On May 20, 1891, an estimated 6,000 people attended the first-ever Opening Day at Hawthorne Race Course. The event featured the Chicago Derby?a quarter-mile race won by a horse named Brookwood. Since that day, the facility has thrilled Chicago-area racing fans season after season with live competition and full-card simulcasting. But it hasn't always been easy. In 1905, for instance, racing was banned in Chicago for more than 15 years after several of the facility's horses became mired in a political scandal. And Hawthorne Race Course itself has had to overcome its fair share of adversity, including two fires, the most recent of which destroyed the grandstand in 1978.
The creative team of framers and decorators at Foursided stocks stacks of creative greeting cards and paraphernalia. The self-described "frame nerds" do more than cultivate a collection of stationery by planting paper seeds in nearby printing presses; they also place prints and objects into frames and furnish homes with original pieces by a handful of favored artists. Staffers also buy and sell vintage flash cards, puzzle pieces, and letter tiles harvested from a variety of objects.
Owner Todd Mack has worked in framing for 20 years, and he draws on his vast experience when custom mounting a broad spectrum of pieces. Vintage and recycled frames, archival framing, and shadow boxes are a few of the options available. Mack's interest in shadow boxes makes perfect sense to visitors who take a look at his own art, which assembles found photos and objects in forms that aren't always 2-D.
On HGTV's Urban Oasis, interior designer Vern Yip ornamented a luxury apartment with prints gathered from Foursided's expansive collection. In that collection, colorful shelves of letter blocks, maps, corks, baby-doll heads, and harmonicas turn personal, nostalgic objects into stylish new decorations. Candles, jewelry, and books round out the gift selections.
Transistor’s love for local art and music is immediately evident when patrons enter the store’s Lincoln Avenue space, with visitors greeted by an eye-pleasing mélange of books, records, electronics, and musical instruments, many with Chicago connections. Deep-pine-green walls bear paintings, photographs, and prints by locally based visual artists, as well as silk-screened gig posters from bygone local shows. Books from Chicago arts-and-culture publishers such as Continuum and Taschen delve into film, photography, music, and other forms of creative expression. An ample stock of vinyl and CDs by indie-rock, punk, and classic-rock artists pairs with high-quality sound equipment, such as turntables and headphones from Numark. Regular in-store live performances by area musicians are dutifully recorded and posted on Transistor’s website, also home to a regular podcast featuring music curated by an eclectically minded five-person crew of store DJs. Periodic classes in skills such as oil and acrylic painting, home recording technology, and basic photography help transform art lovers into artists.
Richard Stromberg is so dedicated to teaching the art of photography that he's held class during a freezing blizzard, a blistering heat wave, and while he was confined to a wheelchair after surgery. Richard brings his fierce dedication and 45 years of photography and teaching experience to his school, where he leads a variety of photography classes alongside a dedicated staff of volunteers. Within spacious classrooms, the seasoned instructors guide students through the techniques of DSLR photography, from basic camera operation to tips on starting up a studio. In addition to mechanics and fundamentals, they also encourage their students to see the world in new aesthetic ways, helping them recognize the beauty of a sunset or the fogged-up monocle of a sensitive millionaire. The dedicated staff can often be spotted at the school before and after class hours helping students work on assignments in the lighting studio, the darkroom, and the expansive computer lab. Twice a year, they showcase pupils’ work in their onsite WithInSight Gallery.
At Art de Triumph, local artist Nancie King Mertz showcases her original paintings and pastels and outfits clients' masterpieces in custom frames. Much like the courtroom artist at Rod Blagojevich's trial, Mertz often draws inspiration from iconic Chicagoan figures, rendering portraits including The Bean (also known as Cloud Gate) and the Wrigley Building. The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau named Mertz the Artist of the Year from 2005 through 2007, acknowledging her expertise with watercolor, oil, and pastel. In addition to ready-wear wall art, Art de Triumph deals in custom frames, helping clients select and customize matting and framing for photos, posters, and other important memorabilia such as the CTA card used to travel to the studio.
Founded in 1982 with the mission of spreading an understanding of war's impact on the lives of soldiers, the National Veterans Art Museum showcases more than 2,000 works of art created by more than 255 veterans. The museum's oeuvre, which comprises paintings, photography, sculpture, and music, focuses on Vietnam but includes artwork inspired by all of America's wars. In addition to keep a permanent collection, the museum hosts rotating temporary exhibits that honor and remember veterans and keep the subject matter fresh. Visitors and members enjoy an active social calendar, stocked with events that feature live music and plays performed entirely with the NATO phonetic alphabet.