Stories by Marc Vitali

Chicago-based painter Michiko Itatani is pictured at Wrightwood 659. (WTTW News)

Chicago Painter Michiko Itatani Looks to the Cosmos for Inspiration

The unpopulated environments created by Michiko Itatani suggest settings for sci-fi stories, filled with rockets, planets, books and music. In short, art and science. The work is about inner space – and outer space.

Patti Smith speaks with “Chicago Tonight” during a stop in Chicago. (WTTW News)

A Conversation With Patti Smith Reveals Her Thoughts on Poetry, Prose and Veal Parmigiana

Born in Chicago and raised in New Jersey, Patti Smith has lived an incomparable life as a poet and performer. Known as “the punk poet laureate,” she’s in the Rock Hall of Fame and won a National Book Award.

Pianist Inna Faliks performs at the Music Institute of Chicago, where her mother was a faculty member. (WTTW News)

Pianist Recalls Roots in Chicago and Ukraine – and an Early Appearance on WTTW

Pianist Inna Faliks is an educator, mom and a distinguished concert pianist who is in demand across the globe. But before all that, one of her first television appearances was on WTTW in 1994 when she was just 15 years old.

(Credit: Jay Young)

‘Native Truths’ Offer Fresh Perspective at the Field Museum

The Field Museum renovated its Native North America Hall and drastically shifted its focus. The new approach emphasizes story-telling and contemporary art – as well as historical items from the collection. The exhibition space is called “Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories.”

An art exhibition at Wrightwood 659 depicts same-sex desire. (WTTW News)

New Chicago Exhibition Showcases Historical Artwork Depicting Same-Sex Desire

Called “The First Homosexuals,” the show is about a time when the art world released a flood of new representations of same-sex desire.

Returning to Chicago for Poetry Prize, Patti Smith Looks Back on Local Roots and Eclectic Career

Patti Smith was honored by Chicago’s Poetry Foundation with a Pegasus Award. 

Patti Smith appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Nov. 1, 2022. (WTTW News)

10 Things You Might Not Know About Chicago-Born Patti Smith

Legendary musician, poet and writer Patti Smith was born in Chicago. Here's a rundown of her cultural connections. 

Anne E. Thompson, Kirsten Fitzgerald and Mary Beth Fisher in Rebecca Gilman’s “Swing State.” (Photo by Liz Lauren, provided)

Theater Critic Hedy Weiss on Must-See Plays, Ballet Program

Hedy Weiss joins “Chicago Tonight” to preview a new program from Joffrey Ballet, Goodman Theater’s production of “Swing Stat” and to recap the Joseph Jefferson Awards. 

“Monochrome Multitudes” is running at the Smart Museum until Jan. 8, 2023. (WTTW News)

Local Color on View in Show About Modernism and Monochromatic Art

The Smart Museum on the University of Chicago campus is currently saturated with monochromatic modern art. The curators call the show “Monochrome Multitudes.”

Amanda Williams appears on "Chicago Tonight" on Oct. 13, 2022. (WTTW News)

MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Recipient From Chicago Uses Color, Art to Explore Issues of Race

Three Chicago residents were among the group honored this year. One of those honorees is Amanda Williams, an artist who uses color and architecture to explore issues of race and the built environment. 

This year’s Día de Muertos exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art is titled “Memories & Offerings.” (WTTW News)

Art of Remembrance Celebrates Day of the Dead at Pilsen Museum

For the 36th year, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen is presenting an ever-changing art exhibit that celebrates love and loss. This year’s Day of the Dead exhibition blends the contemporary with the traditional. Its somber tone is meant to be a reflection of the world at large.

Michael Kutza, CEO Emeritus, of the Chicago International Film Festival. (WTTW News)

Starstruck Memories from Chicago International Film Festival Founder

Michael Kutza was just 22 years old when he launched the Chicago International Film Festival. Decades later, he looks back on a life among the movie stars. 

(WTTW News)

Paintings from Puerto Rico Arrive in Chicago for New Exhibit

The artwork is on loan from a museum in the town of Ponce on the southern coast. Now, Chicago’s National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture in Humboldt Park is the temporary home to a small but significant exhibit.

Maestro Riccardo Muti rehearses with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 21, 2022. (WTTW News)

Maestro Riccardo Muti Takes a Look Back as He Begins Final Season at Chicago Symphony Orchestra

This weekend marks the beginning of the end of Maestro Riccardo Muti’s tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. WTTW News visited Symphony Center to hear him lead the orchestra in a rousing rehearsal of works by Tchaikovsky.

(WTTW News)

Hellenic Museum Reopens with Photographs by a Greek Prince

The first show back for one of the last museums in Chicago to reopen following the COVID-19 shutdown has a royal pedigree.

Paul Natkin speaks to WTTW News in September 2022. (WTTW News)

Picturing Music History with Photographer Paul Natkin

Rock, reggae, jazz, folk, R&B – he’s captured it all. We catch up with photographer Paul Natkin, and he shared stories and pictures worth many thousands of words.

James ‘Big Cat’ Williams Looks Ahead to New Chicago Bears Season

The NFL season officially kicks off this week and the Chicago Bears are set to start their season Sunday at noon against the San Francisco 49ers.

(WTTW News)

Movie Posters and Lobby Cards at the Center of Chicagoan’s Colossal Collection

When your hobby turns into one of the most comprehensive collections of movie posters in the world, what do you do for an encore? A local collector once had 45,000 posters and lobby cards. He sold some, donated others, and kept the cream of the crop.

(WTTW News)

Vending Machine for Artists Aims to Boost Chicago Makers

It is a kind of art gallery inside a vending machine. There’s a new effort to boost the profile of artists and makers in Chicago and put some money in their pockets. Producer Marc Vitali has a look at the lighter side of buying artwork – and other fun stuff – sometimes to just go along with your beer.

This year marks the centennial of the Morton Arboretum in DuPage County. Fifty years before it was established, the founder’s father started Arbor Day.  (WTTW News)

After 100 Years, Morton Arboretum Just Keeps Growing

This year marks the centennial of the Morton Arboretum in DuPage County. Fifty years before it was established, the founder’s father started Arbor Day. Producer Marc Vitali visited the 1,700-acre public garden for a bit of history and to meet a photographer who has explored the place since his first visit in the 1960s.

A new group turns the spotlight on George Washington Maher, an under-recognized designer of buildings throughout the Midwest.  (WTTW News)

Big Houses on the Prairie: the Chicago Area Homes of Architect George Maher

The artistry of Frank Lloyd Wright is front and center when it comes to Prairie School architecture. But other architects made enduring impacts. A new group turns the spotlight on George Washington Maher, an under-recognized designer of buildings throughout the Midwest. 

(Myriams-Fotos / Pixabay)

Building Bridges, Not Barriers: Interfaith Summit in Chicago a Call to Action

Next week, Chicago will host the Interfaith Leadership Summit. For 23 years, the event has brought together students and educators from across the country to promote religious pluralism.

(WTTW News)

Chicago’s Newest Music Venue Breathes New Life into Iconic Salt Shed

The city’s newest concert venue, appropriately called the Salt Shed, which just celebrated its opening day Tuesday. The concert hall is on the site of the renovated Morton Salt shed. 

(WTTW News)

From Eastland Disaster to Train Derailments, Chicago Artist Inspired by History and Tragedy

Painter Eric Edward Esper creates accurate historical depictions of terrifying tragedies – fires, tornadoes and nautical disasters that took place in Chicago and elsewhere.

(WTTW News)

Chicago and Ukraine Artists Rage Against the War Machine

An art show near Ukrainian Village is a cry of protest against the ongoing war in Ukraine. Artists from Chicago and Ukraine are raising their voices in opposition to the Russian invasion. 


As Monkeypox Numbers Grow, a Journalist Who Had the Disease Speaks Out

Additional monkeypox vaccines are arriving in Chicago, but they will be in limited supply. This as the World Health Organization this declared monkeypox a public health emergency.