Stories by Marc Vitali

Delinquent Tax Deadline Looms for 45K Property Owners in Cook County

(Stephen M. Scott / Flickr)

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas offers some last-minute tips ahead of the annual tax sale.

The Wild Life of Nature Photographer Thomas Mangelsen

 “Dreamcatcher” (2000), © Thomas D. Mangelsen

A world-renowned nature photographer visits Chicago for the opening of an exhibition of his truly magnificent wildlife pictures at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

George Freeman Tells Us How to Lead a Life in Jazz

At age 92, the jazz guitarist is a living legend from Chicago’s first family of music. We pay him a visit.

Joffrey Ballet Reaches ‘Across the Pond’ for Latest Program

(Courtesy of The Joffrey Ballet)

The venerable Chicago dance company got a creative boost from across the pond for the closing show of its season. Meet the Brit who made his own Britney Spears video and is now working with the Joffrey Ballet.

‘Cambodian Rock Band’ a Story of Joy, Survival

Greg Watanabe in the play “Cambodian Rock Band.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Rock ‘n’ roll and human survival go hand-in-hand in a new production at Victory Gardens Theater. We meet some of the creative team behind the show.

Dual Art Show at Intuit Makes Case for Art as Therapy

Susan Te Kahurangi King (New Zealand, b. 1951). Untitled, c. 2015. (Private collection, courtesy of the artist, Chris Byrne, Andrew Edlin Gallery, and Marlborough Contemporary, London and New York)

This pair of art shows couldn’t be more different, highlighting a New Zealand artist who hasn’t spoken in more than 50 years; and two Chicago artists who fight addiction with creativity.

‘Brotherland’ Photographer Documents Conflict, Life in Ukraine

Photographer Brendan Hoffman speaks with WTTW News about his exhibition, “Brotherland: War in Ukraine.”

The young American photographer Brendan Hoffman tells us about his new show at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art.

‘Pop Pulp!’ Illustrates Weird, Wonderful World of Mexican Pulp Art

A still image taken from video shot at the gallery show “Pop Pulp!” at Firecat Projects.

In recent years, illustrations from 1970s Mexican comic books have earned a dedicated following of fans and collectors. We visit a new pulp art show at a Chicago gallery.

Chicago Theater: 5 Shows to See in April

Melody Angel and Melissa DuPrey in Court Theatre’s production of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Was Enuf.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

This spring season, Chicago theaters are in full bloom. Theater critic Hedy Weiss recommends new shows on Chicago-area stages, from fun musicals to serious dramas.

Celebrated Songwriter Alan Menken on Disney Movies, Musicals

Alan Menken (Photo courtesy of CAMI)

In advance of his one-man show at the Auditorium Theatre, Alan Menken tells stories and sing songs from his astounding career in Hollywood and on Broadway.

Chicago Music Fan Turns Weekend Hobby Into Second Career

(Photograph © Michael G. Bush)

For more than 40 years, an employee of the Cook County clerk’s office has been moonlighting as a rock ‘n’ roll photographer. Now, he’s presenting his first-ever solo exhibition.

Artists, Architects Reimagine the Possibilities of Design in ‘Dimensions of Citizenship’

Seven teams of designers, artists and architects created new visions of space in the world. We visit the forward-thinking show that recently arrived from Venice, Italy.

Photographer Laurie Simmons Captures Lifelike Dolls, Fake People

Laurie Simmons, Orange Hair/Snow/Close Up, 2014. Photo: © Laurie Simmons, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94.

From Meryl Streep to ventriloquist dummies, Laurie Simmons has had some unusual collaborators. We take a look at a career-spanning show by a photographer who populates fantastic worlds.

Gary Sinise Discusses New Book, Supporting Veterans and Early Steppenwolf Days

Gary Sinise spoke with Chicago Tonight about his new book, “Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service,” his work advocating for veterans and the history of Steppenwolf Theatre. 

Longtime North Side Electronics Repair Shop Struggling to Stay Afloat

The storefront of 20th Century TV & Stereo Center at 1615 W. Montrose Ave.

For almost 50 years, 20th Century TV and Stereo has repaired stereos, tape decks, VCRs and more. But the mom-and-pop shop is fighting to remain relevant as technology continues to evolve.  

Illinois Holocaust Museum Opens Exhibit on American Slave Trade

A watercolor engraving by William Henry Brooke from a slave auction in New Orleans, 1842 (Courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection)

Rare objects from a New Orleans historical group are now on display at the Illinois Holocaust Museum. We get an early look at the exhibition “Purchased Lives.”

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

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.