Stories by Marc Vitali

New Music from Michael Miles Inspired by the Mississippi River

Michael Miles plays his banjo on the banks of the Chicago River. (WTTW News)

Whether it’s Johann Sebastian Bach on the banjo, or an original work with a Cuban-style rhythm, Michael Miles is Chicago’s go-to banjo man.

Teenage Mariachi Band Shares Culture, Connects to Roots Through Music

Members of Mariachi Herencia de Mexico (WTTW News)

A talented band of Chicago teens recorded a new album during the pandemic. We met members of Mariachi Herencia de Mexico on a sunny day in Pilsen where they shared their musical heritage.

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.

A Virtual Tour of the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie. (WTTW News)

When Nazis sought to march in Skokie in 1978, they did not get their wish. Residents resisted and six years later opened a storefront museum whose mission remains to “take a stand” against bias.

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 Memorial Day in mind, we visited a museum with a mission.

Inflatable Art is Blowing Up During the Shutdown

(WTTW News)

We check out the Extreme Protection Suits created by Chicago-based artist and art teacher Claire Ashley, who says she was interested in “using humor as a way to deal with trauma.”

A Virtual Visit to the DuSable Museum

Inside the DuSable Museum of African American History. (WTTW News)

It was founded in the Bronzeville home of Margaret Burroughs and moved to a Park District building in 1973. We explore the DuSable Museum collection with CEO Perri Irmer as part of our series of virtual art tours.

A Virtual Visit to a Luminous Collection of Spiritual Art

A scene inside the Loyola University Museum of Art. (WTTW News)

A private tour of a collection of artistic treasures with a spiritual focus. Our latest “virtual visit” is a look at artwork designed to inspire. 

A Virtual Visit to the Chicago Architecture Center

The headquarters of the Chicago Architecture Center are currently closed, but the CAC is offering a variety of online programs. (WTTW News)

The home of the Chicago Architecture Center is both a gallery and a hub for dozens of tours. The space is not currently welcoming visitors, but you can still explore Chicago architecture – and get a tour – from home. 

The Old Town School of Folk Music Tunes in to Digital Times

The Old Town School of Folk Music on Lincoln Avenue. (WTTW News)

It’s been a Chicago institution since it opened in 1957. Since then, the Old Town School of Folk Music has expanded its curriculum and, now, its online offerings. We stop by to see how it’s adapting to the changing times.

A Virtual Visit With the National Museum of Mexican Art

As part of our series of virtual art tours, we visit a collection of artwork that highlights the richness of Mexican art in Chicago.

A Virtual Tour of a Historic Home to Contemporary Art

(WTTW News)

We continue our series of visits to beautiful corners of Chicago’s cultural landscape with a trip to Humboldt Park, where we get a dose of architecture and art.

A Virtual Tour Inside Chicago’s Center for Outsider Art

Lee Godie (American, 1908-1994). Three Hands on a Piano, n.d. Watercolor and ink on paper, 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm). Ellyn in Profile, n.d. Watercolor and ink on paper, 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm). Collection of Victor F. Keen 

For 29 years one small but significant place has been a showcase for visionary artwork. The art center called Intuit had to close a new show last month, and we got a look at what you’ll see when it one day reopens. 

A Virtual Tour of an Art Center with a Passion for Paschke

Inside the Ed Paschke Art Center (WTTW News)

Chicago art institutions are closed indefinitely, so we’re opening them — virtually. First up in our series of virtual tours: an art center dedicated to one of Chicago’s most celebrated artists, Ed Paschke.

Classical Music Students Adjust to New Study Habits, Routines

Sisters Claire, left, and Esme Arias-Kim (WTTW News)

As part of an ongoing series on how professional musicians are responding to a changing landscape, we meet a few aspiring young musicians, who tell us the downside – and the upside – of studying music during the pandemic.

Blues Guitarist Looks Ahead with Delmark Records

Chicago musician Dave Specter speaks with WTTW News outside Delmark Records.

It makes sense that a veteran Chicago blues and jazz musician is on the city’s oldest blues and jazz record label. We visit Dave Specter and Delmark Records for a look back — and forward.

CTA Bus Driver Toronzo Cannon Sings the Blues, Literally

Toronzo Cannon (WTTW News)

Bus drivers have a tough job these days. And musicians are pretty much out of work. We spoke with one CTA driver who is also a songwriter with a new record. He drives people all over town, but right now he can’t play for the people. 

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. 

Chicago Music Scene Pivots in the Face of Enormous Change

Jack Swain (WTTW News)

Making a career in music and the arts is tricky in the best of times. These days, the struggle is surreal. Here’s our latest check-in with a few players on Chicago’s music scene where, to quote a famous Chicago soul singer, “Only the Strong Survive.”

Chicago Jazz Artists Look for Ways to Cope with COVID-19

(WTTW News)

The city named 2020 the Year of Chicago Music, and this week was supposed to be Cabaret Week. We visited a few jazz and cabaret folks and found a vast music scene that’s singing the blues.

At Awakenings Gallery in Chicago, Artwork Offers Healing

(WTTW News)

Chicago is home to an uncommon art gallery that has become an important place for exploring artistic expressions of healing. We visit Awakenings Gallery in Ravenswood.

‘Her Honor’ Tells Story of When Mayor Byrne Moved into Cabrini Green

Ensemble Member Christine Mary Dunford performs in “Her Honor Jane Byrne.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

On stage at Lookingglass Theatre, a new play looks at a Chicago moment from March 1981 when Jane Byrne, the city’s first woman mayor, moved into the Cabrini-Green housing project. 

10 Things to Know about El Greco (Including His Brazen Offer to Repaint the Sistine Chapel)

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). “Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple,” about 1570. The Minneapolis Institute of Art, The William Hood Dunwoody Fund.

We preview the exhibition “El Greco: Ambition and Defiance” at the Art Institute of Chicago, which partnered with the Louvre and the Grand Palais for the show, and learn about the man behind the masterworks.

Homecoming Dance: Tour Brings Alvin Ailey Dancer Back to Chicago

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Solomon Dumas (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Chicago native Solomon Dumas is one of 32 dancers in the national touring company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. This week, he performs at the Auditorium Theatre, where he first saw the company nearly 20 years ago.

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