Today In Culture, Tuesday, November 14, 2023: Founder Carlos Tortolero To Retire At NMMA | Auditorium Philms Concert Series | Norman Fenton Sets Plan For…

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“For much of Dawoud Bey’s celebrated career, his work was… resolutely contemporary,” profiles the New York Times. “He emerged in the late 1970s with Harlem street studies in the spirit of his mentor Roy DeCarava, and portraiture, in his native New York City and elsewhere, of great warmth and empathy… Still using the language of the present-day portrait, he first turned to history for ‘The Birmingham Project’ (2013), which explored the civic impact of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in September 1963 that killed four girls ages eleven and fourteen, and the death of two more teenage boys in the aftermath. Each diptych joined two Black Birminghamians—a contemporary of one of the victims, and a youth of the corresponding age.”

“Bey has moved away from the portrait; the human figure has exited the frame of his photographs. Instead, in three series made in Ohio, Louisiana, and now on the Richmond Slave Trail, he has turned his attention to the psychic geography of the Black experience—the deep relationship between American terrain and histories of bondage and freedom… Bey, a MacArthur ‘genius’ award winner, turns seventy this month. He has long been based in Chicago, where he teaches photography at Columbia College Chicago. Richmond wasn’t on his radar until Valerie Cassel Oliver, VMFA’s curator of modern and contemporary art and a close friend, called to suggest that it might be a promising site.”

National Museum Of Mexican Art Founder-President-CEO Carlos Tortolero To Retire

After more than four decades as its leader, Carlos Tortolero will retire from his role as president-CEO of the National Museum of Mexican Art at the end of the year. During his tenure, Tortolero directed the construction of the Museum with its four galleries and dedicated performing arts space, saw its Permanent Collection grow to 20,000 pieces, created the Yollocalli Youth Arts Reach program and established and increased the Museum’s endowment. “I always held that the Museum be located within Pilsen for greater community access and that admission must be free so everyone can enjoy it. From the beginning, there were roadblocks and naysayers. But look at us now!” says Tortolero. More on NMMA here.

Indianapolis’ Newfields President-CEO Resigns

“Newfields announced that Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette resigned as president and CEO,” reports Indianapolis PBS station WFYI-TV. “She started the job fifteen months ago, replacing the former Newfields CEO Charles Venable. He resigned after public outcry over an Indianapolis Museum of Art director job post that sought to maintain the organization’s ‘traditional, core, white art audience’ while increasing the diversity of Newfields visitors. Newfields did not offer a reason for Burnette’s sudden departure.”

Rago Wright Appoints Joe Stanfield As Director, Senior Specialist Fine Art

Auction house Rago Wright, a network of independent auction houses specializing in twentieth-century art and design has announced the appointment of Joe Stanfield as director, senior specialist fine art. Stanfield joins the Rago Wright team from Hindman Auctions where he led the Fine Art Department and oversaw nearly $100 million in sales during his four-year tenure. “Joe is widely recognized as one of the most respected and passionate fine art experts in the industry,” says Richard Wright, CEO of Rago Wright. “His experience across the market is invaluable, and the team looks forward to welcoming him as we continue to add both depth and breadth across the fine art world.” More Rago Wright here.


City’s Tallest Apartment Building, Seventy-Six Stories With 800 Luxury Units Overlooking Grant Park, Up For Sale

“A developer is looking to cash out of Chicago’s tallest all-rental high-rise. Miami-based Crescent Heights has hired CBRE to market Nema Chicago, the seventy-six-story, 800-unit luxury tower overlooking Grant Park,” reports Crain’s.

Lombard Library Demolition Begins

The Village of Lombard demolition of the Helen Plum Library building began November 13, relays MAS Context via X/Twitter. Last year Iker Gil and Julie Michiels wrote about its history and uncertain future here.

“Puerto Rico Town” Proposed For Division Street Slogan

Paseo Boricua is a corridor that stretches between Western and California in Humboldt Park and is set off by portals fashioned as tall metal flags of Puerto Rico. Many of the businesses have been there for decades, reports Crain’s. “But the corridor isn’t exactly thriving. It’s made up of mostly mom-and-pop shops that were hit hard by the pandemic and face higher rents and taxes as a result of gentrification. Now the community, led by local nonprofit organizations, including the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, hopes that a new state program will help revitalize the Paseo Boricua with what they call ‘Puerto Rico Town.’”

Metra Ends Ten-Ride Ticket, Reduces Fare Zones

Metra approved a budget for 2024 “that includes an overhaul of the commuter railroad’s fare structure,” starting February, reports the Sun-Times. “The transit agency will nix ten-ride passes and reduce the number of fare zones from ten to four.”

Ruth De Jong Recreates “Nope” Decor In Architecture Biennial Exhibit

Ruth De Jong’s Chicago Architecture Biennial installation exploring horror and architecture “is a life-size recreation of the façade and front porch of a ranch home featured prominently in ‘Nope’ and explores ‘architecture’s cinematic function as a character of its own,’” reports Dezeen. “It consists of a facade facing a large screen depicting a looped landscape scene from the horror movie, in which a UFO descends upon a family ranch. De Jong covered the house in a monochromatic white, save for red movie blood placed in buckets on the front steps.”

Million-Dollar Homes Accelerate Humboldt Park Gentrification

“On the west side of Humboldt Park, acres of bulldozed city lots have sat vacant for decades, depressing home values and discouraging investment,” reports Crain’s. “The challenges of West Humboldt Park are a far cry from the area east of the park, popularly called East Humboldt Park but technically West Town—an area that also includes Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village. Once a working-class Puerto Rican enclave, East Humboldt Park is now dotted with million-dollar homes. Gentrification that’s rolled through Lincoln Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park has roiled East Humboldt Park, displacing families and threatening more. While affordable housing developers have about 400 apartments in the pipeline, demand exceeds supply and it will take years for all the projects” to be completed.

A Chicago Black Woman’s Rise in Architecture Highlights Shortfall

“’We’re working on moving the needle but will need at least a decade,’ said [Kimberly] Dowdell, who is the director of strategic relationships at the design firm HOK and is based in Chicago. She pointed out that it could take ten years or longer to obtain an architecture degree, fill a work experience requirement and pass licensure exams to become a registered architect,” writes the New York Times. When she “becomes president of the American Institute of Architects next month, her ascent will be noteworthy. Ms. Dowdell, an architect in a profession that is overwhelmingly white and male, is a Black woman, the first to fill the post in the group’s 166-year history.”

“African Americans make up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, but only 1.8 percent of licensed architects in the country are Black, according to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Fewer than a quarter of the nearly 120,000 licensed architects in the United States are women, and not even one half of one percent of architects are Black women.”

Google Will Delete Neglected Gmail Accounts Starting December 1

On December 1, Google will start permanently deleting Gmail accounts that haven’t been used in two years, reports Gizmodo.


Is Doomed Duk’s “Sacred”?

“Some Chicagoans might consider Italian beef, pizza puffs and red hots sacred. For one regular Duk’s customer,” reports Ambar Colón at the Sun-Times, “it’s a religious experience. ‘People ask, “What’s your parish?” In this case, it’s, you know, where do you get your beef or your gyros?’ said Jason Marcus Waak, a regular who’s eaten at Duk’s Red Hots for more than thirty years. The hot dog joint was opened in 1954 by owner Mervyn Dukatte and his then-business partner Donald Marsalle. Dukatte, now eighty-eight, is leasing the property to new tenants. As far as who the new tenants will be, current manager Carol Chavez said she doesn’t know much about them, the new concept, nor what the new name will be.”

Chef Norman Fenton’s First Restaurant, Cariño, Set For Uptown

Cariño, the first restaurant project by chef Norman Fenton (Brass Heart, Schwa, Wild Tulum) will open in December in Uptown at the former address of Brass Heart. Fenton partners with co-owner Karen Young, the owner of Wild Tulum, the internationally flavored Mexican restaurant in the jungles of Tulum, Mexico, where Fenton currently serves as executive chef. The pair will introduce an intimate, twenty-seat restaurant that offers a twelve-to-sixteen-course Latin-focused tasting menu designed to showcase the rich and diverse flavors of Central and South America, along with a portfolio of curated Latin American wines, beers and agave-based spirits. Guests can expect a late-night taco omakase at the chef’s counter on select evenings.

With a culinary career crafting dishes at Chicago sites such as Michelin-starred Schwa and most recently, the post-modern American fine dining Brass Heart, chef Norman Fenton brings a personal vision to his debut venture as a chef-owner. Named after the Spanish term for “beloved,” Cariño is “a heartfelt homage to the culture, flavors, and people across Latin America.” A nine-month road trip in 2019 from Chicago to Mexico led Fenton to dive into the culinary cities of Mexico City, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Monterrey, Michoacan, Leon, San Luis Potosi, Puebla, Campache and finally Tulum. More Cariño here.

Turner Häus Brewery Opening Black-Owned Bronzeville Taproom

“The family-owned business, which shares space with Sip & Savor coffee shop in the Rosenwald Court Apartments, will offer five signature beers plus seasonal specials,” reports Block Club.

An Argument For Coffee As Luxury Item

“Gone are the days of scrounging loose change for your daily caffeine fix: Coffee costs more. People now spend about $6 on average for a beverage at cafes and bakeries,” reports the Washington Post in a breakdown of the costs it takes to bring a cup of coffee to you. “Grocery store bean prices have soared, climbing twenty-two percent in the last three years… The percolating effects of changing weather patterns, international turmoil and elevated energy costs all have served to increase the cost of producing milk and beans, the key components of most coffee beverages. Add inflation and a labor shortage, and many shops have done what they see as the logical thing: raise prices. ‘Every cup of coffee is a small miracle,’ said Lauren Crabbe, owner of Andytown, a coffee shop in San Francisco that raised prices last year. ‘Just everything that goes into it.’”

World’s Largest Six-Pack Returns To La Crosse

“La Crosse gets important part of its identity back as Old Style brewing comes home to the city that birthed it in 1902,” reports KARE-TV. “Pabst—which now owns Old Style—is bringing production back to La Crosse… The famed half-dozen beer tanks are newly wrapped and dressed once again as the ‘World’s Largest Six-Pack,’ making official what’s been rumored for months. ‘We just missed the six-pack, it’s been part of our town for so many years,’ Nancy Bowell says as she stands across the street taking pictures.”

U.S. Beef Prices Hit Record High

“The decline in cattle numbers, after years of drought fried pasture lands used for grazing, led to soaring U.S. beef prices,” reports Reuters. “Higher prices incentivize companies to import cheaper beef and discourage U.S. beef purchases by buyers like China, Japan and Egypt… U.S. beef exporters such as Tyson, Cargill and JBS face a ‘double whammy’ from higher prices and strength in the U.S. dollar, which makes American products less attractive to other countries.”

Chuck E. Cheese Kills Off All But One Animatronic Band

“Chuck E. Cheese announced Munch’s Make Believe Band Residency at Northridge, California,” relays Chuck E. Cheese. “Speaking alongside fellow members of the Make Believe Band—featuring Mr. Munch on keyboards, Jasper T. Jowls on guitar, Helen Henny on vocals, and Pasqually on drums—Chuck E. revealed that they’ll be headlining an exclusive, permanent residency at the Northridge Chuck E. Cheese.” Chicago and Skokie stores are among the depopulated locations, which number 400.

“Chuck E. Cheese is and was an essential part of growing up,” says founder Nolan Bushnell. “It has had an enormous impact on how families have fun, providing a place where kids and adults alike could be entertained—from animatronic shows tailored more for the adults, to games and prizes for the kids. It’s great that the original animatronic band will remain in residency at the Northridge location while the other locations offer experiences and create memories with the new vision.”

Consumers On “High Alert” For Less Filling In Their Oreos

“Snack maker says it hasn’t tinkered with creme ratio but suspicious consumers are on high alert,” reports the Wall Street Journal.


One Chicago Back To Work; Strike Agreement Released

“The ‘Chicago Fire,’ ‘Chicago P.D.’ and ‘Chicago Med’ production offices are open and the crews are returning to work,” relays Reel Chicago. The summary of the SAG-AFTRA tentative agreement is here. A graphic version of the artificial intelligence portion is here.

Five Films In Concert In “Auditorium Philms Concert Series”

The Auditorium Philms Concert Series debuts early next year, with five iconic films with scores performed in concert by the Chicago Philharmonic. Launching February 17, 2024, with “Blade Runner,” the inaugural Auditorium Philms Concert Series continues with “Batman” (1989) on April 13, in its thirty-fifth anniversary year; the return of “Black Panther” June 22-23; and the North American debut of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” in time for Halloween, October 26; and on December 7, “Love Actually.” Individual tickets, starting at $59, along with series packages for as few as two concerts and as low as $106, go on sale noon, Friday, November 17 here.


“Brand Safety” Slayed Jezebel; Is The Death Of The Site “The End Of An Era Of Feminism”?

Lauren Tousignant, Jezebel’s interim editor-in-chief, tells 404 Media that Jezebel “was told ‘brand safety,’ the fact that advertisers don’t want to be next to the type of content Jezebel was publishing, was ‘one of the biggest factors’ that led G/O to stop publishing the site and lay off its staff. Tousignant said that a couple of weeks ago, the ads sales team asked if it could remove Jezebel’s tagline—’Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth’—from the site.’They took it off because they’re like, let’s see if this makes a huge difference,’ Tousignant said.” “It was very much the problem here that no one will advertise on Jezebel because we cover sex and abortion. I know taking the tagline off was to see if the algorithm advertising would change. After it was removed one of the editorial directors was like, ‘I’m seeing an ad for J. Crew for the first time ever, maybe this will be good.’”

Writes Cory Doctorow with myriad links at Pluralistic: “Jezebel’s demise is the direct result of monopoly power. Jezebel writes about current affairs—sex, politics, abortion, and other important issues of great moment and significance. When we talk about journalism as a public good, necessary for a healthy civic life, this is what we mean. But unfortunately for Jezebel—and any other news outlet covering current events—there are vast, invisible forces that exist solely to starve this kind of coverage of advertising revenue… Reality is not brand-safe, and high quality, reputable journalistic outlets are concerned with reality, which means that the ‘brand safe’ outlets that attract the most revenue are garbage websites that haven’t yet been blacklisted by the ad-safety cartel.” Much more at the link.

Websites like Jezebel revived feminism, showing the internet might have a re-radicalizing effect,” writes Moira Donegan at the Guardian. “Jezebel’s slow death over the past few years was exacerbated by the injection of private equity into the media industry, a medicine that has turned out to be worse than the disease. Jezebel, like many digital outlets that have shut down in recent years, had the potential to be respectably profitable. But it did not have the potential to be exponentially profitable, and exponentially increasing profits are what private equity demands… Jezebel was the last of [websites like xoJane and Feministing], having long outlasted the rest of the feminist blogosphere and persevered into a new era.”

“He’s telling us what he will do to his political enemies if he’s president again. Is anyone listening?” asks Michael Tomasky at the New Republic. “We’ve all often wondered whether Donald Trump understands the historical import of what comes out of his mouth… His use—twice; once on social media and then repeated in a speech—of the word ‘vermin’ to describe his political enemies cannot be an accident. That’s an unusual word choice. It’s not a smear that one just grabs out of the air. And it appears in history chiefly in one context, and one context only.” Fascism expert Jason Stanley offers his ice-cold take at Huffington Post. (Here’s the original New York Times headline: “Trump Takes Veterans Day Speech in a Very Different Direction.”)

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