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Kerry James Marshall Donates “First Formal Portrait Of Living Person”
“Kerry James Marshall has donated a portrait of the Harvard academic Henry Louis ‘Skip’ Gates Jr. to the University of Cambridge,” reports The Art Newspaper. “The work is Marshall’s first-ever formal portrait of a living sitter, and is only the second work by the artist—widely regarded as one of the greatest figurative painters working today—to join the collection of a public institution in the U.K. It will hang at the university’s Fitzwilliam museum.”
Monique Meloche Gallery Representing Luke Agada
Monique Meloche Gallery has announced the representation of artist Luke Agada, whose first solo show at the gallery, “Arms, Feet, and Fitful Dreams,” is on view through October 28. “The Lagos-born artist’s practice examines themes of globalization, migration and cultural dislocation within the framework of a postcolonial world. His abstracted paintings present warped figures and dream-like compositions as symbols of hyphenated identities and reference the transformation of the art historical postmodern human figure. Considering how both time and space produce complex bodies of difference, Agada’s works address the ambiguity of our identity within post-structuralist theory.”
“Agada, a self-taught artist who came to the United States to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, reflects on the instability of the transitory human. His surrealist-like paintings of disembodied figures floating in ethereal spaces reference the present moment of transit formed where time and space in a postmodern world intersect to produce complex bodies of difference and identity, past and present,” the gallery says. More here.
Spudnik Press Rebrands
Spudnik Press, the nonprofit arts organization “dedicated to fostering collaboration and positive social change,” has announced a comprehensive rebrand. “This transformation includes a new logo, color palettes, typefaces, and an updated mission statement that better represent the organization’s core values and offerings.” More here.
Sam Zell Acolyte Buys Distressed Loop Office Tower
“Menashe Properties bought a twenty-nine-story office building at 230 West Monroe. The family-owned firm, based in Portland, and making its first investment in Chicago, took the plunge as other property moguls talk about tax rates, high crime and the still-uncertain comeback from [the pandemic] as reasons to shun deals here,” reports the Sun-Times. “Is office dead? No. Is Chicago dead? No. Am I a contrarian? Yes,” CEO Jordan Menashe said. “Menashe said he checked out Chicago in his first visit to the city and found it to be ‘the polar opposite of what you hear about in the news… It’s vibrant. It’s architecturally beautiful. You could feel the vibe.'” He’s “a follower of the late tycoon Sam Zell, remembered for an ability to profit from others’ failures.”
Airbnb Admits Using AI To Predict Guests Who Will Party
“Airbnb’s CEO said it’s using AI to identify which guests are likely to throw house parties,” reports Insider. “Its tech analyzes billions of guest arrivals to see which resulted in a party and which didn’t.”
How Google Ruined Search
“Testimony during Google’s antitrust case revealed that the company may be altering billions of queries a day to generate results that will get you to buy more stuff,” reports WIRED. “Even if Google prevails in this antitrust trial, I predict its troubles will continue… No matter what pretzel shape Google twists, no matter what loopholes and legalese it bandies about, defying reasonable user expectations is a loser’s game… Google’s massive market share and deep entrenchment in everyday life ensure that these warped results pollute our ability to discover and learn basic information about the world around us. The next time you Google, remember that you’re getting search results that have been skewed—not to help you find what you’re looking for, but to boost the company’s profits.”
DINING & DRINKING
Le Select Rejected
Boka has closed Le Select in River North; the location is now an events space, reports Eater Chicago. Le Select “just did not resonate the way we dreamed for it to.”
Arepas Join Chicago Street Foods
“As thousands of asylum seekers await work permits… some Venezuelan migrants sell traditional foods downtown to support themselves,” says the DePaulia in a richly detailed report. “For many Mexican immigrants, selling tamales became their livelihood in this city many decades ago. Now, Venezuelan migrants are selling arepas in the streets of Chicago. A way to survive, but also a way to remember their home,” says the Tribune’s Laura N. Rodríguez Presa in linking to the story on Twitter.
Kimpton Gray Hotel And Boleo Name Executive Chef
Luis Silva has been appointed executive chef of the Loop’s Kimpton Gray Hotel and Boleo, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant. “Chef Silva’s love for cooking ignited when he was a young child,” the hotel relays. “He consistently showed interest in his mother’s cooking and she knew there was potential to be tapped. Learning from his mother, Chef Silva excelled in the kitchen, developing his own culinary style over the years that reflects his background. As a first-generation American from Mexican descent, he loves using non-Latin American foods and giving them a Mexican twist.” More here.
Local VC Fund To Invest In Restaurant Industry
“A Chicago venture-capital fund backed by restaurant-industry veterans is looking to invest in restaurants and tech companies. Mathew Focht, a longtime consultant who has worked with chains such as Bar Louie and Cheesecake Factory on real estate and supply-chain issues, has raised more than $50 million of a planned $100 million fund,” reports Crain’s.
Signature Room Sued Over Abrupt Firing Of 130 Union Workers
“The union representing more than a hundred laid-off employees of the Signature Room and Signature Lounge filed a lawsuit alleging employees weren’t given proper notice of the layoffs,” reports the Tribune. “The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Chicago by hospitality union Unite Here Local 1, alleges about 130 workers it represented there were laid off in violation of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires certain large employers to provide written notice of certain business closures or mass layoffs at least sixty days in advance.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Actors And Studios Start Talks To End Strike
“Back at the bargaining table Monday for the first time in more than two-and-a-half months, SAG-AFTRA and the Hollywood studios and streamers have a long way to go to make a deal—even with the momentum gained by the end of the writers’ strike,” reports Deadline.
UChicago Launches Forum For Free Inquiry And Expression
UChicago is launching the Forum for Free Inquiry and Expression, an initiative to promote the understanding, practice and advancement of free expression. Advises the Forum, “The issue of free expression encompasses much more than what happens on college campuses—it’s about whether our society remains equipped to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. As such, the Forum will work to show how critical these principles are for the generation of new ideas, novel fields of study, historic breakthroughs, and milestones of innovation.” A two-day event at the David Rubenstein Forum on October 5-6, will include intellectual discussions among leading thinkers across several fields, and all daytime events will be streamed here.
G-Mart Comics Sells Retail Sites To Dark Tower Comics
G-Mart Comics, with locations in Chicago and Champaign, has sold its retail locations to Dark Tower Comics. “This is a strategy change for G-Mart to focus all its attention on the virtual comic shop that we have built online,” the company says in a release.”Dark Tower Comics is a Chicago comic book retailer with a twenty-year track record, known for its extensive trade paperback selection, pull-box service and $2 back-issue comic selection. ‘We’re excited to have the opportunity to build on G-Mart’s impressive three-decade legacy and share our love of comics with new people and communities,’ says Dark Tower in the release.”
“Navigating Recovery: Arts and Culture Financial and Operating Trends in Chicago” Report Released
DCASE, in partnership with SMU DataArts, has released “Navigating Recovery: Arts and Culture Financial and Operating Trends in Chicago,” a comprehensive report on the health of Chicago’s art sector before, during and until this stage of the pandemic. “Key findings in the report reinforce what we have seen in Chicago and nationally,” relays DCASE, “the nonprofit theater sector has been the slowest to recover in terms of tickets, ticket revenue, and number of donations. This data will continue to inform DCASE’s ongoing support of the sector by providing grants, resources for organizations and creatives—including a directory of Creative Worker Resources and by supporting collaborative marketing campaigns.” In that light, Choose Chicago will introduce its theater marketing campaign later this week. The executive summary is here. The complete report is here (fifty-page pdf download).
DCASE Commissioner Erin Harkey and Deputy Commissioner Jamey Lundblad will join SMU DataArts’ Zannie Voss, Ph.D. for an overview of the study as well as a conversation about challenges faced by the sector and how the community can use findings from this report toward recovery on Thursday, October 12, 3pm. Register here (link toward bottom of page).
Trib Takes Up Performing Arts Report
“Why this crisis?” “Navigating Recovery: Arts and Culture Financial and Operating Trends in Chicago,” the report released by DCASE on Chicago’s troubled performing arts scene earlier this week, “cites reasons such as competition from streaming services and phones, the atypical length of the pandemic closures in the arts (as compared with sports and other activities) and changes in audience habits that mean the inflexible performing arts don’t jibe well with how audiences now want to spend their time. We’ll add, based on what we’ve heard from numerous readers, that the fear of coming downtown at night to see a show is another factor—be it logical or not—as is too much programming that does not appeal to them,” opines the Chicago Tribune editorial board.
“Dwindling audiences are now a huge problem for local arts organizations… For Chicago’s justly beloved theaters, the drop over four years in the number of subscribers averaged an eye-popping thirty-nine percent, which is partly a result of the old-fashioned nature of subscription selling… when people don’t like to make decisions far in advance. Overall attendance is down a sobering fifty-nine percent for Chicago’s performing arts. Last year, earned revenue was forty-six percent lower than in 2019… Chicago theaters had forty-four percent fewer full-time staff and forty-seven percent fewer part-time staff last year compared with 2019… But it’s not just about the number of subscribers or members; it’s also about how much revenue these customers are creating, or rather not creating, for the organization. Across all arts sectors in Chicago… revenue dropped a stunning sixty-one percent in that four years.”
Century-Old Scenic Backdrops Discovered In Attic Of Bronzeville’s The Forum
“Multiple 127-year-old stage backdrops were found in the attic of The Forum,” reports Block Club. Wendy Waszut-Barrett, president of Historic Stage Services LLC, “said the backdrops date to 1897, around the time of the Forum’s grand opening. Despite being ravaged by time and water damage,” the work can be saved. One backdrop stood out: “a scene prominently featuring three Black people—two women and a man—dressed for a day on the town, pointing to what appears to be a cemetery.” Said Waszut-Barrett, “I’ve seen thousands of backdrops in my career. I’ve never seen one depicting people of color. It’s remarkable.”
Fifty-Fifth Equity Jeffs Named
The Joseph Jefferson Awards have been given to forty-six recipients selected from among 214 theater artist nominees across thirty-two artistic and technical categories from among productions at thirty-five companies. The Goodman Theatre received the most awards for a large theater (twelve) and midsize theater Teatro Vista was honored with eight awards. The Goodman production of “The Who’s Tommy” was recognized with nine awards including Production—Musical; Direction—Musical (Des McAnuff); Musical Director (Rick Fox); Ensemble, which was shared with Court Theatre (“The Gospel According to Colonus”); Performer in a Principal Role—Musical (Ali Louis Bourzgui ); Choreography (Lorin Latarro); Lighting Design (Amanda Zieve); Sound Design (Gareth Owen) and Projection Design (Peter Nigrini).
Additional awards for “The Cherry Orchard” included Production—Play and Direction (Robert Falls) and Rebecca Gilman’s new work “Swing State.” “The Dream King” at Teatro Vista received honors for author, actor and composer Marvin Quijada, along with scenic, sound, lighting and puppet design, as well as the award for Production—Play, which it shared with American Blues Theater (“Fences”).
Three theaters each collected three awards. American Blues Theater received honors for its production of “Fences” including Director—Midsize (Monty Cole); Performer in a Principal Role (Kamal Angelo Bolden); and Production—Play—Midsize. Rivendell Theatre took awards for “Motherhouse” including Ensemble; Performer in a Supporting Role (Meighan Gerachis); and New Work (Tuckie White). Porchlight Music Theatre’s production of “Cabaret” received two performance awards for Principal Role—Musical (Erica Stephan); Supporting Role—Musical (Mary Robin Roth); and for Costumes (Bill Morey). The complete list is here.
“Live After Death” At Rosehill Cemetery
“Chicago’s largest and one of its oldest cemeteries is hosting Ben Wasserman’s funny, cathartic show about loss and grief. Ben humorously and skillfully deals with what it feels like to still be around when someone you love is gone.” Since early 2021, “Live After Death” “has attracted sold-out audiences at funeral homes, cemeteries and other places associated with death, dying and living beyond death of loved ones. The one-night public Chicago show is part of a national tour.” Tickets $15. More here.
Drury Lane Slates Season
“Guys and Dolls” returns to Chicago’s professional stage in Drury Lane’s new season, running April 10, 2024-March 30, 2025. “Ain’t Misbehavin'”; “The Audience”; Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”; and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” round out the season. Subscription packages with all five productions start at $224 here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Chicago Named “Best Big City” By Condé Nast Traveler For Seventh Year
Readers of Condé Nast Traveler have for the seventh year named Chicago “Best Big City” in the United States. “Most people start downtown—from the Magnificent Mile to the ritzy Gold Coast to funky Old Town—but there are seventy-seven neighborhoods to explore, where you’ll find cutting-edge restaurants, chilled-out corner bars, and, no matter where you go, some of the most pleasant people you’ll find anywhere,” reads a description of the city on Condé Nast’s list. Mayor Brandon Johnson says in a Choose Chicago release, “Today’s recognition of our great city as the Condé Nast Traveler’s Best Big City in The United States, for the seventh year in a row, is proof that Chicago continues to be a force as a destination for visitors from all over the globe.”
Gift Of $75 Million For Professorships At UChicago
“University of Chicago alumni Amy Wallman and Trustee Richard Wallman have made a $75 million commitment that will dramatically enhance UChicago’s capacity to advance high-potential scholarship through increased resources for faculty,” the University recounts. “The Wallmans’ philanthropic commitment will launch a fundraising challenge aimed at inspiring other potential supporters to join them in raising a total of $150 million, which will create thirty new endowed professorships that will support ambitious scholarship in divisions and schools across the University.”
Researchers Behind mRNA Technology Awarded Nobel
Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman have been awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in medicine. A 2021 New York Times profile of Karikó and her years in the wilderness, unable to garner the grants her superiors demanded of her work, is here. Sample: On the day “the first results of the Pfizer-BioNTech study came in, showing that the mRNA vaccine offered powerful immunity to the new virus. Dr. Kariko turned to her husband. ‘Oh, it works,’ she said. ‘I thought so.’ To celebrate, she ate an entire box of Goobers chocolate-covered peanuts. By herself. Dr. Weissman celebrated with his family, ordering takeout dinner from an Italian restaurant, ‘with wine,’ he said. Deep down, he was awed. ‘My dream was always that we develop something in the lab that helps people,’ Dr. Weissman said. ‘I’ve satisfied my life’s dream.'” (An explainer on what they accomplished by Katelyn Jetelina and Edward Nirenberg is here.)
Katalin Karikó was one of Glamour’s 2021 Women of the Year, profiled here. “The ‘failures’ that piled up behind her, all those grants she didn’t get and the positions that evaporated? Each one refined her, sharpened her. She carried on, with a little more intel. Sometimes experiments do proceed as planned, she explains, as if describing a promised land. ‘But even when it is not going there, it is just as exciting. It is unexpected. What could be causing this result? Could it be this? Could it be that?’ Karikó clasps her hands together: ‘You get a result which cannot be explained. You keep reading!'” Read the Nobel press release here.
Desalination System Could Produce Freshwater Cheaper Than Tap Water; New Orleans Tracks Saltwater Intrusion
“Engineers at MIT and in China are aiming to turn seawater into drinking water with a completely passive device that is inspired by the ocean, and powered by the sun,” reports MIT News. “MIT engineers and collaborators developed a solar-powered device that avoids salt-clogging issues of other designs… The researchers estimate that if the system is scaled up to the size of a small suitcase, it could produce about four to six liters of drinking water per hour and last several years before requiring replacement parts. At this scale and performance, the system could produce drinking water at a rate and price that is cheaper than tap water.”
“An intrusion of saltwater moving up the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico is threatening local drinking water supplies,” reports NOLA.com. “A federal emergency has been declared in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes. Effects could last as long as three months,” officials say.
Oh-Oh: Walgreens, Seeking CEO And CFO, Loses CIO
“Walgreens is searching for a host of new executives after former CEO Rosalind Brewer departed abruptly about a month ago and ex-CFO James Kehoe stepped down in July after five years at the company,” reports Bloomberg. “Investors have been cheered by the possibility of a C-suite with more experience in healthcare.”
Florida Rolls Back Century Of Child Labor Laws
“Florida is set to roll back over a hundred years of child labor protections with a proposed bill that would allow sixteen-to-seventeen-year-olds unlimited work hours, even on school nights,” relays the Economic Policy Institute.
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