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Ignite Fund Announces 2023 Grants
The Ignite Fund, supporting the creation and public presentation of visual arts-based projects by Chicago-area artists and artist-led collectives, has announced its 2023 group of grantees. Ten artists and two artist-led collectives are receiving a combined total of $60,000 toward Project Grants of $3,000 to $6,000 to support the creation and implementation of new, public-facing works; and Research & Development Grants of $1,500 that support the early stages of new projects in development.
The grantees are Keyierra Collins, “How I Found My Feet Again”; Silvia Inés Gonzalez, “La Sala”; Eric Hotchkiss, “Cultivating Community”; Ariella Granados, “Chroma Key After Me”; Cathy Hsiao and Nestor Siré, “Made in Taiwan”; Hai-Wen Lin and Vince Phan, “Send Them Their Flowers”; Marimacha Monarca Press, “Piñata Pollination”; Cecil McDonald Jr., “Joy Ride: An Odyssey in Black”; Nathan Miller, “Macro, Micro: Altgeld Gardens”; Bun Stout, “Ten Love Poems”; Euree Kim, “Memoryscape Series”; and Yiwei Wang, “Reflections of a Fleeting Utopia.” More here.
UIC Gallery 400 Hiring Business Administrative Associate
Gallery 400 is looking for a full-time business administrative associate to coordinate and manage the business, financial and administrative operations, coordinating the Gallery’s day-to-day finances, and manage grant administration. Salary: $57,000. Apply by Wednesday, October 25, 11:59pm here.
Top Five Floors Of Water Tower Place Mall For Sale In Conversion
“The owner of Chicago’s Water Tower Place has hired brokers to sell or lease out the top five floors of the shopping venue as office space or other uses in a move that would reduce the vertical mall pioneer, long known for its soaring atrium, to a three-story retail property,” reports CoStar.
Dan Wheeler Oral History Released by MAS Context
The latest oral history from MAS Context is with Chicago-based architect Dan Wheeler; Iker Gil interviewed Wheeler “to learn about his upbringing, his education, his ongoing remarkable career and key projects of Wheeler Kearns Architects.” (The piece runs over 23,000 words.)
Revamped 1929 Ramova Readies For Fall In Bridgeport
The Ramova Theatre will reopen this fall in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood as a live music venue, independent craft brewery, beer garden and grill. The reopening is the culmination of yearslong rehabilitation efforts alongside multimillion-dollar public and private investments into the South Side Chicago community. From 1929, the Ramova served as the Bridgeport neighborhood’s primary movie theater until it shuttered its doors in 1985 after its final screening, which was “Police Academy 2.” The theater earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021 after years of grassroots campaigning from community members. In 2017, developer Tyler Nevius became an investor and owner to oversee the rehabilitation of the neighborhood edifice. Working with architect Dan O’Riley of O’Riley Office in Chicago, the theater has been designed as a 1,500-capacity live music venue and destination space after standing dormant for more than three decades.
The Ramova Brewery will exclusively brew recipes from partners Other Half Brewing. Ramova Brewery will offer collaborations and taps from other Chicago breweries. The Ramova Grill, which closed in 2012 after an eighty-two-year run, will reopen as a twenty-seat restaurant. Partners Kevin Hickey and Brandon Phillips of The Duck Inn will oversee the culinary and beverage programs of the grill, respectively. Sarah Loberg will serve as director of food and beverage for the brewery, grill and theater. More here.
Hundred-Year-Old Far South Side Advocate United Church Of Christ Destroyed By Fire
Hundred-year-old “Advocate United Church of Christ on the Far South Side caught on fire… early Saturday morning,” reports the Sun-Times, “and was destroyed… About a hundred Chicago firefighters responded to the fire [which] was mainly contained to the roof. The steeple of the church collapsed from the flames.”
Halfway-Built Obama Center Already “A South Side Landmark”
“For months, the rising tower—which will house the museum dedicated to former President Barack Obama—has been visible to the surrounding Hyde Park neighborhood, already tall enough to call it a South Side landmark,” reports Lynn Sweet at the Sun-Times. “The concrete shaping and supporting the tower, which will be the center’s signature structure, [is] still about eighty-five feet shy of its ultimate 235-feet height. Construction of the Obama Center, which is being financed and built by the Obama Presidential Foundation, is at about the halfway point.” The tower “will have eight stories with four floors for the museum… Obama decided on a stone called ‘Tapestry’ from a New Hampshire quarry… gray and white with flecks of brown, gold and pink. The first stone was installed on Friday.”
Our Lady Of Lourdes School Converting To Apartments
“The Our Lady of Lourdes school building at 4641 North Ashland has been disused for many years,” reports Uptown Update. “The building was placed on the market by the Chicago Archdiocese for sale in April 2022.” Now the “existing 20,000-square-foot school building is being… renovated into forty-two… apartment units. Interior demolition [is] ongoing.”
DINING & DRINKING
Colleen Flood, Owner Of Roscoe Village’s Four Treys Tavern, Was Seventy-Nine
“Colleen Flood, the longtime co-owner of The Four Treys Tavern, poured her heart and soul into shaping what Roscoe Village is today and was known as the ‘unofficial mayor’ of the North Side community,” reports the Sun-Times. “In the 1990s, she loved seeing young families move in, despite some worries that young professionals with kids wouldn’t drink at her bar or might drive out the motorcycle crowds that for years had been loyal customers at The Four Treys. ‘Then dive bars started becoming cool, and Four Treys reinvented itself. For years, it was your standard watering hole tavern, and then people started loving it for that,’ said her niece, who noted Ms. Flood was no pushover behind the pine. ‘I’ve seen her throw full-grown men out of that bar. She was afraid of nothing… I worked there years ago in my twenties and would tell people it was time to leave at closing, and nobody would budge, so I’d call Aunt Col and she’d come down and the door would fly open and all those tough guys would be like, “We’re leaving! We’re leaving!”‘”
Heartland Cafe Majordomo Michael James On Three Things In Rogers Park
Former Heartland Cafe owner Michael James picks out Archie’s Cafe for Chicago magazine: “Roberta Schmatz is carrying on the tradition of the small, local, funky, down-home, hearty places. She does fresh pizzas, pasta dish specials, and baked goods. One time I had buckwheat waffles there.”
Culver’s And Butterburgers Open In Wrigleyville
Wisconsin-founded Culver’s comes to Wrigley with Butterburgers and frozen custard, opening today at 10am. The 3,700-square-foot restaurant, steps away from Wrigley Field, is the latest pedestrian-friendly Culver’s, with a walk-up window for to-go and pickup orders, as well as indoor seating. It will be the ninth Culver’s restaurant in the Chicago area for owner Baron Waller, the national chain’s largest minority franchise owner with locations in Bronzeville, Lincoln Square, Pullman, and additional locations in the southwest suburbs and also one coming to the West Side.
Tableside Flambéur: Great Job, Right?
“Every time a pan spiked with sugar and alcohol combusts, flambé sales go viral. One order and the entire restaurant goes up in flames,” reports Eater. “Every time someone orders a Bananas Foster at the Grill, a tuxedoed captain rolls up to their table pushing a trolley that costs as much as a Hyundai Elantra… Today’s diners seek out restaurants for entertainment—the food is often secondary—and the restaurant owners seem more than happy to oblige. Whether we like it or not, the staff are considered part of the show.”
Non-Alcoholic Beer Sales Soar
“New, better-tasting zero-alcohol beers are experiencing explosive growth as alcohol consumption by young adults declines,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
Diageo Looks To Sustain Sources For Tequila And Whisky
“Diageo has announced two regenerative agriculture programs across its tequila and scotch brands in Mexico and Scotland respectively,” reports FoodBev Media. “Diageo expects to drive positive outcomes of enhanced biodiversity, improved water stewardship, carbon reduction and better soil health management. The programs will look at locally adapted practices such as cover crops, crop rotations and reduced cultivation. The tequila regenerative agriculture pilot will build the ‘local knowledge pool of agave regenerative practices,’ investigating how the plants hold carbon over their six- to seven-year growth cycles. Diageo says the program will span across its farms and network of producers of the agave required for its tequila brands, which include Don Julio, Casamigos, DeLeon and Astral.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Best Buy Will Jettison Physical Media
“Best Buy plans to exit the physical media business for good next year, possibly as soon as the end of Q1 2024,” tallies The Digital Bits. This includes online sales. Observes “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” writer Van Robichaux on Twitter, “Best Buy rents out space to ‘Brand Partners’ to showcase products. They know you go home & buy the stuff on Amazon, they get paid anyway. Studios won’t pay to have discs displayed, so Best Buy is freeing up space for someone who will.”
Are Movie Theaters Finding Ways To Bring Audiences Back?
“The trick isn’t to make event movies. It’s to make movies into events,” writes Sam Adams at Slate. “‘The Eras Tour’s significance isn’t solely or even primarily about box office, as much as theaters are grateful for the windfall. It’s about expanding the whole idea of what can happen inside a movie theater. Since the conversion to digital projection, cinemas have turned their screens over to the National Theatre or the Metropolitan Opera for single showings… But those broadcasts were more of a consolation prize for people who couldn’t make it to Lincoln Center or the West End, not a substitute for live performance. Taylor Swift’s fans have something else in mind. The instant ‘The Eras Tour’’s release was announced, TikTok lit up with videos proclaiming Swifties’ intent to treat the screenings like an actual stadium show—taking their cues from Swift herself, who ended her announcement with ‘Singing and dancing encouraged.'”
“A movie isn’t just an image on the screen. It’s what happens between that image and the people watching it… The fortieth-anniversary rerelease of the Talking Heads concert film recently became IMAX’s biggest live event screening ever, and screenings have been literally bringing moviegoers to their feet. ‘The audience was behaving to a large extent like they were at a concert,’ says Rob Owen, an attorney who saw the film at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre. ‘People clapped when the performers told them to clap. They danced.'”
A Lozenge Of Memoir By Sacha Frere-Jones
“I remember my dad cooking his version of Chinese food and crying to opera broadcasts on Saturdays. I remember the people who would put sign-language cards on everyone’s knees in the subway car and then come back through collecting the cards unless somebody bought one but nobody ever did,” writes Sacha Frere-Jones in “Intentionality” at the New York Review Of Books. “I remember doing a reading in Chicago and thinking it might be time to get sober because I’d volunteered to read Burroughs without remembering I don’t like Burroughs.”
Blue Skies Ahead: Tom Skilling Retiring In February
“Tom Skilling, who has defined the gold standard of being a TV meteorologist and has been forecasting the weather on WGN-TV for the past forty-five years, announced on ‘WGN Evening News’ that he will retire on February 28,” reports WGN-TV. “If you had told young Tom Skilling that he would go on to have a career in weather spanning seven decades, working in Chicago, with some truly wonderful people, I think he would be overjoyed,” the seventy-one-year-old Skilling said. “And that’s how I feel today. Overjoyed at the colleagues I’ve worked with, the viewers I’ve met, the stories I’ve covered. Overjoyed and grateful. I wouldn’t trade a single minute of it for anything.” (The three-minute on-air video, with over two million views, is here.)
Bill Zehme interviewed Skilling for Chicago magazine in 2016: “I am afraid of lightning. It’s not an irrational fear. I’m always amazed at the people who walk outside when the lightning’s hitting cloud to ground. The chance of being struck is not high, but why chance it?” From the Tribune earlier this year: “Starting his successful career at fourteen, Skilling was hired by WKKD in Aurora while attending West Aurora High School. He went to Madison in 1970 to study meteorology at the University of Wisconsin. This year marks his forty-fifth anniversary at WGN… ‘Last time I looked, our winters are running more than three degrees on average warmer than the winters of the seventies, which is a big change. I don’t know if you remember the 1970s, but those winters were barbaric. We’d have these incredible snowstorms and then they’d be followed by these sieges of subzero weather. We don’t get that anymore.'”
Montana TikTok Ban Challenged
“Montana is at the forefront of a crusade by state Republican officials to rein in Big Tech. Republican governors, attorneys general, lawmakers and conservative policy groups say internet platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Snap are undermining conservative family values and preventing parents from protecting their children from harmful content and online predators,” writes the New York Times. “Civil rights groups have warned that the new social media laws giving more control to parents could curb young people’s access to sexual health information, inhibit their ability to organize protests and cut them off from LGBTQ communities… Republican lawmakers have for years accused social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter of being biased against conservative views.”
Republican state legislators started regulation in 2021 “when some platforms banned former President Trump after the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. That year, legislators in Florida passed the first state law making it possible to fine social media platforms that permanently banned candidates running for office in the state. Texas soon followed, passing a law allowing private citizens to sue the platforms if their posts were taken down because of their political viewpoints.”
Chinese Epoch Times Now Claims Nation’s Fourth-Largest Subscriber Count
Trump-supporting, arch-conservative Epoch Times, reports NBC News, is now “one of the country’s most successful and influential conservative news organizations. It’s powered by Falun Gong, a religious group persecuted in China, which launched [the publication] as a free propaganda newsletter more than two decades ago to oppose the Chinese Communist Party.” (Third-party presidential aspirant Robert Kennedy says “they’re very courageous and it’s real journalism.”) “Funded through aggressive online and real-world marketing campaigns and big-money conservative donors, The Epoch Times now boasts to be the country’s fourth-largest newspaper by subscriber count. (Unlike most major newspapers, The Epoch Times isn’t audited…)”
“The nonprofit has amassed a fortune, [increasing] its revenue by a staggering 685 percent in two years, to $122 million in 2021… Its editorial vision—fueled by a right-wing slant and conspiracy theories—is on display in recent reports on how ‘Jan. 6 Capitol Hill Security Footage Challenges Key Narratives’ and ‘Meteorologists, Scientists Explain Why There Is “No Climate Emergency.”‘ Its video series include a documentary-style film alleging widespread vaccine injury and death and an exposé of an alleged world government agenda to harm farmers, cull the population and force survivors to eat bugs.”
Chicago Blues Matriarch Jeannine M. Baker Was Eighty-Two
“Jeannine M. Baker kept her family safe, fed and rocking,” reports Mitch Dudek in a colorful obituary at the Sun-Times. “Her late husband was Chicago bluesman Lonnie Brooks. Her sons, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Wayne Baker Brooks, are also blues musicians. ‘She was the glue. She held it down when my dad was on the road. She was sweet, but tough, and pushed all of us to be better’… The life of a musician, it’s tough, but we always had love in the house. Maybe not food or other necessities early on in my dad’s career when we were very young, but there was love, and my mom and dad created that.”
Jeff Impact Fellowships Awarded
As an extension of its mission to promote and recognize theater excellence, The Jeff Awards has announced recipients of its Jeff Impact Fellowships. Awards of $10,000 each have been presented to recognize and help inspire two early- to mid-career artists of color to support their work in Chicago theater. Theater artists Satya Jnani Chávez and Terry Guest are the first to be honored. More here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Former Chicago Resident Luxon To Be New Zealand Prime Minister
“The opposition National Party has won the New Zealand election, taking enough seats to form a coalition with its allies on the right wing of politics,” reports BBC News. “It marks a rapid elevation for National leader Chris Luxon, who became an MP in 2020 and National leader only a year later… Key election campaign promises included tax cuts for middle-income earners, a crackdown on youth offending, a ban on phones in schools, and the scrapping of the Labour government’s plan to raise fuel taxes.” (Earlier, the Washington Post profiled Luxon, including his background in advertising and time spent in Chicago here.)
Microsoft Lays Out $69 Billion For Activision Blizzard; IRS Says Conglomerate Still Owes Nearly $30 Billion In Back Taxes
“More than twenty months after agreeing to the company’s largest purchase ever, Microsoft has closed its acquisition of Activision Blizzard,” reports CNBC. “The deal was put through a hefty regulatory review and has finally gained a favorable ruling from a U.S. district judge. Activision’s gaming franchises include Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, Diablo, Overwatch and StarCraft.” Plus: “Microsoft said the IRS notified the company it owes an additional $28.9 billion in back taxes,” reports CNBC. “The company disagrees with the claims and says it will contest them in court, if necessary. Microsoft will go through the IRS’ administrative appeal, which could take years.”
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