencing homelessness are people of color, with African American Chicagoans ending up homeless more because of racist economic, educational and housing practices, according to the coalition. The coalition finds that Latino Chicagoans are more likely to experience homelessness by doubling up with others.”
DINING & DRINKING
Logan Square Farmers Market Was Momentary Cancelled For First Time In Sixteen Years
“For the first time in sixteen years, the Logan Square Farmers Market is skipping a summer weekend,” reported Block Club.
(Editors’ note: Thursday night, an email went out, announcing the Market would go on as usual after “intense backlash.”) Organizer Nilda Esparza “is putting the market ‘on pause’ after the city denied plans to expand the exceedingly popular market’s footprint… The market has far outgrown the Logan Boulevard stretch, attracting up to 15,000 people per weekend, up from 7,000 last year [and with unofficial vendors clustered adjacent], but city officials won’t approve a street closure plan she said would make the event safer… This weekend’s market, [in] late August with produce flowing, promised to be one of the busiest of the season… Esparza said vendors have largely been understanding… She’s working to help vendors find alternative sites to sell their produce and wares so they don’t miss out on a weekend of sales.” (Privately, some vendors had said they intended to set up their wares on Sunday despite the last-minute cancellation.) Logan Square Farmers Market site is here.
Recreating The Asian Night Market In West Town
“The team from Press Room is opening Jook Sing in the former Vajra space,” tallies Eater Chicago. “A new West Town bar and restaurant will try to channel the vibes of an Asian night market, the outdoor street fairs famous in [East and] Southeast Asian countries like China, Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia.”
Proxi Names Jennifer Kim Chef De Cuisine
Proxi has named Jennifer Kim as chef de cuisine in the kitchen alongside executive chef Andrew Zimmerman. Within their new role, Kim will develop menu items and oversee and manage kitchen staff. A second-generation Korean American, Kim was born and raised in Chicago. While at culinary school at Kendall College, they worked under David Posey at Blackbird, then traveled to the south of France to spend a summer at Michelin-starred Le Bistro des Saveurs, then returned to Chicago to work at Avec, and was part of the opening of One Off Hospitality’s Nico Osteria. They opened their first solo venture, Snaggletooth, and got a Jean Banchet Rising Chef of the Year award toward the end of its two-year run. They opened Passerotto in 2018, garnering two consecutive Michelin Bib Gourmands, another Jean Banchet, an Eater Chicago Chef of the Year, and a 2019 James Beard nomination.
The “Strange Allure” Of Ice
“Today, many of us might think of ice—in its consumable form; we are not speaking (yet) of the depletion of our glaciers—as ubiquitous: tumbling in convenient little cubes from the refrigerator door, dunked into drinks until the glasses sweat, bedded down in buckets around foil-necked bottles of Champagne,” essays Ligaya Mishan at The New York Times Style Magazine. “Certainly it’s readily available in much of the world, no matter the climate, although not in areas without reliable access to clean water (a lack suffered by more than a quarter of the world’s population, around two billion people) or the electricity required to power refrigeration (nearly ten percent, or 770 million). It’s important to remember that what is a bounty to some is still a novelty and a luxury to others, as it was for millenniums.”
Chilled: Jinsei Motto Features Suntory Whisky Highball Machine
The West Loop’s Jinsei Motto is preparing cocktails made with a Suntory Whisky Highball Machine. A Suntory Toki Highball Machine acts as a refrigerator, keeping the whisky and soda at a near-freezing rate of thirty-seven degrees, maintaining carbonation and avoiding ice dilution and a carbonation tap, dispensing soda water with up to a 7.5 carbonation rate, much more powerful than the average 4.5 carbonation rate. Happy hour’s the time to try it out, advises the restaurant: “Guests can pair a traditional Toki Highball cocktail for $8 with one of Jinsei Motto’s $6 handrolls during their happy hours from 11:30am-2:30pm during lunch Wednesday-Friday, or from 4pm-6pm on Tuesday and Saturday.” More here.
“Blind Ambition” Champagne Experience Returns
Sommelier and beverage director Brian Duncan has gathered a collection of bubbles from some of the world’s most renowned Champagne houses, for an exclusive blind tasting event at George Trois Group in Winnetka. Guests will experience a collection of eight exceptional Champagnes curated by Duncan and his friends and retail partner at Vinissimo Wine Shop, including varietals from two world-renowned Champagne houses, side-by-side. Duncan will talk through varietals with guests to explore the blind tasting with them and provide his honed expertise and insight. Passed hors d’oeuvres and small bites from Chef Michael Lachowicz will highlight the versatility of the wines and their pairing possibilities. Saturday, August 26, 2pm, on Aboyer’s French garden-inspired patio at 64 Green Bay Road, Winnetka. Tickets $75 per person here.
FILM & TELEVISION
Michael Kutza Tells Tales At Mensa
Mensa will host a program on Saturday at North Park University with Michael Kutza, founder of the Chicago International Film Festival and fest director for half a century as he promotes his book, “Starstruck.” A $12 ticket for non-members includes the presentation and food afterward. Saturday, August 25, 7:30pm, with games from 6pm at North Park University Johnson Center. (Map here.) Parking and other details here.
avery r. young On Letting Go Of Anger, Leaving Your Block, Loving All Art
“I feel sad for people who stay perpetually angry. I have an anger drill like you have fire drills,” avery r. young tells Mike Thomas at Chicago magazine. “I tell myself to tell the person what I’m angry about. Once I do, it’s not on them to make me unangry; it’s on me to release the anger. It’s just like when you tell somebody they’ve done you wrong: Expecting an apology will fuck you up, because if they don’t give it to you, you still don’t let that shit go. If someone is screaming at you, just start singing, ‘I believe the children are our future—’ ‘You fucking idiot, you’re so fucking immature!’ ‘—teach them well and let them…’ Because then they start laughing and realize how silly they are.”
“For The Record” Art In Beverly
Elephant Room Gallery and Beverly Phono Mart have collaborated on a celebration of the record store’s second anniversary. “For the Record” features ten artists and will be exhibited at Beverly Phono Mart, 1808 West 103rd. The exhibition is curated by Chantala Kommanivanh (co-owner of the record shop) and Kimberly Leja Atwood (co-owner of the gallery), who have worked together on the local art scene since 2015. “For the Record” brings together ten Chicago-based artists, each exhibiting a twenty-four-inch-by-twenty-four-inch piece that is inspired by one of their favorite albums. Artists had the option of recreating an album cover or creating a piece inspired by the cover or the music itself. The roster of artists they know, several of whom are from the South Side, include Anthony Bartley, Brian Dovie Golden, Chantala Kommanivanh, Courtney Collins, Cujo Dah, DAREMELIFE, Fantasía Ariel, James Nelson, Louis Barak and Zor Zor Zor. “For the Record” opens this Saturday, August 26, 6pm-9pm and will be on view until October 21. Artwork is available for purchase. More here.
Brexit Smothers Euro Gigs For UK Musos
It’s hard for Brit bands to get a gig, reports the Guardian. “Almost half of U.K. musicians and workers in the music industry have had less work in the EU since Brexit than before it, and more than a quarter have had no EU work at all. The impact of Brexit on the music sector had been devastating… Restrictions had impaired the viability of making a living as a musician… The mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnston said Brexit was ‘quietly killing our world-class music sector’ and its impact could not be overstated. ‘It is time for the government to pull its finger out and reverse some of the damage being done before it is too late.'”
Goodman CEO Roche Schulfer Urges Cooperation Between Commercial And Not-For-Profit Stages
“If our industry is united, we can begin to address the challenges we face and fully serve our art, audiences and communities,” essays Roche Edward Schulfer at the Tribune. “It is essential that not-for-profit and commercial theater producers begin to work together and collaborate with artists to advocate for the theater industry. There may be two business models, but the underlying economics are identical—and their health is intrinsically linked.” Schulfer outlines the misunderstood economic model in his piece, beginning with the frustrations of the 1960s that led to the growth of not-for-profit theaters across the land. “No one could have imagined the impact not-for-profit theaters would have on the art form and our society with close to 2,000 companies nationwide—including the Tony-winning Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass and Victory Gardens theaters.” But “not-for-profit theaters are facing significant challenges resulting in reduced seasons, suspended operations and permanent closings. The reasons include the impact of COVID-19, reduced attendance, decrease in contributions [and] programming choices.” More from Schulfer here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Brazil High Court: Homophobia Punishable By Jailing
“Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that homophobic slurs are now punishable by prison, in a decision applauded by rights activists in a country with rampant violence against the LGBTQ+ community,” reports France 24. “The 9-1 ruling puts homophobic hate speech on the same legal level as racist hate speech, which was already punishable by prison in Brazil.”
River North Gambling Could Start After Labor Day
Regulators will inspect Bally’s River North temporary operation at the former Medinah Temple on September 5 and oversee practice gambling sessions September 6-7 and open a few days later, reports the Sun-Times. “That’s only if Bally’s passes muster with Marcus Fruchter, the Illinois Gaming Board’s administrator, who has the final say on issuing a temporary operating permit.”
Dox Anyone For Fifteen Dollars
“Most Americans have very little choice but to provide their personal information to credit bureaus. Hackers have found a way into that data supply chain, and are advertising access in group chats used by violent criminals who rob, assault and shoot targets,” reports Joseph Cox at newly christened tech website 404 Media, stocked with journalists who worked at Motherboard. Criminals are using a secret weapon and then “selling access to online that appears to tap into an especially powerful set of data: the target’s credit header. This is personal information that the credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion have on most adults in America via their credit cards. Through a complex web of agreements and purchases, that data trickles down from the credit bureaus to other companies who offer it to debt collectors, insurance companies, and law enforcement.”
“Criminals have managed to tap into that data supply chain… and are selling unfettered access to their criminal cohorts online… Overall, the tool offers exceptional power and requires little to no technical sophistication to obtain a victim’s sensitive data. Worse yet, it is exceedingly difficult for a user to opt out, and this data may be available even for people who have otherwise been careful with distributing their personal information, and who have taken steps to have their details scrubbed from other data brokers.”
Who’s Taken Your DNA (Even If You Said No)?
“Forensic genetic genealogy evolved from the direct-to-consumer DNA testing craze that took hold roughly a decade ago. Companies like 23andMe and Ancestry offered DNA analysis and a database where results could be uploaded and searched against millions of other profiles, offering consumers a powerful new tool to dig into their heritage through genetics,” reports the Intercept. “It wasn’t long before entrepreneurial genealogists realized this information could also be used to solve criminal cases, especially those that had gone cold… The DNA testing offered by direct-to-consumer companies is “‘as sensitive as it gets… It tells you about your origins. It tells you about your relatives and your parentage, and it tells you about your disease propensity.’ And it has serious reach: While [a police database] searches the DNA of people already identified by the criminal justice system, the commercial databases have the potential to search through the DNA of everyone else.”
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]