EXPO CHICAGO brings top international art to Navy Pier

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

September 4, 2018

Artists, critics, collectors and connoisseurs will converge on Chicago this month for the seventh annual EXPO CHICAGO at the Navy Pier.

The international Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art will run Sept. 27–30 and will showcase the work of artists from 63 cities in 27 countries.

The international work was chosen by world-renowned gallerists including Chicago’s own Kavi Gupta, Rhona Hoffman, John Corbett and Jim Dempsey. Eleven Chicago galleries will be included, along- side art from cities like Seoul, Cape Town, Paris, Athens and Singapore.

“With over 3,000 international artists represented, there will be a wide variety of artwork for sale at EXPO CHICAGO this year,” said Tony Karman, President and Director of the EXPO.

The annual EXPO CHICAGO will unveil hundreds of top art pieces for audiences at Navy Pier. Photo courtesy of EXPO CHICAGO

“Most importantly, the artwork is always provocative. Whether it is evocative of sheer beauty or challenging in its content, the artwork presented at this year’s fair will do what contemporary artwork has always done—capture the moment and reflect what is happening in the world today,” Karman said.“That is what I always look forward to.”

This year, the EXPO will feature four sections of exhibits.

The “Exposure” section will give new artists a chance to shine with exhibits that will feature presentations from galleries that have been around for eight or fewer

The “Profile” exhibits will focus on more established galleries and will present solo booths, focusing on major projects artists. The “Editions and Books” exhibit will showcase limited editions and publications by established and emerging artists. The “Special Exhibitions” will focus on non-profits based locally, nationally and internationally, including 11 Chicago-based organizations, like the Hyde Park Art Center and the University of Chicago Department of Visual Arts.

Karman said the Profile section of solo artists projects will be a definite highlight this year, along with the curated programmatic sections In/SITU and EXPO Video.

The EXPO will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 27–30 and and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 30.

Chicago Gourmet gets set to sizzle

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

With September comes Chicago Gourmet, a multi-day celebration of food, the city and, new this year, music.

This year’s event, set for Sept. 26–30 and themed Rock the Fork, is pairing music with the food, said Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, and founding producer of the event.

“What goes better with food than music?” Toia asked.

Chicago Gourmet will offer the usual days of cooking demonstrations and tastings, all of which will be set to the sounds of DJs, blues, jazz, rock and other musicians.

“From blues to rock to you name it, we’re going to have it,” Toia said.

But, of course, front and center will be the food.

Toia said he expects Chicago Gourmet to again be the premier food and wine show
in the country.

Toia said Chicago Gourmet has gotten bigger each year since its start 11 years ago.

“When we originally started it was kind of a smaller event, and each year it keeps getting bigger and bigger, with more ancillary events,” he said.

Typically, Chicago Gourmet draws more than 16,000 people.

Toia said, “We’re just very happy.”

The event this year will feature 250 restaurants and chefs, along with premier wines. Area restaurants to be represented include III Forks, The Columbus Tap and Mariano’s.

Much of the action will be outside, in and around Millennium Park, and Toia said the setting is what makes the event popular.

“That’s one of the reasons we chose the last weekend in September, because historically it’s a very, very nice weekend,” he said.

For information about food, the events and tickets, go to chicagogourmet.org.

Heartbreak Hotel offers a look at early Elvis

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Published August 30, 2018

As the name might imply, the musical Heartbreak Hotel, isn’t always happy.

Yes, a young man realizes his ambitions. Yes, he gets a Cadillac. And yes, Elvis Aaron Presley, a truck driver from Mississippi, becomes ELVIS.

But he loses his girl.

He loses his mentor.

He loses his band.

He loses his friend.

In exchange, he gains a manipulative weasel, Colonel Tom Parker who makes the man a god.

The musical is not a sob story. Presley was the first pop star, after all and Heartbreak Hotel never lets its audiences forget it: This is the story of ELVIS. And it’s a fun story.

Edding Clendening as Elvis in the musical Heartbreak Hotel. Photo courtesy Broadway in Chicago.

The star of the show is Eddie Clendening, a musician who first took up the role of Presley in the hit Broadway musical The Million Dollar Quartet. That musical tells the story of one December day in 1956 when Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Presley got together for a jam session at Sun Records. By then, Presley had signed to RCA for a year and he was already ELVIS.

Heartbreak Hotel is a prequel, and it tells the story of Presley’s early days.

Clendening said the run so far has been great, and he’s had a good time with the character over the course of two musicals.

“I grew up loving music from the ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s,” he said. “Elvis is always what I loved.”

Besides the music, Clendening said it’s no surprise the story still resonates.

“His is the quintessential rags-to-riches a self made man American tale,” Clendening said.

Clendening added that the celebrity cult that developed around the marketing of ELVIS is still relevant. He was the first rock star, and that’s still interesting to audiences.

“That’s the fun thing about Elvis, at least, what I like, is that he’s still a human being and he’s turned into this character,” Clendening said. “But at the time there was no sort of road map on how to navigate that sort of stuff. He wasn’t the first person to be treated like a product. The Hollywood studio system had been doing that for a while; but he was the first one to get to that level … The climate was totally new and these record labels were trying to squeeze every penny out of every product.”

The musical will continue through Sept. 9

Individual tickets for Heartbreak Hotel at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 E. Chestnut) are on-sale now. Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at 312-977-1710 or emailing GroupSales@BroadwayInChicago.com. For more information, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.


City backgrounds make social media users Insta-winners

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

From the iconic “Greetings from Chicago” graffiti to three blocks of murals in the West Loop, we scoped out the most Insta-worthy street art that is sure to earn the most likes on your next post.

Tucked behind a building in a parking lot at 2226 North Milwaukee Ave. is a bright blue wall with the city’s name written in big bubble letters, filled with colorful renditions of our city’s most celebrated icons like Chicago-style hot dogs, the Willis Tower and the so-called “Bean,” A.K.A. “Cloud Gate.” Rep your city with a post in front of this not-to-be missed Palmer Square spot and make sure to take all your visitors to see “Greetings from Chicago” so they can show off their travels. 

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While our beaches are lovely, they don’t exactly offer Caribbean blue waters. Instead, if you do want to add a pop of turquoise to your feed, check out the mural of a bright pink flamingo in River North. On the wall of the Flamingo Rum Club at 601 North Wells St., the tropically colored wall has a bright flamingo that will tower behind you, topped with a tiny crowns to add a regal touch.  

For pizza lovers, Parlor Pizza’s two locations have unique, iconic art. First, in Wicker Park, there’s the “Pizza Bear” mural, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. On the side of their restaurant, located at 1824 W Division Street is a mural of a big, yellow bear, looking super satisfied as he munches on a cheesy slice of pepperoni pizza.  

If you’re in the West Loop, another Parlor Pizza spot also has a smaller version of “Pizza Bear,” and offers visitors an opportunity to pose in front of a wall that makes them look like some sort of pizza angel. Who doesn’t want that?

On the corner of North Green Street and West Washington Boulevard, strike a pose in front of a gray wall covered with clouds to wear your golden crown and angel wings made from cheesy pizza slices.

Other photo-ops include a mural of a woman bathing in a wine glass in Lincoln Park, a series of colorful, diverse murals that makes up the Hubbard Street Murals, and a Cheshire Cat grin from Alice in Wonderland looking over Wicker Park.

Singing for their supper: Best of Mag Mile street performers

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

One of the most exciting parts of the Michigan Avenue experience is its street performers. Whether they’re playing music, miming or doing magic tricks, the street’s “buskers,” as they’re called, strive to astound, surprise and entertain—and make a little money doing it.

To find out more about this interesting career, we talked to three of the best. Jonathan Fin has been a musician for about 10 years, and a few years ago, he took his talents to the streets. On a Thursday in late July, he stood in the plaza in front of the Apple Store, 401 N. Michigan Ave., with an electric guitar strapped to his body, surrounded by sound equipment and signs that read, “Karaoke – Sing Your Song!” and “Please Help Me Feed
My Kitties.”

Fin, 42, said his original songs are “singer-songwriter stuff,” but when he’s busking he plays a lot of covers and, like his sign advertises, does karaoke.“I let people sing whatever song that they wanna sing, and I pull it up on my YouTube and try to play along with it while they sing,” he said.

The number of people who brave the microphone varies every day, he said. “Sometimes there’s 10–15 people that do it, sometimes there’s none.”

Fin got his start as a street performer when he was hired by TC-Helicon, an audio company, to make videos where people could test out the company’s vocal effects equipment.“I got a street performer’s license so I could film those videos, and I haven’t stopped playing outside since,‘cause it’s just so much fun,” Fin said.

Kenneth Stringer III, known as “The Original Chicago Tin Man,” does another kind of street performance. Wearing a suit, hat and sunglasses with his body painted entirely silver, Stringer was stationed in front of the AT&T store at Michigan Avenue and Ontario Street on a busy summer Saturday. The speaker he stood on top of blasted music, and sometimes Stringer would break his statuesque stillness, only to whip out a couple of dance moves.
His sign read, “The Greatest Mime of All Time.”

Stringer said he’s been doing this since 2002. “I was working job after job after job, and I was always making money, but the guy that was above me was always making more,” he said. Stringer decided to try out street performing, and it paid more than he made at his day job.

“I quit my job, I quit school at the time, I moved out of my parents’ house, and this has been my profession ever since.”

Stringer doesn’t only stick to the streets. “I do a lot of other stuff as a tin man,” he said, including delivering roses and doing dating consultations. “I wouldn’t call it relationship

Andreas Tsantilis prepares to wow an audience with his street magic show. Photo by Elizabeth

advice; it’s more about building yourself and then you’ll be stronger within a relationship,” he said. He also has a stand-up comedy routine.

In front of a table lined with velvet, Andreas Tsantilis stood at the entrance to the Plaza of the Americas at Michigan Avenue and Hubbard Street and made mini-soccer balls disappear and reappear beneath three brown cups he moved around the table. An astonished crowd watched his every move. Eventually, the balls were upgraded to oranges, and at the end of his show, he picked up his bowler hat to reveal a whole squash that hadn’t been there before. A black case in front of his table was painted with the words “Vaudeville Magic Show.”

Tsantilis, 41, introduced himself as being “all the way from South Africa” and said he has been doing magic for about 15 years. He came to Chicago in 2008 and started performing on the street two years later. Before that, he used to do “close-up magic” in bars and cafes when he lived in Greece.

Now, he does magic for the public on the weekends. “The street is freedom,” he said. “No one will arrest you. You do this, it’s like, an allure to get people to stop, make them watch and make them pay you.”

His favorite part, he said, is meeting people from all over the world. His least favorite part? “People that just walk away after the show and don’t even say thank you.”

Published August 2, 2018

Streeterville mural adds a touch of green to area

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Published July 9, 2018

Streeterville’s got a brand new shine.


In mid-June, after six weeks of work, the Nancy Pochis Art Studio unveiled the new art piece, “Urbs in Horto,” Latin for City in a Garden, Chicago’s motto. “Our goal was to depict botanic places in Chicago,” said Nancy Pochis Bank, the owner of Nancy Pochis Bank Art Studio, the group behind the mural. “We really wanted to brighten up that entryway,” she adds.


“This permanent, painted mural will be nine feet tall and a full city-block long (nearly 200 feet),” according to an email released from Nancy Pochis Bank Art Studio. The mural depicts Chicago covered in greenery, including flowers, butterflies and cornucopia. “It starts with the Logan Square Farmers Market, from south to north,” says Pochis Bank. The mural then depicts herbs as a transitional element—as Embassy Suites grows their own herbs. It also includes the tulips from Michigan Ave., the Illinois state flower, the violet, mums which are Chicago’s flower, and the Illinois insect, monarch butterflies.


The mural is located at the Embassy Suites’ valet drop-off, east of Columbus between Illinois and Grand, next to AMC River East.


According to NPB’s website, “NPB Studio Artists work as a team to create original large-scale artwork that has maximum creative impact.” Their process includes a brainstorming session with the client, a thumbnail sketch, a finalized sketch and the execution of artwork, according to the NPB website. A team of two to six artists ultimately works on the design and implementation. Four female artists from Nancy Pochis Bank Art Studio worked on the Streeterville mural, including Pochis Bank herself, Shayne Taylor, Brandin Hurley, and Brittney Leeanne Williams.

NPB Studio has several projects featured around Chicago, including a chalkboard world map at Wicker Park’s Wixter Fish Market and lettering on the entrance to the press box in Wrigleyville.


The studio also does live mural or chalkboard paintings, including a Hungry Caterpillar chalk design at the Lakeview Chamber of Congress’s Sunday Spot event. NPB also created a live mural at Vitromex’s 2016 Tradeshow at McCormick Place.


For more information on NPB Studio, visit nancypochisbank.com.


Best places to view fireworks in Chicago

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Published July 4, 2018

The Fourth of July is upon us and Chicago is about to light up the sky for a grand celebration of America’s birthday. Here are the best spots to catch the shows.

Navy Pier

The fireworks display at Navy Pier is a must-see. Head to the Pier and visit Chicago classics like Harry Carry’s Tavern, or fun-themed places like Bubba Gump Shrimp Company or Margaritaville. Nearby beaches are also great places to take in the view. The free show starts at 9:30 p.m.


For a more adult scene, check out the J. Parker on the rooftop of the Hotel Lincoln at 1816 N. Clark St. The rooftop has views of North Avenue Beach, Lincoln Park and the fireworks show.

On the water

For an active experience, head over to Urban Kayaks on the Riverwalk. They offer a Fourth of July Fireworks Show with a 90-minute tour of the river while a guide gives a history lesson. For more water options, check out one of the cruises.

Odyssey Cruises offers three to four cruises throughout the holiday weekend
with brunch, lunch and dinner options from $56.90. On July 4, take in the fire- works on a two-hour dinner cruise with an on-board DJ and dance floor for $189. This 21+ event offers an open bar and din- ner. Boarding begins at 6:30 p.m. and the cruise goes from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. For more information, visit the website odysseycruises.com

Shoreline Sightseeing offers two-and-a-half hour Red White and Brew Cruise. The cruise features craft beer from Revolution Brewing. This 21+ birthday celebration will also feature food, a live DJ and a view of the fireworks for $119. Cruises will depart from the northeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge alongside Pioneer Court at 401 N. Michigan Ave. at
8 p.m. and will return at 10:30 p.m. For more information, go to shorelinesightseeing.com

Spirit of Chicago, which also launches from Navy Pier, has a dinner cruise on July 4 with an open bar, music and dancing for $149.90. This three-hour cruise which takes off at 7:30 p.m. For more information, go to spiritcruises.com

To keep the celebration alive, check out fireworks at Navy Pier all summer. Through Labor Day, the Pier has shows Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:15 p.m.

Streeterville Social, Flavor by Loews hits rooftop scene

By Gianna Annunzio, Staff Writer

Streeterville Social’s “Flavor by Loews” event on June 6 offered a range of food and beverage samples from partnerships with the Loews Hotels & Co Flavor program, including products by Chicago Honey Co-Op, Here and Revolution Brewing. As the sun set overhead, the gorgeous rooftop and bar exploded into an atmosphere of unique food and drink.


Streeterville Social rooftop. Photo by Gianna Annunzio

As the night began, the restaurant’s full-service bar served cocktails that incorporated honey from the Chicago Honey Co-Op’s local hives, offering a sweet honey-lemon flavor to all who wished to try. The group has three apiaries (bee farms) around town, where honey is harvested and taken to local farmers markets. The sources of nectar from flowers in Chicago’s city parks gave the honey deliciously complex flavors.

The locally sourced cold-pressed juices by Here were on offer and guests were able to take bottles of their favorite flavors home with them. The group also brought coupons and plant-related pins to give to attendees, hoping to spread the word about locally sourced and produced food.

Honey from local apiaries are in corporate into cocktails at Streeterville Social. Photo by Gianna Annunzio

Revolution Brewing, Illinois’ largest independent craft brewery, also offered samples of their classic brews along with pins and souvenir glasses. While dozens of their drinks are brought to life each year, ranging from IPAs to Belgian-style ales to pilsners, guests experienced a beer made exclusively for Loews Chicago Hotel. The beer, Zephr, is a low ABV golden ale that’s mild and crisp, with a delicate hop finish.

Loews Chicago Hotel looks forward to welcoming guests both old and new back to the hotel and Streeterville Social this summer.

Streeterville Social 

455 N. Park Dr.

Chicago IL, 60611

(312) 840-6617



Published June 6, 2018

We all scream for…

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Ice cream season has officially begun and we’ve set out to find the tastiest, most interesting flavors in the city.

Whether you’re chasing down your local ice cream man, looking for a treat while watching a ballgame or headed out for a date night centered around what’s atop your cone, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re looking for variety, Jeni’s Splen did Ice Creams, 1419 N. Wells St., takes the cake—and the cake-flavored ice cream. The team at Jeni’s focuses on the atmosphere and experience just as much as the flavors and quality of their creamy cups and cones.

The company describes their design as “really great ice cream served perfectly in a sparkling and beautiful space, with attentive and in-the-moment service,” and they
aren’t exaggerating.

Jeni’s is sold in a sleek, orange and white shop adorned with twinkling white lights, and a team of employees who are willing to let you sample as many flavors as your heart desires.

Despite the sampling, it’s hard to pick a flavor from their long list. But luckily, you don’t have to. Jeni’s offers ice cream “flights”—scoops of three flavors for $6. (Pro tip: an additional scoop is just $1, so spring for the $7 option to try four flavors. That’s what we did—twice.)

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams offer an array of delicious flavors, with four scoops served in a tray as part of their “ice cream flights” for $6. Photo by Taylor Hartz

With two four scoop flights, totaling $14, we enjoyed brambleberry crisp, goat cheese with cherries, honey pie, ricotta toast with jam, coffee with cream and sugar, wildberry lavender, salty caramel and blueberry lemon frozen yogurt. That’s right—cheese in ice cream. Isn’t that something we all want to try?

Goat cheese with cherries was a perfect mix of savory and sweet with chunks of perfectly flavored fruit, while strictly sweet flavors like honey pie were buttery and delicious.

Though the flavor options could be talked about all night, the texture of these scoops is a whole other topic to explore. Jeni’s ice cream is unbelievably smooth compared to most ice cream brands, it makes you wonder what you’ve been doing all your ice cream-loving life.

Each scoop offers “a uniquely smooth texture and buttercream body, with bright flavor and clean finish,” according to Jeni’s. The company doesn’t use any synthetic flavorings, dyes or pre-made mixes, but instead opts for stabilizers and emulsifiers that create a unique consistency and leave you with a clean palate after every bite.

If you’re looking for a romantic, inexpensive date idea this summer, you can’t beat the iconic Riverwalk. Strolling along the Chicago River is a must-do in the warmer months and there are plenty of fun destinations popping up along the path for drinks, dinner and dessert.

At Frost Gelato, 151 W. Riverwalk, you can check out a stunning display of whipped, swirled, colorful gelatos adorned with exotic flowers as you choose from their lengthy list of flavors to put the cherry on top of your night out by the water.

On their regular menu, gelato lovers can choose from more than 60 flavors, ranging from bubble gum and toasted marshmallow to marble black cherry and cinnamon apple pie.

The shop also features flavors of the month to keep things even more interesting. The specials for May included margarita, mango green chilli and spicy chocolate.

Margarita isn’t the only drink-inspired flavor they’ve got either, with flavors like root beer, pina colada, green and chai teas, Guinness, Bailey’s buttercream, eggnog and espresso offered daily.

As if the extensive list of gelato flavors didn’t make the decision hard enough— there’s more. The shop also has a few dozen sorbet flavors for those with a fruitier palate. In
addition to blackberry, kiwi and green apple, the shop offers some unexpected fruit flavors, like papaya, pear riesling and strawberry champagne.

Frost Gelato isn’t open yet for the season, as it is revamping its space for a new, bigger location on the Riverwalk—the “Water Plaza” section between Wells and LaSalle streets.

They expect to open their doors by mid-July.

Just a few blocks away in River North, stop by Firecakes Donuts at 68 W. Hubbard St. for a snack that’s even sweeter than ice cream. At Firecakes, you can still get your ice cream fix, wedged between two donuts. That’s right, the specialty here is a donut ice cream sandwich—a slab of vanilla, chocolate or coconut ice cream in between two glazed donuts covered in hot fudge.

Last but not least, we checked out Cone Gourmet Ice Cream at 1047 W.
Madison St. Flavors like the bright blue Cookie Monster are a perfect way to brighten up your summer day with a little color, while flavors like “snickering apples” (Snickers ice cream with apples) and “leprechaun tracks” are one of a kind.

We tried the super sweet “Netflix and Chill” and the tart orange “Zootopia” filled
with rainbow sprinkles. “Delicious.”

The shop also offers a variety of hand-scooped ice cream sandwiches and has non-dairy options, like watermelon sorbetto, available every day.

All ice creams at Cone can be served in a cup, on a cone, or on cookie cones or waffle cones and can be smothered in a variety of toppings, like gummy worms, graham crackers, Irish flake pieces or reeces, or be served “shamrock style,” covered in Lucky Charms.

Also, don’t miss their other cool treats like the frozen banana or frozen cheese- cake on a stick.

Published June 4

Joffrey Ballet’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a must-see

By Taylor Hartz| Staff Writer

As we welcome warmer days in Chicago, you’ll feel right at home in the audience of the Joffrey Ballet’s new production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

This imaginative, modern recreation of Shakespeare’s classic brings the summer season to life on stage as a dreamy, whimsical and sensual experience.

Most performances of Shakespeare take you hundreds of years into the past, but the team at Joffrey brought Midsummer to the future, setting the story in June of 2018. The opening scene will captivate audiences as the cast performs a mesmerizing dance with hay. This may not sound glamorous, but when done in perfect unison it becomes a magical scene that makes a lasting impression.

This curious, creative story, has the playful, magical vibe of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland laced between some flirtatious, provocative imagery— including nearly-nude dancers—to nightmarish, upside-down dances set to electronic music with rolling fog.

Most ballets rely on choreography to tell the whole tale, but this production features the vocalist Anna Von Hausswolff, a Swedish indie rock and art pop performer who narrates the show with an angelic, folksy voice. Hausswolff’s lyrics “Had it all been a dream? Had it all been a blunder?” further the dreaminess of each scene.

Artistic Director Ashley Wheater, Choreographer Alexander Ekman, Music Director Scott Speck, and Composer Mikael Karlsson truly re-imagined this beloved tale. In short, it’s a must-see.

Midsummer is playing at the Auditorium Theater through May 6. Tickets range from $34–174.

Published May 3. 

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