Stories by marc vitali

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

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.

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 new show “Monet and Chicago.” 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

A Tour of the ‘Notorious RBG’ Exhibition With Son James Ginsburg

“Notorious RBG” book cover illustration by Adam Johnson. Courtesy of HarperCollins. Photographs: Crown © by Hurst Photo/Shutterstock; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

A look at the life and legal work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with family stories from her son.

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.

Reopened Museum Looks at Power of Resistance in Puerto Rico

The Museum of Contemporary Photography is rolling out resistance. That’s the theme of their long-delayed show that just opened on the Columbia College campus in the Loop. We go for a look.

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 recently reopened to visitors – how you can explore Chicago architecture – and get a tour – from home. 

‘Their Songs Will be Sung Again’: Exhibits on Native Americans Wait to Reopen

“Sacred Under the Cliff of Yellowstone” (Credit: Ben Pease / The Field Museum)

On March, a day after the mayor canceled St. Patrick’s Day parades, another parade celebrated the opening of twin exhibitions on Native American people. The shows opened ... and then closed one day later.

Children’s Book ‘The Skin You Live In’ Back in the Spotlight

An illustration by David Lee Csicsko for the book “The Skin You Live In.”

There is renewed interest in a children’s book written and illustrated by a couple of Chicagoans. We speak with author Michael Tyler and illustrator David Lee Csicsko.

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.

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.

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.

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.