MCA exhibit offers up Midwestern sensibility in Western setting

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

In November, the Museum of Contemporary Art opened a new exhibition, “West by Midwest,” showing works by a collection of artists from the Midwest who migrated West in order to develop their artistic vision.

The art in the collection spans much of the middle part of the 20th century and the early parts of this century, and the media varies from sculpture and photography to painting and knitting. In total, the exhibition includes 80 pieces from artists like Billy Al Bengston, Andrea Bowers, Judy Chicago, Anna Halprin, David Hammons, Mike Kelley, Senga Nengudi, Laura Owens, Sterling Ruby and Ed Ruscha.

This exhibit represents a diverse crowd creating over a long period of time, and Charlotte Ickes, a post-doctoral student and MAC Curatorial Fellow for the exhibit, explained that viewers should avoid being reductivist in looking for common themes when visiting the collection.

“[The exhibition] can mean many different things because it’s many different artists,” she said. Not only did the artists work in different media across different times, but some were expressly political, and even that political emphasis shifted throughout the decades.

Ickes said the only real connective through-line in the exhibition is the constant attempts by each artists to do innovative work in whatever medium they’re working in.

“Those are the shared concerns you’ll see throughout the show,” she said.

Rather than emphasizing any sense of shared aesthetics or point of view of the Midwestern artists, the collective exhibition illustrates how regional artists impacted the national art scene—or at least the California scene in response to their individual concerns and aesthetics.

For a deeper dive, don’t miss a talk on Dec. 9 led by artist Barbara Kasten. Kasten will lead a walkthrough of the exhibition with Ickes and will talk about her work, as well as the work of her favorite fellow artists. This begins at 2 p.m. and it is free with museum admission.

The exhibition is on display now through Jan. 27, 2019 at the MCA. The MCA is located at 22 E. Chicago Avenue and is open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.,Wednesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.

An introduction to the familiar faces behind your favorite music

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer


The Christmas season means cold weather, good family, friends, warm wishes and…music.

No matter the person, a love of Christmas carols is almost universal and perhaps no choir knows that more than the Chicago Chamber Choir, a group that includes some of the city’s top talent. The choir should be familiar to downtown residents.

Executive Director Kayleigh Duduvoir was, until recently, a Streeterville resident and her choir performs regularly in the area—they have a Dec. 20 performance at the Clare on their calendar—and they also sing at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park.

That performance is slated for Dec. 7, but before the big show, Duduvoir offered a look behind the scenes of one of the city’s top choirs.

“Usually our official season begins in October, but we get Christmas requests as soon as mid-November,” she said.

This month at Cloud Gate, Dudevoir said guests can expect to hear a mix of Christmas music.

“Some traditional Christmas carols like ‘Silent Night,’ ‘Deck the Halls’ and so on, as well as Christmas-themed but not traditional carols” will be sung in the park, she said.

Dudevoir said the choir has been performing at Cloud Gate for several years—it’s her sixth season with the group—and she said it’s always enjoyable for the choir and for the attendees. “We’ve done a number of performances there and there are always lots of children,” she said.

Guests will bring hot chocolate to sip while they listen and, Dudevoir said, if it’s not too terribly cold, the choir tries to wear festive sweaters, so it’s not so formal.

The city invites folks to hear some of the best choirs in the city perform Christmas carols for free at Cloud Gate.

All performances begin at 6 p.m. and wrap up by 7 p.m. Admission is free. The other performances will be Dec. 12 and Dec. 14 at the same times. To check out the Chicago Chamber Choir, its website,, includes all upcoming dates.

Reilly updates Streeterville on neighborhood development

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

At a community meeting Alderman Brendan Reilly offered updates on various projects he’s worked on over the past year in the Streeterville area.

The meeting was hosted by the The Streeterville Association of Active Residents (SOAR).

Heather Gleason, director of planning and development for the Chicago Park District, Navy Pier’s chief operating officer Brian Murphy, Malihe Samadi, coordinating engineer for the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Commander Daniel O’Shea of the Chicago Police Department also attended the meeting as panelists.

The alderman then reviewed issues he has worked on including raising fines for double-parking, adjusting policies around use of sirens on emergency vehicles, liquor-related problems, traffic improvements such as a new red light camera at Michigan and Ontario and development of the Spire site at 400 Lake Shore Dr. The alderman rejected the proposal for the site, citing resident concerns. He said he hopes the developer, Related Midwest, will make changes to the proposal.

Tribune Tower has fewer objections than the Spire site, but there are still “critical” issues that need to be addressed, he said.

Reilly stressed the importance of supporting downtown Chicago due to the area’s financial contribution to the city as a whole.

“This ward pays the bills. This ward is nearly two-thirds of the city’s economy. So if it becomes unaffordable to be here and unsafe to be here—and tourists stop wanting to be here—everyone in the city is going to suffer, not just downtown,” he said, adding that the downtown area has seen “unprecedented growth” in recent years.

Public safety issues were discussed with Commander O’Shea, and Reilly added that lighting and security camera improvements have been made in the community or are in the works. O’Shea said that investigative stop reports, traffic stops, municipal tickets, vehicle impounds, guns confiscated and arrests with guns are all up, proving that the police continue to engage with suspicious people.

O’Shea said if people see something suspicious, they should call 911, even if they may think what they see isn’t worthy of a call. it is no big deal.

Next, a resident asked about plans to develop parks. Reilly and Gleason from the park district said Ogden Plaza Park development has run into some legal issues regarding replacing the membrane between the ground and the parking garage underneath the park.

Reilly said Olive Park is a Department of Water Management asset and there are homeland security concerns surrounding the park because of its proximity to a water treatment plant.

One Bennett Park, he said, is “nearing completion.” Residents asked about spaces for dogs, and Reilly said there will be two dog runs in Bennett Park. Additionally,  DuSable Park could be a candidate for a dog run and dog park.

The alderman also discussed the traffic management plan for Streeterville, the introduction of new pedestrian countdown crosswalk signals and other pedestrian safety improvements.

Alderman Reilly and Samadi, the engineer from CDOT, said the first two phases of the Navy Pier Flyover bridge will be finished this year and a temporary ramp will be installed to connect the phases to the existing lower level Lake Shore Drive path. The full Flyover is expected to be done by the end of 2019, Reilly said.

Get your gifts close to home: Shop Streeterville

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Streeterville hosts the Mag Mile and a slew of name-brand national retailers in addition to some local hidden gems. Why not shop at both? Here is a list of some of the must-haves in Streeterville.

Kriser’s Natural Pet

Kriser’s Natural Pet store, 356 E. Ohio St., is a national brand that started right here in Chicago. Be sure to support this success story for all your pet presents.

This year’s hot ticket items include HuggleHounds holiday pet toys retailing for around $15. If you’re a more practical pet parent who want to keep your dog warm, try a coat from Canada Pooch. Prices vary depending on size and style. Of course, you’ll want a dog coat with some matching boots. This season Pawz rubber boots are the way to go, with most boots costing around $15.

Kriser’s Natural Pet store is open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. most days. For more information, call 312-951-1331.



For the finicky and fabulous person on your list, check out Sephora, a high-end beauty store with a variety of makeup and skin products. This year, the store offers two new products that are flying off shelves.

First, customers are going crazy over the Charlotte Tilbury Stars in Your Eyes Palette. This is a limited-edition eye shadow palette retailing for around $75.

The next big thing this season is the Pat McGrath Labs’ Mothership V Eye Palette. Pat McGrath Labs made news this year when its value soared north of $1 billion, and it’s easy to see why with this flashy, tasteful offering, retailing at $125. There are two Sephora locations in Streeterville, 605 N. Michigan Ave. and Water Tower Place at 845 N. Michigan. The 605 N. Michigan Ave. location will not have special hours for Black Friday, but it will offer specialty miniature sets for sale for a limited time that day. The store is open from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. For more information, call 312-649-9343.


The Cubs Team Store

The Cubs Team Store, 668. N. Michigan Ave., is the go-to place for all your Cubs fans — for men, women, boys and girls, they have something for everyone. Jerseys are always popular, and this season the top jerseys to buy include the Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo jerseys. The jerseys retail for $135 each.

Looking for something for the little ones? The Cubs Team Store is now offering small Oyo Sports minifigures and buildables (think Legos) for $15 and TY-brand Cubs dolls for $10—perfect for stocking stuffers.

Last year, the store opened early for Black Friday, though no announcement for this year has been made as of press deadline. The store is open from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. For more information, call 312-280-5469.

Streeterville residents say neighborhood is convenient and community-oriented

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Published September 5, 2018

Bordered by Rush Street to the west, Oak Street to the north, the Chicago River to the south and Lake Michigan to the east, Streeterville is a bustling community encompassing one of the city’s most popular stretches of road—the Magnificent Mile.

In the 1800s, before the area was developed, there was no Michigan Avenue, there were no high-rises and no restaurants. There was, however, a man named Captain George Wellington “Cap” Streeter.

According to, Streeter had dreams of running a water passenger service, but one of his boats ended up wrecked on a sandbar east of Michigan Avenue. Streeter and his wife Maria used the ship as a houseboat.

Over time, Streeter convinced developers to dump debris along his sandbar and that fill gave birth to Streeterville.

Today, residents of Streeterville laud the neighborhood’s convenience as well as its community.

Gail Spreen, president and owner of Streeterville Properties Group, referred to herself as “Streeterville’s biggest fan.”

The five-time president of the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR), has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years. She is also on the Streeterville Chamber of Commerce board, was on the board of the Magnificent Mile Association and is vice chair of the Lights Festival parade.

Spreen said she loves Streeterville’s proximity to the lake and feels visitors to the neighborhood bring a “really positive energy.”

New Eastside, she said, is quieter and has fewer retail options, and River North has an energetic nightlife. But for her, Streeterville is just perfect.

“People see each other, they recognize each other, there’s community events that go on that really make it feel like you live in a neighborhood,” Spreen said. “It’s neat
because you would never think that you could create this community feeling in
the downtown urban environment. And you really can.”

Phyllis Mitzen, President of Skyline Village Chicago, a membership organization for older adults, agreed.

“We lived in Evanston, and I loved Evanston … but when I walk down the street here, I almost invariably see somebody I know and we stop and chat,” she said.

Mitzen has lived in Streeterville for 20 years and said the convenience and proximity to museums and good transportation make it a wonderful place for older adults and “an extraordinary community for intergenerational living.”

Donna Dugo, membership director at The Magnificent Mile Association and resident of Streeterville for more than 20 years, said she likes the community.

“I love the fact that I’m steps away from Navy Pier, the lakefront and now the newly developed Riverwalk. I mean, I can be at all of these places in a 5-to-10 minute walk,” Dugo said.

Streeterville is more than just the people. Pets are a powerful connecting force.

Amy Cherner, marketing and leasing coordinator for North Water Apartments, said she and her fiancé walk their dog around the neighborhood each night.

“We’ve gotten to the point where a lot of the faces are familiar, which is definitely kind of cool to have that in the middle of the city, and then really recognize your neighbors,” she said.

SOAR serving lunch to first responders, Streeterville

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

September 4, 2018

Once again, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) is preparing for its annual First Responders Appreciation Day. The event will be held Sept. 13, from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at the Chicago Fire Department Engine Company 98, 202 E. Chicago Ave.

Bob Johnson, chairman of the safety and sound management taskforce for SOAR, said the event is a way to give back to the men and women who keep the neighborhood safe.

“The organization wanted to give thanks to our firefighters and our police officers and our paramedics who serve the community,” he explained. “We think they do a terrific job.”

In addition to the public luncheon, SOAR will deliver sandwiches from Timothy O’Toole’s Pub to the 18th Precinct District at 10 p.m. to recognize the overnight shift workers.

This year, the event moved from the Lakeshore Field House to a fire station two blocks west. Johnson said in prior years, getting the firefighters to go to an offsite location and then sit down for a meal could be tricky, especially if a fire broke out.

“The firefighters never got a chance to attend the event because they’d walk in, get a bite of food and then get called out,” he said.

However, Johnson said the event is for the community and not just for first responders.“Just show up,” he said. “Come as you are.”

Johnson said that while a local alderman or congressman might stop in, the lunch is less a political event as it is a way to build community.

“We just think it would be nice for our first responders to get to know our people and for our people to get to know them.”

Johnson said the lunch has been an event for years, and is something of a tradition in Streeterville.

“I think it was done shortly after the 9/11 [ceremonies], as a way to remember the 343 firefighters killed in 9/11,” he said. “It’s a time of year we think of them more so than during the rest of the year.”

For more information, visit the SOAR website,