Music Institute Artist-in-Residence Tammy McCann/Photo: Mary Rafferty
“Questioning the Place of Black Art In A White Man’s Collection”
“Isaac Julien’s installation at the Barnes Foundation highlights the museum’s African sculptures even as it questions the ethics of their acquisition,” writes Arthur Lubow at the New York Times. Barnes “started acquiring African sculpture in 1922, the year he set up the foundation, because it had inspired Picasso, Modigliani and many other artists in France he supported. ‘When the Foundation opens, Negro art will have a place among the great art manifestations of all times,’ he wrote to his Parisian dealer in 1923…With a commission by the Barnes for the foundation’s centenary, the Black English artist Isaac Julien created a five-screen black-and-white film installation, ‘Once Again …(Statues Never Die),’ that looks at the place of African art in the Barnes and other Western museums… Julien chided Barnes for limiting his support of Black art to the work of African civilizations and not collecting the output of his own African American contemporaries… Julien’s installation puts a spotlight on the Barnes’s estimable trove of African art—and on the long shadows that it casts.”
Renewable Energy Coming In Three Years To Airports, Harold Washington Library
Mayor Lightfoot aims to move city-run buildings to one-hundred-percent renewable power, the Tribune reports. “The city of Chicago has reached a deal worth up to $422 million to partially power some of its biggest buildings with solar energy starting in 2025… As part of a contract with retail electricity supplier Constellation, the city will buy solar energy that will partially power Chicago’s airports, the Harold Washington Library Center and the Jardine Water Purification Plant.” Adds the Sun-Times: “Governor Pritzker, whose Climate and Equitable Jobs Act laid the groundwork… called the power supply contract that will make clean energy the standard for buildings a ‘model’ for the nation… City-owned buildings that consume the most energy [will draw] a healthy chunk of their power from a new solar farm under construction in Sangamon and Morgan counties.” (The city just awarded over $200 million in airport maintenance and security contracts with ABM Aviation and Lincoln Security Services, reports Crain’s.)
DINING & DRINKING
Chicago Staffing Challenges Persist For Restaurants
Avondale’s Eden is the example Eater Chicago cites as challenges persist in staffing restaurants around the city: “Delays aren’t anything unusual for restaurant openings… For Eden, staffing posed a serious challenge. The labor climate has rapidly changed and [the co-owner] says jobs that were once $15-$16 per hour now require wages of $20 or more per hour. Right now they staff about sixteen… But for dinner, they want to add ten to twelve more.”
Taste Of Greektown Returns
Greektown Chicago’s popular Taste of Greektown festival returns for its thirty-second year. It’s the city’s largest celebration of Hellenic cuisine and culture, and runs Friday, August 26-Sunday, August 28 along Halsted Street from Adams to Van Buren, highlighting the neighborhood’s Greek restaurants with live music and entertainment, Greek dancing and unique shopping and retail. The neighborhood’s Greek restaurants include 9 Muses Bar & Grill (315 South Halsted), Artopolis Bakery, Cafe and Agora (306 South Halsted), Athena Restaurant (212 South Halsted), Mr. Greek Gyros (234 South Halsted) and Spectrum Bar & Grill (233 South Halsted). An optional $7 donation is suggested. More here.
FILM & TELEVISION
Shorts Festival At Haven Theatre
Haven Chicago has announced its Festival au Cinéma, “the company’s new platform for visionary and innovative filmmakers and media artists staking their claim in the future of digital storytelling.” The three-day-three-night event features over twenty short films plus events including conversations with the filmmakers, an opening night cocktail mixer, a “boozy brunch” featuring an iconic movie screening and a closing awards party. The weekend ends with the Made in Chicago Gala, Haven’s second annual fundraising event on Sunday, August 28, which includes a sneak peek at Haven’s inaugural film project. Festival au Cinéma, August 26–28 at Haven’s resident home The Den Theatre. Schedule and more here.
“Comics Attract People Who Have Anxiety,” Says Nick Drnaso
“Nick Drnaso finds himself in a disconcerting position. His hobby has become his job. He is still struggling to get used to a world in which it makes more financial sense for him to sit at his drawing board from the moment he wakes up until 2am,” writes Sam Leith in a Guardian profile. “He feels, he admits when he speaks to me from his home studio in Chicago, like an ‘impostor.’ Until 2016 he was working behind a pressing machine in a factory that made tin badges. ‘You would kind of assemble the pieces. It just felt like cartooning… problem-solving and repetitive motion and working delicately with your hands. So I loved it.’ … Discovering the Midwestern cartoonist John Porcellino’s work–’It pushes minimalism pretty much as far as it can go while still telling a coherent story’–was ‘a huge revelation.’ Drnaso learned the lessons of that minimalism in his debut collection, ‘Beverly,’ and refined it in ‘Sabrina,’ the breakthrough 2018 work that established him–and that has put him in the relatively rare position of earning a full-time living making literary comics.”
New Graywolf Press Publisher Looking For Talent In New Places
The New York Times reports that Carmen Giménez is now “the executive director and publisher of Graywolf Press, one of the nation’s most venerable independent, nonprofit publishers,” which is located in Minneapolis. “Her goal, she said, will be to cultivate the next generation of public intellectuals, whoever and wherever they might be, and to widen the press’s audience… Writers ‘might not be coming from the same traditional academic backgrounds.’ … The search for new talent will encompass ‘any number of places where people are talking or thinking, or being creative or having a voice,’ including TikTok, where Giménez believes there is probably a public intellectual waiting to break out.”
The Books That Made Sara Paretsky Want To Be A Writer
“By six or so I was already writing little stories, but I never imagined myself as a published writer. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties, reading Raymond Chandler at the same time that my life was being turned around by second wave feminism, that I started trying to write for publication,” Sara Paretsky tells the Guardian. “I was tired of reading books in which women used their bodies to try to get good boys to do bad things. I wanted to create a female detective who was a person, someone who could solve problems without using her body, and someone who could have a sex life that didn’t define her moral character. My series of novels featuring detective V.I. Warshawski came out of that wish.”
Lollapalooza Gets Restrictions On Other Grant Park Fests
“The deal to keep Lollapalooza in Chicago for at least the next decade includes a complete revamp of how festival producers will pay the Park District, tighter restrictions that keep competing music festivals out of Grant Park and no provisions for investment in the grounds except a $100,000 tennis court renovation,” reports the Trib. A draft agreement obtained by the paper states that “CPD and [Lollapalooza owner] C3 shall collaborate as necessary to avoid similar activity (multi-day music festivals) as characterized by type of entertainment, number of days and number of stages in Grant Park. In no case shall CPD, without the written consent of C3, permit a music festival in Grant Park to allow more than 20,000 daily attendees or to run more than two days.” Writes the Trib, “That appears to mean another C3-run festival, the two-day Sueños Music Festival, would be allowed to go forward.”
Motown’s Lamont Dozier Was Eighty-One
Critic Carrie Rickey posts: “In the 1960s, the three standards of hipness were Mary Quant, Yardley of London, and Holland-Dozier-Holland. Lamont Dozier passed away at 81, and his life is every bit as great as his many Motown hits.” The New York Times obituary: for “the prolific songwriter and producer who was crucial to the success of Motown Records as one-third of the Holland-Dozier-Holland team.” “In collaboration with the brothers Brian and Eddie Holland, Mr. Dozier wrote songs for dozens of musical acts, but the trio worked most often with Martha and the Vandellas (‘Heat Wave,’ ‘Jimmy Mack’), the Four Tops (‘Bernadette,’ ‘I Can’t Help Myself’) and especially the Supremes (‘You Can’t Hurry Love,’ ‘Baby Love’).” From 1963 to 1972, “the Holland-Dozier-Holland team was responsible for more than eighty singles that hit the Top forty of the pop or R&B charts, including fifteen songs that reached No. 1. ‘It was as if we were playing the lottery and winning every time,’ Mr. Dozier wrote in his autobiography, ‘How Sweet It Is.’”
Music Institute Of Chicago Announces Nichols Concert Hall Season
The Music Institute of Chicago’s season at Nichols Concert Hall in downtown Evanston features artists performing classical, jazz and gospel. “The diversity of this series connects with every part of our community. What every concert has in common is the excellence of the artists,” says Music Institute president and CEO Mark George in a release. This year the Music Institute celebrates Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) through its “One Composer, One Community” program, which focuses on the life and work of a single, underrepresented BIPOC composer. Considered the single most significant creative figure in twentieth-century Brazilian art music, Villa-Lobos’ unique compositional style synthesized contemporary European techniques with elements of national music. Villa-Lobos penned more than 2,000 orchestral, chamber, instrumental and vocal works. Three of this season’s Nichols Concert Hall programs feature work by Villa-Lobos. Also featured: Chicago jazz favorite and Music Institute artist-in-residence Tammy McCann in “Yes, Mahalia!,” on Saturday, October 29, which offers homage to gospel pioneer and Chicago legend Mahalia Jackson, paired with the sonic power of big-band jazz. More here.
Trib’s Chris Jones Mulls A Chicago Theater “Crisis Of Leadership”
At the end of last week, Chris Jones wrote at the Chicago Tribune on the cascade of crises in the stage community, starting with Victory Gardens, “a forty-eight-year-old bedrock of the city’s famous off-Loop scene… without an artistic director, an executive director, an announced season or any kind of functionality… Its staff, to the extent there still is a staff, is angry and unhappy… I drove past the building and saw a red, do-not-cross tape over the doors. I almost threw up through my car window… This is not happening in isolation… The House Theatre of Chicago, long one of the city’s most exciting and vibrant companies, went out of business with hurt feelings on all sides, not least from a newly hired artistic director who had not been given any chance to make her mark, just as a former artistic director had been hounded out of the door, just as other talents elsewhere have been hounded out of the city. The Royal George Theatre… was allowed to disappear for condos, ruining the chance to create an entertainment district in concert with Steppenwolf… Stage 773… became a bar… TimeLine Theatre parted company with one of its artistic associates [after] women came forward alleging inappropriate behavior on the part of an individual who had, prior to this scandal, been involved in making allegations against theater companies rather than being on the receiving end of them.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Groupon Eliminating 500 Jobs, Mostly In Illinois
Groupon begins a wave of layoffs, reports the Sun-Times. About fifteen percent of the workforce will be let go. A spokesman “could not specify how many will be at the e-commerce company’s Chicago base, 600 West Chicago, where it already is making office space available on a sublease. With remote work common… Illinois-based positions could include workers living in another state… ‘Our cost structure and our performance are not aligned. In order to position Groupon to successfully execute our turnaround plan, we have to lower our cost structure,’ CEO Kedar Deshpande said in a message to employees. The message was posted as the daily deals provider announced a widening loss during its second quarter amid a precipitous loss of revenue.” Adds the Trib, “Once the face of Chicago’s tech startup scene, Groupon has been in decline for much of the past decade… Departing employees were notified Monday, with some asked to stay on for a period of time to assist with the transition, according to the letter. Where possible, they will be given the option to keep their laptops, avail themselves of outplacement services and submit their information to a Groupon talent list to be posted on LinkedIn.”
Police Chief: “Really Focused” On Rooftops On Bud Billiken Parade
“In light of the massacre at Highland Park’s Independence Day parade, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown announced that city officials are ‘really focused’ on rooftops along the route of Saturday’s Bud Billiken Parade through the South Side,” reports the Sun-Times. “Brown said city officials have been involved in planning the parade since March and have since ramped up discussions about ‘various aspects of security,’ including the police resources dedicated to the parade. The police department is specifically interested in rooftops and ‘other high-ground areas in relation to that lesson learned from Highland Park.’”
NASCAR Gets Great Deal
“Documents obtained by Crain’s through Freedom of Information Act requests shed light on the pacts between City Hall and organizers of NASCAR and Lollapalooza. Some of the details are eye-popping… New details show NASCAR will have access to the site for longer than previously stated and the race could be extended beyond the three years announced by Lightfoot in July.” The contract, gotten under that FOIA request says that “NASCAR will pay the Chicago Park District $550,000 in 2023 and 2024 for exclusive use of much of Grant Park and $605,000 in 2025.” The event “will include two races each weekend and a fan festival that is likely to include concerts. The contract grants NASCAR access to the Petrillo Band Shell on Wednesday through Sunday of race week. Unlike the park district’s deal with Lollapalooza organizers, C3 Presents, the city is not getting a cut of any sponsorships related to the NASCAR event or a broadcast deal… The NASCAR contract doesn’t specify what repairs NASCAR will have to pay for at the conclusion of the event, but the company will lay down a $50,000 security deposit and officials from both parties will tour the site before and after the event with a third-party contractor… The company will be provided a ‘staging window’ of twenty-one days prior and ten days after the event to two areas of the event map marked as the ‘Pit Road Paddock,’” part of a VIP offering.
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