Today In Culture, October 11, 2023: Curator In Residence at a Hotel | Dance History Project Appoints Executive Director | RIP R. Stanley Johnson and Lurrkgod

Black and white photo portait of Michael McStraw

Michael McStraw of Chicago Dance History Project/Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography, courtesy of Giordano Dance Chicago.

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A Look At The Art Institute’s “Cripping the Galleries”

While the Art Institute Of Chicago has hosted “disabled artists and disability-centered programming over the years, this particular partnership [with Bodies Of Work] began in 2022,” writes the American Alliance Of Museums. “The result was the ‘Cripping the Galleries’ performance series, the trial event of which was hosted on August 13,” offering an “open invitation for museum professionals to consider implementing disability-centered programming and inviting disabled artists, activists, and historians into their spaces—a critical step in foregrounding accessibility, equitable experience and representation.”

Milwaukee’s Saint Kate Hotel Names Curator In Residence

Milwaukee’s arts-dedicated hotel, Saint Kate, has announced a program unique to the hospitality industry—a Curator in Residence program. The program invites a Midwest-based guest curator to participate in a yearlong residency to work inside the hotel as they hone their skills and work with artists at the forefront of Milwaukee’s art scene. Saint Kate announced its first-ever curator in residence as Shane McAdams, a Cedarburg, Wisconsin-based curator, artist, writer and educator. Under McAdams’ residency, guests can view his exhibitions “The Perpetual Surrealist” with works by Soobin Jeon and “Time Looks Like This” with Risograph prints by Kelli Anderson. More here.

Remembering Chicago Graffiti Artist Lurrkgod

Twenty-eight-year-old Hyde Park native Roderick “Chance” Sawyer “was a photographer, visual artist, curator, graffiti educator and archivist in Chicago’s Black and brown barrios,” report Luz Magdaleno Flores and Natasha Estevez at South Side Weekly, His father, Roderick Sawyer, “remembers the first time that an eight-year-old Chance tagged ‘Chance was here’ in their family home. ‘I asked him why he did that and he responded, “I want people to know I was here!”‘ Sawyer said… To the Chicago graffiti community, he was ‘Lurrkgod,’ known for lurking the streets with a camera… on a mission to capture graffiti—’an art dedicated to spray-painting, letters, and oftentimes a lack of permission,’ as [he] put it—throughout the city. He would… shadow other graffiti artists and document their procesos, which he would then share on his social media account @lurrkgod and include in self-published zines and artworks dating back to 2013. You can… spot his own tags throughout the city, … ‘JPEG’ or ‘Gafas‘ depending on which neighborhood you are in.”

Gallerist R. Stanley Johnson Passes

The Arts Club announces the passing of R. Stanley Johnson, proprietor of a gallery that has been in Chicago for over sixty-five years. Johnson was “an important figure in the Chicago arts scene, including through his Michigan Avenue gallery, founded by his father in 1955. The gallery hosted memorable exhibitions of European modernist artists and Old Master printmakers, including the first gallery show of Fernand Léger held in the United States and museum-quality exhibitions of printmakers such as Dürer and Rembrandt.”


Sun-Times Editorial Board For The Birds

“As for the Lakeside Center, it allows exhibitors to decide whether to close curtains to protect birds after the sun goes down. That should no longer be a choice in times of migration,” writes the Sun-Times editorial board. “Protective measures can save many birds migrating through the area. Chicago should never have another night when almost 1,000 birds die.”

Brown, Orange Line Traffic Down More Than Other CTA Lines

“Weekday Brown Line schedules [have been] cut by thirty-two percent compared with pre-pandemic schedules, more than any other train line,” reports the Tribune. “The CTA has cut back on schedules, facing a shortage of bus and train drivers that limits the amount of service it can run… CTA President Dorval Carter has acknowledged running less service, saying he called the schedule changes ‘optimizations’ because they are intended to help scheduled service better reflect the reality of how often buses and trains are actually running.”

Hedge Fund Head Unloading Pair Of Four Seasons Condos

“Dmitry Balyasny, co-founder and chief investment officer of twenty-two-year-old Balyasny Asset Management, a $20 billion Chicago-based hedge fund, has a pair of high-floor condos for sale at the Four Seasons on Delaware Place, at a combined price of nearly $8 million,” reports Crain’s.

Chicago Environmental Activists Want Faster Removal Of Lead Water Pipes

“Research showing Black and Latino residents are twice as likely to have lead service lines has added urgency to demands that the city commit to removing them within ten years,” reports Inside Climate News.


Why So Long For Atelier To Get A First Review?

“It took seven-and-a-half months, or 226 days, roughly the gestation time of a hippopotamus for Atelier restaurant to garner its first review,” prompts Michael Nagrant at The Hunger. “Atelier is a multi-course restaurant run by one of Chicago’s legendary cocktailians Tim Lacey and Christian Hunter, a James-Beard nominated chef. Atelier is also the heir apparent to Iliana Regan’s beloved and celebrated Elizabeth located in a tiny strip mall space more fitting for a bodega… Just five years ago, some reviews dropped the day after a place opened. Most of them were published within three… By my count, including a few very serious amateurs, there are roughly ten people dedicated to writing semi-regular local restaurant reviews. That’s still a healthy gaze.”

“Ultimately it feels like they treated Atelier, helmed by a black chef, differently than they would a restaurant run by a white chef… How else explain how a media so hungry to elevate black chefs during black history month, or because of the BLM-driven pandemic awareness, suddenly wasn’t hungry to write a review about, in my opinion, one of the best chefs (period) working in Chicago right now? I think what’s happening in this case is not an overt but more of a subconscious racism (which I know sounds like a luxury phrase only a white dude could say—and that might be right). It might also be overt too though.”

Seventy-Five Years Of Affy Tapple

“Workers at the Niles factory where the beloved treats are made impale twenty-three to twenty-five apples a minute with wooden sticks,” writes the Sun-Times. “This fall marks the seventy-fifth year of Affy Tapple’s ‘original caramel apple,’ a fall tradition that began in 1948 when a Chicago candy store bookkeeper formulated a winning, now top-secret recipe for a crisp apple dipped in buttery caramel and wrapped in a cozy coat of Spanish peanuts. Edna Kastrup tended to the daily financial recordkeeping at Windy City Confections, a chocolate and candy shop at 7110 North Clark, when she developed the recipe for a rich caramel the color of a copper penny. Kastrup’s caramel boasted the ideal smooth, creamy consistency for coating a tart, crispy apple.”

East Side Tap Saves 1907 Schlitz Tied House, Former Bamboo Lounge Dive

Owner Mike Medina is restoring the “tied house” tavern at 94th Street and Ewing Avenue in Chicago, reports the Tribune. The East Side Tap is its new moniker. “The East Side Tap is one of forty Schlitz Tied Houses in the city, including the Wrigleyville structure that’s now home to Schubas and the shuttered structure visible from the Kensington Metra station on the Electric Line… Limited resources available to Bamboo Lounge owner Frannie Shirk meant not much changed while she owned it. As Medina has worked over the last four years to restore the building, he’s unearthing history.”

Chicago Pizza Summit Returns

The Chicago Pizza Summit returns this year, with a lineup that includes Bacci, Connies, Dimo’s, Five Star and Paper Plane with more names to come. The event will also showcase Caruso’s Giardiniera Station, a Kooshy Salad Bar, the surprise pop-up of a former Logan Square pizza staple, and an exclusive collaboration between Professor Pizza x Gino’s East. October 15 at Royal Palms Shuffleboard, 1750 North Milwaukee. More here.

Four Food Additives Get Another Four Years In California

“On October 7, Governor Newsom signed the California Food Safety Act, a law that bans four harmful additives found in processed foods,” reports the Tasting Table. “The law is set to remove propylparaben, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, and Red Dye No. 3 from the shelves of California grocery stores by 2027… This is the first time a state has banned food additives that the Food and Drug Administration allows, and the law will likely trigger nationwide change.”

PepsiCo Doesn’t Fear Costly Diet Drugs

“PepsiCo Inc. says appetite-suppressing drugs haven’t affected sales of its snacks and sodas so far, though the company is focused on package size and consumers’ portion-control concerns as it aims to reach its raised annual forecast,” PepsiCo Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston told Bloomberg.

Bay Area Bruncheries Set Vomit Surcharge

“A sign posted at popular Oakland brunch spot, Kitchen Story, warns diners who indulge in any of the restaurant’s five varieties of bottomless mimosas to ‘drink responsibly and know your limits.’ Otherwise, the sign warns, a $50 cleaning fee will be automatically added to the tab of any patron who throws up in a public area of the restaurant,” reports KRON 4. “Home Plate in San Francisco has implemented a similar policy with signs warning of a $50 ‘cleaning fee’ for incidents resulting from intoxication.”


Minhail Baig On Her Chicago Film Festival Opener, “We Grown Now”

“Filmmaker Minhal Baig, a graduate of North Side College Prep, is about to present a novel perspective on a notorious Chicago topic: life in the Cabrini-Green complex high-rises,” writes Mitch Dudek at the Sun-Times. “Viewers of the film will be immediately captivated as the boys, Eric and Malik, drag a mattress from an abandoned Cabrini apartment… Baig, who wrote and directed… never personally saw the Cabrini-Green high-rises. She was a grade-school student when demolition of the complex began in 1995… After finishing her deeply personal last film, ‘Hala,’ about a Pakistani teen navigating life in Rogers Park—where Baig grew up—she wanted to explore the theme of losing one’s home. It’s a topic she struggled with after the 2013 death of her father.”

United Sets Taylor Swiftie-Centered Cinema Commercial

“The airline designed its own friendship bracelet,” reports Ad Age. Chicago-based United is buying space for “a thirty-second cinema spot designed specifically for Swifties attending ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ concert movie, which opens Friday… The spot shows a United airplane flying in a dark sky as the ground lights up below. The jet is shown approaching SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles… Concert music plays… as fans scream their enthusiasm and the text reads, ‘Ready for your next era? Let’s go.’ The video closes with an image of a friendship bracelet that spells out, ‘Good Leads the Way,’ United’s tagline.”

Writers Confirm Contract, 8,525–90

Ninety-nine percent of voting members of the Writers Guild approved the new contract, the WGA relays (via Twitter). That’s 8,525–90.


Altar To Banned Books At Chicago Library

“A new ‘Altar for the Unbanned’ encourages Chicago Public Library patrons to browse through about 500 banned books,” reports WBEZ. The installation was designed by Chicago artist Theaster Gates.

Rebecca Solnit On Her Books Being Plagiarized By AI Owners

“If you don’t want to write, don’t write. The idea of having a machine fake it, it is still kind of problematic, but more than that, the entire world of capitalist innovation is creating solutions to problems that don’t necessarily exist,” prolific writer Rebecca Solnit tells Bloomberg. “I have not heard anybody explain that there’s a problem that AI is somehow fixing, as opposed to AI becoming a problem in itself, when it comes to writing and language.”


Wilco Performs “Evicted” On “Jimmy Kimmel”

As Wilco’s American tour continues, here’s a live performance of “Evicted.”


Chicago Dance History Project Appoints Executive Director

Chicago Dance History Project, which preserves histories of the Chicago dance community, announces Michael McStraw as its executive director. McStraw recently stepped down from the executive leadership of Giordano Dance Chicago after thirteen years. He will be responsible for directing CDHP’s administration, staffing, board relations, marketing, fundraising, and programming, as well as advocating for CDHP and the dance industry in the Chicago and national arenas.

“I am deeply humbled, honored, and elated to have been selected as Chicago Dance History Project’s next executive director,” McStraw says in a release. “My decades-long involvement in the Chicago dance community as administrator, performer, educator, board member, leader and rabid fan has allowed me to develop the strategic perspective and community-wide relationships essential for success.” More Chicago Dance History Project here.

Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center Opens Ensemble Conductor, Stage Director, Stage Manager Positions

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago announces applications are open for the 2024-25 ensemble conductor, stage director and stage manager positions in their artist-development program. Select applicants for the conductor position will be invited to a live audition in Chicago on February 7, 2024. Select applicants for the stage director and stage manager positions will be invited to virtual interviews in January and February 2024. The Ryan Opera Center is an equal-opportunity employer/program and encourages qualified artists from historically underrepresented groups, including but not limited to those who identify as Black, Indigenous or a Person of Color, to apply for its Ensemble.

The 2024-25 Ryan Opera Center Ensemble program dates are May 6, 2024-April 26, 2025, with an option for renewal, as the positions are expected to have a two-year residency. Artists from around the world are invited to complete an online application, to be received by November 28. Applications are free and must be submitted via YAP Tracker; free registration for an account is here. More about the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble applications here.

Theater Community Reacts To Cultural Crisis Report

“Theaters and other cultural attractions in the city rely on three major sources of cash flow: ticket sales, donors and government funding (mostly through grants). The latter source has either ended or been severely curtailed, audience attendance numbers have still not recovered from pandemic shutdowns as economic factors continue to weigh heavily on discretionary spending, and donor funding has in some instances ceased or decreased,” write Stefano Esposito and Miriam Di Nunzio at the Sun-Times. Last week’s report “on the crisis facing Chicago’s cultural arts community came as little surprise to people who work in the field and already have been dealing with the new reality for the past three years.”

“‘People are just not doing what they used to when it comes to the arts, and this study proved it’s true,’ said Margaret McCloskey, executive director of Remy Bumppo Theatre Company.” In the DCASE report, “dwindling audiences and subscriptions, increased operating costs coupled with shrinking budgets, declines in private funding and sponsorships, and the end of government funding, as well as inflation, all factored in to the data’s findings.”


Seasonal Flu, COVID Vaccine Public Health Clinics Arrive

“The Chicago Department of Public Health has opened its first pop-up flu and COVID-19 vaccine clinics of the season,” reports Block Club. Current versions of both vaccines are “free of charge for anyone six months or older, regardless of their health insurance or immigration status. The vaccines can be delivered together.” The main clinics are at 4150 West 55th near Midway, 845 West Wilson in Uptown and 1713 South Ashland in Pilsen. More details here.

Zell Family Foundation Gives Northwestern’s Kellogg $25 Million To Remember Sam Zell

“The Zell Family Foundation, a charitable organization started by the late billionaire real estate investor Sam Zell and his wife, Helen, has provided another $25 million to help MBA students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management take the leap into entrepreneurship by starting or acquiring a business,” reports Crain’s. “Zell, one of Chicago’s best-known entrepreneurs, initially funded the Zell Fellows Program at Kellogg a decade ago. Nearly 200 second-year MBA students have participated in the program, launching 127 ventures.”

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