This Month, Chicago welcomes back both springtime and Versionfest (BTW, I think I saw a daffodil on South Shore Drive the other day).
Organized by the good folks behind local Arts & Culture publication Lumpen, the Fest runs from April 22nd until May 1st in Bridgeport (a neighborhood that’s been going through a lot of changes in recent years). Speaking of change, according to their website:
These years of recession, insolvency, uncertainty, and calamity have affected us
in ways we couldn’tve imagined before.
…But there is hope… Version 11 is a
celebration of the Chicago communities — projects, spaces, groups, individuals
– creating their own strategies for participatory economies, co-prosperity,
and the pursuit of genuine happiness. Version will demonstrate the possible,
celebrate the impossible, and showcase the ingenuity, spirit and passion that
create The Community we aspire to take part in together. This is an invitation
to share your community, your goals, your dreams for a better Community of the
Future. It’s all we have left.
Events for the Fest include:
* The New New Chicagoans
* The MDW
* Materiél Magazine
Maria’s Community Grant
* reenactment of the Haymarket
Below, an image from “Printervention” (an part of Version Fest 10). Jive On.
What do you get when you mix a maverick artist with strong community ties and an Urban Planner? For one thing, Theaster Gates. For another, the Dorchester Projects, pictured above. Theaster has been purchasing properties in the Woodlawn/Grand Crossing neighborhood for a few years now, and has quietly acquired the stock of the former Dr. Wax record store as well as the now defunct Prairie Avenue Bookstore (both businesses were revered in their respective collector communities). He created a home for glass lantern slides that depict the canon of Western Fine Art. Using reclaimed materials, he is turning his properties into cultural community hubs, featuring curators and programming that reflects the collections and the community.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll be curating the record collection in May and June of 2011, culminating in a series of talks on Chicago Music History (details to follow) and a couple of good, old-fashioned dance parties starring local-born music.
Read the New York Times article about what’s poppin on the South Side with the Dorchester Projects.
Xraydio 2 Disc Table 
Diesel for Moroso
This coffee table is almost as cute as my boombox throw pillow… It’s made by printing the X-ray of a dj console on glass. The glass is still transparent, which adds dimension. I’m thinking it’ll look fresh in my record room.
You know you love it. Or else, you don’t care. This t-shirt, featuring a trio of apathetic bears modeled after the iconic Care Bears is available from Chicago’s own Threadless, by artist Alex Solis.
ReMake Estate is a really cool project going on in Gary (Indiana) in which an abandoned house on 24th and Massachutsetts will be reborn as a meeting space and a community garden. The project is being organized in conjunction with interested local community groups and Australian-based artists Keg de Souza and Zanny Begg. The artists (from an Australian Collective called You Are Here) are heavily influenced by the aesthetics of The Wiz (yessssss!), in honor of Gary’s most famous son, Michael Jackson.
In other MJ related news, according to the Gary Post-Tribune, the City of Gary is moving forward with plans to build a Memorial/Museum dedicated to Michael Jackson. Rudy Clay, the Mayor of Gary, was quoted at saying the only thing that could come between the City and the Memorial is “it’s people”.
images from the project….
Perhaps one of the greatest (Nancy Reagan-approved) conceptions of sensual overload ever! Hyde Park brings it back one-mo’-gin :
Friday, March 12 at the Hyde Park Art Center… play with clay, explore the exhibitions, enjoy drink specials, and dance!
Hyde Park Art Center
5020 S. Cornell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615
For my art-lovers: something to check out tomorrow evening…African Art and the Modernist Eye, a lecture exploring how traditional African Art was catapulted to the cutting edge of the Modern Art scene
Thursday, February 18, 2010 @ 6:00 p.m.
Inspired by a modernist fascination with the “primitive,” the first half of the 20th century saw a developing aesthetic appreciation for objects from sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, which formerly were dismissed as mere curiosities or classified as ethnographica. In this lecture, Christa Clarke of Newark Museum considers the influence of modernism in shaping Western perceptions of African art, as reflected in exhibition display as well as the formation of institutional and private collections in the United States.
The Art Institute of Chicago – Price Auditorium 111 South Michigan Ave Tickets FREE
art pictured: Fang; Gabon. Reliquary Figure (Nlo Bieri), Late 19th/early 20th century. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wielgus.
Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “In the Red and Brown Water,” now playing at Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theater, is an exercise in duality that lends itself to complete immersion, an exercise in which you’re left like a used bag of orange pekoe (feeling purposefully spent).
Reality blends with chorus-driven fantasy, magic with carnality, and comedy with tragedy in this heartfelt display. Oya, the lead character, is played hauntingly by Alana Arenas. Ms. Arenas, who I caught lunch with after the show (she likes bruschetta), is a whisper-quiet left hook: a spirit to be reckoned with (in life and on the stage).
Set in a Louisiana Housing Project, “Water” is a story of a Golden Girl, and how one decision (made at the cusp of womanhood) sends her down a pathway to a more tarnished reality. Ms. Arenas imbibes an undeniable warmth as Ora, chasing the shadows of potential, of love, and of dashed dreams of creation. Also stand out in the play were Jacqueline Willams and Steppenwolf ensemble members K. Todd Freeman and Ora Jones.
Part of the Brother/Sister Trilogy of Plays (all playing in repertory at Steppenwolf), In the Red Brown Water plays until May 23rd. for more info, visit steppenwolf.org. Jive on!
“Black Thang” by Ato Essandoh is the story of Sam, a black man, and Mattie, a white woman, and what happens when their relationship progresses from merely a one-night stand to something more…but not without some controversy.
Meanwhile, Keisha (Mattie’s best friend), struggles to hold onto her relationship with her long-time boyfriend Omar, and Jerome (Sam’s best friend), tries to “school” him on the ins-and-outs of interracial dating.
THE CREATIVE TEAM:
Come chat with the innovative and emerging director Sydney Chatman and The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit as they explore location specific productions with a twist: adding technology to enhance the theatrical experience and to create interactive theater.
This is a MUST-SEE two-day event that’s sure to have you wanting more!
WHEN: FRIDAY & SATURDAY, JANUARY 29 & 3O, 2010
WHERE: IVAN/CARLSON STUDIOS 2224 W. FULTON Chicago, IL
TIME: RECEPTION 7:00 p.m. CURTAIN 7:30 p.m.
DONATION: until JANUARY 28TH-$15; DAY OF SHOW-$20
about the Tofu Chitlin Circuit: The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit is a theater conservatory located in the Bronzeville district of Chicago that seeks to push the boundaries of staged productions through technology and the integration of a variety of media in their works.
UPDATE: This show has been postponed. Stay tuned for forthcoming dates and times!
“Passing Strange“, the Tony-nominated black rock-opera is righteous…. Amen.
Passing Strange is the coming-of-age story of “Youth” (Daniel Breaker), a kid growing up somewhere in LA in the seventies. He is disillusioned because he doesn’t fit the common definition of blackness. Floating above the city, getting high in his choir director’s blue Volkswagen beetle, “Youth” decides to uproot himself from everything he’s known in order to find home.
It takes a blurry, nomadic trek across Europe to realize some ultimate truths about where he fits in the world and whom he can count among his tribe. Features a great live band (book and music by Stew and Heidi) and meaty writing that sometimes billows poetically like blood in water. For anyone who grew up not fitting in, then realized that they fit in perfectly, after all. Jive on. Below, from the Spike Lee-documented Broadway staging.