Today In The Culture, January 19, 2023: Open Books Expands to Logan Square | Derrick Sanders at Juilliard | NPR on Chicago Music

Billy Goat chef sitting at the bar with a beer in a Billy Goat Glass, wearing a black Billy Goat hat under a neon sign that reads "Beer On Tap"

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Schiller Theater Fragments Gain St. Louis Berth

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has gifted pieces of the Schiller Theater building to St. Louis’ City Museum, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They will decorate the building entrance. “The latest pieces, 194 in all, [are] a gift from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Twelve pallets’ worth came from a storage barn at Wright’s home and studios, Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin… in a rented box truck. Three roundels depicting the heads of playwright Friedrich Schiller and composers Beethoven and Chopin came from a storage vault in Taliesin West in Scottsdale.” The elements are “dozens of terra cotta pieces of the Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler-designed Schiller Theater building, which stood in Chicago’s Loop until the building was razed in 1961 to make way for a parking garage.” (A range of Schiller Theater photos is here.)



Chicagoan Honored For Contributions To Notre Dame Rebuilding

“Carla Knorowski dried off her tears and got to work after a fire ripped through the historic French cathedral in 2019,” reports the Sun-Times. “Knorowski, a professional fundraiser who’s raised millions for her alma mater, UIC, began working with Friends of Notre Dame de Paris on [their] board of directors. Her mission was to raise money for the upkeep of the building.” That took on “new purpose and sense of urgency as untold millions would be needed to restore and rebuild.” At a ceremony this fall, “French Consul General of the Midwest Yannick Tagand awarded Knorowski the National Order of Merit… Tagand pinned the hardware on her jacket and planted a kiss on each cheek.” Tagand said, “She has played a crucial role… She has been a friend of France for forty years.”

Roost Rousted

Andersonville vintage shop Roost is closing after fourteen years, reports Block Club Chicago. “The last three years have been a ‘real struggle’ for the anchor business at the north end of Andersonville’s commercial district.” The pandemic “did a number on the shop as has the shift in how people shifted to [online] shopping,” owner Daniel Malone wrote on Facebook. “I had a lot of catching up in rent and bills, and just couldn’t get ahead… It was a good run and… I helped drive some businesses to open on the north side of the neighborhood.”

Sioux Falls Amazon Robots Solicit Sufficient Humans

“There are more than three robots for every one worker at the new Sioux Falls Amazon fulfillment center—but the goal is to even that out,” reports Sioux Falls Business. “That will take more hiring for the new three-million-square-foot location… which has about 300 people but needs more like 1,500 to fully ramp up… ‘All positions are open, including anything from packing a box to fixing a robot.’ … A robotic arm called the Robin is one of the company’s most complex stationary robots. It grabs and rotates parcels to scan labels, then sorts the package via ZIP code onto a robotic carrier for processing. If Robin sees anything ripped or torn, or illegible addresses, it can transfer the package for employees to handle.” Meanwhile, the Amazon Labor Union demands that the corporation recognize and bargain with the union; their letter is here.

Demolition Begins For Schaumburg Entertainment District

Demolition of the Woodfield Green Executive Centre office complex, near the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center, will “make way for an entertainment district, with an initial phase to be anchored by Andretti Indoor Karting & Games,” reports the Daily Herald. “Schaumburg officials formalized an agreement for Andretti Karting to pay the village $6 million for the site adjacent to the future parking garage… The entertainment company plans to build its first Midwest location—an approximately $20 million, 80,000-square-foot building to include a multilevel karting track, an arcade, a two-level laser tag arena, bowling, virtual reality attractions, a full restaurant and bar, and 10,000 square feet of event space.”



Albertsons (Jewel-Osco) Gets Go-Ahead To Pass Billions To Shareholders

With a court order lifted, Albertsons will “immediately begin a $4 billion shareholder payout,” Crain’s reports, after a two-month delay. Adds AP: “The Washington state Supreme Court has brushed aside the final remaining legal hurdle in the way of a $4 billion dividend by Albertsons to its shareholders ahead of a proposed merger with rival Kroger,” which owns Mariano’s. The Oregon Attorney General “had argued that the payment could financially weaken Albertsons and lead to shuttering locations… Albertsons, which is based in Boise, Idaho, wants to pay the dividend to shareholders ahead of its proposed $25 billion merger with Kroger.”

Chicago Dining Recovery Lags

Axios Chicago surmises it is so: “Restaurant reservations have rebounded to above pre-pandemic levels nationally, but based on reservations made through OpenTable, they’re still lagging locally.”

A Sold-Out Lawry’s The Prime Rib Pop-Up

RPM Steak hosts a two-day tribute to defunct Chicago steakhouse icon Lawry’s The Prime Rib, which closed after forty-six years at the end of 2020. “Fans can savor one last taste of the institution with… a modern take on its signature spinning salad bowl, Beeman Ranch wagyu prime rib with all the fixings, and Baked Alaska that’s flambéed tableside,” reports Eater Chicago. The waitlist for the sold-out, $185 February 7-8 event is at Tock here.

Billy Goat Gets Glasses

“Grab your authentic Billy Goat Tavern Glass to enjoy a cold beer anytime!” enthuses the burger barn from under Michigan Avenue: and that’s all the ad copy they wrote. Pair the $13 Mason jar-reminiscent fistful with a $9 shot glass here.

Sushi By Scratch Supplants Swill Inn

“A restaurant group that includes two Michelin-starred restaurants in California will bring a ten-seat, [seventeen-course] omakase experience to the former The Swill Inn space in River West,” reports Eater Chicago. “Sushi by Scratch, which holds a single-star rating in Santa Barbara, California, is planning an early February debut for its parent company’s first Midwestern outpost.”



Open Books Lists Logan Square

Open Books Logan Square has opened at 2068 North Milwaukee “after months of renovations and planning,” reports Block Club. The space “carries 60,000 books across two floors and will eventually host readings, poetry slams and book fairs… The nonprofit also runs bookstores in Pilsen and in the West Loop.”



Gannett Layoffs At Detroit Free Press Include Top Editor

The Detroit Free Press will postpone forced layoffs planned for late January “because eight employees have volunteered to leave their jobs, including some top editors,” reports the Free Press. Gannett had planned as many as fourteen layoffs to improve the parent company’s bottom line. Free Press Editor Peter Bhatia “is one of the eight volunteers… Those departing are five members of the Detroit Newspaper Guild.”



NPR Searches Out Chicago Music In “Sense Of Place”

“Chicago’s storied music history, from the home of the blues to a modern-day hip-hop launching pad,” starts this week on NPR’s World Café “Sense of Place” series, reports the Sun-Times. “Chicago is a huge, major city but it has a very different flavor and vibe than New York or Los Angeles…” says World Café host Raina Douris. “Chicago has had this very strong underground punk and rock scene. It was a big part of blues and jazz, and house music. There’s all these deep roots in Chicago and it felt like we could go back ten more times and still not get everything.” Says Douris, “giving back” is a thread. Steve Albini “stayed in Chicago, he stuck around and made this his place. He said many times… he’s a technician, he wants to help make records, and he’s there to give back to this community of musicians.” The series is here.

“Tár” Star Cate Blanchett Answers Marin Alsop

“I was offended as a woman, I was offended as a conductor, I was offended as a lesbian,” conductor Marin Alsop told London’s The Times recently of Todd Field’s film, “Tár.” “There are so many men–actual, documented men–this film could have been based on but, instead, it puts a woman in the role but gives her all the attributes of those men. That feels anti-woman.” Cate Blanchett replied on BBC Radio 4, reports the Independent. “She’s entitled to her opinion, absolutely. But it’s a meditation on power and power is genderless… I have the utmost respect for Marin Alsop. She’s a trailblazer of a musician and a conductor.” But what Todd Field “and I wanted to do was to create a really lively conversation. So there’s no right or wrong responses to works of art. It’s not a film about conducting, and… the circumstances of the character are entirely fictitious… Power is a corrupting force no matter what one’s gender is… It affects all of us.”

Local Luthier Lavishes Three-Century-Old, $15 Million Violin

“The violin in question belongs to Joshua Bell. The 310-year-old instrument, which Bell has said is worth as much as $15 million, is among the roughly 650 made by the renowned eighteen-century Italian craftsman Antonio Stradivari that survive,” writes Elly Fishman at Chicago magazine, profiling local luthier John Becker. “Bell left it with Becker for repairs, and over… two months, the master luthier applied protective polish to preserve the original varnish, removed the top to make internal repairs, and handcrafted several cleats to reinforce tiny cracks in the wood. Bell [flew] in from New York to retrieve the violin, which has been his concert instrument since 2001, before he departs on a tour of South America and Italy.” Bell says, “I’m really nervous and excited… It’s like meeting my wife again after two months. I’m a little overwhelmed.”

Chicago A Stop On Madonna’s “Greatest Hits” Tour

Tickets go on sale Friday, 10am, for Madonna’s August advent via Live Nation at United Center, reports NBC 5. The bill includes “a one-of-a-kind experience with special guest Bob the Drag Queen.” Prices are not listed on Madonna’s website.

Smithsonian Restoring 300 Of World’s Oldest Recordings

Between 1881 and 1892, Alexander Graham Bell and his fellow researchers made recordings that are now being restored, the Smithsonian hails, including this one of Bell himself: “Hear my voice,” Bell declares. Over a three-year period, “Hearing History: Recovering Sound from Alexander Graham Bell’s Experimental Records” will “preserve and make accessible… about 300 recordings that have been in the museum’s collections for over a century, unheard by anyone.” For the once-“mute artifacts,” the “team uses computers to create a digital scan of the grooves on the wax disc, removing any scratches or damage that might get in the way of the recovery attempt… Software follows a virtual stylus moving over the virtual record’s grooves, reproducing the audio as a new digital file. The result: unlocking sound that was inaccessible for more than a century.”

St. Louis Symphony Prepares $100 Million Expansion Of Powell Hall

“The $100 million renovation kicks off this spring,” reports KMOV4 of the St. Louis Symphony’s new investment. “The 65,000-square-foot expansion will include a new education and learning center and a new lobby. There will also be a new backstage including new dressing rooms for performers.”



Chicago’s Derrick Sanders On Being Juilliard Drama’s First Associate Director Of Color

“Derrick Sanders is making strides as the first associate director of color for Juilliard’s Drama Division,” reports American Theatre. “His on-the-job training includes twenty-two years in the Chicago theater scene, as artistic director and co-founder of the Congo Square Theatre Company with fellow Howard alumnus Reginald Nelson, and as professor in the theater department at the University of Illinois at Chicago for a dozen years. Sanders is deeply rooted in the work of August Wilson, having directed many of the ten plays that make up Wilson’s American Century Cycle, and assistant-directed both ‘Radio Golf’ and ‘Gem of the Ocean’ on Broadway.” Says Sanders, “My appointment at Juilliard is a confluence of things. I’m a Southern man, I’m from Virginia, but I’m a Chicago artist, right? What I mean by that is that the idea of ensemble work was always intriguing to me. Two movements that inspired me were August Wilson and the Negro Ensemble Company of New York. All those ideas I found and then brought with me to Chicago along with Reginald Nelson, and then we founded Congo Square Theatre. We wanted to go to ensemble theatre, and Chicago was known for ensembles like Lookingglass and Steppenwolf, a ton of great ensembles. The idea was to create a home for artists of color, artists of the African diaspora, to really explore and uplift the craft and do the work on the level that regionals were doing at the time.”

Congo Square Theatre World Premiere With Afrofuturism Theme

Congo Square Theatre will present the world premiere of Lisa Langford’s “Afrofuturistic” “How Blood Go,” directed by Goodman Theatre collaborator Tiffany Fulson, as part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut series. “How Blood Go,” the story of two family members “who are subject to medical experiments without their consent, fifty years apart, weaves the present and past together to explore the strained relationship between medicine and African Americans in this country.” Steppenwolf 1700 Theater, March 17-April 23. More here.

In The Room With Frank Galati

“The beloved director, actor, writer, and teacher shaped generations of theater artists in Chicago and beyond with his gifts and his generosity of spirit,” writes Mark Larson in over 5,000 words from fourteen witnesses at the Reader. Robert Falls: “I often laughed at Frank when we would see something and he would say to me, ‘Bobby—’ (Everybody was Bobby or Billy, Johnny.) ‘Bobby, it was so wonderful!’ And I’d go, ‘Frank, it wasn’t that good. It was… fine.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, no, no, Bobby, it was so… beautiful.’ ‘Seriously, Frank it was OK.’ ‘No, no! It was won-derful!’ And that’s irresistible. For over half a century, Frank was putting that sort of energy into the world.” Mary Zimmerman: “I don’t know if this was the first time I saw him, but early on I saw him walking… It was raining, and he was holding an umbrella. But the umbrella was a child’s umbrella. It was only about two feet across, and it was yellow with a bright-red handle. And he was a large man. That image is very seminal to me, and very, very dear. I don’t think it really needs unpacking, but he was so in love with beauty, and he found it everywhere, and he didn’t mind appearing foolish.”

International Latino Cultural Center Elevates Nancy Alonso To Board President

The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago has elected Nancy Alonso as their new board chairwoman; she was previously vice-chair. “I strongly believe in our mission of bringing awareness to the beauty of the Latin American, Spaniard and Portuguese cultures through film, music and all art mediums,” Alonso says. “I am honored to take on the new role. I look forward to partnering with the ILCC team in support of the organization’s growth and endurance over the coming years.” More on ILCC here.

Three Added To M.A.D.D. Rhythms

M.A.D.D. Rhythms has added three professional company members: Ashton Carter, Devin Mosley and Davon Suttles. More here.

Remembering Chicago Underground Comedy Co-Producer Elizabeth McQuern

“Elizabeth McQuern was a pillar in the entertainment industry in Chicago. For almost eight years, she co-produced the weekly stand-up showcase Chicago Underground Comedy. After having a child, she focused more on her photography and film work.” From her obituary: “Elizabeth, whose chosen name was Tiley McQuern, was a graduate of The Second City’s writing program and a longtime producer of Chicago Underground Comedy at Beat Kitchen. Among those who worked with Elizabeth in the Chicago acting and comedy communities, many noted how her artistic talents helped bring out their best. Her photography and videos helped many young comedians who now are established headliners.” A celebration of her life will be held Saturday, January 28, 1pm, at Firehouse Studios, 1545 West Rosemont.

Raven Theatre Presents “Right To Be Forgotten”

Raven Theatre, Chicago’s newest Equity-affiliated theater, continues its fortieth anniversary season with the Chicago premiere of “Right To Be Forgotten,” Sharyn Rothstein’s timely story of human forgiveness in the age of the internet. The cast includes Lucy Carapetyan, Kroydell Galima, Susaan Jamshidi, Kelsey Elyse Rodriguez, Adam Shalzi and Jamila Tyler. Directed by Sarah Gitenstein, “Right To Be Forgotten” will play February 9–March 26 at Raven’s eighty-five-seat East Stage, 6157 North Clark. Single tickets are on sale here.

Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo Returns To Auditorium For One Night Only

The Auditorium Theatre will present Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, “known by their fans as ‘The Trocks’” for a single performance February 11. “As the world’s leading all-male ballet company, Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo proves that men too can be beautiful, graceful—and hilarious—while dancing on tiptoe, or en pointe. The Trocks blend drag, satire, comedy and rigorous technique to both parody and lovingly pay homage to classical ballet aesthetics. The Trocks tackle everything from ballet’s most enduring choreography like ‘Swan Lake’ to modern dances and commissioned works.” Saturday, February 11, 7:30pm. Tickets and more here.

Oak Park’s Madison Street Theater Launches

The Madison Street Theater in Oak Park launches with “The Moment,” a new musical directed by Kevin Bry, “a collaboration of a talented and diverse group of thirteen playwrights, composers and songwriters from CPA Theatricals, Inc.” Tickets ($25) and more here.

Artistic Home’s Twentieth-Anniversary “Cut To The Chase” One-Act Play Festival Slated

The Artistic Home will present its twentieth-anniversary “Cut To The Chase” one-act play festival, featuring six handpicked ten-minute pieces that showcase Artistic Home Studio actors. Five performances will run January 26–29 at The Den Theatre. Tickets ($20 general admission) are here.

STC Theater Launches With Female “The Odd Couple”

Florence and Olive’s by-play in Neil Simon’s female version of “The Odd Couple” marks the debut of STC Theater in St. Charles. STC Theater is a new performing arts organization with “adherence to quality and dedication to picking shows that will resonate with audiences.” More here.

Illinois Young Ballet Dancers Compete For Scholarships

The “American Idol of ballet” returns to Chicago from January 19-22. Hundreds of talented dancers, ages nine-to-nineteen, will audition for the Youth America Grand Prix in hopes of scholarships to top schools and companies; future ballet performers are scouted at these auditions as well. Youth America Grand Prix is the largest global network of dance and “fulfills its mission of dance education through scholarship auditions, master classes, alumni services, performances, and education. For the past twenty-four years, over $4.5 million has been awarded in scholarships to the world’s leading dance schools, with up to $350,000 now awarded annually.” Watch for free online through the group’s website here.



America’s Museums Aren’t Returning Native American Human Remains

“Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Cambridge, University of California, Berkeley and the Field Museum in Chicago each hold the remains of more than a thousand Native Americans. Their earliest collections date back to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when their curators sought to amass encyclopedic collections of human remains,” ProPublica reports. “Colonialist myths were… used to justify the U.S. government’s brutality toward Native Americans and fuel much of the racism that they continue to face today.”

More Electric Vehicles Means Less Fuel Tax Revenue For State

“Despite Illinois’ efforts to smoothly integrate electric vehicles into the state’s economy, a report from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute [warns] of a potential steep decline in transportation revenue,” reports the Sun-Times. “The primary issue is motor fuel taxes, which will [drop significantly as] electric vehicles get on the road and fewer people fill cars with gas.”

Fake Sword At Field Museum Turns Out To Be A Real 3,000-Year-Old Artifact

“This isn’t a replica, it’s a real sword thrown into the Danube River at the end of the Bronze Age,” says Bill Parkinson, curator of anthropology at the Field Museum. An ancient sword that had been in the museum for nearly a century “is actually a 3,000-year-old artifact.” “Curators said a European expert noticed the sword and asked to see it while preparing for an exhibit called ‘The First Kings of Europe,’” reports CBS 2. “I think there was a clerical error when it got here. Someone just wrote it down wrong,” Parkinson told the Sun-Times. “The bronze sword was found at the bottom of the Danube River in about 1920.”


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