Thursday, October 30, 2014

A new app will put Chicago public art in the palm of your hand

Posted By today at 09.00 AM

Coming soon to your smartphone.
  • Joe Levy
  • Coming soon to your smartphone.
An unlikely team comprised of a former English lit major, a retired neuroradiologist, and an IT consultant is collaborating on a smartphone app to guide people through Chicago's public-art sphere.

"The city is missing a very important point about itself,” says Ed McDevitt, who studied literature way back when and now serves as the executive director of Public Art Chicago, a fledgling nonprofit with a lofty mission: to showcase the treasure trove of creative masterpieces scattered throughout Chicago. McDevitt and his team of ten volunteers have spent the past four years cataloguing pieces and developing the free Public Art Chicago app, which they plan to release next month.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Il Trovatore brings Amber Wagner back to town

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 03:34 PM

Amber Wagner wows.
Soprano Amber Wagner isn't a Chicagoan, but can't we claim her anyway?

Won't the developmental years she spent at Lyric Opera's Ryan Opera Center (2007-'10) allow us a few boasting rights?

It was clear from the first time Lyric put her on a Chicago stage that Wagner has that rarity, a voice that's not just excellent but—in its power and unique timbre—actually thrilling over most of its range.

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Local hip-hop superhero A-Villa, bank manager by day and skilled beat maker by night

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 02:00 PM

Twenty years ago Nas released his career-defining debut, Illmatic, and while the New York MC has spent the bulk of the year celebrating that anniversary—he's played the album in full on tour—other folks have been working and building on those ideas. In Chicago 33-year-old producer Adrian Villagomez, aka A-Villa, has been waving that flag proudly. His forthcoming debut is steeped in bold, old-school hip-hop, right down to its title, Carry on Tradition—that's a reference to a line Nas collaborator AZ raps on "Life's a Bitch," which A-Villa sampled for his album's title track. A-Villa's vital, bustling "Carry on Tradition" features local stalwart Mikkey Halsted and Little Brother's Big Pooh—it's an excellent example of how the producer is drawing from hip-hop's past to push the form further.

Next week Closed Sessions will release A-Villa's debut, several years after the producer made the first beat for what would eventually become Carry on Tradition. A-Villa's been working steadily on it since the spring of 2010, which is when, among other things, he won his first beat battle—Fresh Produce, hosted by the aforementioned Halsted. A boatload of additional rappers jumped onboard A-Villa's project through the years—including Killer Mike, Freddie Gibbs, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T., Inspectah Deck, and AZ—and the producer crafted these songs while juggling his day job as a bank vice president and life as a new father. As the release of Carry on Tradition, the end result of A-Villa's lifelong dream, appeared on the horizon I spoke with the beat maker about his inspirations, collaborating with MCs over e-mail, and wearing several different hats (and, on some days, half a suit and a hoodie).

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The fashionable showed up for Advanced Style at the Gene Siskel Film Center

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 01:00 PM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.

Western culture is obsessed with youth—and pretty much always has been—but we've also grown to appreciate what the more experienced set has to offer: style. Loads of it, as Ari Seth Cohen showcases on his superpopular blog, Advanced Style, and in the eponymous documentary it spawned, which is showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center until tomorrow.

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The ceviche mixto at Logan Square's Ceviche lights up the night

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 12:30 PM

Ceviche mixto, in the cruel light of the iPhone
  • Mike Sula
  • Ceviche mixto, in the cruel light of the iPhone

I was right chuffed when I read the menu description for the ceviche mixto at Logan Square's aptly named Ceviche, a new Peruvian restaurant from the folks behind the well-established and well-liked Ay Ay Picante. Not only are the actual menus from Ay Ay Picante itself employed here, but the classic dish is said to be composed of a "variety of seafood and tilapia," as if the proprietors recognize that tofu with fins, as the Houston Chronicle once put it, doesn't really count as seafood. But that's why tilapia is an ideal species for ceviche, as it soaks in all that salivatory leche de tigre; sharp lime and fruity, stinging rocoto pepper, an almost creamy, pink-tinged elixir that transforms the fillet into firm, nearly chewy fish flesh. It does a pretty good job on the fat shrimp, calamari, and strips of sweet red onion too. The whole plate is starched up with a serving of choclo, or hominy, and a slab of sweet potato for $14.

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Olympia punks Vexx screech and wail on the noisy track 'Clairvoyant'

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 12:00 PM


In last week's In Rotation Not Normal Tapes honcho Ralph Rivera threw out some high praise for Olympia punk band Vexx, calling them "one of my favorites currently going, hyperbole notwithstanding." No doubt such intense feelings deserve an additional nod, in the form of a 12 O'Clock Track. Today's is "Clairvoyant" from the band's self-titled LP that came out earlier this year. Reminiscent of an unhinged Wipers track, the blaring, dark ripper is led by the all-out screech of Maryjane Dunphe as the nonstop guitar squeals and licks swirl around her like machetes sucked up into a tornado funnel. It's raw to the bone and devoid of any low-end, exactly how it should sound.

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Did you read about prostitution scandals, penises, and the Hancock?

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 11:33 AM

Looks pretty, right? Well, watch out! It might be haunted.
  • Ronincmc/Wikimedia Commons
  • Looks pretty, right? Well, watch out! It might be haunted.

Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

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How to get the Goodman to produce your new play

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 08:00 AM

A scene from Smokefall, a New Stages success story
  • Liz Lauren
  • A scene from Smokefall, a New Stages success story
If, in a year or two, you want to brag that you were among the first people to see the Goodman's new production—and if you don't want to pay for a night at the theater—you should most definitely check out the New Stages Festival, which opens tonight and runs through November 16. The festival, now in its eleventh year, features six new works, three as staged readings, three as full productions, and functions as the Goodman's farm system: since its inception in 2004, about a third of the plays featured in New Stages have gone on to productions on the Goodman's main stages, including the recent Smokefall and The World of Extreme Happiness, last season's Buzzer and Ask Aunt Susan, next spring's The Upstairs Concierge, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined.

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An upcoming Andersonville restaurant hosts a Dia de los Muertos dinner tonight

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 07:30 AM

Ceviche from a Cantina de la Granja preview
  • Cantina de la Granja
  • Ceviche from a Cantina de la Granja preview

Mark Robertson co-owns the GLBT sports bar Crew Bar & Grill in Uptown, and SoFo Tap in Andersonville. But he grew up on a farm, and dreamed of having a place in the city that better reflected where food really comes from in the midwest. Chef Diana Davida-Boldin was part of a restaurant group in D.C. that included a hipster taqueria, but despite her Mexican-American heritage, she mainly made American and continental food. But when she saw Robertson's ad for a chef for a modern, farm-to-table Mexican restaurant, she thought, "I love Mexican food, I should totally cook it. This is what I was meant to do."

And that's why she'll be cooking a Day of the Dead-themed Mexican menu tonight in the last of a series of preview dinners for Cantina de la Granja, opening in Andersonville in March. (You can get more information and tickets here.) The dinners have utilized locally grown goods, and all proceeds have gone to food-focused nonprofits (the Green City Market in tonight's case), as Cantina de la Granja seeks to establish relationships with local suppliers and farmers.

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Hanging around with everyone on Red Scare in this week's gig poster of the week

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 07:00 AM

SHOWS: Red Scare's Anniversary Weekend, Fri 10/24 through Sun 10/26

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