Category Archives: High Culture

Arts and Activism: Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis


art, above: from “Public Address”, an art installment/retail concept curated by Ellen Rothberg. Chicago, 2008.

Thursday, October 1st at Bronzeville’s Little Black Pearl Art & Design Center, there will be a panel discussion focusing on the Arts scenes in these three cities (and the intersection of art and community activism).  Panelists and other participants will be in attendance at Little Black Pearl, Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, and The Luminary Center for the Arts in Saint Louis and will be connected via skype.  Chicago Panelists include Lindsay Obermeyer, Jennifer Karmin, and friends of Darkjive: Dan Godston, Theaster Gates, and Carol Ng-He.

The event is Free and Open to the Public

Thursday, October 1st

Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center

1060 E. 47th St., Chicago


Cult Movie of the Week: Stray Dog (1949)


A work of Japanese Noir from iconic Japanese director Kurosawa, “Stray Dog” (1949) gets by on good looks, swagger, and heart. Featuring a slinking pace, the film’s cadence is ultimately trumped by its ability to be beautifully gritty and enveloping, just like summer.

Set in the depths of summer in Post-World War II Tokyo, the film follows detective Murakami as he seeks to recover his stolen gun (pickpocketed on a swelteringly hot bus).  What he finds is himself slipping deeper and deeper into the world of the desperate kid, the Stray Dog, who committed the crime.   The world of Stray Dog is a world of desperation and ruin, a world ravished by bombs and economic turmoil.  Post War Japan is also a world in the midst of social upheaval: a world of seersucker suits and silk kimonos, with the ways of the West ever encroaching on Japanese tradition.  This is the perfect movie for a quiet summer night in which thunder rings out ominously… the sort of night in which we pray for rain to release us from oppressive heat.  But, don’t forget the Tempura & Sweet Tea (trust me on that one).


Marion Perkins: Sculpted a Better Chicago, a Better World


Woodson Regional is a gem of the South Side.  I’ve always believed that.  One of my favorite locations of the Chicago Public Library, bar none.  The library, located at 95th and Halsted, boasts the Vivian Harsh Research Collection (all manner of Black Ephemera) and a really strong overall collection.  1 of only two regional libraries in the city (the others, save Harold Washington downtown are all “branches”), Woodson is stocked with literature and art from a good number of local sociologists, artists, and writers.  Case in point,  the temporary exhibit celebrating the Art (and activism) of sculptor Marion Perkins

Born in 1908, he moved to Chicago as a small child.  He worked as a dishwasher, freight handler, and postal clerk in his lifetime, and though in his artistic career he was lauded with awards (among them the Guggenheim Fellowship) he was never able to devote full time to his art.  Perkins was not only an artist, he was an activist for social change, fighting for both Ethiopian freedom and civil rights in his own backyard.

Visit Woodson for Woodson’s sake, but don’t forget to carve out time to see the temporary exhibit: “To See Reality in a New Light: the Art and Activism of Marion Perkins”, at Woodson until December 31, 2009.

Dear Michael….


What bothers me are bandwagon tributes.  An Icon, they say. A Genius.  The same cackling media outlets that refused to play Michael Jackson’s music for years, and affixed an implicit punchline to his name.  Whatever.  Artists are not perfect people. We can choose to accept the art without embracing the artist.  In the case of Michael Jackson, I embraced both[. 



Born in Gary, Indiana (a fairy tale story in and of itself) the whole family accomplished amazing things.  At one point, the Jackson 5 had the nickname of “Black Beatles” because of the Hysteria that ensued when they arrived on the scene.  But Michael, dear Michael.  He shook hands with the Queen.  He changed pop culture forever.  His music will live on forever.  And there’s a generation of us that will idolize him as long as we breathe as untouchably “bad”.  He gave us infinitely more than we ever gave him. 

So here come the tributes, the tears.  Celebrate genius in life.  Not as it’s ripped away.  Flowers for the dead pale in the glow of flowers for the living.

Steve Walsh and I interviewed his Brother, Tito, about the family’s story (including Michael’s) and about their Gary Roots.  Listen here:

And, from the FIRST Michael Jackson album, I bring you my joint, “I Wanna Be Where You Are”….


The Art of Development: Marguerite Horberg’s Portoluz

In the news: a whole new vision of performance, development, art, and change!  Originally published in CHICAGO WEEKLY…. partisan arts

By: Veronica Gonzales

Envision this: a creative haven for artists both local and global to come together and encourage the economic growth of a community. A neighborhood place where artists, intellectuals, community activists, students, and visitors can work collaboratively towards creative expression and community building. Marguerite Horberg, drawing on over 20 years of experience with the acclaimed performing arts center HotHouse, hopes to make this lofty vision a reality with Porto Luz, an arts and culture center scheduled to open on Chicago’s South Side within the next year. Through this venture, Horberg plans to show the world a model for responsible economic stimulation of a creative community.

As Horberg writes it, her resume reads like an invitation for a challenge: “Catalyst, Artist, Unrepetent [sic] Socialist and Innovator.” Go ahead, try me, I dare you, she seems to say. Since her start as a Chicago-based entrepreneur in the late ‘70s, Horberg has been responsible for the creation of two now-defunct artisan clothing boutiques, Studio V and the Salon of Modalisque, as well as HotHouse, an internationally recognized nightclub and cultural center. After nearly 20 years at HotHouse, Horberg departed from the venue in 2006, a move that fueled her fire to found Porto Luz. With this, her latest enterprise, she pushes forward by laying down a serious plan ahead of time, hoping to disprove previous notions that her talents with HotHouse lay only as proprietor of artistic vision and mission.

click here for the rest of the porto luz story

Jaema Joy Berry: You Can’t Dance out the Side of Your Mouth

jaemaFrom performing arts space  Links Hall….

Quirky, funny, and sincere, with accompaniment ranging from jazz piano to the sound of tap dancing, Chicago choreographer Jaema Joy Berry explores the simplicity of movement in the context of human and musical interaction.

Friday – Saturday June 19-20, 8pm
Sunday, June 21, 7pm

3435 N Sheffield Ave (at Clark St)

Lakeview/Roscoe Village/Wrigleyville, Chicago


$10 ($5 students)
you can get tickets at the door, over the phone, or from

Mingus Awareness Project TONIGHT!


Tonight, a group of musicians will gather at The Hideout to celebrate the life and music of Charles Mingus, and to benefit the Les Turner ALS Foundation. Mingus, an American musical hero who died of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), is one of the greatest figures in jazz history. His bass playing, compositions and philosophy have transcended his genre and left indelible marks on music history.

Justin Dillard — solo piano

Sue Mingus talks about the Jazz Workshop, Inc., and she reads an excerpt from her memoir “Tonight at Noon” (via Skype).

MAPtet performs music by Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Eric Dolphy
Rich Corpolongo — saxophones
Saalik Ziyad — vocals
Paul Hartsaw — tenor saxophone
Dan Godston — trumpet
Nick Moran — baritone saxophone and bass clarinet
Norman Palm — trombone
Jon Godston — soprano saxophone
Jerry Coleman — drums
Alex Wing — upright bass
Tickets can be purchased at the door, or in advance at The Hideout website, and you can make a donation to MAP3 by clicking on Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a raffle to win items donated by The Jazz Institute of Chicago, The Old Town School of Folk Music, The Jazz Workshop Inc., Myopic Books, Dusty Groove, Chicago Independent Radio Pr
oject, Reckless Records, and others.

Mingus Awareness Project 3

Thursday, May 7, 2009
9:00pm – 11:30pm
The Hideout
1354 W Wabansia Ave
Chicago, IL


Art Comes Alive Tonight in Chicago


First Fridays at the Museum of Contemporary Art

(Tonight,  Fri. May 1st)

Happy hour takes on a new meaning with First Fridays at the MCA. Cash bar featuring specialty drinks and free Wolfgang Puck appetizers. Enjoy live music from local DJs, the world’s only iMac G5 digital dating bar, creation stations, and more. Each month features an up-and-coming Chicago artist in a preview of the latest UBS 12 x 12: New Artists/New Work exhibition.

First Fridays tickets, which include museum admission, live entertainment, and complimentary Wolfgang Puck hors d’oeuvres, are $15 ($7 for MCA members). Advance tickets are available for $10 ($7 MCA members). Order your tickets online, or call the MCA box office at 312.397.4010. Doors are open from 6 to 10 pm with a cash bar until 9:30 pm. Guests must be 21 or older to enter.

220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 | 312.280.2660

for the after-set:



Artsy-ass electro-soulster (in the BEST way) Peter Hadar ends his epic invasion of Chicago with a BANG!  And bless my man Twilite Tone.  Good time to be had, but I bet they’re both tired…

and don’t forget:

Art Chicago 2009 is ongoing (till May 4th) at the Merchandise Mart

Art Chicago® 2009, the annual international fair of contemporary and modern art, brings together the world’s leading emerging and established galleries. Art Chicago offers curators, collectors, artists and art enthusiasts a comprehensive survey of current and historic work, from cutting-edge to modern masters in a wide variety of media including: painting, photography, drawings, prints, sculpture, video and special installations.  There’s also a panel discussion series called Art Chicago Speaks, featuring curators and artists alike.

General Ticket Information
Tickets may be purchased onsite and and will be available online.
Adults:  $20 daily or $25 multi-day pass
Seniors, Students or Groups: $15 multi-day pass
Children 12 and under are free


Projection For Chicago, 2008 / Merchandise Mart
© 2008Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.
Text (pictured): “The Joy of Writing” from View with a Grain of Sand, copyright © 1993 by Wisława Szymborska
Photo: John Faier

no room for pride


Art from Immig-Art,  anonymously contributed immigration experiences as a group art project.  Immig-Art was founded by my friend, Kabuika Kamunga, a Congolese filmmaker and journalist based in Chicago.


Alvin Ailey American Dance: back in chicago


the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is back in Chicago (at the gorgeous Auditorium Theatre). Those loyal darkjive readers among you, I warned you weeks ago that it was time to save up….

highlights of this year’s program include:

Night Creature – One of Ailey’s most classically choreographed ballets juxtaposed within Ellington’s jazz idiom – the dance capitvates with Ailey’s sexy nocturnal rituals that propel the movement into a fast paced climatic catharsis. (I really enjoyed this, and look forward to seeing it one mo’ gin)

Revelations – This enduring classic is a tribute to African American heritage and to Ailey’s genius. Using African-American religous music – spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues – this suite fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul. (the classic Pièce de résistance of not only the Company, but of Judith Jamison, as well.  Must See.)

Suite Otis – Otis Redding’s sassy, sizzling music sets the stage for George Faison’s playful battle of the sexes. The yearning sensuality of such timeless songs as “Satisfaction,” “Try a Little Tenderness,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and other favorites bursts through this sexy, charming and witty suite. George W. Faison danced with the AAADT from 1967 through 1970. He was the first African American choreographer to win a Tony Award for his choreography in The Wiz (1975). In the early 1970’s, he created two modern American dance classics, Suite Otis and Slaves for the George Faison Universal Dance Experience. (I’m excited to see this one.  “The Wiz”??  Are you kidding me?)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

50th Anniversary Celebration

Dates: April 1 – 5, 2009
Times: Wed – Fri at 7:30 p.m, Sat at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m, Sun at 3 p.m.
Price: $82, $69, $59, $45, $30
Thurs 4/2 7:30pm                                   ANNIVERSARY HIGHLIGHTS (includes REVELATIONS)
Fri 4/3 7:30pm                                         FESTA BAROCCA** / TREADING, REVELATIONS
Sat 4/4 matinee 2:00pm                       BLUES SUITE* / SUITE OTIS / REVELATIONS
Sat 4/4 evening  8:00pm                       FESTA BAROCCA** / TREADING, REVELATIONS
Sun 4/5 matinee 3:00pm                       NIGHT CREATURE, UNFOLD / SUITE OTIS / REVELATIONS

*  New Production
**  Chicago Premiere