Stories by Marc Vitali

Vivian Maier in Vivid Color at Chicago History Museum

(Courtesy the estate of Vivian Maier)

When she died 12 years ago, photographer Vivian Maier went from anonymous to fairly famous. Now the onetime North Shore nanny is receiving more posthumous praise, this time for a show of her mostly unseen color photographs of local people and places. 

A Banner Year for Film and TV in Chicago

(StockSnap / Pixabay)

After a big downturn last year, film and TV production in Chicago is looking up.

Art and Science Share Spotlight at Museum in Pilsen

Researchers from the Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts examine works in the National Museum of Mexican Art to learn more about their history, April 23, 2021. (Marc Vitali / WTTW News)

Scientists are exploring centuries-old paintings from colonial-era Mexico, searching for clues to find out more about the artwork. We visit the National Museum of Mexican Art for a meet-up of art and science.

Bisa Butler’s Quilted Portraits Glimpse ‘How Black People Would Like to Be Seen’

Bisa Butler. “Southside Sunday Morning,” 2018. Private collection. © Bisa Butler. (Photo by Margaret Fox)

History, music and photography are all stitched together in a show at the Art Institute of Chicago. We visit the pandemic-delayed exhibition “Bisa Butler: Portraits” to get the story behind these Technicolor textiles.

Monet Makes Impressions at Art Institute and Garfield Park Conservatory

Claude Monet. Landscape with Figures, Giverny, 1888. Private collection.

Chicago is home to more Claude Monet paintings than any city other than Paris. That’s because the works of the famous French impressionist made a strong impression on local collectors. We explore the show “Monet and Chicago.” 

Mexican Printmaking Tradition Lives On In Chicago

René Arceo (WTTW News)

The Mexican tradition of printmaking is alive and well at a Chicago printing press run by a retired public school teacher. 

Chicago Independent Music Venues Look for Lifeline in Stimulus

(Free-Photos / Pixabay)

With live music events still on hold, Chicago independent music venues look forward to relief in the Save Our Stages part of the stimulus bill.

Boosting Mental Wellness in the Chicago Theater Community

Sandra Delgado (WTTW News)

Theater in Chicago shut down in March and won’t be returning anytime soon. A new effort is a reminder of the ongoing support that exists within the theater community. 

Chainsaw Sculptor Carves His Living Out of Dead Trees

Chicago-area artist Eric Widitz. (WTTW News)

He is a crafty artist who uses a gas-powered paintbrush and tree trunks as his canvas. Meet Eric Widitz, a Chicago-area entrepreneur who has been using chainsaws to make wood sculptures for nearly 40 years.

Makaya McCraven Makes International Music in Chicago

Chicago-based drummer and producer Makaya McCraven has been called a beat scientist. Two years ago, his album “Universal Beings” landed on many Top 10 lists for album of the year, so his new project comes with great expectations.

A Virtual Tour of the National Veterans Art Museum

Chicago is home to an armory of art created by members of our armed forces. With Veterans Day in mind, we bring you another look at a visit to the National Veterans Art Museum for a virtual tour.

Chicago’s Ensemble Espanol Has Exported Spanish Dance Around the World

(Courtesy Ensemble Espanol)

Behind the scenes with Ensemble Espanol as they prepare for an energetic show of Spanish dance.

Amid Pandemic and Racial Unrest, Echoes of 1920 Election in 2020

“346 Blots of Shame on the United States.” Chicago: Rand McNally and Company, 1922

In November 1920, change was in the air as the country geared up for a presidential election in the wake of a global pandemic and racial unrest. Sound familiar? We check out  “Decision 1920” at the Newberry Library.

Chicago’s Manual Cinema Animates Spooky Trailer for ‘Candyman’

A still image from Manual Cinema’s trailer for “Candyman.” (WTTW News via Manual Cinema)

A trailer for the film uses only handmade animation – not scenes from the movie – to set up the story of a supernatural killer in a Chicago housing project and his horrifying backstory. We meet the artists behind the work.

The Author as Superhero: Ernest Hemingway in Comic Books

An illustration from DC’s “Weird War Tales” #68 (October 1978)

In the comic book world there is the Marvel universe and the DC universe. Less well-known is the Ernest Hemingway universe. But the Oak Park-born writer, a towering figure in 20th century literature, was a popular figure in comics.

Neo-Futurist Theater Stages the Lives of the First Ladies, From Martha to Melania

(Courtesy of The Neo-Futurists)

We meet some of the first ladies – and the young theater makers who carry on the tradition of a theater troupe called the Neo-Futurists.

Sox Fan Illustrates Team’s Unusual Season

All season long, a fan in the south suburbs has scored all 63 games – and then illustrated the scorecards with original artwork.

Chicago Portrait: Kweli Kwaza

Each Chicago neighborhood is built of out blocks. Those blocks are the bricks of the community, and the mortar is often the president of blocks. Kweli Kwaza is one of those presidents and heads a network of block clubs on the South Side.  

Inside a Family Owned Record Store Open Since the ‘60s

(WTTW News)

For more than 50 years, a family business in West Garfield Park has persevered in good times and bad. They run a record shop that sells music in many formats – and pretty much anything else that will sell.

What’s the State of Film and TV Production in Chicago?

(StockSnap / Pixabay)

A conversation with Kwame Amoaku, director of the Chicago Film Office.

Chicago Puppeteer Brings Theater to Your Door with Pop-Up Show

(WTTW News)

A local theater artist goes on house calls and takes his puppets on the road in Chicago neighborhoods.

Art Deco Inspires Ambitious New Mural on Chicago Riverwalk

A close-up look at the new mural “The Radiance of Being” along the Chicago Riverwalk. (WTTW News)

Summer is the season for public art, and it seems like every week a colorful new mural blooms. We get up close to a massive new work of public art taking flight along the Chicago Riverwalk. 

Local Guitarists Make Good Use of Downtime

Goran Ivanovic plays guitar at a Chicago park. (WTTW News)

2020 was supposed to be the Year of Chicago Music. Now, the vast and vibrant local music scene lies dormant. We check in on a Chicago family that can play guitars – and make them too. 

85-Year-Old Photographer Steve Schapiro Reflects on Civil Rights Movement

Steve Schapiro speaks with WTTW News.

He took memorable pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and traveled with writer James Baldwin. Steve Schapiro talks about what he witnessed in the United States back then — and what he is seeing today.

A Virtual Tour of the Union League Club of Chicago

Inside the Union League Club of Chicago. (WTTW News)

It’s home to a massive art collection that includes a Monet and a passel of Paschkes. The latest in our series of virtual tours: a private club with a public focus — and an eye for artwork.

Local Musician Finds a Muse in Mister Rogers

(WTTW News)

The feel-good music of Fred Rogers inspires a neighborhood musician.