Stories by Marc Vitali

Local Museums Embrace Rich History of Design in Chicago

Wall clock designed by George Stephens and made by the Hammond Clock Company, Chicago, 1938. (Chicago History Museum)

A look at Chicago’s historical influence on an enduring design style. Plus, overlooked graphic art made by African-American designers.

Early 2019 Theater Recommendations from Hedy Weiss

Linda Reiter and H.B. Ward in Shattered Globe Theatre and Theater Wit’s Chicago premiere of “The Realistic Joneses.” (Photo by Evan Hanover)

Hedy Weiss reviews a production that imagines what happens when two couples of different ages – plagued by similar problems of communication and neurological degeneration – attempt to interact. Plus, a play-turned-production that shines a light on visionary chemist Dr. Rosalind Franklin. 

Black Creativity Program Returns to Museum of Science and Industry

The Innovation Studio provides a creative space to inspire young inventors about future possibilities and opportunities in science, technology, engineering, art and medicine. (J.B. Spector / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago)

For the 49th consecutive year, the Museum of Science of Industry hosts its Black Creativity program, a celebration of achievements by African-American artists and innovators. 

How it Works: Illinois’ New Opioid Alternative Pilot Program

| Alexandra Silets

In Illinois, medical marijuana can now be used as a painkiller to replace opioids. We hear from a co-sponsor of the new law.

‘Arresting’ Exhibition Showcases Fine Art, Sculpture of Medieval Africa

Seated Figure, Possibly Ife, Tada Nigeria, Late 13th-14th century, Copper with traces of arsenic, lead, and tin, H. 54 cm, Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments, 79.R18, Image courtesy of National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Abuja, Nigeria.

The new Block Museum show “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time” showcases the splendor and influence of medieval West and North Africa. We tour the exhibition with a special guest from the Smithsonian.

Art Institute Exhibit Brings ‘Floating World’ to Life

(Utagawa Toyokuni. A painting from One Hundred Looks of Various Women, 1816. Weston Collection.)

History, beauty and pleasure are on display in the first public showing of a standout collection of Japanese art. 

Photographer Dawoud Bey Reimagines Journey on Underground Railroad

Dawoud Bey. “Untitled #1 (Picket Fence and Farmhouse),” from the series “Night Coming Tenderly, Black,” 2017. Rennie Collection, Vancouver. © Dawoud Bey.

In a 1967 speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the Underground Railroad “symbolized hope when freedom was almost an impossible dream.” Chicago photographer Dawoud Bey talks about his new exhibition, “Night Coming Tenderly, Black.” 

‘Downton Abbey’ Star Brendan Coyle Makes Chicago Debut in ‘St. Nicholas’

British actor Brendan Coyle is making his Chicago debut in the Goodman Theatre’s production of “St. Nicholas.” (Courtesy Goodman Theatre)

British actor Brendan Coyle, who played Mr. Bates in “Downton Abbey,” chats about his Chicago debut in the Goodman Theatre’s production of “St. Nicholas.” 

A Look Inside Chicago’s International Puppet Theater Festival

“Ajijaak on Turtle Island” brings together an ensemble of Native American performers to tell the tale of Ajijaak, a young whooping crane who must face her first migration cycle after being separated from  her family. (IBEX Puppetry Media)

With the third edition of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival under way, we visit with the co-directors of the festival's opening show. 

‘Bitten by the Blues’ Chronicles Rise of Chicago’s Alligator Records

In 1971, Bruce Iglauer founded a Chicago record company that would reach a worldwide audience. We look back at 50 years of the blues.

Art Institute Exhibit Brings ‘Floating World’ to Life

(Utagawa Toyokuni. A painting from One Hundred Looks of Various Women, 1816. Weston Collection.)

History, beauty and pleasure are on display in the first public showing of a standout collection of Japanese art. 

The Weird and Fanciful Art of the Hairy Who

Jim Nutt. “Wowidow,” 1968. The Art Institute of Chicago, The Lacy Armour and Samuel and Blanche Koffler Acquisition funds; the Estate of Walter Aitken. © Jim Nutt.

A show at the Art Institute explores the work of a group of Chicago artists who made a strong impression on the art world in the 1960s.

Chicago Artist’s Caricatures a New Yorker Staple

Barack Obama and the Constitution by Tom Bachtell (Courtesy of the artist)

Meet Tom Bachtell, a longtime contributor to The New Yorker whose caricatures of famous people in popular culture go around the world.

For South Side Native Dion ‘No I.D.’ Wilson, Hip-Hop About Intention

No I.D., left, is interviewed by “Chicago Tonight” special correspondent Jeff Baraka.

He’s not a household name, but the music executive and producer known as No I.D. is a major behind-the-scenes player. Meet the Chicago music producer who has recorded Kanye West, Jay-Z and others.

Celebrating the Holidays with Jazz Singer Dee Alexander

Dee Alexander sings holiday songs and talks about playing with a big-band jazz orchestra.

Capturing Icons of the 1960s, ‘70s: Behind the Lens of Steve Schapiro

A pair of photography exhibitions offer a side of celebrity but focus on one man’s view of the struggle for civil rights.

Chicago Artist’s Caricatures a New Yorker Staple

Barack Obama and the Constitution by Tom Bachtell (Courtesy of the artist)

Meet Tom Bachtell, a longtime contributor to The New Yorker whose caricatures of famous people in popular culture go around the world.

The Art Institute of Chicago Celebrates 125th Anniversary

The Art Institute of Chicago in 1893 (Courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago)

Saturday marks 125 years since the opening of the historic building that houses the Art Institute of Chicago. We reflect on the past – and look to the future – with James Rondeau, the museum’s president and director.

London Photographer Shines a Light on Chicago People, Places

“Chicago Lights,” ShanZuo ZhouShi and DaHuang ZhouShi (Credit: Abigail Zoe Martin)

Abigail Zoe Martin moved to Chicago three years ago and used her camera as a calling card. A new exhibition of her work features portraits of both famous faces and little-known locals.

Chris Jones’ Book ‘Rise Up!’ Examines Contemporary American Theater

From “Angels in America” to “Hamilton,” a new book from Chicago Tribune critic Chris Jones looks at the last quarter century of American theater.

Singer Paul Marinaro ‘Blessed’ to be Performing in Chicago

One of Chicago’s hottest singers is on the comeback trail following a severe health scare. We catch up with Paul Marinaro at the Green Mill.

Local Museums Embrace Rich History of Design in Chicago

Wall clock designed by George Stephens and made by the Hammond Clock Company, Chicago, 1938. (Chicago History Museum)

A look at Chicago’s historical influence on an enduring design style. Plus, overlooked graphic art made by African-American designers.

Capturing Icons of the 1960s, ‘70s: Behind the Lens of Steve Schapiro

A pair of new photography exhibitions offer a side of celebrity but focus on one man’s view of the struggle for civil rights.

Inside Wrightwood 659, a New Home for Art and Architecture

The facade and interior of Wrightwood 659 (Credit: Jeff Goldberg)

A Chicago apartment building from the 1920s has been radically reimagined. It is now an unusual art gallery designed by a world-renowned architect. 

Heroic Artist Alex Ross Takes on Comic Book Legends

(Courtesy Alex Ross)

The renowned comic book artist unmasks his methods for capturing Spider-Man, Black Panther and other Marvel superheroes in his new book “Marvelocity.”