Today in the Culture, September 2, 2021: National Design Award for Ross Barney Architects | Theaster Gates Partners with Prada

Lea Lund and Erik K, “Erik, Toscane,” from the “Nomads” series


Lea Lund & Erik K Have American Debut At Catherine Edelman Gallery

Catherine Edelman Gallery will present “Lea Lund & Erik K: Nomads,” the artists’ first solo gallery exhibition in the United States. The show runs September 17-December 4. Lea Lund & Erik K’s photographic collaboration “is a story about love, a photographer finding her muse, and a subject claiming his identity,” the gallery relays. “Lea, born and raised in Switzerland, and Erik, born and raised in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, met ten years ago on a street in Lausanne and have been together since. Their photographs explore their relationship, the history of Zaire, and the effects of colonization on Erik and his identity. In 1971, years after Joseph Désiré Mobutu overthrew the government and took control, he banned women from wearing pants and men from wearing suits and ties, forcing all men to wear a Mao collar jacket. Today, Erik makes his own hats, dresses, ties and other clothing, proudly defying the ban that was forced upon him. Together, Lea and Erik create images that place Erik in settings that challenge the norms in which Black men are often seen: Instead of the chauffeur, he owns the car; instead of working the land, he surveys his property; instead of shining shoes, he is the shoe-wearing customer. Together, Lea and Erik call attention to the role of ownership, as seen through the poses and eyes of an elegant, Black man.” More here.



Theaster Gates Studio’s Dorchester Industries Partners With Rebuild Foundation And Prada Group

Dorchester Industries, the design and manufacturing arm of Theaster Gates Studio, in partnership with Rebuild Foundation and Prada Group, has announced the launch of Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab, a three-year program that “will be a platform for artists of color, creating opportunities to amplify their work, invest in their development and expose them to great organizations interested in working with diverse talent. Anchored on Chicago’s South Side, the Experimental Design Lab—which will be international in reach and relevance—will act as a space of exchange, training, critical feedback and exposure for future designers,” the group says in a release. “Created and developed in partnership with Prada Group, the Experimental Design Lab is a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at empowering emerging and established designers of color. Through design awards and public programming, the Experimental Design Lab will act as a think tank that will amplify the work of promising young designers of color in the areas of fashion, furniture, industrial and graphic design, and the arts while providing a platform for exhibitions, performances and public dialogue.”

“I’m thrilled to collaborate with Prada Group to generate a new hub of design energy on the South Side by engaging a network of skilled designers, artists and intellectuals around our first cohort of awardees and their projects,” Gates, founder of Dorchester Industries and Rebuild Foundation and co-chair of the Prada Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council says in the release. “For too long, our creative communities have possessed the talent but lacked exposure and opportunity. Now more than ever, today’s leading creatives must elevate the work of emerging designers of color and connect them to great companies interested in diverse talent.” Each Experimental Design Lab awardee will be nominated by leaders across the fashion, art and design industries. The Experimental Design Awards will honor rising designers who have shown extraordinary creative potential. Award recipients will receive financial support as well as creative opportunities to foster relationships with leading global companies and their networks through annual activations and workshops in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Ross Barney Architects Receives 2021 Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, National Design Award for Architecture and Interior Design

Ross Barney Architects, as architect of many of Chicago’s notable places and spaces including the Chicago Riverwalk, has been named as the 2021 Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, National Design Award recipient of the Architecture and Interior Design award. The program honors innovation and impact and recognizes the power of design to change the world. “Our philosophy is that design matters all the time. Through the National Design Awards program, the Cooper Hewitt strives to make people aware of the importance and impact of design on daily life,” says founder and design principal Carol Ross Barney in a release. “It is amazing to have our work recognized with this award.” More here.



Unionized Workers Walk Out Of Des Plaines Sysco Warehouse, Affecting Restaurants

“A strike in suburban Chicago has restaurant owners across the city on edge,” reports Eater Chicago. About 125 warehouse workers at a Sysco warehouse in Des Plaines walked out Monday morning, and an estimated 200 Sysco truck drivers joined them, disrupting food deliveries. “The strike is in its second day and has restaurant owners worried that they won’t get their normally scheduled deliveries. Sysco, the largest food distributor in North America, also serves schools and hospitals, and its reps have told restaurant owners that those vital facilities will be prioritized, therefore restaurants should expect delays.”

Last Orders At Half Acre’s Lincoln Tap Room

Time Out Chicago’s excited about getting a last taste of Half Acre’s original location before the move to its Balmoral production facility. “The Half Acre Lincoln Tap Room has been closed for much of the past eighteen months, but you’ll be able to take a seat at the bar throughout September.” Beginning Thursday, September 2, the Lincoln Tap Room will be open from 4pm–11pm, Thursday-Saturday until September 25. “Half Acre hasn’t announced the beer that will be available at the Lincoln Tap Room throughout September, but it seems likely that classics like the Space IPA, Orin strong ale and maybe even some vintage Big Hugs imperial stout could make an appearance… We do know that you’ll be able to snag a pint of Daisy Cutter, brewed by founding Half Acre brewers Matt Gallagher and Gabriel Magliaro.”

“Old Style: The Chicago Beer That Isn’t”

Chicago magazine’s occasional provocateur Edward McClelland weighs in on the origins of the connection of Chicago to Old Style beer. “Does Old Style deserve to call itself Chicago’s beer? Did it ever? Old Style’s identification with Chicago has always been more a matter of marketing than any real connection with the city. The beer was originally produced by the G. Heileman Brewing Co. of La Crosse, Wisconsin and poured throughout the Midwest… In the 1970s, Old Style salesmen began offering free signs to taverns, with the beer’s emblem above the words ‘COLD BEER,’ ‘CERVEZA FRIA,’ or ‘[ZIMNE] PIWO,’ depending on the neighborhood’s native language. In 1991, Old Style aired… ads starring professional Chicagoan Dennis Farina, in full cop mode, trying to stop New Yorkers and Angelenos from drinking Old Style. ‘It’s our great beer and they can’t have it,’ he declared.”

Prairie Grass Cafe Sets Thursday Vegetarian Subscription Series

Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook, co-owned by chefs Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris, has introduced a vegetarian subscription series, offered each Thursday in September, featuring a chef’s choice menu. The cafe supports Chicago’s Green City Market and local sustainable farms, selecting the freshest ingredients of the season.”Eating a plant-based diet is something I do as much as possible,” Chef Stegner says in a release. Patrons may pick up the vegetarian offering after ordering at (847)205-4433. The cost is $125 for the five-week series, or $25 per meal. A cheese supplement is available for an additional $15 for the month. (Prices do not include service fee or tax.) Vegetarian dishes prepared by chefs Stegner and Bumbaris feature vegetables from local sustainable farms including River Valley Ranch, Soil & Soul, Three Sisters Garden, Adam’s Acres, Genesis Growers and Capriole Farm. Meals are prepared by the chefs for pick-up, ready to reheat and eat. (Reheating instructions are included.) More here.

All Roads Lead To Elmhurst?

Longtime Elmhurst resident Tom Trenta and a locally led team of hospitality industry veterans have announced a prime property development in the Western suburb’s city center. Trenta has spent the past fifteen years leading brand strategy agencies that partner with the top food, beverage and entertainment brands in America. “I am taking everything I’ve learned to develop three of my own brands in my hometown,” says Trenta in a release. “I’ve been planning for this opportunity for many years, and I hope to add some positive momentum to our town’s bright future.” Located at 119 North York, the large-scale operation aims to hire up to eighty new employees in the downtown location that was previously home to Fitz’s Spare Keys, which closed in June. The 24,000-square-foot property will undergo a total remodel, including the creation of a concert hall (Elmhurst Hall), a modern bar (Ever Onward) and an upscale restaurant (Kindred). More here.



L’Soft Named Black Harvest Film Festival Associate Programmer

The Gene Siskel Film Center has announced L’Soft (they/them) as its Black Harvest Film Festival Associate Programmer. In this new position, created with the aim of building the Festival’s programming team and ensuring a collaboratively curated lineup, L’Soft will work in tandem with Film Center Director of Programming Rebecca Fons and Black Harvest Film Festival co-founder and consultant Sergio Mims on planning the twenty-seventh annual Black Harvest Film Festival, Chicago’s Black film festival, which will be held in person and virtually November 5-December 2. L’Soft’s responsibilities will include viewing film entries, helping craft the festival schedule and moderating panels and filmmaker discussions. L’Soft started with the Film Center on August 18 and will continue on a temporary basis through the time of the Festival. L’Soft brings to the Film Center experience in filmmaking, film exhibition, and archival work. As archives associate and education programs coordinator at the DuSable Museum of African American History, L’Soft helped with special events and to develop and create educational programming aimed at making primary source materials accessible to the public. As the Director of Rebuild Foundation’s Black Cinema House, L’Soft coordinated weekly screenings and discussions analyzing cinema of the African diaspora, including independent films from Chicago and abroad. L’Soft has also worked as a project manager at the University of Chicago Libraries.



Semicolon Bookstore Moves To Bigger Digs In Wicker Park

A popular Black-woman-owned bookstore is moving after two years from River West to a space in Wicker Park that is four times larger, reports Block Club Chicago. Semicolon Bookstore gained “popularity for its focus on books by authors of color and rotating artwork from local street artists.” The new location is at 1714 West Division and opens October 2.



Adventures In Chicago Tribune Headline Writing: “R. Kelly Had Girlfriends Fight Each Other After They Twerked For Cake”

While the article comes from sister paper the New York Daily News, those words are indeed in headline type, dancing fitfully atop Colonel McCormick’s grave. “A former employee of the disgraced R&B superstar testified that Kelly once had his girlfriends fight each other as punishment for misbehavior during a bizarre booty-shaking birthday party. The supposed infraction came when Kelly’s partners twerked at the singer’s January 2016 birthday bash at his Chicago studio… The bizarre episode was not fully explained, but Suzette Mayweather, who worked for Kelly for years as an assistant, said on the stand that the women had ‘twerked for cake’ in an apparent effort to get a slice of dessert. ‘He had to have them get on each other. I think they were fighting.’”

Laura Duncan New WXRT Program Chief

Laura Duncan, a rock radio programmer and personality from Indianapolis, has been hired as brand manager of WXRT, reports Robert Feder. “She will oversee all programming for the Audacy station, starting October 4.”

Sun-Times Looking For Editorial Writer

The Chicago Sun-Times is looking for an editorial writer. “This person should have a minimum of five years’ experience as a reporter or editor, as well as a strong grasp of diverse and urban issues,” the paper posts. “The heart of this job is working collaboratively with the editorial board in discussing, writing, and editing daily editorials for print and online, and working with columnists and freelance contributors. We’re looking for a generalist – someone who can write on local education issues one day and edit a guest column about the local arts scene another day. A broad range of interests is essential, as well as an informed interest in local politics. The editorial board interviews dozens of candidates for office each election cycle and makes endorsements in most competitive races.”



Trib Editorial Board Celebrates Mazzola’s Arrival

“Why focus on [Enrique] Mazzola’s arrival in Chicago with all of the lousy news in this city and the world?” asks the Tribune editorial board. ” Symbolically, Mazzola’s arrival represents an aspect of the city’s recovery. It is vital for Chicago’s future that world-class artists choose to make their homes here. They help draw new corporations, talented workers, shrewd students, big conventions and free-spending tourists, and they help retain retirees… Chicago badly needs to rekindle its global perspective. With the Biden administration’s ongoing COVID-19 ban on discretionary travel to the U.S. by non-U. S. citizens, we’ve lost most of the international visitors who used to crowd our streets in August and whose credit cards fed Michigan Avenue and its environs… Global exchange promotes business, nourishes this city’s great universities, aids democratic understanding and fuels tolerance… He’s picked a tough moment to arrive in a great cultural city but his appearance is cause alone for a summer celebration.”

WFMT Music Director Andi Lamoreaux Leaving After Fifty-Two Years

“Culminating a monumental fifty-two-year run at Chicago’s classical music station, Andi Lamoreaux is calling it a career,” reports Robert Feder. “Revered by colleagues as a ‘walking compendium of Chicago music history,’ the longtime music director of WFMT 98.7-FM will retire October 1.”

Neko Case Concert At Out Of Space Cancelled

Due to a positive case of COVID in the touring party, Saturday’s Out of Space concert with Neko Case has been canceled. The official statement: “Despite all band and crew members being fully vaccinated and taking every safety precaution – we regret to announce that due to a positive test in our touring party, we are cancelling the remainder of the Neko Case tour dates. We hope to get back on the road very soon but at this time do not have confirmed dates, so all tickets will be refunded to the purchaser at the point of purchase. We hope everyone remains safe and we appreciate your understanding.” A free event with DJs and full-band sets from hometown favorites Ohmme and ANTI- recording artist Son Little will take the place. Details here.

Considering Kanye’s Theater

“These last few weeks have been album rollout as multimedia soap opera. The music itself has been in flux—the version of ‘Donda’ played at each event has been different—and West’s refining of it in public, a method he introduced with ‘The Life of Pablo,’ is his true artistic project now,” writes Jon Caramanica at the New York Times. “It is an ideal strategy for West… an artist who is almost incalculably popular and yet almost wholly removed from the pop music mainstream. Gathering tens of thousands of people on short notice and engaging in a public conversation about what his music might sound like may be the purest expression of his fame now… [A]s West has cycled through periods of public tumult in recent years—his hospitalization, his assertion that slavery was a choice, his embrace of Donald Trump, his fitful 2020 run for president—he has simultaneously been orchestrating ever more complex creative projects while slowly removing himself from their emotional center. Instead of focusing on ‘Donda’ as an album… it’s helpful to think of it more like theater, an iterative affair that evolves a little each time you encounter it. In the last few weeks, it has gone from regional company to Off Broadway to the Great White Way — each stop on that journey matters.”

Newberry Consort Announces Season

After more than a year of performing virtually, The Newberry Consort announces a return to in-person performances for its thirty-fifth anniversary season, with programs that range from music that would have been heard by the Medicis in Renaissance Italy to the Christmas folk music of seventeenth century Mexico. The Newberry Consort’s season will also be the final one for artistic directors Ellen Hargis and David Douglass. Douglass has performed with the Consort since it was founded in 1986, and assumed the role of artistic director in 2007, when the Consort became independent of the Newberry Library. Hargis joined him as co-artistic director in 2009, and over their tenure, they have continued to perform rarely heard music from the medieval era to the Renaissance and beyond. “It’s been an honor to hold this dream job, to create all these programs and to work with our stellar roster of musicians,” Hargis says in a release. “While we will stay with the Consort in an advisory capacity, we are ready for other challenges and are delighted to pass the baton to the next generation.” More here.



Chicago Public Schools Partner With Lady Gaga’s Foundation For Twenty-One Day Global Kindness Challenge

Chicago Public Schools has partnered with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and launched its largest #BeKind21 campaign, a collaboration with a diverse coalition of more than 400 collaborators across all sectors and industries, including schools, organizations and communities.  #BeKind21 is a movement that calls on the public to practice an act of kindness each day from September 1-21 to build kinder, more connected communities. This year’s campaign has been designed to meet the needs of today and promote kindness in global environments heading into the fall season, including schools, classrooms, workplaces, homes and the public sector. Details on the challenge here.

Lincoln Park Zoo Ball Returns

The Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo will host its annual Zoo Ball in a reimagined format on September 24, following last summer’s break from the zoo’s largest and most-anticipated fundraising event. This year’s theme, “Roar with the Changes,” features a black-tie-optional evening “that will safely engage and inspire guests in support of Chicago’s cherished wildlife experience. Guests of Zoo Ball 2021 will be among the first to experience the zoo’s renovated, state-of-the-art habitat, Pepper Family Wildlife Center, which opens this fall and welcomes a pride of lions and other big cat residents into the heart of Chicago. Informed by years of behavioral data monitoring, the new habitat design encourages species-specific activity while offering inspiring views of majestic wildlife.”

The Pepper Family Wildlife Center was made possible through The Pride of Chicago capital campaign, a $135-million effort “committed to upholding the zoo’s mission of connecting people with nature and advancing its leadership in wildlife conservation, science and learning.” Zoo Ball 2021 co-chair Melissa Filkin says in a release, “We’re encouraged that we’re able to bring the energy of Zoo Ball to life this year in a way that feels as safe as it does exciting. We’ve all had to adapt in ways we never could have imagined, and this year’s event is no exception. What remains of utmost importance to the Women’s Board is that we raise vital funds for the zoo at a pivotal moment in its continued growth and longevity.” 


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