Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, February 29

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Film Wed May 27 2015

Talking 360° Video with GB's The Grid

360-degree source view
A 360° "Source" view of The Grid episode featuring the Art Institute of Chicago's MFA exhibition.

Last week, GB's short documentary series, The Grid, released three 360° videos shot with a special six-camera rig. The videos, which let you point the "camera" in any direction, were about the April 28th demonstration at the CPD headquarters, droning in the Chicago Park District and the Art Institute's recent MFA show. This week, we're talking with The Grid's Ben Kolak and Kiyomi Mino about working with this new format.

Continue reading this entry »

David Schalliol

News Tue Nov 11 2014

Next Theatre Shuts Down Mid-Season


Next Theatre, which has been producing award-winning, socially provocative plays in Evanston for 34 years, is shutting down. The theater ceased operations as of yesterday -- in the middle of the season with two plays yet to be produced.

Board president Rob Andalman said the theater's audiences have shrunk dramatically in the past few years and its contributors have not made up the difference. Next has been performing at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center in Evanston, on Noyes Street near Ridge Avenue. The theater season was to include Shakespeare's Richard III, opening in January and the world premiere of Turtle by Jake Jeppson, which had been set to run in April.

Continue reading this entry »

Nancy Bishop

Theater Fri Oct 03 2014

Steppenwolf Unveils Expansion Plan, Announces New Leadership

steppenwolf theatre halsted view
Halsted Street view of New Steppenwolf Theatre.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago's 40-year-old theater famous for its in-your-face style and pugnacious representation of contemporary American theater, is growing again. The company has announced a $50 million expansion plan that involves new theater spaces and a parklike southern area. The company also announced changes in its top administrative and creative positions, to take effect in 2015.

Some of the expansion plans were already known but the leadership changes came as a surprise announcement. Steppenwolf, famously founded in a church basement in Highland Park in 1974, is probably Chicago's best-known theater beyond our borders and a major contributor to Chicago's reputation as a hot theater town.

Anna Shapiro, an award-winning director of Chicago and Broadway productions, will become artistic director next year, replacing Martha Lavey, who has held that post since 1995. David Schmitz, a 10-year Steppenwolf administrative veteran, will replace David Hawkanson as executive director. Both Lavey and Hawkanson will be involved in Steppenwolf's expansion project.

Continue reading this entry »

Nancy Bishop

News Thu Aug 28 2014

Seanachai Theatre to Become Irish Theatre of Chicago

Seanachai Theatre Company, one of Chicago's acclaimed small Equity theaters, is changing its name to Irish Theatre of Chicago for its 20th anniversary season.

The current name -- Seanachai -- means "storyteller" in Gaelic. Co-Artistic Directors Michael Grant and Ira Amyx said that they've been considering changing the name for several years. "While our name is changing, our mission remains the same, and (telling stories) is still at the heart of what we do. It is our hope that our new name and logo will support our future plans and make it easier for our current and future patrons to find and follow us."

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Nancy Bishop

News Wed Jul 23 2014

Second City Expands, Makes "Room to Grow"

GB-secondcity2.jpgThe Second City is expanding their 20,300 square feet space to accommodate even more classrooms and facilities for students. The company will be leasing the 25,000 square foot former four-screen AMC movie theater next to its current Pipers Alley location, which closed in 2011.

The Second City Training Center is already the largest school of comedy in the world, but this new development will more than double the space and provide room for their growing curriculum.

Continue reading this entry »

Megan Daley

News Mon May 12 2014

Wicker Park Theater Scene to Expand with new Hypocrites & Den Theatre Space

Photo courtesy The Den Theatre.

The theater community in Wicker Park will get a big boost with The Den Theatre's expansion into a new street-level space at its current home on Milwaukee Avenue. The Hypocrites, one of Chicago's highly praised and innovative storefront theater companies, will make its new home there.

The Hypocrites is currently resident in the lower level space at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W Division St. Chopin also is home to the House Theatre and productions by other theater companies.

The new venue at 1329 N. Milwaukee will be a fully adaptable 6,000 square feet that will feature seating for up to 200 patrons, plus a bar and other amenities. The inaugural production in August will be the world premiere of All Our Tragic, a 12-hour theater adaptation of all 32 surviving Greek tragedies into a single narrative. The show is being adapted and directed by Hypocrites founding artistic director Sean Graney. Graney is currently promoting the production and raising funds with this video.

Continue reading this entry »

Nancy Bishop

News Sun Mar 30 2014

Roosevelt University Installs Multimedia Exhibit Honoring Real Estate Pioneer

Rooseveltexhibit-GB.jpg"Lifescape: A Video Portrait of Marshall Bennett," a multimedia installation honoring one of Chicago's real-estate pioneers, will open to the public Friday at Roosevelt University's Heller College of Business and Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate.

The installation and the institute honor Bennett, now 92, a major force in real estate development and planning in Chicago and around the world. "Marshall is a true legend in real estate and urban planning and development, not just in Chicago but on an international scale," says Jon DeVries, founding director of the institute.

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Nancy Bishop

News Fri Sep 20 2013

How Much Can You Carry?

DJ Algoriddim is staring at a huge pile of furniture. He has his eyes on a set of bass scoops buried in a corner. By now, he knows the routine. Vince the store manager laid out the rules: You have to dig items out yourself and be able to carry them out the door without assistance -- if you want the 10 dollar deal. With a smile, DJ Algoriddim starts climbing the pile.

Landmark Liquidation

For the past six years Charles McGary has operated the only African-American owned auction house in Chicago. The building on the 8400 block of Cottage Grove is huge. Three floors packed with items bought at estate liquidations and storage auctions. A constant flow of merchandise. The first floor is an auction house and store. The second and third floors are used as warehouse and storage. Charles has decided it's time to close. He could auction everything off -- but he came up with a better idea. Ten dollar entry fee -- all you can carry -- free.

Charles explains.

Continue reading this entry »

Ron Slattery / Comments (2)

Dance Tue May 14 2013

The End of Luna Negra

image001.png Beloved local dance company Luna Negra Dance Theater announced today that they will be ceasing operations. Founded by Eduardo Vilaro in 1999, Luna Negra celebrated Latino choreographers and voices through contemporary dance. In a press release, Board President Jorge Solis said, "Luna Negra is very proud of having provided a wonderful medium in which to celebrate and showcase Latino inspired dance in the city of Chicago.  Sharing the rich Latino culture has been a source of pride and inspiration to all those involved with the company over the last 14 years. It's been tremendously difficult to come to the conclusion to cease operations, but the financial reality could not be avoided any longer."

Britt Julious

News Wed Jun 27 2012

Now's Your Chance to Have Some Say in CPS' Arts Education

ccp.pngThis past month CPS announced the creation of the first district-wide CPS Arts Education Plan. David Vitale, President of the Board of Education shared that CPS would launch a public planning process to gather public feedback towards setting standards and policies for improving and expanding arts programs across Chicago Public Schools. Over the next few weeks CPS is seeking your input to propell them down a more art-conscious path.

Community Engagement Sessions have now been set for all audience groups and the planning process will move quickly. Go to the CPS Arts Plan website to register for a public forum and learn how you can add your voice to this plan (see session dates/information here). Visit Ingenuity Incorporated to learn how you can become involved in improving the educational experiences of our public school children.

In addition to the upcoming CPS Arts Education Plan Community Engagement Sessions, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is conducting upcoming Town Hall sessions to review the draft of Chicago's Cultural Plan. Information and registration links may be found here.

Kelly Reaves

Art Wed Apr 25 2012

EXPO CHICAGO Announces 2012 Exhibitors

The inaugural EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary/Modern Art and Design, announced yesterday the following list of galleries that will exhibit September 20-23 at Navy Pier. This promising list, along with the ambitious idea of creating an all-encompassing sensory event, rather than just a bunch of art randomly stuffed into endless corridors of cubicles, leaves me confident that EXPO CHICAGO will do more than just fill the gap that Art Chicago/NEXT have left.

"We set out to re-establish Chicago as a preeminent art fair destination with solid collector, dealer, institutional, civic and city support," said Karman. "What has resonated with our exhibitors is our steadfast commitment to quality, our limit on the size of the exposition, our return to historic Navy Pier and the opportunity to open the fall arts season with a great international fair in America," he added. "With this extraordinary list of galleries, along with the contemporary and 20th century work that will be presented, I am confident that we will host an international exposition that truly befits the rich legacy of our city and exceed the expectations of the international arts community."

Continue reading this entry »

Kelly Reaves

Art Wed Apr 04 2012

$10 Million Gift for the MCA

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA) today announced a gift of $10 million from Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson. Long-time supporters of both the arts and the MCA, Edlis also serves as an officer of the MCA Board and an MCA Trustee. Edlis led the museum's Collection Committee from 2004 to 2008. Neeson serves on the Exhibition Committee.

In 2000, Edlis and Neeson gave a major gift to establish the Edlis/Neeson Art Acquisition Fund that has enabled the MCA to acquire significant works for the collection, including Maurizio Cattelan's Felix (2001), Thomas Schutte's Ganz Grosse Geister (Big SpiritsXL) (2004), Jenny Holzer's For Chicago (2007), and Olafur Eliasson's Your eye activity field (2009).

Continue reading this entry »

Britt Julious

News Tue Mar 13 2012

Wicker Park Art Center Losing Its Home?

"Who are you?"

It was the question Wicker Park community members had asked over and over again throughout the hour-and-a-half-long March 12 public meeting to discuss the sale of St. Paul's Community Church (2215 W. North Avenue) to the Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission. As the new owners, the Midwest-based organization--which represents itself as part of the Roman Catholic Church without Vatican approval--will displace the Near Northwest Arts Council and some 29 other local arts organizations, including the Nelson Algren Committee, the NeuroKitchen Arts Collective, and CIMMFest.

"You keep mentioning your ministry. What is your ministry?" Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno (1st) asked the mission's treasurer, Jacek Jankowski, after he spoke about the historic building's purchase--they bought it in December and have been trying to move into the space since late January but, despite piles of eviction notices Jankowski personally left, the arts groups haven't yet left.

Moreno had reason to be skeptical--the mission, which is active in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, used to be headquartered in Chicago's 36th Ward on the northwest side and in 2005 was brought to court by the City of Chicago for zoning issues. Signs outside the building called it a communication center, which required a special-use permit, as did the building's use as a church. The ward's alderman, William Banks, warned Moreno to stay far away from the mission when they bought the Wicker Park church.

Continue reading this entry »

Ruthie Kott / Comments (4)

News Tue Dec 13 2011

Lee Groban, RIP

Poet and artist Lee Groban, a well-known fixture on the Chicago arts scene, passed away Dec. 9 after a long battle with congestive heart failure and emphysema. He was 64. There will be a memorial service at Packer Schopf Gallery, 942 W. Lake St., from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday, Dec. 18.

Groban's best known work is The Cure for Insomnia, an 87-hour-long film based on his epic poem by the similar name A Cure for Insomnia, which he co-produced with John Henry Timmis IV. It holds the Guinness world record for the longest film, and was first played in its entirety at The School of the Art Institute from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, 1987. The poem was a continual work in progress; Groban claimed it was well over 5,000 pages at the time of his death.

Here is Groban reading a portion of A Cure for Insomnia and sharing some philosophy with a group of people on the street in New York this summer.

View more video of Groban on YouTube user SENATURD210's channel.

Andrew Huff / Comments (4)

News Tue Jul 19 2011

One Macabre Object


Photo courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Local auction house Leslie Hindman Auctioneers has gotten their hands on a pretty incredible object, art historically speaking, and it's expected to sell for over $20,000 at Leslie Hindman on August 9. Although it is essentially a beat-up old book full of notes and doodles, it is special because they are the doodles of Frida Kahlo, inspired by the the book, which is The Work of Edgar Allen Poe.

Continue reading this entry »

Kelly Reaves

Photography Tue Mar 15 2011

Get Your Hands on Some Black & White Gold


Vivian Maier, Self-portrait, 1968; silver gelatin print - available now through Russell Bowman Art Advisory

There has been a lot of talk (and a little controversy) about nanny-cum-street photographer, Vivian Maier, whose work was discovered in 2007 when storage units containing it were emptied due to late payment and the work was sold to an auction house. Maybe you've even seen her exhibition at the Cultural Center (up through April 3). In a sense, she is our new Henry Darger--a talented Chicago-based outsider artist whose work has earned her posthumous fame. The difference is that her work is genuine documentation of the city and the people in it rather than the zany imaginings of a madman (not that there's anything wrong with that).

But just like the prices for Darger's work rapidly skyrocketed, Maier's are on their way up, and now you have a chance at a piece of the pie.

Continue reading this entry »

Kelly Reaves / Comments (10)

Art Thu Mar 10 2011

Local Love


painting by Charlie Megna

Do you remember the profile I wrote of Charlie Megna last year? No?

Well this kid's got spirit, and in the year since that profile was written his work has developed into some INSANE s*%t. He has progressed from painting pigeons and two-flats to battles between tube-sock wearing devil children with rainbow juice for blood. I guess that's just what happens when you lock yourself up in a studio with a bunch of toxic chemicals every day for an extended period of time.

Continue reading this entry »

Kelly Reaves / Comments (1)

News Fri Feb 04 2011

Are you Creative in Chicago?

Time to sit down and take the Creative Chicago Survey, help us find out what we need to make this a better city to create in.


News Tue Feb 01 2011

Midwest Blizzard vs. Chicago Art

The blizzard that is moving in on us at the moment is causing several cancellations and closures in the art world today and tomorrow. Here's what we have so far:

  • The Art Institute closed at 2pm today and will be closed tomorrow, so the Peter Fischli artist talk scheduled for tomorrow at 6pm has been canceled.
  • The MCA closed at 2pm today and will be closed tomorrow.
  • Steppenwolf has canceled their shows tonight and their matinees tomorrow.
  • Goodman Theatre's Wednesday, February 2 Performance of the Trinity River Plays has been cancelled.
  • Tonight's Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance with conductor/pianist Mitsuko Uchida has been rescheduled for Monday, February 7, at 7:30pm. Wednesday's performance by the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra will go on. More info at CSO's website.
  • UIC's Gallery 400 is closed today as of 2pm, and so the Eileen Myles lecture scheduled for 5pm today was postponed. If you plan on viewing Kerstin Honeit: Ambiguity is My Weapon or Bless This Mess in the next two days, call them ahead at 312-996-6114 to find out their open hours.
  • Curating the Turn salon at threewalls has been rescheduled for Feb. 8 at 7pm.
  • Drawing Club tonight at Peanut Gallery has been canceled. Peanut Gallery artists and friends will be participating in a giant midnight snowball fight tonight at Palmer Square, instead.

Please comment on this post with information about other cancellations. The Great Chicago Blizzard of 2011 may have won the battle this week, but art will win the war. Maybe. Or maybe everyone will continue to move to L.A.

Just kidding. Chicago pride 4eva.

Kelly Reaves / Comments (1)

Feature Thu Jan 06 2011

Getting the Right Angle on Vivian Maier

A self portrait by Vivian Maier; photo courtesy of Ron Slattery

By now you may have heard about Vivian Maier, the secretive North Side nanny with a French accent and bad manners whose astonishingly prolific habit of taking really good photographs has earned her posthumous fame. Her story was featured in Chicago Magazine, on "Chicago Tonight," the Suntimes and dozens of blogs just in the past two weeks. Since her death in April 2009, her work has been exhibited around the world, with an exhibition opening at the Cultural Center this Friday.

Maier is not the only one getting famous off her photographs, though, because the story of their discovery is almost as exciting as the photographs themselves. According to legend, a young real estate agent and third-generation flea market seller named John Maloof stumbled across a box of Maier's negatives at an estate auction at the RPN auction house in 2007, put in an absentee bid, and won it for $400 with the hope of using some of the images for a book he was putting together about Portage Park. After a swift run-through of his winnings, he found nothing he could use for the book, so he stashed them away for a few months. Later, when he was able to spend some quality time with the photos, he found himself captivated.

"I thought at first that my interest in her work was just an unusual obsession," he said. "People who were much bigger experts in the field told me that there was nothing unique about this work. Given that I was a real estate agent, I initially took them at their word."

One person Maloof was in contact with, however, shared his passion for the photos. And this is where the legend gets a little weird.

Continue reading this entry »

Kelly Reaves / Comments (4)

News Mon Dec 06 2010

Your ShowPOD Awaits

The Chicago Arts District down in East Pilsen has announced a call for entries for its 2011 showPOD season. The seven ShowPODs are temporary exhibition spaces designed to "create an instant art experience in a non-traditional space." Got an idea? Fill out the PDF entry form.

Andrew Huff

Call for Artists Wed Nov 03 2010

Too Hard to Keep?

Chicago-based artist Jason Lazarus has started an archive of photographs deemed "too hard to keep," and he's looking for submissions from the public. Submissions may include photos of friends, family, pets, places/objects that are too painful to view again. If you've got photos to send him, be they digital or analog, click here for submission details.

Kelly Reaves

Call for Artists Wed Nov 03 2010

Call for Artists: Facebook @ Peanut Gallery

facebook.jpgPeanut Gallery is currently accepting submissions for their next show, Facebook. If you have art dealing with issues like privacy on the internet, relationships sabotaged by social networking, or portraits of other people's cats that have their own FB pages, now is your chance to show it. Or, consider this an opportunity to make something new. All mediums accepted by all people, though the show is curated so send stuff you're proud of. Send jpegs to by November 15. Send questions there, too. While you're at it, why not follow Peanut Gallery on Facebook?

Kelly Reaves

Art Tue Oct 26 2010

Discounted SOFA/Intuit Tickets


The work of glass Maestro Lino Tagliapietra in Holsten Galleries booth at SOFA CHICAGO last year, photo courtesy of SOFA

For those of you who are planning on going to the SOFA/Intuit Outsider Art fairs next weekend (November 5 - 7 at Navy Pier), we have good news: you can get half off your tickets if you use the code "ARTFAIR" when visiting the Tickets & Showtimes link at

Better yet, you can register with Intuit here for a FREE ticket, plus they'll get a donation for every complementary ticket that is turned in.

Before the discount, general admission is $15 per ticket-- this admits visitors to both fairs and their related lecture series, special exhibits and events. Both fairs kick-off with a joint Opening Night Preview in Festival Hall on Thursday, Nov. 4. The public is invited to attend from 7 to 9pm for $50.

Kelly Reaves / Comments (2)

Feature Mon Oct 25 2010

What We Do Is (Unintentionally) Secret


Beidler Elementary students performing at the "Forms of Spectacle and Solutions to Vacancy" Unveiling Ceremony. All photos by the author unless otherwise noted.

Everyone knows the story of gentrification. Artists and other progressive people move to low-income neighborhoods looking for a good deal on a big space in the city. This attracts investors and developers, and the next thing you know, the original occupants of the neighborhood — including small businesses, families and even the artists themselves — are priced out of their homes to make room for culturally bankrupt replacements. The charm of the neighborhood is beaten out of it.

Because of the housing market crash, along with foreclosures, the gentrification process has pretty much come to a halt in many parts of the city. A classic case of this in Chicago, for better of worse, is Garfield Park. Real estate in the neighborhood was highly sought after during the real estate boom because of its proximity to downtown and to the CTA and Metra trains, as well as the beloved Garfield Park Conservatory and the sprawling park itself, but has since been given up on by many developers. Now it is home to clusters of vacant lots and buildings, but what a lot of people don't realize is that a surprising number of the buildings that are occupied are occupied by artists. Not just any artists, either. Artists who aren't afraid to take risks, who dance to the beat of their own drums, who make some of the most engaging work and eclectic work around.

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Kelly Reaves / Comments (4)

Contest Mon Sep 20 2010

HBO Launches Speakeasy Events in Chicago to Celebrate the Premiere of "Boardwalk Empire"

You may have heard David Bianculli on "Fresh Air" today say that the only television show being released this fall worth watching is "Boardwalk Empire." Well, in the spirit of supporting the only television show worth watching this year (according to him), I have news.

In celebration of "Boardwalk Empire", Cornerstone promotions is kicking off a unique month-long speakeasy campaign, and they asked me to tell you about it. Passwords will be distributed weekly to local market influencers, which will allow them to enter some of the most exclusive speakeasies in Chicago and receive complimentary prohibition-era cocktails. Here's a list of those events:

  • Bar Deville (1958 W. Huron St.) Tues. Sept. 21, 28 & Oct. 5, 7pm - 9pm
  • Violet Hour (1520 N. Damen Ave.) Wed. Sept. 22, 29 & Oct. 6, 7pm - 9pm
  • The Exchange (1524 N. Milwaukee Ave.) Thurs. Sept. 23, 30, & Oct. 7, 7pm - 9pm

To register for the weekly passwords for your chance to get access to these exclusive events, visit

In addition to that, "Boardwalk Empire" is giving one of ya'll assorted HBO DVD boxsets ("Sopranos" Season six part two, "Deadwood" season three, and "Rome" season two), a "Boardwalk Empire" hip flask, and a Boardwalk Empire USB drive. To be in the running for these goodies, just comment on this post. Three lucky readers won this one! Thanks for reading!

One winner will randomly be selected this Friday, September 24. Good luck and happy guzzlin'.

Kelly Reaves / Comments (12)

Event Thu Sep 16 2010

Nouns and Verbs Alongside Some Really Pretty Pictures

Former Gapers Block writer and photographer extraordinare, Brian Leli, has started a website called Noun/Verb where he posts his interviews with and profiles of interesting artists of all sorts, among other things. "Noun/Verb is devoted to artists and their actions," he explains. "Those driven to look further inside and out, to inspire and to be inspired--Noun/Verb explores boldly passionate individuals and the things that they do."

A substantial part of this project will be the "Live Talks" series, which is what it sounds like-- live interviews with artists in public places. The first of the series, an interview with Matt Shaw of The Spend, will take place tomorrow evening at The Hideout. Click here for details on that event. Whether or not you're not able to make it out to that, definitely keep an eye on Noun/Verb and keep your ears peeled for future Live Talks events.

Kelly Reaves

Gallery Thu Sep 02 2010

Call for Artists: VACATION @ Peanut Gallery

Peanut Gallery, the gallery in the Flat Iron building that I recently opened with collaborator Charlie Megna is looking for art to show in October, in a group show devoted to vacation. What did you do this summer?

Submit jpegs to by Monday, September 27. Please only submit work that will be available for exhibition in Chicago in October, that you can deliver to the gallery by Monday, October 4. This is a curated show, but we welcome work of any media by anyone, as long as we can get it through the door. We'll get back to you by September 28 and let you know if we can show your work. Please email us with questions. Thanks!

Kelly Reaves

News Wed Aug 04 2010

Walter E. Massey Named (Interim?) President of SAIC

walter E. Massey.jpgIn less than a month, students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago will return to classes under the new leadership of Walter E. Massey, who was named President of the school this summer. The SAIC community was surprised, (and a little peeved) by the resignation of Wellington "Duke" Reiter at the end of this past school year, after he served only two years as president. The sudden announcement of the position already being filled comes equally as shocking.

Continue reading this entry »

Britany Robinson / Comments (1)

Gallery Tue Jun 22 2010

Get Out There

If you are an artist looking for an exhibition space and/or looking to get more involved in the local artistic community this may be a good opportunity for you: The Chicago Artist's Coalition is currently accepting applications for their year-long CAC Coalition Gallery program. "Collaborative by design, entrepreneurial in spirit," says their press release, "CAC Coalition Gallery is a unique opportunity for Chicago artists to empower their careers by teaching them to run all aspects of a professional gallery while enjoying substantial support from CAC and a group of professional curators who will be invited to participate."

Twenty artists will be selected to exclusively participate in the program and exhibit in the space for a year. Rent and utilities are $65 a month (not bad for prime Wicker Park real estate) and you'll have to be actively involved in all aspects of the operation of the gallery. In exchange you'll get your work out there, learn about the logistics of running a gallery, and you'll make some friends.

The clock is ticking, though. Applications are due June 30. Click here for details.

Kelly Reaves

Culture Sun Jun 13 2010

Bike Ride in the Buff

naked 1.jpg

Impending thunderstorms didn't stop Chicagoans from baring it all and taking to the streets last night in the 7th annual World Naked Bike Ride. The event is a bold statement in celebrating freedom from oil, and in light of recent events in the gulf coast, this year's ride was particularly meaningful. Spectators and city officials alike seem to embrace the blatant display of public nudity and traffic disruptions each year in continued support of Chicago as a bike friendly city.

Britany Robinson

News Tue Jun 08 2010

Funding Opportunity for Creative Entrepreneurs

AIE.JPGCalling all starving artists! Gorilla Tango Financial and the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship have teamed up to help you make your creative business goals a reality. The IAE offers a two-week Creative Enterprise Boost Camp where artists and creative professionals who are aspiring to launch and run their own creative businesses learn the fundamentals of business development. Now, Gorilla Tango Financial and the IAE have made it possible for qualified attendees to earn up to $10,000 of funding for creative enterprise start-ups, or small- or medium-sized businesses upon successful completion of the Boost Camp.

Additionally, beginning in January 2011, students will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $25,000 to continue developing their enterprise while pursuing coursework at the IAE. The institute provides learning modules throughout the year, which are organized so that artists and creatives can attend classes while taking minimal time away from work. Students finish a module in either a series of four or five weekends, or in an intensive Wed.--Sun. module. The IAE offers three modules per year.

Continue reading this entry »

Emily Disher

News Thu Apr 29 2010

The MCA's New Tastemaker


Michael Darling*

The director of the Museum of Contemporary Art announced this morning that the MCA has a new chief curator-- Michael Darling. Darling is currently the curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and before that he was associate curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A. (MOCA).

"Michael is an exceptionally well-respected, intelligent, and open-minded individual who is a very prescient choice for chief curator," said Mary Ittelson, Chair of the MCA Board of Trustees in the press release they sent out today. "He is a versatile curator who understands the importance of presenting the art experience in an approachable manner for the audience."

Continue reading this entry »

Kelly Reaves

Improv Mon Apr 19 2010

A Boner a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

The Chicago improv comedy group Octavarius doesn't think we use the word "boner" enough in our daily lives. Starting today, they aim to change that. In pursuit of Octavarius' mission to "Find Fun Everywhere," today they light the fuse on their first Fun Activism campaign. The mission? To make "boner" the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day. In the official press release for this event, they wrote that they feel driven to accomplish their goal because "boner is one of, if not the, most fun words in English. By making it the Word of the Day, we can celebrate, explore, and honor this great word."

Continue reading this entry »

Kelly Reaves / Comments (3)

Art Thu Apr 08 2010

Making Sense of it All

AREA Chicago just sent me an email about this shiny new website that aggregates all the activism, education, art & cultural happening-type stuff that's going on around the city onto one calendar. This upgrade & evolution of their existing print calendar features a "map view" of events, a "post to Facebook" option, weekly events email digests, and event feeds to iCal, RSS, and Twitter. Check it out.

Kelly Reaves

News Tue Apr 06 2010

Wellington "Duke" Reiter Resigns as President of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

duke.jpgWellington "Duke" Reiter, who was appointed president of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago just two years ago in July, has officially resigned from his position as of graduation this Spring.

The following letter was sent to students and members of the SAIC community yesterday morning.

Continue reading this entry »

Britany Robinson / Comments (1)

Art Wed Mar 10 2010

Humboldt Cultural Center in a Bind


photos by Jhonathan F. Gómez

Quennect 4 just started out as a space, nothing more. Just a place on North Avenue in Humboldt Park for people to use for concerts and parties. And that's what it was. But over time, somewhat serendipitously, it became something more-- not only a venue for art and music but for communication, harmony, and activism.

One of the many revelatory occasions that contributed to this transformation happened recently, during a benefit at Quennect 4 for the well-known taggers Evol and Afro, who died in a car accident on the highway last April. The circumstances surrounding their death were infuriating--a (probably) drunk cop was involved--so the attendance was immense. The large space was full and they had to stop letting people in at 10:30.

"It should go down in history," said one of the guys who runs Quennect 4, who asked to remain anonymous when I interviewed the crew of volunteers there in February. "Every tagging crew in the city was here. On the streets they're at war with each other but in here they all got along. You could feel the energy in the room. It was very tense. We were all nervous, but nothing happened."

Continue reading this entry »

Kelly Reaves / Comments (1)

News Mon Feb 22 2010

Modern Wing Tagged

The Art Institute of Chicago usually likes to have its paintings on the inside of the building on canvas and the like, not on the actual building. A 50-foot-long piece of graffiti was painted on the east wall of the new Modern Wing by a team of graffiti artists in about 20 to 30 minutes and was caught on tape. Chicago's Graffiti Blasters spent most of the day sandblasting it off the limestone and curators and conservators will assess how to deal with any remnant of paint left. Fat Caps and Chrome has some nice photos of the work before the Blasters got to it.

Christian Scheuer / Comments (6)

Art Wed Feb 10 2010

Painter's Paintings for Painting's Sake

Do you like paintings? Well then pay attention: this Saturday the 13th, four Chicago galleries will open exhibits of exceptional paintings by 13 artists, (who are all, as far as I know, currently working in Chicago.) This is in conjunction with the College Art Association's annual conference convening in our wonderful city this week.

The festivities will kick off at the ungodly hour of 9:30am with a panel discussion on the state of painting at the Hyatt Regency. A glorious team of local painters/academics will address questions such as: What's to be done about painting? How is painting valued? How does painting assert its authority? What is painting's speed? Can painting enact radical social and cultural critique? What is painting's place within the mainstream? And how does painting implicate itself in capital?

After that, each of the artists on the panel will exhibit their work at four Chicago galleries that afternoon, starting at JULIUS CÆSAR at 4pm, continuing to Shane Campbell Gallery at 6pm, and ending at the 119 N Peoria Building in the West Loop at Rowley Kennerk Gallery and Western Exhibitions, from 7 to 10pm.

I am particularly exited about the Painter's Paintings show at Western Exhibitions, which will feature new work by the talented Carl Baratta and Nicholas Frank, among others. Visit the individual galleries' websites for specific information about each of the exhibitions. Don't miss these!


Carl Baratta's "These Hands Around Your Neck, Like Flames To A House", courtesy of Western Exhibitions

Kelly Reaves

Art Tue Feb 09 2010

Hamza Walker Wins Ordway Prize


Hamza Walker, Image courtesy of the School of the Art Institute

On February 5, it was announced the $100,000 Ordway Prize would be awarded to Hamza Walker, the Director of Education and Associate Curator at The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. In 2001, The New York Times named him one of the most influential American curators. The New Museum describes the prize as, "acknowled[ing] the contributions of a Curator/Arts Writer and an Artist whose work has had significant impact on the field of contemporary art, but who has yet to receive broad public recognition. Nominees for the Ordway Prize are midcareer talents between the ages of forty and sixty-five, with a developed body of work extending over a minimum of fifteen years." Walker curated a solo show of Chicago-based photographer Anna Shteynshleyger which is on view at The Renaissance Society until this Sunday, February 14.

Whitney Stoepel

Art Thu Jan 28 2010

Haven't Seen the Modern Wing Yet?

The Art Institute is free the whole month of February, so you have no more excuses. For what it's worth, my personal favorites in the new wing include Charles Ray's "Hinoki", Gerhard Richter's "Candle", Bruce Nauman's "Clown Torture", and Peter Doig's "Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre." Go, check them out, and let me know if you agree.

Peter Doig - Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre (full).jpg

Doig's "Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre", photo courtesy of the AIC

Kelly Reaves

Art Thu Jan 28 2010

The Burning Whale

In Pilsen, there used to be place called the Whale. It was actually just a residence, but it represented much more because it was the base of operations for a society of creatives and intellectuals (but not the hoity toity type) called the "Order of the Lamprey." People from every imaginable background would meet there to enjoy the finer things in life-- mostly art making, pig roasting, doohickey inventing, cold beer, and heated discussion.

Now the Whale is gone, and everything in it, because it burned down on December 17. Kenneth Morrison, Michelle Faust, and Nat Ward, the trio who started the Order of the Lamprey and lived in the building, lost all of their posessions. Since the fire, though, an astounding number of Chicagoans have stepped up to the plate, coming together in support. A Facebook group has been started which serves as a vehicle for recovery, or at least the first step, helping friends of the Whale connect with each other. Check it out, join the group, and if you have any money left over after helping out the Haitians, help these guys out too by donating to their Paypal account. (The email address to use to donate to them through Paypal is Also, Bridgeport's wonderful Co-Prosperity Sphere is hosting a benefit party for the Whale on February 5. Check out our listing in Slowdown for the details.


The destroyed kitchen at the Whale

Kelly Reaves

Media Wed Jan 13 2010

Chicago Community Trust Wins Second Knight Foundation Grant

The Chicago Community Trust has received a second journalism-oriented grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The $202,000 grant is from the foundation's Knight Community Information Challenge and will provide funding for a second year of the Community News Matters program, of which Gapers Block is an awardee. Other regional recipients of the Challenge include community foundations in Michigan and Wisconsin.

The official summary of the Trust's project reads as follows:

To stimulate new ways to provide the Chicago region with critical local news and information, The Chicago Community Trust has launched Community News Matters, a grant program to support the city's media innovators. The Knight Foundation support will help fund projects designed to increase the flow of high-quality information to the public and to develop new distribution and business models. In addition, the Trust will conduct a study examining the region's information infrastructure -- its strengths and weaknesses -- and convene a conference on the topic.

David Schalliol

Art Tue Jan 12 2010

Last Chance to Submit Work for Chasing Two Rabbits

On February 26 and 27, threewalls gallery will host Chasing Two Rabbits as part of a two week animation festival featuring animation programs curated by local and national artists. Chasing Two Rabbits is a special event curated by Sonia Yoon and Shannon Stratton that pairs animators with live performances by sound artists and musicians.

Inspired by the experimental films of Norman McLaren, who combined abstract imagery (including scratching and painting into the film stock in earlier work, as well as paper cut-outs and live action and dance) with imaginative music and sound, Chasing Two Rabbits acts to pair artists in both genres to produce a unique event with sound and vision illuminating each other.

Currently threewalls is looking for proposals from both animators and sound artists and/or musicians who would like their work to be matched up with each other's. Pairings will be chosen from submissions, with animations provided to musicians and sound artists to review and score for live performance in February.

Animators can submit pieces for sound, no longer than 10 minutes in length, on DVD. Sound artists can send audio files (mp3, aiff, wav) on CD to Chasing Two Rabbits, c/o threewalls, 119 N Peoria #2D, Chicago, IL, 60607 or can send files or links to Shannon and Sonia c/o Materials must be submitted by this Friday, January 15.

Kelly Reaves

Art Mon Nov 23 2009

AREA Chicago Won a MacArthur Grant

2757607464_474d795324.jpgI want to make sure that everyone knows how awesome AREA Chicago is. AREA is a local art/research/education/activism organization that is manifested in both a biannual magazine and a series of sponsored events. For the past four years, since AREA was created in 2005, they have focused on producing and strengthening networks among grassroots practitioners and given a voice to underrepresented Chicagoans and Chicago issues.

I got an email from them on Friday, letting me know that they've just received a $6,000 MacArthur grant for being so awesome. Check out their website, read some articles, go to some meetings if you want, and bathe in the awesomeness yourself. In such a segregated city, it is important that we reach out and stay connected with fellow Chicagoans so we know what's going on around us and so we can network with and support each other.

Kelly Reaves / Comments (1)

News Mon Sep 28 2009

Sharing A Story About Shakespeare

Columnist Dawn Turner Trice tells a wonderful story in today's Chicago Tribune about Samuel Vega, a student who "found his muse in Shakespeare."

Trice's column tells the story of Vega, a high school student who auditioned for a spot in the Chicago Shakespeare Theater's CPS Shakespeare! -- not out of a love for acting, but because he needed "an after-school place where he could keep warm." The more he got into Shakespeare, the more he wanted to learn about him and his work.

This column is a must read; it is truly an inspiring story about how one can have a love for the arts--and not even know it.

LaShawn Williams

News Fri Aug 14 2009


Word of a colleague's success travels like wildfire through the comedy community, and this week all forms of social networking were burning up with news of Pat O'Brien's recent hire by Saturday Night Live. Pat currently performs on the Second City mainstage and also at iO with The Reckoning, but will be leaving for New York in a couple of weeks. Congrats to Pat, and may his move to New York yield many more funny videos with former Chicago comedy player, and current "Colbert Report" writer, Peter Grosz.


Dyan Flores

News Thu Jul 16 2009

A Chicago Star Gets Marked

Ask the typical Chicagoan to explain what each star on the Chicago flag means and, if you're lucky, you'll hear the Columbian Exposition or the Great Chicago Fire. However, it would rare to find someone who can identify the event signified by the first star. This year marks the Bicentennial of the Battle of Fort Dearborn (Wikipedia uses the event's less conciliatory name the "Fort Dearborn Massacre") and its memorializing is expanding beyond a star the flag to the site of the actual battle. On Saturday, August 15th, South Loop dignitaries will dedicate the park at 18th Street and Calumet Avenue as "Battle of Fort Dearborn Park." While the footprint of Fort Dearborn is actually found at the mouth of the Chicago River, traced on Michigan Avenue by bronze medallions, the battle occurred when fort residents were being evacuated and were attacked by American Indians.

The myriad of groups appearing at the dedication, from National Guardsmen to American Indians, is representative of the effort that was made to place the battle within a larger context than a simple battle for young America's frontier. John N. Low of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi explains, "...rather than casting the parties as victims or victors, villains or heroes, it acknowledges that these were people first, often presented with difficult circumstances and choices. As much as this place was once a place of conflict, it now represents collaboration and reconciliation."

A history of the battle will be posted in the park on a bronze marker. The dedication begins at 10am and is open to the public.

Carl Giometti / Comments (2)

News Mon Jul 06 2009

Website Helps Working Actors Find Auditions

It is hard enough to break into the acting scene without having to deal with searching for and deciphering audition requests. Now Chicago actors and actresses are getting some help from and its new Auditions Page. A comprehensive list provides Equity and Non-equity theater and film auditions throughout Chicago, making it easy for actors to find job opportunities.

The Auditions Page is updated frequently, and each listing shows all the information actors need such as audition material, time commitment, locations, play and character summary, and who to contact. Right now there are auditions separated into Equity, Non-equity, Dance, and Film, but another section for technicians, directors, etc. will be debuted soon. On top of auditions and job postings, there will be a Resources Page available to locate head-shot photographers, acting classes, and various other networking tools.

No sign-up or registration is necessary to use this web page, so actors can start using it today. For further questions, inquiries, or suggestions, please email

Vanessa Day

Film Wed May 20 2009

Young Adults Say the Darndest Things

Ravenswood-based Fresh Films is teaming up with Funny or Die this summer to give teen filmmakers a chance to create a short comedy film starring Funny or Die talent. The winners of the Out of Control Comedies! competition will make a short film this summer with an all-teen crew, and Adam Mckay (writer/director of Anchorman,Talladega Nights, and a former iO and Second City performer) and Chris Henchy (producer of Land of the Lost and Entourage) will view the finished films.

If you're a funny teenager (or if you know of any funny teenagers), the deadline to enter is May 25th!

Dyan Flores

Theatre Tue Apr 07 2009

Union Actors Get New Digs

Actor's Equity Association, the union that represents stage actors and stage managers in the US, has purchased a four story building near the downtown theatre district to house the Central region's operations. Chris Jones in the Trib reports that AEA may even move some of the national office's activity to our fair city. Who would have guessed that an actor's pension might be safer than the UAW?

Christine Blumer

Art Mon Feb 09 2009

You Decide: the Future of the Hyde Park Art Center

Among cultural centers dramatically affected by the economic downturn, the Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) has been particularly affected. In anticipation of even rougher times, the Board of Directors has reduced its budget by 15% for 2009 and four employees -- a quarter of the staff -- have been laid off. In response, the HPAC is holding a public forum tonight in which they "want your questions, reactions and suggestions to changes at the Center." The event starts at 6pm in its 4833 rph space, 5020 S. Cornell.

David Schalliol

Art Fri Jan 30 2009

Belmont CTA Station Public Art: Looking Like Csicsko

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Lakeview resident Amy Karatz.

Tuesday night a crowd packed the largest room at Ann Sather's on Belmont to hear the City of Chicago Curator of Public Art, Elizabeth Kelley, talk about the new permanent art installation at the renovated Belmont El stop. Ms. Kelley carefully explained the 11-step process for acquiring art for a public setting, from choosing the site, to picking participating artists, to installation. The CTA worked from a database of several hundred artists, then gave each of the six finalists $500 to develop a submission. 

csicskomosaic.pngOn-site requirements included filling a 6 feet tall by 20 feet wide wall space with a tile mosaic. Two columns several feet in front of the wall would be similarly tiled. The artists were asked to reference this work to an orange steel sculpture that will sit outside the station. They were also specifically asked not to create a baseball/Cubs theme. 

The crowd, aged 7 to 70, enjoyed viewing large illustrations representing ideas from the six artist finalists. Each individual idea was carried through the room while Ms. Kelley read the artist's inspirations and intentions, so all present were easily able to see each idea. The audience were not given artist's names, and later, artists in the audience were asked not to comment.

It would be foolish to describe the art, because words would not do it justice. The six entries included sweet cartoons, fantasy images, abstract thoughts, and even classical references. More than one included samples of finished mosaic tiles. 

When solicited for their opinions, various audience members spoke in favor of all but one of the six. The vast majority of comments, however, praised the work of David Csicsko, whose work had been seen in the old station. His mural presentation, showing wonderful characters on a train car, had a life and energy that wowed. Close up, his sample tile revealed multi-colored striped faces with raised eyes that seemed to pop. He also proposed a mosaic of three giant stylized eyes on each pillar -- a perfect image for their placement. 

When the audience was asked for opinions, particular attention was paid to two small girls, each of whom spoke up in favor of Csiscko's ideas, because those were the citizens who would be using the station for the next 20 years. Noteworthy was the audience member who remarked that while all of the entries would work for several of the CTA stations, only Csiscko's was perfect for Belmont. A common audience theme was that his entry embodied the essence of the Lakeview neighborhood.

No decision was made at the meeting. The final decisions will be made by the Department of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program.

[Image courtesy of]

Andrew Huff / Comments (4)

Theatre Fri Dec 19 2008

Jeremy Piven Poisoned Out Of "Plow"

Chicago actor and "Entourage" star Jeremy Piven has dropped out of the current Broadway revival of Speed-the-Plow by David Mamet due to mercury poisoning, after missing the Tuesday night show and Wednesday matinee. Apparently Piven's regular sushi consumption has left the Emmy Award-winning actor too sick to fulfill his commitment to the run, for which he was scheduled until Feb. 2009.

In the Dec. 17th online version of Variety, playwright David Mamet was quoted saying, "I talked to Jeremy on the phone, and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury...So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer."

No word yet on celebrity replacements and whether or not he'll be recuperating at his mom's place in Evanston.

Becky Brett

Photography Fri Dec 12 2008

Bettie Page R.I.P.

Pinup icon Bettie Page died on December 11th at the age of 85 from pneumonia after a heart attack eight days earlier.

Best known for the provocative pinup and fetish photos from the late '40s and '50s, Bettie Page was also one of the earlier Playboy centerfolds, posing in the January 1955 issue with nothing but a Santa hat and a suggestive wink. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner called her an American icon and considers her appearance a milestone for the magazine. Page spent time in Chicago after her departure from the pinup world, attending summer classes at Moody Bible College in 1961.

Christian Scheuer / Comments (1)

News Wed Dec 03 2008

Wants, Needs and Bill Ayers on the Holiday Auction Block

AREA Chicago's annual "Wants and Needs" auction this Saturday sells off some cheap, creative gift ideas:

--A 1-hour bodywork session, combining aspects of Thai bodywork, Shiatsu, deep tissue, and more, starting at $60.
--An "InAction Unit"; a backpack with a mat and pillow to deploy in any public location and loiter to your heart's content, starting at $35.
--A homemade 3-course Italian meal for 4, starting at $30.
--A hand drawn map of your neighborhood, starting at $20.
--Dinner for 4 from Bill Ayers at Bill and Bernadine's house, starting at $30.

Proceeds benefit AREA Chicago, a grassroots activist/research organization committed to social justice.

Second Annual "Wants and Needs" Auction to Benefit AREA Chicago
December 6th, 2008 7-11pm; 511 N. Noble St.
$10 donation, or $20 for admission and a T-shirt
To RSVP or pre-pay for admission, e-mail
(Cost of admission includes one complimentary drink.)

Lindsay Muscato / Comments (1)

Theatre Wed Nov 19 2008

Collaboraction's 9th Annual Sketchbook Festival Now Accepting Submissions

Collaboraction announces its call for submissions for their 9th Annual Sketchbook short play festival, this year to include a special Sketchbook Jr. component, highlighting works intended for young audiences. Collaboraction is also looking for directors, choreographers, and various other artists for the festival. The deadline for submissions for the 9th annual SKETCHBOOK Festival is Monday, Dec. 22, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. To submit your work, visit Collaboraction's website.

Julianna Mendelsohn

News Sun Nov 16 2008

Chicago Prop 8 Rally/Parade Yesterday at Federal Plaza

...and Monroe, and Michigan, as an unplanned parade of rainbows wove around busy downtown streets, earning supportive honks from stopped cars and applause and thumbs-up from shoppers and gawkers.

Thousands gathered in the same sense of hope and togetherness as Chicagoans felt two weeks ago at Grant Park when Obama delivered his acceptance speech.

Yours truly was there, and crafted this 4 minute video, featuring mini-interviews, bits of speeches from the presenters, and a marcher's-eye view of the spontaneous and joyful parade through downtown Chicago, shot by Daisy Mertzel.

Elizabeth McQuern

Theatre Thu Oct 23 2008

Exits and Entrances at Stage Left

A fter eight years, Stage Left Theatre's Artistic Director Kevin Heckman is now the Managing Director for Evanston's Next Theatre. Taking Heckman's place at Stage Left are "Interim Co-Artistic Directors" Drew Martin and David Alan Moore. Martin held the position for eight years prior to Heckman, who remains an active member of the Stage Left ensemble. At the same time, John Sanders, who served as Director of New Play Development, has moved on to focus on his own acting career, and Laura Blegen has been hired as the theatre's new full-time Managing Director in charge of all business operations. As Stage Left gears up for its 27th season with the Chicago premiere of After Ashley by Gina Gionfriddo on October 14, Moore and "After Ashley" director Greg Werstler spoke with Joe Stead of the website Theatre in Chicago about the artistic shakeup, the challenges and rewards of collaboration, and the mission of producing new and exciting work in Chicago. For the full scoop and other Chicago theatre news, add Theatre in Chicago to your daily web jaunts.

Julianna Mendelsohn

News Wed Sep 17 2008

A/C Rundown

• PerformInk offers a comprehensive fall theatre preview [PDF] thanks to the Chicago Theater Database.

Is Chicago's theatre scene not political enough?

Church Basement Ladies features Lutherans, "M*A*S*H" star William Christopher in Skokie.

Angry White Guy reviews Fake Lake.

Mark Staff Brandl interviews Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick about his New Orleans diary.

FNews reviews the CTA art car exhibit, "Art on Track."

Roger Ebert was hit with a binder by another critic at the Toronto Film Festival last week. Read Ebert's thoughts on the matter here.

David Schalliol

News Sun Sep 14 2008

You've Got Class

Jamie Smith

News Wed Aug 27 2008

Chicago Humanities Festival

The complete program for this year's Chicago Humanities Festival was released yesterday and there's some great stuff in store. This year's theme is "Thinking Big" and the organizers certainly seem to be by tackling issues like cosmology, globalization, and the future of urban living. There will even be a few panels on the results of the presidential election that will take place just before the festival concludes.

The CHF technically begins in early October with a couple of big ticket fundraisers and gala events, but the good stuff really kicks off on October 11 and continues until November 16. Unless you're a CHF Member, you won't be able to buy tickets until September 15. But in the meantime you can browse the programs and set up an account on the CHF website to create an itinerary that will allow you to purchase multiple event tickets at once when the ticketing office opens to the general public.

Jamie Smith

News Tue Aug 12 2008

Taking Temperature: Recent News

Poynter's Sara Quinn interviews Ron Reason about his new gallery space, within(Reason).

Wicked is closing in Chicago January 25. Chris Jones interviews producer David Stone.

• The Chicago Journal takes a look at the threatened Commonwealth Edison substation in Wicker park.

• The Chi-Town Daily News examines how the Art Institute's Benin exhibit re-raises the issues surrounding museums owning colonial antiquities.

Artadia, "the Fund for Art and Dialog," is accepting applications for its 2008 Artadia Awards. It's open to any artist residing and working in Cook County. Apply by Aug. 29.

&bull Kris Vire at Storefront Rebellion has kindly rounded up a ton of theatre news, so we don't have to.

Andrew Huff

News Thu Jul 31 2008

Taking Temperature: Recent News

Chris Jones laments the dearth of big theaters downtown. You know, for tourists.

• On the other end of the spectrum, An Angry White Guy wonders whether Broadway in Chicago is really good for the city.

Chicago Tap Theatre gets profiled by Brad Spirrison in Midwest Business News.

A profile of Arts of Life in F News.

The Mammals Theatre Company writes about its extra-theatrical activities on its blog.

Bad at Sports interviews artist Anne Wilson.
Shawnimals' ninjas were featured in Wired's roundup of 10 things you should have bought at Comic-Con.

Whet Moser sings the praises of onlyconnect.

• Taking our cue, Onstage covers The Adventures of Miss Girl.

• Justin Hayford thinks some plays shouldn't be performed outdoors.

Time Out explains changes to the Non-Equity Jeff Award.

Rob Koslowski reviews Signal's The Birthday Party.

Andrew Huff

News Sat Jul 19 2008

Affordable Live/Work Space for Artists

The City of Chicago plans to turn The Strand Hotel building, in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side, into affordable artist lofts and live/work spaces. The 36 spaces are priced at $208,888, with subsidies available of up to $53,000 per qualified buyer, reducing the price to as low as a cool $155,000. The City is chipping in the vacant building and an adjacent parcel for parking, and the whole project is being spearheaded by The Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Housing. The project's backers say this will add some cultural vitality to the neighborhood and give artists an affordable place to practice their craft. You gotta submit an application, though, so your paint-by-numbers hobby may not get you in -- Candidates will be interviewed by a panel of arts and community representatives, and those who show "an active pursuit of the arts" will be given preference.

To find out more about getting a loft of one's own, interested artists can attend one of the upcoming community meetings: Sunday July 20, at 2:00 pm and Saturday July 26, at noon, at The Grand Ballroom; 6351 S. Cottage Grove Avenue (less than a block from The Strand). To RSVP, visit or contact Noelia Vega at 773.784.7900 or

Lindsay Muscato

Literary Sat Jul 05 2008

Northwestern Goes the MFA Route

Starting this September, aspiring Dreisers and Dickinsons can earn a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degree at Northwestern University, studying under the likes of Alex Kotlowitz and Stuart Dybek. The part-time, evening program, which complements Northwestern's existing Master of Arts program (begun in 2003), will enable students to write a nearly book-length thesis, and position graduates for creative writing teaching positions. Interested? You have until July 25 to turn in your application for the upcoming September quarter.

Lauri Apple

News Fri Jun 20 2008

Spertus Closes Exhibit for Good

To update you on a story posted last month on A/C: The Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies has decided to pull their exhibit "Imaginary Coordinates" permanently. In May Spertus closed down the exhibition to address some "maintenance" issues only to re-open it with several changes, including making it accessible solely on guided tours. The Chicago Reader quotes an announcement from Spertus acknowledging that the exhibit was cancelled before its September 7 end date due to criticism that it depicted Israel unfavorably. Hopefully you were able to see the exhibit before it closed as it received excellent reviews for, in the unintentionally ironic words of the Sun-Times, "mapping [Spertus'] independence."

Jamie Smith

Art Tue Jun 10 2008

Art Institute Opens New Richard & Mary L. Gray Wing June 14

The Art Institute of Chicago opens its newly christened Richard and Mary L. Gray Wing this Saturday, June 14. The wing is the north section of the museum's original Allerton Building on Michigan Avenue, and is named after major major donors to the Department of Prints and Drawings, which is housed in that part of the museum. Richard Gray is owner of Richard Gray Gallery in the Hancock Center and is a trustee of the museum. Mary Gray is the author of A Guide to Chicago's Public Sculpture and A Guide to Chicago's Murals, and is a member of the Friends of the Parks advisory board.

The wing opens with the inaugural exhibition "Collecting for Chicago: Prints, Drawings, and Patronage," featuring works acquired for the Art Institute by various Chicago families, many of which now have galleries named after them (the exhibition is mounted in the new Jean and Steven Goldman Prints and Drawings Galleries, for instance). The new galleries were designed by Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY Architecture in Los Angeles.

Andrew Huff

News Mon Jun 09 2008

A Rip in the Sky

"Night Sky #2," a 18"x21½" painting by Vija Celmins owned by the Art institute of Chicago, was slashed by a contract security guard while on loan for a show at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

His alleged reason? He didn't like it. That's some pretty harsh art criticism.

Museum officials are now determining whether the painting, valued at $1.2 million, can be restored.

Andrew Huff

News Wed May 21 2008

We're #2!

In AmericanStyle's poll of America's Top 25 Art Cities, that is. Their Chicago page highlights Millenium Park and the new Nichols Bridgeway to the Art Institute's Modern Wing as examples of the kind of public art that has helped Chicago maintain second place in the poll for four consecutive years.

The article also mentions that this summer the Department of Cultural Affairs will begin offering guided tours of public art installations throughout the city. The city's website has little information about these tours, however, and the site that promises more details ( is currently down.

Jamie Smith

Architecture Thu May 08 2008

The 2nd Ward Committee of People who Support Ald. Fioretti

Alderman Robert Fioretti has created a local Citizen Advisory Committee to weigh in on South Loop building proposals. The article, appearing in the Chicago Journal, states that as part of the Ald. Fioretti’s decision making process, he will now weigh the opinion of this collection of pseudo-randomly selected residents.

How does one join this committee?

According to the article emails were sent to all those in their database consisting of Fioretti campaign contributors, people who signed up for information about the campaign through its Web site and people who have given their email address to the alderman at one of his community meetings,…” (see note below) Hannah Jubeh, Fioretti’s campaign manager continues to assert that the CAC will “bring (developers) in and reeducate them on how the process is going to work." While some community oversight is important, the CAC seems to be little more than an instrument for Fioretti to play architect. A committee stacked with his supporters will allow him to feign local support or angst for whichever project he would like.

Just as music cannot be reviewed by looking at the sheet music alone, architecture suffers when its creation is stymied before its execution even begins. New ideas must be able to be constructed and suceed or fail on their own merit. Only then can meaningful criticism take place. Fioretti has already attempted to stop one of the most forward thinking designs to be proposed for the quasi-historicist South Loop. Thankfully, Lucien Lagrange’s XO condominium project will continue despite the objections of another “community” organization, the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance.

(Note: I am 2nd ward resident who submitted an email and mailed several letters to the alderman's office over the past year. I was not on the email database, by mistake, I'm sure.)

Carl Giometti / Comments (1)

Architecture Sat May 03 2008

How low can you go?

The Chicago Children's Museum intends to find out. Or perhaps it's "how low do we have to go?"

The new design for the relocated museum was released on Friday and has done little to change the attitudes of any involved. Perhaps the only real change that has happened is that the museum design, by sinking even further into the ground, has robbed architecture firm Kruek & Sexton a real opportunity to design a dynamic piece of architecture.

Removed from the design were any skylights or elements that protruded above the current ground plain at Daley Bicentennial Plaza. The entrance has been reduced of some of its splendor to further tuck it into the underground museum.

This whole development is quite puzzling. Personally, I cannot really understand what the great value in this location is to the Chicago Children's Museum. Clearly, there are better locations abound, as somewhat demonstrated by the Chicago Tribune's continuing articles featuring alternative locations for the museum (Option 1, Option 2, Option 3, Option 4, Option 5, Option 6). Normally, it can be difficult to side with certain "community" organizations that tend to be a place for people to massage their egos rather than provide meaningful activism. However, in this instance, there has not been one critque offered that has been untrue.

Mayor Daley's record at encouraging great architecture has been very strong up to this point, here's hoping that everyone can cooperate to create a new landmark public building for the City of Chicago.

Carl Giometti

News Tue Apr 22 2008

Art Institute's Travis Stepping Down

The Art Institute of Chicago announced the retirement of David Travis, chair of the Department of Photography, effective at the end of June.

Travis began his career at the Art Institute as an assistant curator of photography in the Department of Prints and Drawings in 1972 and was a full curator in 1975, when the Department of Photography was officially established. "David Travis has had a long and extraordinarily productive career at the museum, and it is impossible to conceive of the department here without his imprint," said Art Institute President James Cuno.

Travis organized and presented more than 150 exhibitions of photography at the Art Institute, including exhibitions of the work of Walker Evans, André Kertész, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, and Brassaï, and has also guest curated exhibitions shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For his special contributions to the advancement of awareness and understanding of French culture, he was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1987. He has also been a guest scholar at the J. Paul Getty Museum and in 2002 he was named a "Chicagoan of the Year" by Chicago magazine. At the Edge of the Light: Thoughts on Photographers and Photography, on Talent and Genius, a collection of his lectures and essays, was published in 2003.

Andrew Huff

News Sun Apr 13 2008

You've Got Class

Jamie Smith

News Wed Apr 09 2008

The Artistic is Political

As noted last month on A/C, the proposed state budget for 2009 maintains drastic cuts made to arts funding for fiscal year 2008. Apparently Governor Blagojevich has not seen the recent survey reporting that 57% of voters say they are less likely to vote for politicians who cut arts funding.

The “imagination constituency,” as the survey dubs them, is not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk: a recent piece in the Los Angeles Times noted that arts advocates have been successfully pressuring the Presidential candidates to make the arts a part of their policy platforms. Both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama offer their plans for the arts on their websites; Senator McCain has not yet followed suit, according to the Arts Action Fund’s Candidate Policy site.

If you’d like to do some pressuring of your own, the Americans for the Arts Action Center is an excellent place to start. It provides updates on important local and federal legislation and a simple interface for identifying and contacting your representatives and the media.

Jamie Smith

News Fri Mar 28 2008

Friday Linkage

Hollywood Chicago talks with Adi Refaeli, director of the Israeli short film Empathy, playing at the Landmark Century Center this weekend.

The Short Film Brigade announced its season premiere, April 10 at 8:30pm at the Hideout, with a repeat on the 13th.

Lookingglass Theatre plans to "go global" next season, with stagings of The Brothers Karamazov, Our Town and Arabian Nights.

• Steppenwolf's Martha Lavey was a recipient of one of two new playwright awards from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

• Lyle Allen is leaving his position as managing director of the League of Chicago Theaters to head up the Green City Market.

Andrew Huff

Venue Fri Mar 21 2008

HotHouse Reborn in the Viaduct Theater

Like a phoenix emerging from the ashes, The Hothouse has risen again. The venue announced today that it's returning in April with a month of shows at the Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western. Exciting news for fans of world and avant garde music, but the fact that it's only a month worth of programming probably means the venue is not out of the woods yet.

Read the full news release after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

Dance Mon Mar 10 2008

Founder of Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago Dies at 84

From an email sent by the company:
"Gus Giordano, founder/director emeritus of the critically acclaimed Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, author, legendary choreographer and one of the fathers of American jazz dance passed away quietly in Chicago on Sunday, March 9 from pneumonia. He was 84."

See obiturary in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Rachel Zanders

News Fri Mar 07 2008

No Love for the Arts in the '09 State Budget

Once again, the Illinois Arts Council (IAC) gets shafted in the governor's proposed '09 budget, which was announced at the end of February. IAC funding was sliced by 23%in 2008 -- and the new budget would essentially maintain that funding level. It's bad news for all the theaters, museums, dance companies and schools that were hoping the '08 cuts would be temporary. The Illinois Arts Alliance reports that our state has now fallen behind much smaller states like Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Louisiana in per capita spending on the arts. Interested in taking action? Write your representatives, or attend a budget hearing and make your voice heard.

Lindsay Muscato

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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