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Rashid Johnson And His Relationship With Chicago
“Rashid Johnson was a blue-chip artist whose work offered a radically fresh portrayal of Black cultural identity. Then he got sober, found God, and began to transform the art world from the inside,” writes . “‘I was talking to Rashid’ is a common refrain in the art world, which is to say that he’s also always been in the business of helping others. Such is his influence that at a relatively young age he’s already become a kind of elder statesman; watching him move through a party, you can almost glimpse that towering figure from his Chicago childhood: Harold Washington, the city’s first Black mayor. As David Breslin, the head curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Met, [says] of Johnson’s rise, he has always ‘sweated it out in the studio,’ making his work known in every corner of the art world—galleries, museums, art journals, magazines, private collections. ‘He’s done it in a position of radical awareness of what it means not always to have been an insider,’ Breslin said. ‘And now in some ways he is the king.'” GQ
River North Art Gallery Owner And Social Justice Activist Esther Saks Was Ninety-Three
Glimpses of a life fully lived: “After moving to a storefront in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood—where her husband was building the family chain of Saxon Paint stores throughout the city—Esther Saks stopped teaching, and they raised their four daughters,” reports the Sun-Times. “She pulled her children from public schools in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Evanston to protest segregation and placed them in freedom schools where social justice and change was more included in the curriculum… Saks and her husband fiercely opposed the Vietnam War and supported the Chicago Seven.”
“In 1983, Saks founded the Esther Saks Art Gallery in River North. She closed the gallery in 1998 and became a private art dealer. ‘My mother was showing BIPOC artists and women and queer artists in a way nobody else was in the early eighties,’ said Jane Saks, president and artistic director at Project&. ‘It was narratives that had not been heard, images that had not been seen and voices that had not been invited or included.'”
Comments Solicited On Saving State Street Towers
After public meetings where Chicago residents spoke out against tearing down the Century Building at 202 South State and the Consumers Building at 220 South State, written comments can be submitted here before Tuesday, October 31.
Damen Silos Stay In Limbo
“The immediate fate of the long-abandoned Damen grain silos will remain up in the air as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviews plans to demolish the century-old concrete structures in Chicago’s Lower West Side neighborhood,” reports the Tribune. Mayor Johnson’s office says “the city will defer its decision on pending applications to demolish the silos until federal review is complete. Local preservationists and environmentalists have protested the silos’ November 2022 sale to MAT Limited Partnership and subsequent plans to dismantle the structures, which tower near the Stevenson Expressway from 2900 South Damen.”
Historic District Proposal Includes Black Panther Sites
“Locations in Chicago where the Black Panther Party offered medical care, free breakfast and day care in the late 1960s and early 1970s are part of a proposed scattered-site Illinois landmark district that would memorialize the group’s social service agenda,” reports Crain’s. “‘The Black Panther Party was not about going around toting guns like they’ve made it sound in the past fifty years,’ said Leila Wills, a program officer for Landmarks Illinois who is leading the landmarking effort as executive director of the Historical Preservation Society of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party.”
Opioid Overdoses On CTA On The Rise
“Over the last four years, more than 150 people have died from opioid-related overdoses on the CTA—but CTA officials aren’t keeping track,” the Reader writes in a major analysis.
CTA Prez Rides Pay Raise Train
“As CTA riders coped with unreliable and sometimes unsafe service, agency President Dorval Carter’s salary climbed more than sixty percent in just eight years. But he operates with little accountability,” reports Block Club. “The board has also allowed Carter to work for eight years without a written contract to oversee a system he reportedly rarely rides.”
DINING & DRINKING
Tipped Minimum Wage Vote Friday
Chicago’s City Council will vote Friday on the ordinance that has twenty-six sponsors, reports Eater Chicago. “Supporters listened to concerns and brokered a compromise with the Illinois Restaurant Association that will gradually raise the tipped minimum wage over five years until it reaches the standard wage, currently at $15.80 per hour in Chicago… The transition could be especially jolting to independent restaurants and the revised ordinance, updated with input from the restaurant association, includes a $500,000 pool [from private sources] to help restaurants adapt.”
Second Generation Shutters
“After a five-year run and two restaurants, the team behind Mott St is leaving Logan Square,” reports Eater Chicago. “The owners of Second Generation closed their restaurant, announcing the shutter with a sign posted at the door. Co-owner Vicki Kim [says] the team decided to close and that it was best to throw their energies into their first restaurant. Second Generation opened in October 2022 and represented ownership’s second attempt at making the space at 3057 West Logan Boulevard work. The first try was Mini Mott, a fast-casual restaurant that specialized in burgers and Asian street fare like skewers.”
Blackbird, From Founder Of Resy, Designs Loyalty Plan For Independent Restaurants
“Ben Leventhal says Blackbird will give many independent restaurants the means to identify and reward regulars for the first time,” reports the New York Times. “Blackbird Labs announced that its pilot program has been a success, that it is expanding to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and that it has raised $24 million through a16z, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm also known as Andreessen Horowitz. That’s on top of $11 million in seed money raised last year in an effort led by the Union Square Ventures fund. American Express, which acquired Resy in 2019, is also becoming a major investor in Blackbird.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Sony Pictures Classics Picks Up “We Grown Now,” Minhal Baig’s Chicago International Film Fest Opener
Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American rights to “We Grown Now,” the opening night attraction at the Music Box of the fifty-ninth edition of the Chicago International Film Festival. Written, directed and produced by Minhal Baig, the film had its world premiere in the Centrepiece and Next Wave Selects sections at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, with Baig receiving the festival’s Changemaker Award, “which explores issues relevant to young people and is focused on themes of social change and youth empowerment.” “We Grown Now” stars Blake Cameron James, Gian Knight Ramirez, S. Epatha Merkerson, Avery Holliday and Ora Jones, with Lil Rel Howery and Jurnee Smollett, and was produced by Stage 6 Films, Participant and Symbolic Exchange.
“In 1992 Chicago, as Michael Jordan solidifies himself as a champion, a story of two young legends in their own right begins. As wide-eyed and imaginative ten-year-old best friends Malik and Eric traverse the city, looking to escape the mundaneness of school and the hardships of growing up in public housing, their unbreakable bond is challenged when tragedy shakes their community just as they are learning to fly,” SPE writes.
Chicago International Sets Opening Night Block Party
Netflix Plans Higher Prices After Actors Strike End
“Netflix is gearing up to raise the prices of streaming plans without advertising ‘a few months’ after the SAG-AFTRA actors strike is resolved,” reports Variety. “The streaming service is ‘discussing’ raising prices in ‘several markets globally,’ and likely will first increase fees in the United States and Canada.” Writes the Wall Street Journal, “Over the past year or so, the cost of major ad-free streaming services has gone up by about twenty-five percent, as entertainment companies look to bring their streaming platforms to profitability and lead price-conscious customers to switch to their cheaper and more-lucrative ad-supported plans. On Tuesday, Warner Bros. Discovery said the monthly price of the ad-free version of its Discovery+ streaming service was rising to $8.99 from $6.99.”
South Loop’s “Mass Meeting” Of “Radical Readers”
Nineteenth-century-style handbills in the South Loop have made notice of a “Mass Meeting For Those In [Opposition] Of The Banning Of Books.” There will be readings from recent targeted titles. Alley behind Sandmeyer’s Bookstore, 714 South Federal, Friday, October 6, 6:30pm.
Chicago’s “Little Free Libraries” May Face Licensing
“Bookcases built on city-owned land, including parkways, will need a public way use permit under the new ordinance, which passed through committee Tuesday and is now headed for a full City Council vote,” reports Block Club. “Only ‘organizations, not-for-profit entities and licensed businesses’ would be eligible to receive the necessary permit to build a bookcase on city land under the legislation. Private individuals would not be allowed to construct the structures on public property at all,” Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) confirmed. “Libraries located on private property, like a front yard, would not be [affected] by the measure.”
Says Lopez, “These bookcases have been popping up all throughout the city completely unregulated. And we’ve seen now as they gain traction in popularity, they’re showing up in locations that they probably need some clarification, particularly in parkways that don’t belong to the individual erecting the bookcase.”
City Lit Reading From Banned Books
“City Lit Theater Company’s eighteenth annual ‘Books on the Chopping Block’ is coming to Chicago libraries during Banned Books Week, which runs through Saturday,” reports Block Club. “Performers will read short excerpts from the American Library Association’s top ten most frequently challenged books of 2022 list (which includes thirteen books due to ties). City Lit Theater performers will provide background on each book and reasoning for the challenges against them in countdown order. An audience discussion will follow.”
Pritzker Highlights University Of Chicago Banned Book Collection
Governor Pritzker visited the University of Chicago Library during National Banned Books Week, which runs through October 7, to announce the University’s plan to build a collection of books that have been historically banned, creating an accessible library open to the public. “When we can engage with ideas that are new to us, challenge and be challenged by different perspectives, learn new things, understand all the amazing miracles and darkest hours of the world around us—we are all better off,” Pritzker said. “Today’s announcement not only means that any member of the public can come access commonly banned books here in person at UChicago—it also means that residents throughout Illinois can access these texts digitally.” More here.
“Fresh Air” Appreciates Von Freeman At One Hundred
“Tenor saxophonist Von Freeman was born October 3, 1923, in Chicago, where he’s revered. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Freeman isn’t just the patron saint of Chicago jazz musicians, but also of late bloomers and of all great jazz musicians who resist moving to New York… Von played in an early Sun Ra band, jammed with Charlie Parker and did countless blues gigs.” The mature Von Freeman could be noted for “the lagging behind the beats sense of relaxation, the expressive uses of deviant pitch, the dyspeptic outbursts and clean articulation at high speed. But it’d be another sixteen years before he made an album of his own at age forty-eight, produced by longtime fan Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Now we hear Von Freeman in all his full-throated glory—confident, a little eccentric and bursting with energy and ideas.”
National Theatre Of Wales Likely To Close
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
MacArthur Fellows Named
Among the twenty recipients of this year’s MacArthur Fellowship: UChicago professor Rina Foygel Barber, who will receive an unrestricted $800,000 grant. As a statistician, she is recognized for developing tools to reduce false positives and improve confidence in high-dimensional data models. The complete list is here.
Arts Alliance Illinois Asks “Unprecedented” Added Funding
“To aid struggling Chicago theaters, Claire Rice, executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois, the state’s top arts advocacy group, is asking Mayor Johnson to tap the city’s corporate fund for nearly thirty-five percent of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events’ $81 million annual budget, an unprecedented move for a department traditionally funded primarily by other sources,” reports Crain’s.
Mayor Grants At Least One More Year Of NASCAR Street Racing
“NASCAR and Mayor Johnson have reached an agreement to keep the street race, which was a big TV hit but disrupted the city’s traffic and programs at Grant Park for nearly a month, in Chicago for at least another year,” reports Crain’s. NASCAR company issued a press release “hours after the city’s tourism bureau, Choose Chicago, released the results of an economic impact study that showed the race weekend generated $108.9 million to the local economy, despite being hampered by rain that canceled the Saturday NASCAR Xfinity Series race and weekend concerts.”
New York Mayor Traveling To Central America To Tell Asylum Seekers Not To Come; While Chicago Says, You Won’t Like Winter
“New York’s Eric Adams will travel to Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia in a four-day trip this week,” reports AP (via the Sun-Times). That city “has absorbed almost 120,000 migrants over the past year, with hundreds still arriving daily in need of housing and employment.” Says the brash mayor, “We are at capacity. We’re going to tell them that coming to New York doesn’t mean you’re going to stay in a five-star hotel. It doesn’t mean that, the mere fact that you come here, you automatically are going to be allowed to work.”
Meanwhile, Chicago will “send a delegation to the Texas border with Mexico to meet with government officials and nongovernmental organizations, and give migrants a more realistic portrayal of what they might expect in Chicago. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Mayor Johnson’s first deputy chief of staff, said the Texas border trip will be used, in part, to warn migrants about Chicago winters.”
Navy Pier Fundraiser Sets Record
“Navy Pier hosted its most successful gala fundraiser in its history as an independent nonprofit, raising more than $1.4 million and drawing more than 600 guests [to its] event, ‘A Legacy ExPIERience,’ [which also] celebrated the contributions made to the ‘People’s Pier’ by its cultural partner Chicago Shakespeare Theater and business and civic leader William ‘Bill’ Brodsky,” reports Crain’s.
Shedd Researchers Document Mass Coral Mortality In Florida
“Shedd Aquarium researchers recently returned from a trip to the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas to monitor how corals are responding to record-high ocean temperatures, and what they discovered was unprecedented. Across seventy-six sites, around ninety-to-ninety-five percent of corals showed signs of extreme bleaching—and many endangered species were nearly all dead. Many of the corals that were vibrant and healthy just a few months prior are now stark white or covered in algae.” More on Shedd and corals here.
A Midwestern Future Without Coal
“The fossil fuel defined economies and local traditions,” reports Grist. But “coal isn’t king anymore… in the Midwest, where coal plants face an uncertain future. All across the region, villages, cities and towns are reckoning with what climate change will mean for coal, not just as an energy source but as a cultural icon in America’s heartland. Despite feelings of pride in coal-dependent communities, coal is still one of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels, sickening people and polluting waterways. Some populations look at the end of coal not with nostalgia but with relief. But for all of them, one question remains: What does a world without coal look like?”
TSA Confiscates Loaded Firearms At Record Rate
“The Transportation Security Administration said it intercepts nearly twenty unauthorized guns per day at checkpoints nationwide, putting the agency on track to break its annual firearms record,” reports ABC News. “TSA has found more than 5,000 firearms at airport security checkpoints” this year, “where guns are not permitted. Last year, the agency prevented a record 6,542 firearms from getting onboard… In just the third quarter of this year alone, TSA officers stopped more than 1,800 firearms in carry-on—ninety-four percent of which were loaded.”
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