Stories by Angel Idowu

At El Paseo Community Garden, ‘The Sky’s The Limit’ for Programming, Opportunities

Visual artist Marcella Torres. (WTTW News)

Marcella Torres, an artist-in-residence at the Pilsen garden described as an “outdoor community center,” tells us about the new project she’s creating for the space with a little help from volunteers.

Woodworker Uses Art Background to Create Custom Furniture

After the pandemic hit that woodworker Keith Skogstrom found himself nearly overwhelmed with orders for custom wooden furniture. (WTTW News)

When a Chicago artist decided to strengthen his craft creating sculptures, he took on an unlikely job to help him refine the lines. Nearly a decade later, he's using the skills he picked up as a mill worker to create custom wooden furniture.

Traveling Exhibit Honors Chicago’s Koko Taylor and Other Women of the Blues

(Courtesy WTTW’s “Chicago Stories,” 2000)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s exactly what Lynn Orman Weiss’ traveling exhibition does, sharing through photos how women have contributed to one of the most influential music genres.

Artist Uses Graphite to Mark Time in Tribute to Historic Art Center

Artist Faheem Majeed and students spent six days in August 2020 laying sheets across the South Side Art Center to make a graphite rubbing of the building. (Courtesy Steven Rosofsky / Moving Pictures)

Interdisciplinary artist Faheem Majeed is using graphite to mark the past, present and future of the South Side Community Art Center, the oldest African American art center in the country.

Gabriel Villa Explores His Mexican Roots in Contemporary American Art

Artist Gabriel Villa speaks with “Chicago Tonight.” (WTTW News)

In a new exhibit at the Hyde Park Art Center, a Mexican American artist is exploring his personal and professional transformation. We meet the artist to learn more about “The Metamorphosis of Gabriel Villa.”

‘Timeless’ Exhibit Examines Life and Work of Frida Kahlo

A portion of Frida Kahlo’s original works are returning to the Chicago area for the first time since the late ‘70s.  (WTTW News)

Some of Frida Kahlo’s original works are returning to the Chicago area for the first time since the late ‘70s.

The Art of Hair Braiding and Pushing Back Against Cultural Biases

“People would cancel their braid appointment if they had an interview,” Mo G said. “I would always say, ‘That’s not the job that you want. Go to your interview with your braids, it’s okay.” (WTTW News)

Meet artist and hair braider Mo G and learn how she’s using braids to push against cultural biases that consider the look unprofessional.

‘Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel’ Comes to the Chicago Area

A scene from “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” in Oak Brook. (WTTW News)

A Roman holiday this summer is easier than you think. We check out a new exhibit featuring recreations of the most recognized works by Italian artist Michelangelo, now open in Oak Brook.

Surabhi Ensemble Builds Cross-Cultural Exchange Through Music

Composed of musicians of many races and ethnicities based in Chicago, the Surabhi Ensemble has a mission to make cross-cultural connections. (WTTW News)

Meet the Surabhi Ensemble. Composed of musicians of many races and ethnicities, this global music group that’s based in Chicago has a mission to make cross-cultural connections. 

Art on the Mart Brings the Universe to Wacker Drive

Art on the Mart’s unique location — projected across the massive face of the building formerly known as The Merchandise Mart, makes for optimal views whether you’re walking or driving. (WTTW News)

One of the city’s most public art experiences is back with a trip through the universe. Art on the Mart is working with local cultural institutions to bring their work to Wacker Drive.

2300 Jackson Street, Home of Jackson 5, Gets Official Highway Signage

The Gary, Indiana, home of the Jackson 5. (WTTW News)

The celebration was in full force May 13 at 2300 Jackson Street in Gary, Indiana, as the city marked the home of the Jackson 5 with official highway signage. We visit the historic site and speak to Marlon and Tito Jackson about their childhood home.

‘Chicago Takes 10’ Virtual Performance Series Brings Audience the ‘Sound of Chicago’

Artists Charles Joseph Smith and Angel Bat Dawid are featured as part of the "Chicago Takes 10" series. (Courtesy Chicago Takes 10)

We learn about the new, free showcase with Greg Ward and Jumaane Taylor, the saxophonist and tap dancer with the Hyde Park Jazz Fest who are performing in the series.

Collaboraction’s ‘Family Tree Stories’ Aims to Connect Chicagoans, One Story at a Time

Storyteller Priya Shya speaks with WTTW News about Collaboraction’s “Family Tree Stories.”

Thanks to support from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Chicago theater company Collaboraction is exploring the impact of oral history, one story at a time. We learn about the group’s newest project, “Family Tree Stories,” and how it’s working to unite the city through storytelling.

Billy Branch Wants to Bring Blues Back to Its Roots, Sow Its Seeds

Billy Branch’s talent led him to play professionally for Blues legend Willie Dixon and the Chicago Blues All-Stars for six years. (WTTW News)

He has been playing the mouth harp since he bought his very first one at age 11 for just $1. But he’s not just a musician. We talk with Billy Branch about his mission to give blues the recognition it deserves.

‘Quantum Mirror’ Exhibit Adds Physical Experience to Digital Art

Because this room of mirrors allows this NFT to fully encompass a physical space, that makes “Quantum Mirror” the very first NFT sculpture. (WTTW News)

As the development of NFTs—non-fungible tokens—gives artists more autonomy over their work and how it’s shared in a digital capacity, a new exhibit is showcasing how this digital art can take over physical spaces.

How a Chicago Nonprofit is Working to Promote Diversity Within TV

Open Television is a platform for intersectional pilots and series, supporting Chicago artists in producing and exhibiting indie series. (courtesy Open TV)

A Chicago nonprofit aiming to promote more diversity in television is gearing up for its annual artist showcase in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Immersive Show ‘Into the Mist’ Transports Audiences to 1920s

Evanston artist Steve Rashid created “Into the Mist.” (WTTW News)

Tired of livestreams that lacked variety, Evanston artist Steve Rashid wanted to offer a more immersive experience. With the help of his sons and their network of artists from around the country, he created “Into the Mist.” We get a peek at the virtual show that’s unlike any other.

Chicago Printmaker’s ‘COVID Year’ Project a Study in Art Therapy

Artist Beth Adler. (WTTW News)

The one-year anniversary of the pandemic has come and gone, but its impact on mental health will linger. We meet Chicago printmaker Beth Adler, who found refuge in art therapy — and whose work is now part of a new exhibit in Evanston.

The Show Must Go On: The Return of Movie Theaters

Chicagoland theaters enforce the Cinema Safe initiative per the National Association of Theatre Owners.  (WTTW News)

As coronavirus numbers begin to decrease and entertainment venues start to reopen, the debate continues over consumer safety versus the safety of home. Local cinema owners tell us what they're doing to make sure everyone can safely resume a popular pastime.

Elmhurst Exhibit on Fair Housing Features Rare MLK Photos

Martin Luther King Jr. photograph by Bernard Kleina. (Courtesy of the Elmhurst Art Museum)

A new exhibit at the Elmhurst Art Museum is using photography to explore Chicago’s fair housing history and features rare color photos of Martin Luther King Jr. during the Chicago Freedom Movement.

How a Chicago Artist is Working to Help Musicians in Need

(WTTW News)

A Chicago artist is working to make sure no musician is left behind with a community organization dedicated to Black musicians in Chicago.

Chicago Children’s Choir Celebrates Black History Month With Virtual Concert

A still image from a video provided by the Chicago Children’s Choir, which is presenting a virtual Black History Month concert in February 2021. (Courtesy Chicago Children’s Choir)

A musical journey through Black history explores how African traditions not only influence music genres today, but how they have helped the Black community celebrate and maintain its traditions.  

Sister Group A4L Talks About the Impact of Gospel Music

The gospel group A4L. (WTTW News)

A group of young women are changing the narrative of gospel music — and who it’s for. We meet a band of sisters who are on a mission. 

Inside ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ Exhibit Making US Debut in Chicago

Inside the “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit in Chicago. (WTTW News)

A long-awaited exhibit has made its way to the U.S. and Chicago is the first stop on the tour. We get a first look at this one-of-a-kind digital experience.

How a Chicago Nonprofit is Working to Change the Face of Classical Music

(WTTW News)

The Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative is preparing gifted students for higher education and careers in music — and debunking myths along the way.

Congo Square Theatre Talks About Sharing Black Stories, Virtually

Congo Square Theatre Managing Director Charlique Rolle. (WTTW News)

When the pandemic hit, theaters across the country were faced with the harsh reality that they were among the first to close their doors — and would be among the last to reopen. How one Chicago theater company has taken its stage online.