Stories by Angel Idowu

Jazz Pianist Ramsey Lewis is Turning 85, And You’re Invited to the Party

Ramsey Lewis speaks with WTTW News via videoconference.

Birthday celebrations during the pandemic have gotten creative, but there haven’t been too many birthday concerts. Chicago jazz composer and pianist Ramsey Lewis is adding that to the list this weekend.

Virtual Art Gallery Explores Why the Stay-at-Home Order Isn’t Ideal for All

A new virtual art gallery is starting a conversation on why the current stay-at-home order isn’t ideal for everyone, as it explores race and social class issues.

Chicago Music School Makes Virtual Classes the New Norm

The Hyde Park Suzuki Institute is offering virtual classes during the pandemic. (WTTW News)

As we enter the third month of Illinois’ stay-at-home order, a look at how the Hyde Park Suzuki Institute is getting “extra creative” as it moves its classes online.

Mosaic Pays Tribute to ‘Wizard of Oz’ Author at His Chicago Home

A tile mosaic honoring L. Frank Baum created by Chicago artist Hector Duarte. (WTTW News)

Last November, a yellow brick road appeared in the Humboldt Park neighborhood to honor the late author L. Frank Baum. Recently, another installation was added to the historic corner, and we were there for its unveiling.

Drive-in Theater Offers Escape from Pandemic with Trip Back in Time

Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

About 90 minutes north of the city, a drive-in movie theater is bringing back the 1950s — and it’s giving families an escape from the coronavirus pandemic, too. We visit the McHenry Outdoor Theater.

From Newsroom to Writer’s Room: Sylvia L. Jones Talks ‘Clark Sisters’ Film

Sylvia L. Jones speaks with WTTW News via Zoom.

In the midst of uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, Chicago screenwriter Sylvia L. Jones is celebrating one of her biggest achievements yet: her first feature film.

Chicago Artist Shares Unique Take on ‘Stay Home Chicago’ Remix

Chicago musician Wyatt Waddell speaks with WTTW News via Zoom.

When local artists were asked by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office to sing their remake of a Chicago classic, musician Wyatt Waddell decided to recreate the song altogether. 

From the Jungle to Chicago: Local Artist Returns Home Amid Pandemic

Sharon Bladholm (WTTW News)

An assignment in Peru turned into a nightmare for Chicago artist Sharon Bladholm, who was trying to get back home when the coronavirus pandemic hit. 

How ‘Rephotography’ is Capturing Chicago in the Age of COVID-19

(Credit: Mark‌ ‌Hersch‌)

Photographer Mark‌ ‌Hersch‌ ‌contrast‌s the busy streets‌ ‌of the‌ ‌early‌ ‌1900s‌ ‌with ‌the‌ ‌empty‌ ‌streets‌ ‌today‌ ‌to‌ ‌capture‌ ‌the ‌pandemic — and provide a sense of hope.‌ ‌We hit State Street to see just how he does it.

Chicago Children’s Theatre Offers Spring Break Alternative With Spring Red Kite Camp

A screenshot from a Red Kite Camp meeting via Zoom. (Courtesy Chicago Children’s Theatre)

Described as a unique learning experience with theater as the focal point, The Red Kite Project specifically works with children on the autism spectrum.

High Schooler’s ‘Swan Project’ Shares Musical Message with the World

Musician Cameron Chiu speaks with “Chicago Tonight” via video chat. (WTTW News)

Music has always been a source of comfort for 18-year-old Cameron Chiu. When the coronavirus prompted a stay-at-home order, he and his classmate created a project that would bring people together.

Chicago Gospel Singer’s Message in ‘Goshen’ is More Timely Than Ever

Chicago gospel singer-songwriter Donald Lawrence speaks with “Chicago Tonight” via videoconference. (WTTW News)

The city had declared 2020 as Chicago’s “year of music.” Now with live music all but shut down, we’ve been talking with artists who were set to share their sounds before the coronavirus outbreak – including Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers.

Mural With a Message Promotes Mental Health Awareness, Optimism

A mural by Myron Laban on Chicago’s West Side. (WTTW News)

“You deserve to be happy.” That’s the message artist Myron Laban believes people really need to hear in the midst of today’s uncertainties. We check out his latest mural on Chicago’s West Side.

Virtual Play Offers Night Out at the Theater, Without Leaving Home

Ty Fanning, left, and MacGregor Arney in “Teenage Dick.” (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

As you work through your list of at-home entertainment options, don’t forget to consider a night of theater. Chicago’s Theater Wit is now livestreaming the play “Teenage Dick.” Here’s how it works.

How an Evanston Artist is Using Portraits to Help Small Business Owners

Portraits by Evanston artist Chris Froeter. (WTTW News)

Evanston-based artist Chris Froeter is using his paintbrush to find creative ways to attract customers and support small businesses during the statewide stay-at-home order. 

‘We’ll Be Back Stronger’: Performing Arts Companies Rally, Reflect

(WTTW News)

How the Chicago performing arts community is preparing for the uncertainty of the spring season.

How Chicago Artists are Coping with the New Coronavirus Economy

The Chopin Theatre in Wicker Park (WTTW News)

Some businesses deemed essential are staying open as Gov. J.B. Pritzker orders residents across the state to stay home and help prevent spread of the novel coronavirus. But how are mom-and-pop operations weathering the storm? 

Chicagoans Create Relief Fund for Artists in Financial Need

(Courtesy Jessica Kadish-Hernandez)

Cancellations and closings are affecting everyone, but they present a unique challenge for freelance artists, whose livelihoods are already dependent on an uncertain stream of income. Now, a group of local artists is stepping in to help.

Black ABCs Celebrate 50 Years With New Photo Series

In the midst of cancelations and closures, an art exhibit remains open, for a limited time, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Black ABCs. Since the 1970s, these letters have been used in public schools around the country. 

Husband-and-Wife Duo Opens Design Center on South Side

Chicago artist Gerald Griffin, owner of Gerald Griffin Gallery. (WTTW News)

A Chicago couple are turning their dreams into reality with a design center on the city’s South Side. It houses everything you need to recreate your home, from appliances to artwork and everything in between.

A Passion for Art Collecting, Appreciation Drives Diasporal Rhythms

Patric McCoy shows WTTW arts correspondent Angel Idowu his art collection. (WTTW News)

What was started almost 20 years ago by a small group of friends with a passion for art collecting is now 80 members strong. We visit the art-filled home of Patric McCoy of Diasporal Rhythms.

Meet the Chicago Artist Behind ‘Grace and Frankie’

Nancy Rosen (WTTW News)

Lily Tomlin plays an artist on the popular Netflix series “Grace and Frankie,” but she isn’t creating the art. It’s actually made in Chicago by artist Nancy Rosen. We visit her studio to learn more.

MSI Chicago Celebrates 50 Years of African American Artists

Artists Arthur Wright, left, and Blake Lenoir speak with WTTW News about the Black Creativity exhibit.

Chicago artists talk about the long-term impact of the museum’s annual Black Creativity exhibit.

Nike Lab Pays Tribute to Picasso Sculpture with a Chicago Twist

“Chicago Bulls Remix” (Angel Idowu / WTTW News)

Art installations with a Chicago sporty twist are on display throughout the Navy Pier exhibition as part of the NBA All-Star weekend.

Folded Map Project Highlights Chicago Segregation, Gentrification

Tonika Johnson, center, with “map twins” Carmen Arnold-Stratton, right, and Bridghid O’Shaughnessy, left. (WTTW News)

Chicagoan Tonika Johnson is using photography to educate people on the disparities she’s noticed within neighborhoods throughout the city.