Today In The Culture, April 26, 2023: Jeanne Gang Takes New York | CTA Artist Commissions

Photo of aging black water tower with green painted legs over transparent background.

Art by Andrew Arkell. Another of Arkell’s pieces was also selected for the 2023 Old Town Art Fair poster.

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Artists Will Create Original Public Artwork for CTA Red Line Stations

The Chicago Transit Board has approved five contracts to renowned artists to create unique pieces of artwork for stations and structures that are being rebuilt as a part of the Red and Purple Modernization Phase One project, the CTA announces. “The artists will create original artwork for the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations, as well as for the Bryn Mawr station’s second entrance and exit on West Hollywood. The artwork will enhance the overall transit experience and add unique elements to the new stations that represent the communities they serve. ‘Public art has always been an important part of the CTA and the communities we serve,’ says CTA president Dorval R. Carter, Jr.”

Artwork will be installed at these locations: Lawrence main stationhouse: Tom Torluemke, Dyer, Indiana; Argyle main stationhouse: Mayumi Lake, Chicago; Berwyn main stationhouse: David Lozano, Chicago; Bryn Mawr main stationhouse: William Conger, Chicago; and Bryn Mawr Hollywood entrance: Alice Hargrave, Chicago.

West Loop Murals Painted Over By Night

“Several West Loop murals were mysteriously painted over, including two that memorialized musicians Frankie Knuckles and Juice WRLD,” reports Block Club. “The murals are part of the B_Line… more than 250 murals along the Hubbard Street viaduct.. Artists from across the world have contributed to the collection of street art spanning… Aberdeen to Green streets, including the underpasses… Last week, the vibrant murals in one underpass were completely painted over in brown paint… The city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation said their graffiti-removal crews aren’t responsible.” S&S “does not stock or use the paint colors represented today at the location in question. City crews also do not use paint rollers to remove graffiti from large areas but rather paint sprayers to save time and materials.” Metra and Union Pacific also say they didn’t do it.

Andrew Arkell Shadows Leslie Wolfe

A panel of independent jurors has selected Chicago-based painter Andrew Arkell for a one-month exhibit at the Old Town Triangle’s Leslie Wolfe Gallery. Arkell’s watercolor paintings are part of an ongoing project to study shadow, its form, and its relationship to architectural objects and structures. The distillation of each image into moments of light and shadow not only allows for the celebration of each object and structure, but also facilitates the appreciation of the many intricacies that cause the light to move in unexpected ways. The show runs April 29 through May, with a reception Sunday, May 7, 2pm-4pm at 1763 North North Park.


Rich Man Gets Historic Side Yard After All

The Tribune front-pages the leveling: “A local real estate titan received a permit from the city’s Department of Buildings to wreck and remove a historic Lincoln Park home built soon after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, ending a monthslong effort by preservationists to save it… Thaddeus Wong, the co-CEO of ‘@properties | Christie’s International’ Real Estate, bought the home at 2240 North Burling late last year for $2 million… Limited liability corporations managed by either Wong or his wife, Emily Sachs Wong, also a well-known real estate agent, recently bought the two properties south… including a three-flat already demolished.”

“Obviously, there is a future plan beyond just turning 2240 into a side yard,” Preservation Chicago’s Ward Miller told the paper. “It’s really tragic, and we hoped the owner would have second thoughts. I don’t know that there was anyone in the community opposed to saving it.” Thad Wong’s @propertie’s bio here: “Wong oversees a network that includes more than 13,000 real estate agents in nearly fifty countries and territories, handling over $100 billion in annual transaction volume.” Photos of demolition work here and here.

Vatican Smiles On Our Lady Of Victory

“Parishioners were upset when the archdiocese decreed in 2022 that Our Lady of Victory would be deconsecrated and ‘relegated to profane use,’ but the Vatican took their side,” reports the Sun-Times. “Our Lady of Victory is the oldest Catholic parish on the Northwest Side.”

Jeanne Gang’s Natural History Museum Wing Gets Its Notices

“The stunning $465 million Richard Gilder Center for Science, designed like a canyon, is destined to become a colossal attraction,” raves Michael Kimmelman at the New York Times. “For its architects, Jeanne Gang and her team, [the Gilder Center] was clearly a gamble and leap of faith, bucking today’s innocuous norms, almost begging for charges of starchitectural self-indulgence… I wouldn’t go so far as to equate it with the curvaceous genius of Gaudi or with Saarinen’s groovy TWA Terminal, but it’s in the family. Like them, Gilder is spectacular: a poetic, joyful, theatrical work of public architecture and a highly sophisticated flight of sculptural fantasy.”

Transportation Writer John Greenfield Recovering From Marion Crash

“John Greenfield, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Streetsblog Chicago, was riding his bike on the sidewalk in Marion, Illinois, when someone in a pickup truck passed him and a plastic pipe sticking out of the truck hit him,” reports Block Club. “Every day, he’s been a little more awake,” his brother, Dave Greenfieldboyce said. “Yesterday, for the first time, he was able to respond to commands. He’s having periods of vague awakeness.”

How A.I. Supports Established Monopolies

“A.I. is already giving monopolies advantages and encouraging anticompetitive practices,” Public Citizen reports in a long piece on the problems with the onrushing embrace of untested technology. “The massive computing power required to train and operate large language models and other generative A.I. gives big corporations with the most resources a huge advantage. Products like ChatGPT have the potential to worsen self-preferencing by search engines–an anticompetitive practice companies like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft have already abused. Moreover, OpenAI is developing plugins that will allow ChatGPT to carry out actions that can be performed on the web, such as booking flights, ordering groceries, and shopping. By structuring plugins as a kind of app store within ChatGPT, OpenAI is likely to reproduce Big Tech’s tendency to thwart and throttle competition, siphoning money from small and local businesses.” Much more here.

New York City Hybrid Work Could Affect Nation

“Remote work and rising interest rates are dealing a double blow to office landlords, with potentially grave consequences for the city and even national economy,” reports the New York Times. “Three years into the pandemic, floors of office buildings throughout Manhattan have been emptied by tenants who have shrunk their footprint and employees who work from home…More than two-thirds of all commercial real estate loans are held by small- and medium-size banks, prompting concern that regional banks might be unable to withstand a wave of defaults if landlords cannot pay off loans. Some analysts have forecast a dim future for city centers, likening the crisis to the slow death of many American shopping malls.”

VICE reports on a company the paper already favored in its coverage: “The New York Times has added a new twist on the already-overstuffed genre of stories about why we all must return to working in physical offices: an approving little profile of Verkada, a Bay Area startup that, the last time it had employees working IRL, had some of its workers using the company’s own facial recognition technology to harass and surveil female colleagues. The Times used Verkada as an example of, in its words, ‘why some people were choosing to leave jobs with flexible work arrangements in search of an office where they could cultivate relationships.’ The story’s dek touts what it calls ‘a hidden penalty of flexibility: less supervision.’”

Survey Shows Chicago Downtown Cellphone Usage Down By Half

“Data from downtowns show that cellphone activity in San Francisco is at thirty-one-percent of pre-pandemic levels. New York is at seventy-four-percent, Chicago is at fifty-percent, Boston is at fifty-four-percent… This has implications for retail, restaurants” and offices, posts CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla.

Live Nation’s Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre Gets New Name-In-Title Brand

Tinley Park’s Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre will be renamed “Credit Union 1 Amphitheatre,” with the company paying to be “new name-in-title sponsor” of the venue, reports NBC 5. “The Credit Union 1 Amphitheatre in Tinley Park is now open, and CU1 couldn’t be more excited,” Credit Union 1 president and CEO Todd Gunderson said in a release. “The venue is a fantastic community hub for all of Chicagoland and builds on our partnerships with University of Notre Dame Athletics and University of Illinois Chicago to support the spaces and activities that bring people together and joy to members’ lives.”


Murphy’s Bleachers Beth Murphy Was Sixty-Eight

“Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bleachers, a popular bar among Chicago Cubs fans, was as well-known in Wrigleyville as some of the players,” reports the Trib. “Murphy’s battles with the Cubs over rooftop owners’ rights played out in newspapers and on local newscasts for years, pitting the small business owners against one of baseball’s oldest and most valuable franchises.” (“WE WILL MISS YOU BETH,” reads the bar’s marquee.)

Lincoln Square Restaurant Owner Says He Refused Business Department Request For Live Access To Security Cameras

Block Club reports that the owner of Sandunga Bar And Grill on Lawrence “told the city he’s changing his Saturday hours and hiring more security after getting complaints from neighbors… The city’s business department has hosted meetings between the neighbors and the businesses’ owners to try to find solutions.” The owner said “he refused a suggestion from the business department to connect his indoor and outdoor security cameras to the city’s private sector camera initiative, which would give police direct access to his footage. ‘This is the first time I’ve heard police want to have access to somebody’s property, and I certainly don’t feel comfortable with that… If police need footage to clear something up, I’m happy to provide it, but I’m not giving anyone live access to the cameras.’”

QR Code Menus Not Going Away

“Most restaurants will continue to offer a traditional menu, but QR codes as an option are here to stay,” reports Axios Chicago.

Pause For Masa Madre, Virtual Mexican Jewish Bakery

“After five years of non-stop mixing, kneading, and baking some of Chicago’s top babka, conchas [and] cookies,” reports Eater Chicago, “the co-founders of virtual Mexican Jewish bakery Masa Madre are preparing for a much-needed pause.”

Can Of Bud Light Continues To Extract Toll

Anheuser-Busch announced the suspension of two executives “after a conservative backlash to a promotion with the social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney,” reports the New York Times. The vice president of marketing for Bud Light and the executive who oversees marketing for Anheuser-Busch’s mainstream brands are on leave. “Our most senior marketers [will be] more closely connected to every aspect of our brands’ activities. These steps will help us maintain focus on the things we do best: brewing great beer for all consumers, while always making a positive impact in our communities and on our country,” said the corporation in a release. The notable slump in sales “was likely to have less of an effect on the company’s long-term business because the brand was already in decline.”


Walmart Adopts MoviePass

“MoviePass has landed a deal with Walmart to sell subscriptions in stores across the country,” reports Jason Guerrasio at Insider. “Walmart is looking to support the movie-theater business with the deal, a source said.”


Skunk Cabbage Books Grows In Avondale

“Owner Ren Dean said the Milwaukee Avenue shop is a response to growing attacks on queer people, and its name is an ode to the smelly flower that creates its own warmth,” reports Block Club. Skunk Cabbage Books “carries a wide selection of new fiction, non-fiction and kids books, along with locally made goods and accessories.” Website here.


One Of Many Cautions Of A Potential Presidential Run By Underemployed Tucker Carlson

“The Tucker Carlson presidential campaign we all know is coming,” writes Rex Huppke at USA TODAY: “He’s Donald Trump without the legal problems, Ron DeSantis with communication skills. Why wouldn’t he run?”

Block Club Building Investigative Team

“We’re building an investigative team to look even more closely at how the city got here and where it’s headed,” newsletters Block Club Chicago’s investigative editor Mick Dumke. “We’re looking for journalists ready to dig into stories about how power has shaped the city and its neighborhoods. If you are one of those investigative reporters, or if you know someone who might be, read more about the opportunity here. Or if you’ve got an idea we should look into, please email us here.”


British Classical Music: “A Long-Term Fight For Existence”?

“We are in a fight, and we need to ensure that classical music remains part of the beating heart of our country, of our country and of our culture,” said conductor Simon Rattle in a speech last Sunday at a performance of the London Symphony Orchestra. “I have a lot to say about what is happening in classical music in this country–as does anyone in our profession right now… There is nobody here tonight, even musicians, who do not recognise the enormous challenges faced by the world at present and in this country in particular, where people are struggling even to feed and heat themselves. But none of this is a force majeure. It is rooted in political choices. And we do have to ask ourselves, when we are hopefully the other side of this, what kind of country we want to live in?”


Northlight Sets Season

Northlight Theatre has announced its season, opening with the Broadway hit “Birthday Candles,” by Noah Haidle, directed by Jessica Thebus; the murder mystery made famous by Alfred Hitchcock, “Dial M for Murder,” adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the original by Frederick Knott and directed by Georgette Verdin; 2022 Pulitzer Prize Finalist “Selling Kabul,” by Sylvia Khoury, directed by Hamid Dehghani; and the world premiere of John Patrick Shanley’s “Brooklyn Laundry,” directed by BJ Jones. One title is yet to be announced. More here.

Theo Ubique Announces Sondheim Season

Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre has announced the company’s season, which will include a trio of Stephen Sondheim works including “Assassins,” “Sondheim Tribute Revue” and “A Little Night Music” as well as a new musical in development, “Baked! The Musical,” celebrating Sondheim’s lifelong encouragement of emerging writers and Theo’s commitment to new works. More here.

Theater MFA Programs Endangered

“The economic viability of graduate programs is becoming an increasingly complicated question. The majority of MFA theatre programs offer tuition remission, housing, and stipends, but with inflation ramping up, the cost of supporting students is rising,” reports American Theatre.


Lewis University, St. Augustine College To Merge

“Chicago’s St. Augustine College will merge with Lewis University,” reports Crain’s, “with both boards of trustees unanimously approving the decision. The schools will now submit an application to the Higher Learning Commission to make St. Augustine College an official part of Lewis University in Romeoville. St. Augustine said it expects the two to become a single unified school by spring 2024.”

Sun-Times Editorial Board Says Durbin Shouldn’t Defer To Clarence Thomas

“If Clarence Thomas doesn’t show up to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his ties to the Republican billionaire Harlan Crow, make the declination part of the rapidly growing record against the Supreme Court justice,” opines the CST editorial board.

United States Postal Service Going After The Rural Carrier

“A new payment system that is estimated to reduce base pay for most rural letter carriers, for some by thousands of dollars, has led to widespread threats of quitting and concern about whether the mail will get delivered in rural America,” reports David Dayen at The American Prospect. Controversial “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in remarks to the American Enterprise Institute last year that USPS plans to reduce the workforce by 50,000 over the next several years through attrition… The agency did not respond to questions about how it will ensure mail delivery if walkouts increase.”

Rather than being paid by the hour, letter carriers “who work in rural areas are paid based on an evaluation of how many hours per week it takes to complete their route. Some of these areas have an enormous footprint and require lots of driving. But under federal law, USPS must serve all mailboxes, regardless of whether they cost more money for delivery than the revenue they bring in.”

Calls For College Board to Fully Restore AP African American Studies Curriculum 

People for the American Way weighs in: “We appreciate the College Board’s willingness to recognize its mistakes and are counting on the College Board to correct those mistakes by fully restoring the elements of its AP African American Studies course watered down because they were deemed too controversial. Political attempts to take away the freedom to learn create barriers that prevent our nation achieving its vision of justice for all. Every child deserves an inclusive and accurate education that supports all children regardless of their race and enables them to learn from the mistakes of our past to help create a better future. We need to preserve our freedom to teach and learn the whole truth about American history.”

Neighborhood Access Program Looking For Ideas

DCASE is accepting idea submissions for the 2023 Neighborhood Access Program. This program provides grants for neighborhood-based arts and culture activities to take place between October 1, 2023 and December 31, 2024. Individuals and nonprofit organizations may apply. The deadline to submit an idea is Friday, May 19 at 5pm. For eligibility criteria and other details, go here.

Why Drug Shortages Persist

“Price gouging and monopolies that have defined the drug market could be reformed if governments started researching, developing, and producing in-demand drugs,” writes Robert Kuttner at the American Prospect. There are shortages of “Adderall and other medications used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other neurological conditions. The artificial scarcity of these drugs is just one part of a much larger story. At the end of 2022, the FDA reported some 295 drugs in short supply, including cancer treatments, antibiotics, heart medications and psychoactive medicines… The underlying cause is monopoly power tolerated by government… Instead of producing innovation, consumer choice, and price competition as in economic textbooks, drug companies, drug wholesalers, and middlemen known as group purchasing organizations (GPOs) create price-gouging, monopoly profits and scarcity.”

Butt Drugs To Close In Indiana

“A longstanding independent pharmacy in Corydon in southern Indiana will close its doors this weekend. Butt Drugs, which was founded in 1952, notified customers that its last day in business will be April 29,” reports Inside Indiana Business. “Our customers have always been more than customers to us. They are family… Our staff at Butt Drugs want to thank you for your loyalty and the trust you have had in us.”

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