What We're Reading: 4/5

Mid-fall groundbreaking set for Obama Center

With more than $800 million in commitments and cash on hand, the Obama Foundation intends to begin construction of the long-planned Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park by mid-fall, officials said today.

In a meeting with Crain’s editorial board, foundation Chair Valerie Jarrett and construction chief Lori Healey said that, with only routine city building permits yet to be obtained, land clearance work on the 18-acre site will begin “around Sept. 1,” with actual construction perhaps two months later but definitely before winter.

Via Crain's


Chicago’s Arts Community Sees Wave of New Black Leaders

Chicago’s arts organizations have always been enriched and influenced by the work of Black artists and performers, though they have not always been inclusive of Black voices. And Black leadership in those organizations have historically been even less inclusive.

Amid the turbulence of the last year, a wave of new Black leaders has arrived in Chicago’s arts community. Now, they are tasked with navigating some of the city’s best-known institutions through incredibly challenging times for the arts.



Museum Debt Deprives Us of Our Future

Art museums across the United States are in a dire financial crisis. As a result of closures during the Covid-19 pandemic, many museums have undertaken drastic measures such as furloughing and laying off staff, selling artwork from their permanent collection, and scaling back programming and exhibitions in order to mitigate massive revenue losses. However, museums rarely acknowledge the extent to which industry financial practices, in particular the use of debt to finance capital projects, endanger their sustainability, especially during times of national and international economic crisis.

By Riley Yaxley, ADF Web Magazine


The MCA Blows It

Wrapping the corner walls of the entrance to “The Long Dream” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago are the names of the more than 70 local artists exhibiting work in the exhibition. Some of these names belong to my friends and colleagues, and there are others I don’t personally know but greatly admire. Rather than feeling vicariously buoyed by reading these names, and appreciating the institutional recognition of a segment of Chicago’s arts community, I instinctively flinched.

By Robin Dluzen



Thumbnail image: Diane Christensen and Jeanne Dunning with Steve Dawson, “Birth Death Breath,” 2016, inflatable opera. Installation view, Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, Illinois