Today In The Culture, July 13, 2023: Dubuffet Sculpture to AIC


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Jul 22, 2023

Today In The Culture, July 13, 2023: Dubuffet Sculpture to AIC

July 13, 2023 at 7:00 am by Ray Pride Concept art for “The Golden Sarcophaga” by James Fotopoulos/Courtesy Fantasma Inc. Get daily culture news sent to your inbox every weekday morning. Subscribe to

July 13, 2023 at 7:00 am by Ray Pride

Concept art for “The Golden Sarcophaga” by James Fotopoulos/Courtesy Fantasma Inc.

Get daily culture news sent to your inbox every weekday morning. Subscribe to Newcity Today here.


“Monument with Standing Beast” Moving From Google Thompson Center To Art Institute

Jean Dubuffet’s ten-ton fiberglass “Monument With Standing Beast” is being relocated from Google’s new Loop premises to the Art Institute, reports CoStar. It will be trucked to New York City to be refurbished. Then, “the twenty-nine-foot-tall sculpture will have a permanent home at the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue… Several pieces of Dubuffet’s artwork are already displayed there.”

Smart Museum Of Art Takes Expanded Role Caring For University of Chicago Public Art

The Smart Museum of Art has formed an Art in Public Spaces initiative to centralize oversight for campus collections at the University of Chicago. Christina L. Simms has joined the Smart Museum as associate director of art in public spaces; Lauren Payne has joined as associate registrar of art in public spaces; and Laura Steward, the University’s curator of public art since 2017, has joined the Museum’s curatorial team. These roles will provide standardized care of art exhibited and stored in non-traditional settings outside of University museums and galleries, including Art at the David Rubenstein Forum; the Booth School of Business Art Collection in Chicago, Hong Kong, and London; the campus collections; and public art, among other areas. More here.

Illinois State Museum Returns Stolen Kenyan Artifacts

“The Illinois State Museum has returned thirty-seven wooden memorial statues, known as vigango, to the National Museums of Kenya for repatriation to Mijikenda communities. These statues are considered sacred cultural objects and are believed to carry the spirits of male elders who have passed away,” the Illinois Department Of Natural Resources relays.

Thread Level High: MCA Chicago, The Whitney And The Guggenheim Pair With Meta’s Threads

Instagram’s Twitter facsimile, Threads (which you presently can’t remove without deleting Instagram), holds allure for museums, reports Artnet. “Among the winners of the gold rush, seemingly, is the Whitney. The New York museum took the opportunity to make itself the center of the art-Threads discussion, grabbing attention with a quip-centric, very internet-y posting strategy, e.g. ‘Us posting weird contemporary art knowing you can’t dm us to complain’ or ‘Threads is my favorite social media platform because no one on here has ever made me cry.’ … Other museums are throwing their hat into Threads. The MCA Chicago, for instance, has taken to posting memes about visiting their collection.”

British Visual Arts Funding In Crisis

“As it stands, organizations across the regions are facing critical decisions—or, worse, closure. Leveling up is widely considered to have failed,” reports the Art Newspaper. “From regional galleries becoming ‘unsustainable’ to brutal cuts to funding of museums, galleries and arts and humanities education, the sector is in an increasingly perilous state.”


Jahn Tower Residences Guarantee Room With A View

“A high-rise tower designed by the late Helmut Jahn is expected to welcome its first renters in 2024,” reports David Roeder at the Sun-Times. “Work by McHugh Construction is moving along, and the building, called 1000M, is expected to welcome the first tenants next spring. The owners—Time Equities, JK Equities and Oak Capitals—said they expect the rest of the 738 units will be ready by the end of 2024. It will be the last Chicago building by Helmut Jahn, an architect of local residency and international renown who died in 2021. Jahn’s other works in Chicago include the Thompson Center in the Loop, now under renovation, and the United Airlines terminal at O’Hare Airport.”

Oak Park’s Modernist, Harry Weese-Designed Village Hall Could Be Razed

“Oak Park’s village hall—an architecturally daring 1970s building designed by noted Chicago architect Harry Weese and listed on the National Register of Historic Places—could be demolished under a vote taken by the town’s trustees,” writes Lee Bey at the Sun-Times. “The village’s board voted 5-2 in favor of seeking demolition for the angular modernist brick complex… in the suburb nestled near Chicago’s western border… The decision allows consultants FGM Architects to create schematic designs for a larger $140 million village hall and police headquarters to be built on the site of the current one.”

A Preservation Challenge For Landmark Architecture In Columbus, Indiana

The ninety landmark buildings in Columbus, Indiana, home to 50,000, are endangered, reports Indianapolis Business Journal in a detailed report. “The American Institute of Architects ranks Columbus sixth in the nation for architectural innovation and design, after only Chicago, New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. But with great architectural heritage comes great responsibility. And the financial and logistical weight of that responsibility has grown… The newest of Columbus’ buildings were built in the 1970s, meaning some of the city’s notable landmarks need expensive repairs.” Says Indiana Landmarks president Marsh Davis, “Mid-century buildings face challenges with some of the materials they use and also environmental issues such as energy efficiency… I’m not saying they all do, but it’s a common issue among buildings from the sixties and seventies. So how do we make them environmentally sustainable?”

Blackstone Real Estate Co-Head: Fear Creates Opportunities

“Fear over turbulence in commercial real estate is creating opportunities for well-capitalized investors, according to Blackstone Inc. co-head of global real estate Kathleen McCarthy,” reports Bloomberg (via Crain’s). “When sentiment gets really negative, prices decouple from fundamental value,” she said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “We have a practice of trying to quiet that noise and look at the information in front of us… We have more data than any other investor on the planet… That informs where we transact.” Blackstone is selective but ready to “lean in to where we see strength in the short term and over the long term.”

Vacant Office Space Could Be Transformed Into Vertical Farms

“Although the pandemic drove workers out of their offices over three years ago, many office buildings still remain deserted,” writes Modern Farmer. “Although modifying an existing building is less expensive than rebuilding, turning offices into residential space can be costly, as most office spaces are laid out differently from residential buildings. But there are other options for these empty offices—such as farms… Just as cities have changed drastically over the past few years, [two observers] recognized that our modern food system is changing, too, and farmers must be ready to adapt: ‘The idea we have of what farms used to be is not what farms are today. There is no picturesque, red barn farm anymore.'”

Developers See Future In Pickleball Complexes

“Chicago-based developer Hubbard Street Group and its joint venture partner College Park Athletic Club just began reconstructing a former furniture store… in northwest suburban Algonquin into [41,000-square-foot venue] Pickle Haus, a sports complex with twelve pickleball courts,” reports the Tribune. “The partners plan between four and six new pickleball facilities across [the Chicago area], tapping into the growing numbers playing the game, which resembles tennis but with smaller courts and racquets.” Pickleball courts are also being constructed at a development site on Green Street in the West Loop.

Should Public Buses Be Free?

“Kansas City; Raleigh; Richmond; Olympia; Tucson; Alexandria, Virginia; and other cities are testing dropping fares on their transit systems. Denver is dropping fares across its system this summer. Boston is piloting three zero-fare public bus routes, and New York City is expected to test free buses on five lines,” reports CNN. “Eliminating fares gives a badly needed boost to ridership, removes cost burdens—particularly for lower-income riders—and reduces boarding times at stops. Proponents also hope it will compel more people to get out of their cars and ride transit. But many transit researchers, officials and advocates say that removing fares fails to address the dire state of transit systems across America and diverts scarce resources from more pressing priorities: transit service and quality.”


For National Hot Dog Day, Free Chicago Style Hot Dog With Purchase At Devil Dawgs

Devil Dawgs celebrates National Hot Dog Day (July 19) with a free Chicago Style Hot Dog with any purchase July 17-19 from 2-7pm. Offer valid for orders placed in restaurants or on the stand’s site only using code HOTDOGDAY. One per hot dog eater.

Justice Of The Pies In The Times

“The South Side of Chicago brims with inimitable African American culture and history, and the pastry chef Maya-Camille Broussard is adding her brand of sweetness to the place where she was born and raised,” writes the New York Times. “With her first brick-and-mortar bakery, Justice of the Pies, Broussard focuses on creativity—and inclusivity for people with disabilities.”

Bourdain-Beloved Bonci Pizza Expands

“When internationally beloved pizzaiolo Gabriele Bonci opened his first U.S. location in 2017 in Chicago, investors and fans of the fabled Roman slices imagined a country with Bonci Pizzerias all across America,” reports Eater Chicago. “Six years later, reps are shifting gears saying they’re focusing on expansion within the Chicago area and… next week debut a new location on the border of Lincoln Park and Lakeview near the Chicago River.”


Federal Mediation Mandated For Actors’ Contract, Just Like The Railroads

“Negotiators for SAG-AFTRA and the major studios have agreed to bring in a federal mediator to help resolve a contract dispute, fueling further uncertainty over a possible actors’ strike,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “The guild reiterated that it was not prepared to extend negotiations beyond Wednesday night, when the current contract expires.” (A strike is expected to be called at that time.) DEADLINE, which often reflects the perspective of studios rather than its workers, set off an online storm with its incendiary transcription of an anonymous alleged studio executive: “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.” And: “One insider called it ‘a cruel but necessary evil.'”

SAG-AFTRA welcomes mediators and says it will negotiate on behalf of its 160,000 members but won’t extend the strike deadline a second time: “SAG-AFTRA represents performers. We are here to get a deal that ensures our members can earn a living wage in our expansive industry we help make possible with our work. The AMPTP can make this happen at any time. They know what our members need and when they bring that to the table, we will be listening, but it’s important to know – time is running out.”

Mary “Meg” Gerken Passes, Professor, Photographer And Partner Of Filmmaker Gordon Quinn

Mary (Meg) Gerken passed away at her home on June 11. She lived most of her life in Logan Square. She attended the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, receiving an M.F.A. (1983) in photography. As an Associate Professor at Wilbur Wright College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, and Coordinator of the Communications Media Department there, for over thirty years she taught Humanities and photography. She also worked for decades as a freelance photographer. She leaves behind her husband, Gordon Quinn, Kartemquin Films founder and senior advisor. A celebration of her life and work will take place in the next few months. An obituary is here.

James Fotopoulos, Maker Of Over A Hundred Shorts, Returns To Make Chicago Thriller

Turn-of-the-century experimental film stalwart James Fotopoulos is slated to make his latest, “The Golden Sarcophaga,” on the streets of Chicago, shooting in August with an unusual cast and one of America’s boldest cinematographers, Sean Price Williams (“Good Time,” “Tesla,” “Her Smell,” “Heaven Knows What”). The synopsis: “A drifter of a small storefront church’s congregation in flight from street violence stumbles across the ultimate invasive species, a large insect last seen before Christ and emerging en masse to render a new plague upon a once-again fallen world.” The cast includes rapper Kool Keith, Alice In Chains’ William Duvall, New York City theater mainstay Jim Fletcher, “Basket Case” director Frank Henenlotter, as well as local notables, multidisciplinary artist Marvin Tate and rapper and street artist Sharkula.

Siskel Seeks Office And Accounting Coordinator

“Are you a film lover with at least two years of accounting and office administration experience? We’re looking for you,” posts the Siskel on Instagram. “The Film Center is currently hiring a full-time Office and Accounting Coordinator!” Apply here.


Nonprofit Takes Twenty-Two Newspapers In Maine

“The National Trust for Local News will take over five of the six daily papers in the Maine and seventeen weeklies,” reports the New York Times. “In addition to the Portland and Lewiston papers, the sale includes The Kennebec Journal in Augusta, The Morning Sentinel in Waterville and The Times Record in Brunswick. The state’s sixth daily paper, The Bangor Daily News, remains owned by the Bangor Publishing Company.”

Canada Newspaper Media Could Become Near-Monopoly

“Canada’s beleaguered news media teeters on disaster as two media behemoths prepare to merge. The merger would intensify the concentration of power in the hands of predatory capitalists and imperil unbiased journalism in the country,” writes Jacobin. “Postmedia Network, the owner of over 130 newspaper brands, recently revealed its ongoing discussions regarding a merger with NordStar Capital. The latter company owns a news chain encompassing the Toronto Star, the largest daily newspaper in Canada in terms of circulation. This merger, primarily aimed at consolidating and reducing corporate debt, would see the further concentration of an even larger share of Canadian news media… It also risks accelerating yet more job cuts to already squeezed-to-the-bone newsrooms.”


“Sweetest Season: A Gathering of Indigenous Creativity” Returns To Goodman Stage This Weekend

Native sketch comedy, an Indigenous romantic comedy, poetry and more take the stage at Goodman Theatre this weekend at “The Sweetest Season: A Gathering of Indigenous Creativity”—a celebration of local Indigenous artistry, presented in partnership with the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian. The second annual event expands to three days, including two performance showcases curated by Vincent Romero (Pueblo Laguna), two workshops, a staged reading and a Native community gathering with food from Native vendors. Artists include Brandi Berry Benson (Chickasaw; violinist); William Buchholtz (Algonquin/Metis; musician); Sergio Ceron (Otomi-Pame; singer-drummer); Leighann Daihl (flutist); Maritza Garcia (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians; singer-dancer); Mark Jourdan (Oneida/Ho-Chunk; singer-songwriter); Lanialoha Lee (Native Hawaiian; choreographer/composer); Michaela Marchi (Isleta Pueblo; singer); Vincent Romero (Pueblo Laguna; storyteller-curator) and Jennifer Stevens (Oneida and Oglala Lakota; singer-visual artist). “The Sweetest Season” performance showcases take place Friday, July 14, 7:30pm and Saturday, July 15, 2pm in the Owen Theatre. Tickets ($15) here.

Lifeline Theatre Announces Season

Lifeline Theatre has announced “Big Stories, Up Close,” their upcoming season that features both classics and modern titles. Attractions include a revival of ensemble member John Hildreth’s adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle,” followed by a retelling of Nambi E. Kelley’s “Native Son.” The KidSeries season will feature the world premiere of ensemble member Alan Donahue’s adaptation of Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen’s “Skunk and Badger.” Lifeline Theatre will also produce the twenty-seventh annual Fillet of Solo Festival, a three-week, multi-venue solo performance and storytelling festival, as well as the third annual Playwright Adaptation Development Workshop featuring new playwrights and their world premiere works. Season memberships and more here.

Sarah Siddons Society Sets Professional Development Grants

The Sarah Siddons Society is expanding its support of professional growth of next-generation Chicago-area theater artists. The inaugural offering is of ten Professional Development Grants of $500 each to emerging theater professionals. The purpose of these grants is to provide financial assistance, at the discretion of the grantee, to assist in their professional development such as voice lessons, further training or headshots. While there is no age requirement associated with these grants, priority will be given to those beginning their careers. Sarah Siddons Society board president Martin Balogh says, “After decades of funding scholarships for theater arts students, The Sarah Siddons Society Board is excited to take our support of emerging theater artists to the next level with these new grants.” Applications accepted through September 1 here.


Rockhopper Penguins Born At Shedd

For the first time in eight years, Shedd Aquarium has welcomed a rockhopper penguin chick to the colony. The baby bird, nearly two pounds, hatched several weeks ago and has been attended to by its parents and Shedd’s animal care staff. The hatchling’s parents, Edward and Annie, are well known in their own right as the stars of Shedd’s children’s book and the aquarium’s penguin field trip videos. More here.

Sundays On State Starts Sunday

Sundays on State, a project of Chicago Loop Alliance in partnership with Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation and SSA#1-2015, kicks off this year on Sunday, July 16. The events are supported by a Chicago Presents grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. Lineup of events, tickets and more here.

Scientists Prepare To Rename Geological Era

“Scientists have identified the geological site that they say best reflects a proposed new epoch called the Anthropocene—a major step toward changing the official timeline of Earth’s history,” posts CNN. “The term Anthropocene, first proposed in 2000 to reflect how profoundly human activity has altered the world” is the term of choice. The AWG, a group “comprised of thirty-five geologists, has been working since 2009 to make the Anthropocene part of Earth’s official timeline. The group determined in 2016 that the Anthropocene epoch began around 1950—the start of the era of nuclear weapons tests, the geochemical traces of which can be found around the world.”

Meat Industry Undermines Climate Policy

“Borrowing a page from the fossil fuel industry’s playbook, meat’s ‘merchants of doubt’ are funding questionable research and lobbying to keep meat reduction off the table,” reports the New Republic.

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ART“Monument with Standing Beast” Moving From Google Thompson Center To Art InstituteSmart Museum Of Art Takes Expanded Role Caring For University of Chicago Public ArtIllinois State Museum Returns Stolen Kenyan ArtifactsThread Level High: MCA Chicago, The Whitney And The Guggenheim Pair With Meta’s ThreadsBritish Visual Arts Funding In CrisisDESIGNJahn Tower Residences Guarantee Room With A ViewOak Park’s Modernist, Harry Weese-Designed Village Hall Could Be RazedA Preservation Challenge For Landmark Architecture In Columbus, IndianaBlackstone Real Estate Co-Head: Fear Creates OpportunitiesVacant Office Space Could Be Transformed Into Vertical FarmsDevelopers See Future In Pickleball ComplexesShould Public Buses Be Free?DINING & DRINKINGFor National Hot Dog Day, Free Chicago Style Hot Dog With Purchase At Devil DawgsJustice Of The Pies In The TimesBourdain-Beloved Bonci Pizza ExpandsFILM & TELEVISIONFederal Mediation Mandated For Actors’ Contract, Just Like The RailroadsMary “Meg” Gerken Passes, Professor, Photographer And Partner Of Filmmaker Gordon QuinnJames Fotopoulos, Maker Of Over A Hundred Shorts, Returns To Make Chicago ThrillerSiskel Seeks Office And Accounting CoordinatorMEDIANonprofit Takes Twenty-Two Newspapers In MaineCanada Newspaper Media Could Become Near-MonopolySTAGE“Sweetest Season: A Gathering of Indigenous Creativity” Returns To Goodman Stage This WeekendLifeline Theatre Announces Season Sarah Siddons Society Sets Professional Development GrantsARTS & CULTURE & ETC.Rockhopper Penguins Born At SheddSundays On State Starts SundayScientists Prepare To Rename Geological Era Meat Industry Undermines Climate Policy