• Behind The Scenes

    The Side Show Editorial
  • Fall Issue Sneak Peek

    Meet Elizabeth Lyons
  • Macy's Glamorama

    Local Events and Fashion
  • Sararose on Oak

    Local Shopping
  • Beauty Test Kitchen

    Youtube Beauty Videos
  • What's Your Office Style?

    Home and Lifestyle
  • Creative Chicago

    Meet Zap Props
  • AVFest Hideout Blockparty

    Music and Venues
  • Chicago International Film Fest

    Out and About
  • Blogger Style Icon Search

    Enter to be featured

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Artist Guayasamin and La Capilla del Hombre Create Identity in Quito, Ecuador

Many cities boast homes and studios of famous artists. It’s fun to live an in a city where an influential artist flourished. We have Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio in Oak Park as well as homes he designed. Artist residences help shape a city, creating pride and an identity.

Two thousand nine hundred and sixty miles away, Quito, Ecuador is being called “a center of transcending art” due to Oswaldo Guayasamin’s art and his La Capilla del Hombre. Guayasamin is an iconic Ecaudorian artist internationally known for his ability to communicate a history of pain and suffering through his art. He experienced much racism growing up because his father was a Quechua Indian and his mother was mixed race. Racism became a major theme in his work. The Art Institute has his work, “The Procession,” created in 1942. One of his most famous pieces, “The Deathbed of Christ,” is displayed at the Louvre.

After a career of bringing awareness and creating discussions about race and people’s daily strife, Guayasamin wanted to create a tribute to humankind, the suffering of Latin America’s indigenous people and the hope for something better. La Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man) emerged to be built by his home and studio. In the 12,000 square foot, three floor structure, covered in stones influenced by pyramids, he wanted visitors to see civilization’s cruelty, but also its resilience and courage. With financial help from UNESCO, which described it as a “project with the biggest cultural transcendence to the region,” it was completed after Guayasamin’s death in 2002. Visitors walk through history, surrounded by murals and scriptures laid out to interpret events. Precolonial times are on the first floor and as visitors climb to the top they travel closer to present day. The artist felt it was important for people to see and feel other’s emotions through the journey, to feel their anger, fear, and tears, and did his best to create that atmosphere.

While La Capilla del Hombre is described as one of the most important works of art in South America, two features stand out. Guayasamin’s movable mural, “Los Mutilados,” is the main part of the central dome. He described it as one of the most important works he ever designed. Each panel moves and can be rearranged in two million unique arrangements. There is also “The Eternal Flame for Human Rights and Peace” which burns on a metallic plate in the lower part of the building to keep the “conscience of humankind turned on.” Artist's residences and monumental creations help cities create identity, but they also remind people where they come from. La Capilla del Hombre not only communicates a history, it also holds space for a better future. For more information on Oswaldo Guayasamin, his foundation, and La Capilla del Hombre, you can visit http://www.capilladelhombre.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Looks for Less - ladies - Tightly Knit

Warm and cozy knits are a big trend this season. And what’s not to love about that? Both warm and stylish, knits were seen in everything from sweaters to dresses. It’s a trend that can work for anyone and will never go out of style. Opt for an oversized knit sweater or dress for a bolder statement.

1. The Designer Look: Stella McCartney Fall 2014
The Look for Less: 2. Urban Outfitters Silence + Noise cool down v-neck sweater 3.ASOS knitted dress with raglan sleeve and tipping  4. Urban Outfitters Pins and Needles sheer-knit sweater 5. Zara high neck sweater

Curated by: Teresa Espinoza and Layout by: Sammy Sithipong

Looks for less - Guys - Black & White All Over

Black and white is as basic as you can get. But that by no means makes these colors dull or any less stylish when combined the right way. Menswear for fall features plenty of black and white combo’s that look ultra stylish and clean. Mixing layers works great for this and I can guarantee you have something in your closet already that will do the trick! But just in case, check out some of these options!

1. The Designer Look: Agi & Sam Fall 2014
The Looks for Less: 2. H&M Shoes in black 3. Zara Quilted Sweater 4. H&M linen blend shirt 
5. Asos oversized cut and sew rebellion print

Curated by Teresa Espinoza - Layout by: Sammy Sithipong

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Stuff to Do: Mission Theater's "Raw Nerve" at iO

Tonight marks the final iteration of the Mission Theater's show, Raw Nerve, featuring folk singer-storyteller Jamie Swise, improviser Rebecca Krasney, and a rotating slew of Chicago's up-and-coming improv comedy scene. Halfstack staffer Rob Samuelson took in last week's show as a preview for you folks looking for some Tuesday night entertainment inside the iO Theater building. For tickets, call 312-929-2401 or visit ioimprov.com.

Jamie Swise looks like Powers Boothe. He has a foul mouth, a lifetime of experiences on the outskirts of the entertainment industry, and a couple gorgeous guitars. He ascends the Mission Theater's stage wearing a black t-shirt and jeans to tell the audience of his intentions.

“I'm gonna sing some songs and tell some lies,” he says.

And so he does. He has stories about singing at Carl Sandburg's funeral, stealing boxes of cereal from the set of The Blues Brothers, and one about how his not knowing The Beatles' “Blackbird” led a man – a weirdo prone to eating shot glasses – to be stabbed. He sings songs that would be at home on the soundtrack to a Ken Burns documentary and plays a 12-string guitar with some of the richest tones I've heard in some time.

Are these stories true? Beats me. Swise could have spent decades goofing off with a notebook, writing lies about his hoped-for dalliances with fame. Or maybe he really was an extra while Jake and Elwood Blues drove their converted cop car through a mall. Maybe he did hear a seven-year-old girl yell obscenities at Carrie Fisher for suggesting she not play in a dirty alley. I don't really care, nor does it matter, because when a performer and raconteur of Swise's ilk is on stage, it's about creating a mood, an internal logic to the stories. Despite some rough-around-the-edges word usage, Swise's mood is jovial. He likes the life he's lived (or made up) and he's glad to share it with us, plus a few folk songs he's picked up along the way.

After Swise finished his piece, Raw Nerve curator Rebecca Krasney took the stage to introduce us to some local sketch and improvisational artists whose material on the night wobbles a little. This is not bad, as it hit on the theme the show's title promises. It's about creation in a live setting. Not everything will be refined, nor will everything be a hit. But it's worth trying, and the performers generally leaned toward the strong side of things.

The best of the bunch was Steph Cook, whose monotone readings of her “spec scripts” for a Friends Netflix revival sounded like the ravings of a sociopath with only the most surface level knowledge of the long-finished series. Her stage directions and dialogue sounded like she had typed them into Google Translate several times to be as hilariously rudimentary as possible. Twists like incest and character deaths from STIs, and her perpetual pronunciation of Matthew Perry's character's name – “Chand-a-ler” – had everyone giggling. Her absurdist skewing of pop culture staples deserves a bigger stage.

Other groups, which included pair of guys boxing each other for real between improvised jokes, were more hit and miss. Krasney herself finished the night with some interpretative dancing and a dig through her wallet to use her stored IDs and membership cards to generate storytelling. From the rehearsed, lived in nature of Swise's act to Krasney's avant-garde DIY, “Raw Nerve” ran the gamut of how to craft and tell stories for a live audience. I'm curious to see where they go tonight.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Anthropologie Wedding Fair at BHLDN

Long gone are the days of puffy-sleeved bridesmaid dresses and over-tulled wedding gowns.  With the modern bride in mind, BHLDN, a stylish bridal boutique, offers a wide variety of dresses and accessories.  

On October 8th, BHLDN partnered with Anthropologie for a Wedding Fair at their 8 East Walton Street location.  The event featured a collection of Chicago wedding vendors , including Magnolia Bakery, Magnificent Milestones, and Amy Jo Royall Photography.  

A delicious array of desserts and small bites were provided by Feast & Imbibe Events and Magnolia Bakery throughout the evening.  Champagne was served while a live DJ provided upbeat musics for a fun night. 

BHLDN Senior Store Manager, Faymi Winters shared a recap of the event with us, as well as her forecast for this seasons bridal trends!

Halfstack Magazine:  How did Anthropologie and BHLDN collaborate for this event?

Faymi Winters:  Anthropologie and BHLDN are brands under Urban Outfitters, Inc.  We wanted to partner for this event as a way to introduce Anthropologie's gift registry program to our customers and meet our newly engaged brides to be.

HS:  Can you tell us a little about what makes BHLDN unique?

FW:  BHLDN offers wedding gown appointments, as well as products for your event or gifts: accessories, lingerie, dresses and decor.  We offer variety.  

HS:  What is one bridal trend that is going strong this season?

FW:  Brides are loving light beading and sparkle, intricate black detail, lace and a variety of color, especially shades of blush.  Oops.  That's four! 

HS:  Who were your favorite vendors who partook in the event?

FW:  Everyone was a joy to work with!  DJ Andrew from Style Matters set the tone with an amazing playlist, Feast & Imbibe and Magnolia Bakery provided delicious treats.  Amy Jo Royall Photography and Kara Gordon from Magnificent Milestones displayed their beautiful work.  Honeybee Weddings and blend beauty greeted customers in our gown gallery and A Stem Above provided lovely, elegant floral arrangements.  Customers also enjoyed Shutterbooth.   

On Saturday, November 8th and Sunday, November 9th, brides to be are invited to enjoy a private accessories styling appointment with designer, Debra Moreland at BHLDN.  Guests can reserve an appointment by calling 312.573.2573.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

TJ and Dave's Sketch Revue is a TRAP You'll Want to Get Stuck In

Improv legends TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi have opened The Mission Theater inside the new IO Building. Amidst a calendar of revolving acts of performing excellence, one of their mainstays will be the sketch revue, “TRAP”, directed by Jagodowski and Pasquesi.

As the closing song says, “Life is a trap…sometimes you get the teeth, sometimes the cheese.” The 100 minute revue focuses on those hard to escape moments we know too well, either from experience or horror stories from friends: going to lunch with a friend who thinks this is a first date to someone you care about being insensitive when a dog passes. These moments happen. You have a choice to view them as funny. The only way out and to never have them again is death. Scenes that could’ve been all too familiar were rejuvenated by small details. One of the first Second City touring shows I saw had a sketch where they talked down a jumper. The opening sketch featured someone blowing himself up. The cast talked to him, but didn’t talk him down. If anything we got a better picture to why he was blowing himself up. He was briefly saved by comedy, relating to a standup comic who took over the bullhorn, only to be steam rolled by the next character.

The second act utilized some great call backs. A fun romp in a hedge maze turns into a nightmare, bringing in a nice surreal element. What started as an upper class lady playing a game with her man servant morphs into the waitress we met earlier eluding her stalker. Two characters who failed to make situations right in the first act get the opportunity in the second. The high energy veteran comedy cast (Mike Brunlieb, Peter Collins, Paul Grondy, Mike Jimerson, Laurel Krabacher, Irene Marquette, and Tanner Tananbaum) worked well together and wasn’t cast in “roles”; there wasn’t the one straight man, the one wild and crazy guy, or the one loud woman. They each played different status characters, each got to be eccentric one scene only to be heart felt the next. It was fun seeing the ebb and flow and who they’d play next.

David Pasquesi and TJ Jagodowski I had a “TRAP” moment; I was the creepy audience member that happens to good improvisers. In the first act, they came out to improvise. I was asked what was something I could not resist? Several things went through my mind: chocolate covered chilies, bourbon, even bull riding. My gut reaction was “red heads”, but as red headed actor was in front of me I felt I couldn’t say that, so I said “men.” They played the scene very well for such a lousy suggestion. "TRAP" runs Thursdays through Sundays at 8 pm. Visit www.missiontheaterchicago.com for tickets and more information.

John Hodgman Took UP Comedy Club to "Vactionland"

John Hodgman tried out new material in “Vacationland” Tuesday night at Second City’s UP Comedy Club.
He had two shows that night, “I Stole Your Dad” and “Vacationland”. What was really nice was he came out between shows and signed books, posters, took pictures so people wouldn’t have to wait until after the second show. He announced if anyone wanted something signed, they could do that now, but if anyone wanted to get a drink with him, they’d have to wait until after the last show. He talked with people when they were at the table, making eye contact. After the second show, he signed books and took more pictures with fans. His fans are very loyal and engaged. I sat with a couple and a young woman who saw him the last time he was in Chicago. They were staunch listeners of his podcasts, read his books, and followed his Twitter feed. I think I was the only newbie; everyone seemed to be well versed in Hodgman. He is very accessible and approachable. He posts his podcast weekly, tweets, responds to and favorites tweets.
After introducing the show, saying he was an employee of the comedy club, Hodgman burst onstage and struck a power pose (arms straight up) and told us to join him. We did. These shows have been different for him in that he has been himself; he has not been playing a character. He told stories, drink in hand, as comfortable onstage as if he held our attention at a cocktail party. He reminded me of Garrison Keillor, but with the sardonic zest of David Sedaris. All these storytellers convey everyday events, pointing out how unique and telling they are about an individual, and when given the chance, they hope you laugh. Hodgman laughed about himself. As described on the website, the show was about death and summertime. There was one obvious story about death, a curtsy, a slight foray into the topic, but he discussed death on many other levels: death of identity, youth in many ways, death of fears, realizing they were in someone else’s head then gifted to you. He poked fun at his neuroses. He likes rules, but found out it’s okay to go beyond them. “Because apparently life is about living,” Hodgman said.
A majority of the show discussed the irony of Maine calling itself “vacationland.” “Maine,” he said. “Where we put the ‘spite” in ‘hospitality.’” He joked about his class change, never really feeling like he fit in with the money, these people so comfortable in their own skin even though he went to Yale to which many of us can relate. He also joked and owned the fact some things in his life are not very relatable like owing two summer houses. Owning it made him more human and endearing. Even though he’s a Daily Show regular, podcaster, author, and performer, he’s still a former literary agent/ writer who went for it and made it happen.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Horoscope 101 — a fun start to new beginnings

Why do people born under the same horoscope sign act with different behaviors and attitudes? Shouldn’t they be more similar? How do they having different kinds of emotions and personalities? Are people more alike if they are born under the same astrological sign? To answer that question, we will need to know the differences that occur between the horoscope (the date of birth) and the rising sign (the time of birth) and how they effects peoples’ emotions, attitudes, effervescence and their life energy.

During every month in the year, the sun’s rays enter a new horoscope. People who born between 21st of March to 20th of April every year are Aries and people who born between 22nd of October and 21st of November are Scorpios. There are twelve asteroid ranges that make up the horoscopes signs during the year. The horoscope calendar begins with Aries and ends up with Pisces. That’s how the astrological year based. The astrological year begins on the 21st of March and is the first day in Aries. It coincides with the spring equinox. This last sign ends on the 20th of March and is the last day of Pisces. It coincides with the last day of winter. The calendar breaks down pretty easily with a new astrological sign taking place every 30 days. They are as follows;

21st of March to 20th of April — Aries
21st of April to 21st of May — Taurus
21nd of May to 22nd of June — Gemini
22st of June to 22ed of July — Cancer
23rd of July to 22nd of August — Leo
23ed of August to 22nd of September — Virgo
22nd of September to 21st of October — Libra
22st of October to 21st of November — Scorpio
22nd of November to 21st of December — Sagittarius
22nd of December to 20th of January — Capricorn
21st of January to 20th of February — Aquarius
21st of February to 20th of March — Pisces

Let’s take a look at what we call the Rising Sign. It affects the natal chart for everyone even if they were born under the same horoscope sign. We define the rising sign like this: The horoscope that is being in the skyline or the horizon when the sun rises. That sign’s reign takes 2 hours and changes with the progression of the day. The cycle starts at sunrise and which is usually between 6 AM to 8 AM. It does change per country. Time zone also has an affect.

Let’s look at an example: 

If a person is born on the 15th of October at 10:35 AM, their horoscope sign would be Libra. The personality would be 75% to 80% similar to that is associated with Libra. A way to think about it — the portion of a personality gives a person the way of how they feel, think and act.

Because they are born as a Libra at 10:35 AM, their rising sign would be Sagittarius. That sign was on the eastern horizon at the time you born. To calculate the rising sign, look at the time you were born in relation to 6:00AM. The sign will change every two hours. Two hours ahead is another sign but instead of moving forward on the astrological signs as shown above in the astrological calendar year, one moves back. A way to think of it: moving ahead in time is moving backward in astrology. Thus the astrological sign of our friend is a Libra but because he was born at 10:30 AM, he must move back in time four hours to get to 6AM. This is ahead two signs as the four hours is equivalent to two signs. The leap of two signs positions the astrological signs to be Sagittarius. 20% to 25% of that person’s personality would be under the influence of Sagittarius. They would get some of their emotions, attitudes, effervescences and personality from this sign.

Another way to look at it, lets look at another person born on the same day as our Libra friend on October 15th but at a time between 2 and 4PM. When we calculate his rising sun, we would go back in time 8 hours to get to 6AM, and we would go 4 horoscope signs after the Libra to be that of Aquarius. It could also be a little different because of the time zone of your place of birth. Also, depending on the country, sunrise is before 6AM and thus the signs must take this into account. Again, the rising sign influences a personality. It can be the outer projection of a person as society may see them. It does not reflect their inner core values but is how society may see them. For example: a Cancerian may be 70% domestic minded, clinging to family values, the home and nesting, but the rising sign may be that of a Leo. The Leo influence will make them more dynamic, more famous, more of a people person or someone with a leadership style. That is how society sees them, but may not always reflect how or who they really are.

A Rising Signs Break Down

Here are the rising signs and how they affect the personality of the people. Born under the same horoscope, people who have different rising horoscopes will have totally opposite personality traits.

Aries: This sign gives a high velocity, dynamic moving energy. Attracted to red and orange colors, it gives health issues related to the head and eyes. They tend to be more honest, generous but also aggressive as they walk through life than they otherwise would under another sign. More diplomacy is needed to deal with life’s issues.

Taurus: Attracted to the nature, arts and beauty, they tent to move slowly towards their goals with patience and a sense of balance. They have a tendency to have weight issues as they like food and may be a good cook also. They have a instant attraction to all degrees of the blue color.

Gemini: They have a degree of energy and are repulsed by stagnation or monotony. They require a lot of moving around and communication. They will be successful in study and analyzing. They have a tendency to move their hands a lot when they talk. They will encounter a lot of stress because their mind is constantly active and working 24/7. They are attracted to shades of brown, neutrals and sand colors.

Cancer: They are most equated with emotions, romance, imagination and the family. They are highly sentimental, have a tendency to be moody and love to help people. They tend to make mom their number 1 person in their lives and their kids also. They adore the colors of the sky particularly that of a blue summer day with white and silver.

Leo: Lights, action, STAR. They are famous, famous and more famous. They are full of honesty, bluntness with a leadership style. They are very creative people and a bit free spirited. They love to advise people and are good at it. They are attracted to yellow, gold and orange colors.

Virgo: if we will talk about someone with perfect organizational skills, that’s will be Virgo. They have a critical personality and they don’t like surprises. They are traditionalists and their favorite colors are light brown and green.

Libra: It is so easy to deal with a Libra. They have a kind, elegant and diplomatic way to deal with people. They are the peacemakers of the world.  They like to work in the arts and design fields. They too are attracted to all degrees of the blue.

Scorpio: full of very strong feelings and emotions but Scorpios have a tendency to hide them inside. They have the ability to discover and uncover what people are thinking just by looking to their eyes. They are highly sexually charged. Sex plays a great role in their lives. Black is their favorite color.

Sagittarius: They are into sports, horse riding and travel. These are important things to them. They are friendly in dealing with people and like to discover new cultures. They are attracted to philosophical ideas and things with religious significance. They feel alive with reds and oranges.

Capricorn: Always in need of entertainment, they tend to be very easy going with life. They work hard most of your time and look for getting high levels of achievement in life. But they do like to cut loose. Their lucky color, believe it or not, is the brown.

Aquarius: Social personality and total social butterfly. They look for equality, are socially egalitarians, they look for jobs that deals with independence and guarantees them a sense of freedom. They may act strangely or be viewed as eccentric. They are at home with the colors yellow and green.

Pisces: Full of romantic and spirituality, they like the theater, the movie world and drama. They have a tendency to be slightly moody person and like to escape from reality into their own worlds. Their colors are dark blue and purple.

We understand that everybody has a horoscope and if we understand the rising sun, a lot of differences among people can be explained for those who belong to the same sign. Some people can’t get along with others according to their personality differences and behaviors are influenced by their horoscopes. Conversely, others meld quite nicely with each other and get along together because they have a rising sign that makes their association more easily understandable.

We have talked about the sun how it affects the horoscopes and the rising signs but how about the moon or the other planets? That’s what we will talk about next time. So, stay tuned!

-Tariq Al saud - Astrology & Pop Culture Blogger

SOFA CHICAGO - a must see!

If your image of an art opening is people coiffed in all black garb milling around looking at painting of old fruit and sipping wine — this is NOT that kind of art event. This is AMAZING. The SOFA Art and Design CHICAGO event is dedicated to artists that work in Sculptural Objects and Functional Art (aka.. SOFA).  So no, you are not going to see lots of oil painting and watercolors of some dried piece of fruit. Instead, you are going to see work that is beyond beautiful, it is also functional or developed with such skill that it will leave you mind boggled. This is the 21st anniversary of the event and there is much to see.

Often over looked, this work is not your typical work as it is not found in a frame. You will find the work in many museums and very many public and private collections as it represents skilled artists that have taken their craft to a new level. These works don’t typical fall in the categories that many galleries often exhibit.  Much like suits of armor, period furniture or sculptures found in many museums, they fall in the categories of applied arts — where art and design is applied to everyday objects to make them beautiful. Fine art aims to produce objects that are beautiful and provide a level of intellectual stimulation. The SOFA CHICAGO event represents both — applied arts that fall quite nicely into the fine art category. This is an international exhibit with 14 countries represented and over 70 galleries from around the globe. Unlike many gallery events where there may be one or two artists present, this show will have hundreds of artists present and the opportunity to see thousands of works of art — and as a bonus, this show is so popular, many of the artists will be there on hand to talk with. On an international scale this event is amazingly huge and sitting in Chicago’s backyard. And just to make it clear, this is a fine arts and crafts show… not an arts and crap show. No potholders crocheted by grandma, no doilies made of recycled plastic bags or strange lawn objects made of beer cans. This is a show that even if you hate art, detest going to art museums and leave running in terror from the Museum of Contemporary Art Museum, this show will take your breath away. This exhibit will have artwork executed in glass, wood working, metal work, porcelain, ceramics, textiles and so much more.

    This event is beyond any other art event in that artists are also creating work on the spot. One of highlights and favorites of this event is an opportunity to see Corning Museum of Glass “Hot Glass Roadshow”. Since 2005, the Hot Glass Roadshow has been mesmerizing the viewers as they work with molten glass as it comes out of furnace. This year, the winning entry from the SOFA CONNECT contest will be constructed on site the first day of the exhibit.  The Corning Museum of Glass is the world’s largest exhibit space devoted to the presentation of contemporary art glass. Their road show helps audiences understand the process, be able to ask questions and develop a better understanding of the media. This is really fun to watch. Kids will love it too. This is art in process. To be blunt — this is my favorite part of the SOFA CHICAGO. But I may have a new favorite. The American Association of Woodturners will be giving live presentations of wood working on a lathe. A particular fondness for this, I have worked on a lathe and the feeling is exhilarating. Seeing experts in this exhibit making art on the spot will have many guys (and gals) recalling memories of their father and grandfathers working in their woodshops. These craftsmen ramp up the experience of SOFA CHICAGO and make going to the event more of accessible and approachable. It is art that is demystified. There is also the Craft School Experience.  Five of the leading craft schools: Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts, Peters Valley School of Craft, and Pilchuck Glass School have joined together for a collaborative exhibit. This interactive exhibit strives to capture the essence what the craft school experience is all about. It features artworks of master teachers, resident artists, and students who have studied or taught at one or more of the participating schools. Through their combined efforts they are working to promote and encourage education and excellence in craft by emphasizing their unique opportunities for students to realize their abilities and focus on creativity. Expect to see some really interesting and thought provoking work.

Making the Connection:

CONNECT is a university-level design competition. Six art and design schools are chosen and offer students a forum to show their work. Each school creates an innovative environment incorporating seating, lighting and installations, and to exhibit their designs to an international audience. It is environment design for the attendees to relax and “connect” with other attendees. This is design applied to the environments with participants seeing and enjoying how architectural design flows seamlessly into their lives and into their living spaces. Spaces are approximately 575-square foot areas where visitors can relax and “connect” with other attendees. A jury assembled by SOFA CHICAGO will review all installations and the winning school will be awarded a cash prize. This years schools include:

Illinois Institute of Technology
Pratt Institute
University of California | Davis
University of Cincinnati | College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning
University of Iowa
University of Massachusetts | Dartmouth


makes it easy.

When you go to the Louvre, you want to see the Mona Lisa right? You want to see the best of the best? At SOFA CHICAGO, there is so much beautiful work that it can be pretty overwhelming. They put together a best of the best or a list of the “do not miss” pieces. This is SELECTS. These are pieces that have been highlighted and chosen by noted curators, designers, and critics. A brain child of fair Director Donna Davies, she tapped top professionals in the art and design communities to review the fair and make their picks. “We’re adding these selections to give our audience another opportunity to connect with the artwork,” said Davies. “Seeing what pieces each of these curators, designers, and critics have noted gives our visitors opportunities to further engage with artworks at the fair.” These highlights are available online to peruse though and then you can see them up close and personal at the show. One of the pieces that people seem to agree upon is a work entitled
Gilder River Vessel by Jennifer McCurdy. It is a wheel thrown porcelain and is approximately 7 x 14 x 10". It is presented by the William Zimmer Gallery.   Panelist Interiors Chicago Editor-in-Chief Diana Bitting noted “As someone that is not a skilled ceramist, I cannot fathom the amount of effort and the impeccable technique it took to craft this gorgeous vessel. A jaw-dropping heirloom.”


Take a break during the day and step into a couple of the presentations The SOFA CHICAGO Lecture Series. They feature engaging presentations by renowned artists, critics, curators, designers and collectors on a variety of topics. The series of lectures begin on Friday during the Fair. There over two dozen presentations to pick from.  Speakers will share their insights into current trends in art and design, and lectures include artists speaking about their own bodies of work to panel discussions addressing larger themes. The Lecture Series is included with general admission. One of the interesting ones that caught my eye is Transition From Wood to Glass Represented by Thomas R. Riley Galleries of  Cleveland, OH, Harry Pollitt discusses his aesthetic transition from wood sculptures to kiln cast crystal and achieving the same flowing, sensuous curves and negative space that make his wood sculptures so distinctive. There are so many, you will want to plan your day. It is very easy to spend the weekend here.

One last thing…

Before you go, do yourself a favor and go to www. http://www.sofaexpo.com/chicago/booth-events. This is a list of all the special events that are happening. There is so much there. As there are over 70 exhibitors, each has something going on to entice you. Look over the list as there are some interesting demonstrations, talks, book signings, tours, films/video screenings and presentations. If you can’t do the weekend consider the Opening night preview on November 6th. This one of the most anticipated evenings of the year, will mark the official start of the fair. The SOFA CHICAGO Opening Night Preview is a must-attend event for members of the art and design communities, collectors and patrons, as it offers the very first opportunity to view and purchase artwork from exhibiting galleries. Mark your calendars and put SOFA Chicago on it.

Hours and costs

SOFA CHICAGO is open Friday and Saturday 11 am – 7 pm; and Sunday 12 pm – 6pm. Tickets are available in advance or at the door, and they allow access to all aspects of SOFA CHICAGO. Tickets are $20 for general admission; $30 for three-day pass.  Students and senior and groups (10 or more) are $15. For advance ticket sales, go online to www.sofaexpo.com.

Stay ahead of the holiday weight gain: A few tricks, so you can enjoy the treats!

Halloween is next week, and October’s spookiest night will kick off this year’s holiday season. Before you will be even begin to put away all of your candy, we will begin the short-lived, busy weeks heading towards Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then New Years. Over the course of the next couple of months, there will be parties with friends, work gatherings, and family dinners – which may make it difficult to get to the gym and to keep your diet in check. As a result, while you are putting on the final touches of your costume for the party, also consider using these few tricks to stay ahead of all of the treats (and calories!) you will likely encounter.  

Scan the buffet table. When attending social functions, make sure that you scan the buffet table for what is available before loading up your plate. Assessing your choices first before filling your plate will allow yourself to eat the best food available as well as allow yourself to splurge – but do so in moderation. While one or two small cookies are not going to cause your waistline to expand, trying all six options may leave you feeling a little guilty and a little less confident about the notch in your belt.

Savor what is special. It’s Thanksgiving, and your grandma makes a mean pecan pie. Since you only grandma’s pie only comes around once a year, you want to make sure that you can enjoy the indulgence. So be sure to plan ahead: eat smaller portions during the main course; try to exercise at some point during the day to make room for the extra calories; and savor your piece of pie. Eat slowly, enjoy it, and then avoid all of the additional dessert options that have always have never even come close to grandma’s pie.

Hold back on the drinks. Aside from all of the small plates and treats, drinking large amounts of alcohol not only leads to a lot of unneeded calories (but also the potential to being over-served – something you and your boss do not need to experience!) Try to limit yourself to one or two cocktails over the course of the evening; limit consumption by drinking a glass of water in between each drink and/or switching over to soda water. Aside from cutting back on the amount of drinks you are having in an evening, also try options that have less sugar, such as red wine.

Plan ahead. When you are traveling to and fro, try to plan ahead to ensure that you have some healthy options. Pack healthy snacks that are well-portioned and easily accessible for when hunger strikes. It may save you some cash on the expensive products at the airport and/or prevent you from indulging in that candy bar at the convenience store.

Work it out… anywhere.  During the holidays, all of the parties, gatherings, and traveling can cut into gym time. However, that does not mean you still can’t keep moving throughout the day. Simple things, such as parking further away in the lot while you run errands and taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help burn a few extra calories. Plus, even if you have twenty minutes to yourself, performing body weight exercises, for example push ups, sit ups, squats, lunges, etc., can help you get in a brief, hard-hitting workout.

The holidays are an exciting time of year, but can also be dangerous on your waistline if you don’t take proper action. So this year – stay ahead of the holiday weight gain, starting with Halloween, so you can take on a more inspiring New Year’s resolution (the next Great American Novel, anyone?) and, of course, enjoy yourself.

Some Movies Out This Weekend, October 24, 2014

The fall season eclecticism continues at full speed this weekend. You have your choice of gonzo action, spooky exploitation of childhood games, and a romantic comedy with some of the best talent in Hollywood on board.
As usual, these three aren't everything you can find in theaters this weekend, but they represent a good mix. So if you Halfstackers aren't at any Halloween parties, a trip to the movies should give you lots of options.

John Wick
Directors: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane

An outlandish premise – mobsters (?) steal a reformed assassin's dog, he goes to get it back, gleeful violence follows – brings Keanu Reeves back to form as a big time action hero. The cast is filled with fun ringers (Dafoe and Leguizamo) and HBO vets (Allen, McShane) alike. The directors are former stuntmen on some of the best action movies of a generation, like The Matrix – hence the Reeves connection. This is getting the highest of marks and could be the perfect movie to see with a crowd this weekend.

Director: Stiles White
Writers: Juliet Snowden, Stiles White
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos

Halloween is only a week away, everyone. You need to get plenty scared. Disregard the flimsy, market tested premise (“People recognize this product, so let's make a movie out of it!”) and focus on the atmosphere. I've seen this trailer a handful of times in theaters recently and I've come away feeling creeped out.

Will the movie be any good in the traditional sense? With the trailer giving away the movie's lazy expository device – the original girl shot videos to warn her friends before she was killed – I doubt it. But I'm anxious and jumpy. Stuff gets to me, especially surprises. I bet this will be an effective movie in that regard.

Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer: Andrea Seigel
Starring: Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell

A play on the man-child narratives that have been so popular for the last decade, Laggies stars Keira Knightley (with an impressive American accent) as a woman who can't grow up. She befriends Chloe Grace Moretz, a high school student, and “lay[s] low” at her dad's (Sam Rockwell) house. Life lessons are learned, romances are kindled, advice is imparted. On its face, it all seems pretty conventional.

But! The cast is among the best in Hollywood, with heavyweights in talent if not pounds (they're skinny, you see) Knightley and Rockwell making a sweet if surprising romantic pair. Director Lynn Shelton has worked on some of the greatest television of the last several years – episodes of New Girl, The Mindy Project, and even a Mad Men thrown in – and her features, especially Humpday and Touchy Feely, have gotten great reviews. There is some solid pedigree at work.

Whiplash Review: Genius is Harsh


Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons

Genius is rare, perhaps even fleeting. It is also not about talent alone. Platitudes about the duration of Rome's construction apply even to the most brilliant people, and it's an unpleasant, sometimes unhinged exercise where things like real life and social pleasantries fall by the wayside in pursuit of greatness.

Writer-director Damien Chazelle's Whiplash unpacks that idea with laser focus. Miles Teller's Andrew is a first-year jazz drummer at the best music school in the country. He's more than raw talent, as established by the film's opening shot, a dolly push-in from a hallway to the practice room where Andrew toils away, sweaty and exhausted. A cut reveals the camera's point of view to be that of Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the conductor of the school's prestigious jazz band. Their first encounter is not the easiest first impression scene to sit through, and the movie only gets harder from there.

Andrew and Fletcher spar throughout the film. Fletcher is the worst case scenario negative reinforcement teacher, with a motivational style that includes throwing chairs at his pupils' heads and never once offering a word of encouragement. Mirroring the drumming depicted in the film, Fletcher's behavior is constant, repetitious abuse of their physical, mental, and emotional faculties. Even in his more “teacherly” moments, he is a calculating monster, only asking about Andrew's family background to gain an emotional cudgel moments later when Andrew makes a miniscule mistake in practice.

But is Fletcher really the bastard he seems to be? This is where Chazelle moves the film from straightforward character drama into a thesis on the manipulative nature of cinema. Despite the opening shot, most of Whiplash is shown through Andrew's subjective, go-getting eyes. He is not a heroic character. This is not an example of Chazelle showing how his protagonist is flawed or bringing a level of “real world” humanity to him while retaining likeability – he does and says some despicable things to the people who surround him. This may not be on the same abusive level as his teacher, but his tunnel vision to perfection sends him into callous fits of egoism. He emotionally tramples his girlfriend and holds an air of superiority over his father's dinner guests for not having his gifts, which pale in comparison to the way he treats his bandmates, with belittling statements about their abilities and a possible bit of sabotage to gain early sway with Fletcher. Even the climax of the film revolves around an act of spiteful showboating that makes it about the conflict between these characters. This is uncompromising storytelling, some of the best film has to offer. But from a character standpoint, and for the other musicians who have to be bystanders to this drama, with their futures just as much on the line as Andrew's, it's selfishness.

This calls into question Andrew's emotional stability and maturity, as he cannot see at times obvious tricks, cruel as they are, to put him on the right path. One of his rival drummers, of a good natured personality, reminds him that Fletcher is “all bark, no bite,” which could be closer to the truth than Andrew's mind allows him to perceive. There are pointed scenes where Chazelle shows some non-grotesque aspects to Fletcher's personality, cracks in the mask, with the camera pausing on Simmons's face during moments of horrible self-realization/public deception, or voyeuristic peeks at a good nature outside of his practice room behavior. Fletcher even goes so far as to lay out his ethos in clear terms to Andrew in a third act scene, but his pettiness makes it worse for both of them, setting up the grand finale of selfish oneupmanship. Or is it just another Fletcher motivational ploy to wring greatness from Andrew? That's the wonderful mess Chazelle leaves for the audience to decide.

Andrew's goal is to be “one of the greats,” and he'll probably do it if he doesn't collapse under his own and his teacher's pressure. Chazelle, the first-time director, might be on the same route, and his first features is probably already there.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Painting in Public: Audrey Ushenko's Thompson Center Piece

Imagine hurrying to your midday meeting in the Thompson Center. You start across the atrium with several things on your mind. The crowd parts and there’s a canvas the size of a sofa. In front of the canvas is a small woman with red hair painting the scene. She has a little crowd behind her. You continue on, but the juxtaposition of creativity amidst the hard geometric lines of the building makes you think. The artist is Audrey Ushenko. She paints large scale canvases in public to soak up the energy of the space and be inspired. After three years, Ushenko has finished her piece of the Thompson Center.
Ushenko has done several large scale public painting projects. It started twenty years ago when Audrey was intrigued by the idea we are a web of people. We are all connected, dead or alive. At an exhibit in Boston, she saw works of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. The individual portraits dealt with finding the significance of life. Looking at the pictures and the onlookers admiring them, she felt we were still in the same ship. Ushenko enjoys being in the flow of life, seeing the different people coexisting in the same space and all stories they bring.
“Creating in public makes more sense than creating in isolation,” says Ushenko. “People who collect art don’t have much to do with the pieces.” People overall are very respectful and positive. Where she creates people have a reason to be there. They’re working, they’re going somewhere. She's not particularly interested in people's response to her work, but enjoys the comments and encourages people to ask questions. "There's a whole universe behind one pair of eyes," she says. She also does a lot of work behind closed doors. For her current piece she spent two months’ worth of planning ahead of time. The work needed to be far enough along before she set up in public.
Ushenko's work is flush with people, capturing the community that makes the place what it is. The subjects volunteer as they're either part of the commission or part of her audience. If they’re from the audience, she’ll ask if she can sketch them. Look closely at the Thompson Center composition and you'll see a cop with his drug dog. The dog, Max, had terminal cancer. "As many terminally ill people, Max didn’t want to be off the job," Audrey explained. "So Brian would bring him by. Soon people would recognize them, 'Oh that’s Max.'" She feels she a storyteller and feels best when telling a story, working with people to help them with the ideas they want to communicate. As she says, art is a form of communication. Ushenko’s Thompson Center piece debuts in November. For more information visit her site at www.audreyushenko.com

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Old Fashion is in Style

It is just too easy to dream of the days when you would get a handwritten invitation, note, and (for all my romantics out there) love letters. Luxe Craft Paper Co. is bringing it back with modern style. The two sisters running this communication revolution have fashion cards, mini envelopes, gift tags, and more ready for you!

Handwritten letters aren't just for the hipsters...join the craze at the Luxe Craft Paper Workshop this Saturday, the 25th, at 520 N Kingsburg St in Chicago, on the 8th floor lounge. From 2-4 pm you can be crafting 5 cards and 5 envelopes using decorative papers. The end product is beyond cute... I have to hand it to the Gennace sisters for the originality that makes me want to hang it on my wall! This workshop is an opportunity to embrace the fashion and Italian influences.

Come be inspired, and let those creative juices flow. Think how refreshing it is to get an envelope in the mail...not a magazine issue...not spam...and definitely NOT bills! Add a little spice to your day; bring a pen-pal to the workshop to light up your days as you take your daily walk to the mailbox. 

Sparta in Illinois...The Spartan Race

The Spartan Sprint and Super race brought the legendary Sparta to Illinois. Well it wasn't like the movie 300, but it did bring forth many super athletes from our great state to compete in this extraordinarily difficult obstacle race. The Spartan Super (which was the one we had our contributing writer Dylan compete in) consisted of 8 miles and between 20-30 obstacles. This race, unlike others such as the Gladiator, requires strength, agility and speed to make it through.

So which types of obstacles did the Spartan Super race offer their victims, oops, meant challengers? There was a javelin throw (yes I was surprised there weren't any casualities), swimming across puddles, lifting boulders and carrying them, rope climbs from water, crazy monkey bars and much more. " The Spartan had a good variety of challenges" Dylan stated. Also if you couldn't complete a challenge, unlike the real Spartans where you literally would be killed, here you had to complete 30 burpees. Our writer, Dylan, had 2 failures so he endured 60 burpees. His nemesis, the javelin throw and the rope climbing out of water.

Other than the unique obstacle races and the burpee penalty, there is a team work social aspect to these races. People help strangers out, creating a fun atmosphere that is non competitive except for against yourself. Out of a rating from 1-10, 10 being the absolute best score for a race, our writer rated the Spartan Super at a 8. He recommends this race to anyone who wants a challenge. It is a unique challenge and great for versatile athletes since the terrain is all over the place.

So interested in competing in the next Spartan race? Check them out here, they have many upcoming races but you must hurry now, since space IS limited!!!

Thank you to contributing writer Dylan Diesing for taking on this challenge for us!!!