WBEZ | storefronts http://www.wbez.org/tags/storefronts Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Rivendell Puts Down Roots, Zarko Raises Up Bucks http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-13/rivendell-puts-down-roots-zarko-raises-bucks-95551 <p><p>The excellent <a href="http://rivendelltheatre.org">Rivendell Theatre Ensemble </a>will finally have its own home when it opens its 16th Season next month. After six years of planning, the city’s only “producing organization dedicated to women’s voices” will take up permanent residence at 5779 North Ridge Avenue in Edgewater when its season begins in February.</p><p>A “grand tour” of the new theater takes about 3 minutes. The lobby has huge windows onto the street and–of critical importance to the audience–two newly-built accessible bathrooms. Directly behind the lobby are the dressing rooms, while to its left is the 50-seat black-box performance space. Though Ridge Avenue is notoriously loud and traffic-heavy, nothing from the street is audible in the theater, which has soundproofing on its streetside wall and door. The space is also completely wired for sound, an unusual feature in an off-Loop space.</p><p>The troupe will inaugurate the space on February 8 with a one-night-only event, <em>Women at War: Where Motivation Lies</em>, and then begin the season proper in March with the Midwest premiere of <em>Falling: A Wake</em>, a play “inspired by” the bombing over Lockerbie. Congratulations to Tara Mallen and her crew on achieving their long-sought goal. As usual, one wonders how the hell a company will survive by selling 50 seats, but so many have done so (Gift, Steep, Profiles) that it must be that the laws of economics are suspended inside those black boxes. &nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile, <a href="http://www.zarkotheatre.org/about-us.html">Theatre Zarko</a>, the company recently formed by Michael Montenegro (<em>The Puppetmaster of Lodz, Argonautica</em>) will open <em>He Who</em> on the <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=550">Steppenwolf Garage Rep</a> stage on February 2. &nbsp;The company succeeded in raising the money to create the puppet through Kickstarter, occasionally dubbed “the crowd-source NEA.” Not clear what would have happened if the effort had failed–would Steppenwolf have subsidized Zarko, or kicked it out?–but as it turns out, by last Thursday’s deadline the company had raised $1000-plus more than it needed. Another white-knuckle victory for the Chicago theater community.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 13 Jan 2012 21:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-13/rivendell-puts-down-roots-zarko-raises-bucks-95551 Mural restoration heartens Puerto Ricans http://www.wbez.org/story/mural-restoration-heartens-puerto-ricans-92248 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/mural-2_WBEZ_Chip-Mitchell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One of the country’s oldest outdoor murals covers a storefront on Chicago’s Northwest Side. People who care about the 40-year-old painting are finishing a facelift. The mural restoration is doing more than brightening up a gritty stretch of North Avenue. It’s got Puerto Ricans in the Humboldt Park neighborhood talking about their heritage.</p><p>MITCHELL: A celebration of the restoration included music with roots in Puerto Rican slave plantations.&nbsp;José López of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center recalled the artists who painted the mural in 1971.</p><p>LOPEZ: Young Puerto Ricans from the street — people who were marginalized — decided to give us a legacy for our historical memory.</p><p>MITCHELL: The mural covers the side of 2423 W. North Ave. and includes portraits of nine Puerto Ricans who struggled for abolition and the island’s independence from Spain and, later, the United States. Three of them are on crosses. Those three all served long U.S. prison terms in the mid-20th century. The artists, led by Mario Galán, named the mural “La Crucifixión de Don Pedro Albizu Campos” after a Puerto Rican Nationalist Party founder. They put him on the biggest cross. López said the mural has special meaning in a part of Chicago where many Puerto Ricans can no longer afford to live.</p><p>LOPEZ: Gentrification means, many times, the writing away of people’s history.</p><p>MITCHELL: Restoring the mural took a decade. Neighborhood leader Eduardo Arocho attributes that to a developer who owned a vacant lot in front of the work.</p><p>AROCHO: His plans were to develop a three-story condo unit. We tried negotiating with him for several months, even at one point offering him several lots in exchange. And he refused and he just started to build the wall, covering the mural intentionally. And so that’s when we grabbed our picket signs and started to protest.</p><p>MITCHELL: The city finally won control of the lot and helped turn it into a small park to keep the mural visible.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: It’s remarkable that this mural has survived.</p><p>MITCHELL: John Pitman Weber is a professor at Elmhurst College in DuPage County. He has studied and created public art for more than four decades. And he provided consulting for this mural’s restoration, carried out by Humboldt Park artist John Vergara.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: Its content is unique, not only in Chicago but nationally.</p><p>MITCHELL: And aesthetics? Pitman Weber calls the mural formal and stark.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: Kind of Byzantine, in a way, quasi-naïve -- executed by some very, very young artists. The style possibly even adds clarity.</p><p>MITCHELL: Not all Puerto Ricans appreciate the artwork or the idea of the island breaking from the U.S. But when I ask the ones who walk by, most have strong attachments to the mural.</p><p>WOMAN 1: My mom used to go to St. Aloysius. My parents did and so...</p><p>MITCHELL: That’s a church right here.</p><p>WOMAN 1: It’s a church down the street. I used to go there when I was a little girl. And my mom would drive us to church and that’s how I knew we were getting close is when I’d see the mural almost every Sunday.</p><p>MAN 1: I see Don Pedro on the cross being crucified for what he believed in. Crucified the same way as Jesus!</p><p>WOMAN 2: I used to get up every morning and look at this mural.</p><p>MAN 2: I went to prison. I was 17 years old and I went to prison for 20 years. And, during those 20 years, when I used to think about home and I used to think about Humboldt Park, it was this mural that I used to think about.</p><p>MITCHELL: Why is that?</p><p>MAN 2: I remember when I was first looking at it, I think I was maybe 9 or 10 when I first noticed it, I didn’t know anything about Puerto Rican history. To me it was just a painting that was up there. I didn’t understand who was up there, what it was about. But when I went to prison I learned about my culture, I learned about who I was. I even got this guy on my arm. Two of these guys are on my arm.</p><p>MITCHELL: Tattoos.</p><p>MAN 2: Yeah, Pedro Albizu Campos on my right arm and I got Ramón Emeterio Betances on my left arm. And I think I can attribute that to this mural, man.</p><p>MITCHELL: The mural restoration will be complete with the addition of calligraphy this fall.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/mural-restoration-heartens-puerto-ricans-92248