website here

Best DJ masquerading as a lawyer

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Alan King

To say 2014 is The Year of Alan King as a DJ might be a little bit of an oversell. But not by much. For someone that has been one of the most quiet and overlooked foundations of Chicago’s most important musical cultures for years, this year King went from Chosen Few to the Chosen One. Legendary sets at everything from “the Picnic” to Frankie Knuckles’ Millennium Park Memorial to weekly drop-bys at Bang Sundays at the Shrine and residency sessions at Chant in Hyde Park made this lawyer-by-day/spingali-by-night the Bruce Wayne/Dark Knight of Chicago’s music scene.

chosenfewdjs.com/alan-king

Best of Chicago 2014

Best longest-running show in Chicago

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

A self-described “ever-changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes,” “TMLMTBGB” is, well, exactly what it says it is. Or how about this: take “Saturday Night Live,” hand it to a bunch of punky weirdos, make it three hours long, then make it one hour-long  without cutting anything from the three-hour version, slash the budget to something like $27.14 per show, get rid of the cameras, infuse the whole thing with principles from a semi-obscure early twentieth-century art movement and then plop the whole thing down in Andersonville across the street from a funeral home. Do that and you’ll be kind of close.

5153 N. Ashland, 773.878.4557, neofuturists.org

Best of Chicago 2014

Best new high-touch design venue

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Chicago Design Museum

At its very heart, design is utile, intended to serve a function and interact with the world. Yet, most Chicago venues for presentation of design don’t treat it this way. At the Art Institute, design is displayed like art: look, but don’t touch. At the Chicago Architecture Foundation, design is perhaps too approachable: too touchy-feely. At Wright auction house, design is up for sale: you touch it, you buy it. The new Chicago Design Museum inside Block Thirty Seven seems to be getting things right in its first year. Between the exhibitions, talks, events, collaborations and a little shop, the museum is creating enough opportunities to engage with design on its own terms. Small details—like handsome custom seating and vitrines—along with occasional interactive displays remind visitors that design belongs in the hands of the people.

108 N. State, chidm.com

Best of Chicago 2014

Best album covers by a local label

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Aerophonic Records, designed by Johnathan Crawford

Founded and run by Dave Rempis, a Chicago-based world-class saxophonist, Aerophonic produces not only notable records, but also some of the coolest album covers around. Designed by Johnathan Crawford, they’re highly collectible; each cover may feel different, but they all maintain a consistent aesthetic, featuring elegant and organic abstract shapes that almost seem to have a life of their own. An ideal complement for the free-flowing tunes presented by the label, performed by household names such as Frank Rosaly, Joshua Abrams, Avreeayl Ra and Dave Rempis himself.

aerophonicrecords.com

Best of Chicago 2014

Best Lost Boys treehouse gallery

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Hills Esthetic Center

For the better part of a decade, the Hills Esthetic Center has been a live/work outpost for Chicago’s alternative art scene. In 2014 they’ve updated the exhibition space and exhibited a roster with increasingly national reach. But the endearingly casual vibe of DIY constructed gallery, studios and living quarters remains, with jovial times around the gallery’s tiki bar, and openings that still veer into raucously fun parties as the night wears on.

128 N. Campbell, thehillsestheticcenter.com

Best of Chicago 2014

Best book to get laid with

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Stuart Dybek’s “Ecstatic Cahoots”

The men and women in this book spend more time horizontal than the characters in “Mad Men.” They belly up to diners and get busy beneath the counter, they kiss until the night falls and the last bus has passed. They press their bruises, just to feel something. Dybek is an acrobatic of the sentence. He makes them turn inside out, the way we do just about anything, sometimes, for love.

Best of Chicago 2014

Best new DIY event space

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Dollhouse DIY

Run out of a second-floor apartment in the Northwest Side neighborhood of Irving Park, the Dollhouse DIY describes itself as a “feminist art collective.” Formed by roommates “Serena Fath (filmmaker), Cassandra Jimenez (poet), and Lola Gutierrez (music manager),” the Dollhouse periodically stages event nights that include wall-hung visual art exhibitions, live music performances (that sometime get the cops called), and poetry readings. Organized loosely around the scene inspired by the trio’s circle of friends, it’s a hidden gem of new talent. Most evenings are BYO, and visitors will recognize the place from the crummy, fetid-looking giant oversized sneaker they mount outside on the roof overlooking the entrance.

facebook.com/thedollhousediy

Best of Chicago 2014

Best gallery to people-watch

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

LVL3

If you have an eye for art it is very likely you will also have an eye for fashion, so it only makes sense that art galleries are filled with interesting types to watch. Now how about a gallery located almost on the corner of Milwaukee and Honore, where some of the hippest people from in and out of town happen to circulate, rain, snow or shine? That is the case of LVL3, run by Vincent Uribe and Anna Mort—quite a stylish duo themselves. By welcoming everyone into their art space, they gather an eclectic and lively crowd, dressed to impress and express. Right now they’re expanding and taking their business to Stardust, held at Berlin nightclub. Every second Thursday they’ll be hosting Gravy, a dance party which will be benefiting a not-for-profit organization every month. Among the many reasons for attending is getting it down with Uribe, whose contagious energy and funky moves set any dance floor on fire.

1542 N. Milwaukee, 312.469.0333, lvl3media.com

Best of Chicago 2014

Best place to see art films

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

 The Music Box

Stellar programming of as many as a dozen attractions a week under the star-filled night-canopy ceiling of the Music Box, a newly refurbished second theater with comfy seats, an expanded lobby with improved lineups and a full bar with programming-themed tipples? It only gets better, and it’s a challenge for each and every space small and large to up the local exhibition game.

3733 N. Southport, 773.871.6607, musicboxtheatre.com

Audience Choice: Music Box Theatre

Best of Chicago 2014

Best new tool for Impressionism nerds

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

The Art Institute of Chicago’s online scholarly catalogues on Monet and Renoir

Working with the Getty Foundation, the Institute has released two of their five planned digital catalogues that include intensely detailed entries on every work by the featured artist in its collection. Curator’s notes, x-ray scans of paintings and interactive components give free access to deep scholarship around some of the museum’s most loved paintings.

artic.edu/research/digital-publications/online-scholarly-catalogues

Best of Chicago 2014