Today In The Culture, October 14, 2021: RIP Timuel Black | Chicago’s Top Art Collectors | Strike Date Set By Film Workers Union


Photo: IATSE


ARTnews Top 200 Collectors List Features Chicago Notables

“What does it take to rank among the world’s Top 200 Collectors?” asks ARTnews. “If there is a common denominator, it is a commitment to art that is an integral part of one’s identity. Over the past twelve months, the Top 200 Collectors have continued their dedication to buying new, challenging, and inspiring art.” Chicago figures on the list include Barbara Bluhm-Kaul and Don Kaul; Kenneth C. Griffin; Liz and Eric Lefkofsky; George Lucas and Mellody Hobson; Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert; and Carl and Marilynn Thoma.

Two Illinois Artists Receive $60,000 Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowships 

The Joan Mitchell Foundation announced the fifteen recipients of its inaugural Joan Mitchell Fellowship, which will award artists working in the evolving fields of painting and sculpture with $60,000 each in unrestricted funds, distributed over a five-year period. Among the group are two Illinois-based artists: Mie Kongo from Evanston and Liza Sylvestre from Champaign. They were selected in a multiphase, juried process from 166 applicants who were identified by a diverse pool of nominators from across the country. In addition to the financial award, the recipients will have access to and participate in a wide range of professional development services. More here.



Downtown Office Vacancies Soar

Downtown office vacancy hits another record, reports Crain’s. “Workers were supposed to come back to downtown offices en masse during the third quarter, while many companies started signing new office leases. But the delta variant had other plans, and vacancy instead rose to a new record… The amount of empty workspace downtown keeps growing as companies mull return plans and their longterm, post-pandemic needs.”

Bridgeport’s Ramova Theater Renewed

The historic Ramova Theater at 3518 South Halsted will be developed as a live entertainment space, restaurant and brewpub, reports Block Club Chicago. “The theater, which has been vacant for more than 30 years, will be the centerpiece of the $28 million overhaul… The space is expected to hold up to 1,800 people and feature a renewed Ramova Grill, which was best known for its chili. Bridgeport native and Duck Inn chef-owner Kevin Hickey will be at the helm of the restaurant, officials said.”

Preservation Chicago Nominates Seven Sites For Landmark Status

Preservation Chicago has nominated seven new sites for landmark status with the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, reports Yimby. The seven are Promontory Point, Southport Lanes, Humboldt Park Armory, Central Park Theater, the Seth Warner House, Cornell Store and Flats and St. Anthony’s Church.

City Streets Could See 12,500 Electric Scooters

A City Council proposal could bring up to 12,500 electric scooters to Chicago, reports the Trib. “The City Council Transportation Committee is set to consider an ordinance Wednesday that would allow as many as 12,500 e-scooters to be licensed in Chicago by scooter-sharing companies like Lime, Spin and Bird… Under the proposal, the city would charge scooter companies $1 per scooter per day to license their fleet. Riders would also pay city taxes when they rent the vehicles.” Active Transportation Alliance calls for safer ways to scoot.

White House Steps In To Stem Supply Chain Failures

The White House announced “the Port of Los Angeles has agreed to essentially double its hours and go to 24/7 operations. In doing so, it’s joining the Port of Long Beach, which launched similar nighttime and weekend shifts a few weeks ago,” reports NPR. The two West Coast ports handle about forty percent of the container traffic that enters the United States. “The White House also helped secure commitments from three of the largest goods carriers—Walmart, FedEx and UPS—to take steps to move toward 24/7 operations.” NBC News reports senior administration officials saying, “The federal government will be a strong and willing partner in this effort in the near term but also in rebuilding a better system for the twenty-first century. We’ll be working with stakeholders across the supply chain for a ninety-day sprint to the end of the year to troubleshoot and alleviate many of the bottlenecks we can quickly address.”



Waldorf Gloom-Lifter At Cherry Circle Room Gains Press

Imbibe puts the recipe for the “velvety mix of berries and brandy” in front of us. More about the recently reopened bar and the James Beard award-winning space at the Chicago Athletic Association here.

What’s Up With Chicago’s Pre-Made $150 Bottled Cocktail?

The Trib reports on Gold Fashioned, a $150 750-milliliter bottle of Chicago-made, ready-to-drink cocktail. “At the high end, 750-milliliter bottles of premixed Old-Fashioneds tend to cost $35-$45. More than three times as expensive, Gold Fashioned aims to make premium the realm of ready-to-drink cocktails—through its story, its ingredients, its packaging and a lofty price tag that conveys the idea that it is a different proposition. Gold Fashioned is the brainchild of Robert Haynes, who worked from bar back to bar manager at renowned Chicago cocktail bar The Violet Hour before eventually developing Apologue, which makes high-end liqueurs. Like Apologue, Gold Fashioned is made at Thornton Distilling in south suburban Thornton.”



Strike Date Set By Film Workers Union 

“I am announcing that unless an agreement is reached, 60,000 IATSE film and tv workers will begin a nationwide strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Monday, October 18 at 12:01am, PDT,” IATSE president Matthew D. Loeb tweeted on Wednesday. The full IATSE announcement is here. “[T]he pace of bargaining doesn’t reflect any sense of urgency. Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.” lllinois Production Alliance reminds, “The current national contract negotiations impact the Film & TV industry, excluding paid TV agreements with HBO, Starz, Showtime and the IATSE National Low Budget Agreement. It does NOT [affect] the commercial advertising industry which operates under a separate… contract.” Los Angeles Times: “‘There are five whole days left to reach a deal, and the studios will continue to negotiate in good faith in an effort to reach an agreement for a new contract that will keep the industry working,’ AMPTP spokesman Jarryd Gonzales said in a statement.” Variety reports that the studios aren’t working very hard to avert a strike: “The AMPTP presented a new proposal on October 5, and IATSE offered its own counteroffer on Saturday, according to those familiar with the talks. IATSE officials have acknowledged that many members are growing frustrated with the drawn-out negotiations.”

Palestine Film Festival Turns Twenty At Siskel

Founded in 2001, the Chicago Palestine Film Festival is the world’s longest consecutive-running festival of its kind. The festival has screened over 250 independent films in Chicago, films that address “aspects of Palestinian society, art, culture and humanity.” More details, including this year’s three attractions, are here.

WTTW Slates Portrait Of “Mother Of Improv” Viola Spolin

“Chicago’s greatest cultural export just might be improvised theater,” writes WTTW, “but while to most people improv might seem synonymous with comedy, the art form was devised by a woman who wasn’t out for laughs. On Friday, October 22 at 8pm on all WTTW platforms, WTTW presents ‘Inventing Improv,’ a one-hour nonfiction program that explores the legacy of Viola Spolin, the social-worker-turned-theater guru known as “The Mother of Improv.” “Spolin came up with a novel set of ‘theater games’ to help these new Americans shine onstage and acclimate to life in Chicago. By giving them the skills to work together on a stage as an ensemble–even if they didn’t share a common language or culture–she gave them a platform to share their own stories. Spolin’s theater games will be familiar to anyone who’s taken in a show at The Second City. But at the time, they were simply revolutionary.” A companion website has more.



A Profile Of Poetry Foundation Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize-Winner Patricia Smith

Monica Eng does the Axios outline-style chat with Patricia Smith, “We were all working with language,” she tells Eng of her 1980s Chicago beat poetry roots. “But some people were getting grants and great teaching jobs… while [performance poets] had these big audiences and a stage but we also had other jobs.” Some in the academic camp “had this idea that we were really actors, that there was something magical that we were doing that didn’t really involve a poetry writing skill. And I think that idea kept us back for a long time.”

“In Defense Of Poetic Plagiarism”

At LitHub, Sam Riviere defends the notion of plagiarism in poetry. “In the wake of a flurry of poetry plagiarism scandals that emerged in the mid-2010s (poets will remember!), I had anxious conversations with several poet friends who feared they may have unintentionally plagiarized a poet or poem, and would be next on the list of the discredited and shunned. These social media trials were an uncomfortable spectacle—ending with the expulsion of the accused poet from poetry circles, but not before they were thoroughly humiliated. Any apology, in the now familiar reflex, treated as more offensive than the offense itself. There even emerged the truly ludicrous figure of a self-nominated ‘plagiarism detective,’ something out of a bad dream, who tracked down these infringements and reported them back to the public. (Exactly what poetry needs—a fucking cop!)”

Timuel Black Was 102

“Activist, educator, historian Timuel Black, the revered elder statesman and griot of Chicago’s Black community, was active in every major movement of any notable American era and spent the latter half of his life telling stories from our nation’s blueprint—in oral and literary form,” writes Maudlyne Ihejirika in the Sun-Times obituary. “A retired sociology and anthropology professor with City Colleges of Chicago, a former Chicago Public Schools high school history teacher and a pioneer in the independent Black political movement who coined the phrase ‘plantation politics,’ … the revered community leader and scholar was 102…. ‘My mother and father were children of former slaves, my great-grandparents, products of the Emancipation Proclamation,’ the Chicago treasure said in a Sun-Times interview when he turned 100. ‘I came up in a time when African American men—women, too—were being lynched, the racial segregation so terrible, people were fleeing to escape the terrorism.’”

Supply Chain Disruptions Plague Book Publishing and Affect Libraries

“Existing supply chain issues have been [made worse], not only by the Suez Canal blockage in March and increased consumer demand, but also by more recent shortages of everything from paper to available space on cargo ships,” reports School Library Journal. “Soaring consumer demand has led to crowded shipping lanes, increased travel times, and a number of other significant impacts on the freight and shipping market,” since then, [says Brian O’Leary, executive director of the Book Industry Study Group]. “Arriving international shipments are also competing with domestic shipments for increasingly scarce trucking capacity.” … “Paper shortages are partly attributable to rising costs of raw materials needed to produce paper, like wood pulp. Data show a twenty percent increase in the price of wood pulp from last year.”



Chicago Reader Goes Long On Chicago Reader’s Fifty Years

At the Reader, Mark Jacob goes long (about 15,000 words) on half-a-century of the Chicago Reader. “The Chicago Reader is a free newspaper, but its ads were once so prized that thieves would steal classified sections from the printing plant and sell them for a dollar apiece. The Reader was once so dominant that if it printed the wrong screening times for a movie, the theater would change the times. The Reader was once such a sensation that its revenue quadrupled in two years. And the Reader was once so unpredictable that it ran a 20,012-word story about beekeeping.”

WFMT Names Music Director

Oliver Camacho, an announcer at WFMT-FM and host of the weekly “Listening to Singers,” has been promoted to music director of the classical music station, reports Robert Feder.



Janis Ian Sets Final Chicago Concert

The Old Town School Of Folk Music presents singer-songwriter Janis Ian in her final Chicago performance, “Janis Ian: Celebrating Our Years Together.” Tickets go on sale to members October 13; on sale to the public October 15 here.

Insane Clown Posse First Amendment Doc Gets One-Night Airing 

“The United States of Insanity,” a documentary featuring Insane Clown Posse’s Violent J, Shaggy 2 Dope, and their diehard Juggalo fans have a special premiere at more than 700 theaters nationwide on October 26. (Theaters listed here.) A limited theatrical release and December VOD release follow. “Notorious rappers Insane Clown Posse, find themselves as unwitting warriors for the First Amendment after they take on the FBI following the classification of all one million of their fans as gang members. With the help of the ACLU, who filed a federal lawsuit against the FBI, the band fights to uncover the reasons behind the designation and get removed from the gang list as their fans begin losing their jobs, have their children put into protective custody, and face jail time—all because of their musical tastes. ‘Our goal is to put the audience through our own paces of discovery during the seven years we filmed with ICP, their fans, their lawyers, and the government agencies pursuing them,’ says producer-director Tom Putnam” in a release. “ICP’s extensive archive of music videos, home movies, documentaries and feature films are layered throughout our movie, painting a unique story of two high school dropouts who achieved their own American dream while bringing people along for the ride during the seven years we’ve been filming ICP and their fans as they fight for their lives against the FBI.” The one-night event will also have twenty minutes of ICP concert footage.



American Science & Surplus Leaving For Suburbs After Eighty-Four Years

“For more than eight decades, American Science & Surplus Store was the place for military surplus items, rubber chickens and everything in between,” reports Block Club Chicago. “But at the end of October, the Jefferson Park mainstay will relocate its Chicago store from 5316 North Milwaukee to … Park Ridge, store President Patrick Meyer said. The company has other locations in suburban Geneva and Milwaukee.”

The Block Launches Student Associates Program

Sixteen have been selected for the 2021-2022 group of Block Museum Student Associates. This annual program renames and reimagines the museum’s Student Docent program to reflect the role that this group of Northwestern scholars plays in the work of the museum. Block Student Associates serve as tour guides, public facilitators, peer-to-peer ambassadors for the museum on campus, and in-house student advisors for museum staff and our Board of Advisors. They lead programs throughout the museum and “engage campus and community visitors in dynamic conversations about art and ideas that are relevant to our lives today,” the museum writes.


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