PAWS CHICAGO HAS PRIDE; MADHATTER'S BALL; FIG & OLIVE HITS OAK; BORRIS AND KYLE TEAM UP; DIFFA'S CRYSTAL BALL; CAITLIN'S "BEAUTIFUL LIFE"; CHAZ PRESENTS "LIFE ITSELF"; JOANNE'S "ON THE LEDGE"; PIERRE'S NEXT MOVE; MISS CONTINENTAL PAGEANT; SHINE & DINE; FRENCH RIVIERA MEMORIES; STARVING ARTIST; EYE-BANK HONORS; A SILVER LINING'S TASTING STARS PARTY; LEAGUE OF CHICAGO THEATRES GALA; FUN-FILLED BIRTHDAYS AND SO MUCH MORE!
I hope you all had a great July 4th weekend! If you were lucky, the BBQ was on the grill and the beer and wine were flowing! Some of our favorite memories of this holiday are from St. Tropez on the French Riviera where we've been lucky to celebrate with friends from around the globe. And even though we partied stateside this year, my spirit was still there dancing on the tables at La Voile Rouge, draped in an American flag and drinking copious amounts of le vin du pays with my friends. Here's some of my thoughts on holidays past. Believe it or not, the French celebrate our holiday as exuberantly as we do at home! And, since we all know that the best place to be is always where your friends are, for over 17 years we've met up with an eclectic mix of friends in this ultra chic "fishing village" to celebrate our Independence Day. After our first trip there in the early '90's, we were completely hooked. I finally got to see for myself the inspiration that has existed there for decades for artists and writers. You will never see "light" like this anywhere else in the world. It bathes everything it touches in the warmest glow and could make a 90 year-old woman look like a wood nymph. It's such a magical place that one can never imagine any illness or unhappiness occurring there. The July 4th celebration in St. Tropez is actually sort of a week long party that always begins at Le Club 55 "Cinquate Cinq", the most elegant beach club, and ended at La Voile Rouge ("The Red Sail"), the wildest of them all. Considered the birth place of the beach club, La Voile Rouge, sadly, no longer exists since the neighbors complained about noise levels. I think this is surprising since it's never been anything different since it was brought to life in 1966 by the late Paul Tomaselli. (This club was also the first to have topless guests. Woo Hoo!). In any case, we were thrilled to be there when it was still going strong and the tables, chairs, bars, walls, everything was covered in shades of red, white and blue for this festive occasion. Even the waitstaff were all dressed patriotically.... skimpily, but patriotically! The party started around noon and lasted until the sun was a burnt cinder and/or you ran out of energy, whichever came first. As always on this day American specialties were served and included hamburgers, hotdogs and corn on the cob. Even though we yearned for authentic French food, it was always fabulous fun by the sea. I hope your weekend celebrations were special and you made lasting memories, too!
PAWS Chicago, for the fourth year in a row, came out strong this past Sunday at Chicago’s annual Pride Parade. Over one hundred volunteers, employees, Development Board members (including Founder Paula Fasseas and President Alexis Fasseas) joined hands to say thank you to Chicago’s LGBTQ community! The weather couldn’t have been nicer and the crowd of over 1,000,000 more enthusiastic to see PAWS Chicago’s support! Chicago’s own incomparable Miss Lucy Foozie was the first in line, followed by a parade banner announcing their presence. “I’m so proud of the love and support from the community and all they’ve done to increase awareness of the no-kill movement in not only the City of Chicago, but statewide,” said PAWS Chicago Pride Co-Chair/Development Board member Bonnie Krueger. “This is our way of giving back to those who’ve given and to say thank you so much—we’re all part of the same Chicago community and today we embrace each other in support.” PAWS Chicago ‘walkers’ sang, dance, blew whistles and embraced and thanked the crowd by giving out 5,000 PAWS Chicago Pride button/pins. Next up was the float, funded by John and Christine Mallul, which was led by PAWS Chicago mascots Pepe and Happy. Empowering songs like We Are Family, Respect, I Believe, Who Let The Dogs Out and big crowd pleaser Fancy blared from the speakers as the crowd blew kisses and shared the love back. As a special thank you-- Development Board member Cheri Lawrence sponsored the after-party and invited everyone (all volunteers, Development Board members) to DOC Wine Bar on Clark Street to enjoy spirits, fabulous food and camaraderie—and to say thank you! PAWS Chicago Pride Co-Chairs Bonnie L. Krueger-Spurlock and Nancy Sterling were joined by committee members Christine and John Mallul, Cheri Lawrence, Kim Gleason, Linda Lahey, Lynne Styles, Anita Mauro, Judy Tullman, Wayne Gailis, Alexis Fasseas, Renata and Robert Block, Vince Coraci, Trey Arbonne, David Sarama, Robert Hovermale. Dori Wilson and Mitch Serrano for another amazing event to spread the love and raise awareness for PAWS Chicago, the Midwest's only no-kill animal shelter! (Photos by Richard Chen).
Chicago Artists Coalition’s (CAC) annual benefit, Starving Artist, whet creative appetites with imaginative fare and whimsical, edible installations in celebration of the organization’s 40th anniversary on June 21. Taking place at CAC’s West Loop gallery space (217 N. Carpenter St.), Starving Artist welcomed more than 300 guests into four unique, multiple sensory environments, that meshed culinary and visual arts by pairing visual artists Diana Gabriel, Luftwerk, Alexandra Noe and Edyta Stepien with Chefs Matthias Merges (Yusho), Chris Pandel (Bristol/Balena), Kyle Peterson (Fulton Market Kitchen) and Jared Van Camp (Element Collective). Guests were greeted with a welcome cocktail by Revae Schneider of Femme Du Coupe before entering into Alexandra Noe’s “living room” hive lounge. Cocktails by Jason Brown of Kinmont were served in the buzzing space, complete with floating laser-cut bees, pollen sculptures and hexagonal serving platters that held honey and ricotta beignets, green tea and sesame macaroons with honey-cured wild salmon created by Chef Jared Van Camp of Element Collective. Artist Diana Gabriel’s striking red and orange string installation was accented by Colombian food, including goats milk cheese, puffed coconut rice and crispy stuffed plantains by Chef Chris Pandel of Bristol and Balena, alongside cocktails by Jason Ackerman of Bristol and gin-infused coffee from Intelligentsia. White paper blossoms by artist Edyta Stepien in the adjoining gallery space covered the walls like points on a map, complimented by Fulton Market Kitchen Chef Kyle Peterson's bay scallop ceviche and seaweed salad and Beverage Director Brian Sturgulewski’s Boston Club Punch. Artist collaborative Luftwerk filled the lower level of CAC with a moving light installation that bounced through a presentation of tequila cocktails by Billy Sunday mixologist Alexander Bachman and a curtain of pig skins, created by Yusho Chef Matthias Merges. Chef Merges also dotted a fried gnudi appetizer across an artful table of arugula pesto, pepperoncini and Calabrian Chili, that resulted in an aftermath of smeared sauces resembling an abstract painting. Adjacent to this memorable display, CAC’s Sweet Shop allowed guests to take treats home, including Das Caramels, Gary Poppins Popcorn, Tate’s Cookies, Vosges Haut-Chocolat and artist-made fortune cookies. Performances, including Nicole LeGette’s Blushing Poppy Dance Club and the Safire Belly Dancers of Chicago to name a few, added interactive entertainment throughout the evening, along with music from DJ Victor Carreon, who helped close out the event with a lively dance party. The event raised more than $83,000 in support of CAC’s unique programming, which strives to build a sustainable marketplace for local artists by providing them with educational resources, exhibition opportunities and entrepreneurial networks. Co-chaired by Olga Markoff and Lesley Prizant Goodman, Starving Artist attracted guests who included CAC Board Chairman and EXPO CHICAGO President/Director Tony Karman, United States Artists CEO Carolina Garcia Jayaram, photographer Susan Aurinko, Christie’s Senior Vice President/Midwest Managing Director Lisa Cavanaugh, Gensler Design Director Todd Heiser, Music Box Theatre Owner William Schopf, Consultant Joel Straus, and Karim Ahamed, Nancy Herring, Carmelita Tiu, Steven Collens, Katharine Schutta and Jeffrey Shapack. 2014 Maker Grant honoree John Preus, Natural Resources Defense Council Resident Artist Jenny Kendler and THE MISSION’s Rebecca Eaton and Sebastian Campos were also on hand for the event. "We are thrilled by the continued enthusiasm and support for the fourth annual Starving Artist," said CAC Interim Executive Director Sara Slawnik. "This annual fundraiser has proven itself as a unique art party, combining creatives working in very different disciplines to reflect CAC’s cross-disciplinary mission.” Congrats to all!
With the theme "A New Chapter" brought to life by a library-themed-bar created by Spex Optical, the mission of the Illinois Eye-Bank (IEB) was front and center at its 16th Annual Gift of Sight Gala on Thursday, June 19. The event raised $100,000 to help restore sight to the more than 1,600 people IEB serves throughout Illinois and more than 3,000 worldwide each year and honored North Shore author Sherrill Bodine as this year's Woman of Vision. Dr. Charles Bouchard, Loyola University Chicago Chairman of Ophthalmology, was the 2014 Gift of Sight honoree. The night’s focus on preserving and restoring vision was underscored by a distinctive photo booth where guests’ eyes were the highlight, and an expressive collage of these ‘soul-windows’ was pinned up for all to admire. Event co-chairs Dr. David Donnersberger and Eileen Howard-Weinberg made brief remarks to the 200 attendees, as did IEB Executive Director Diane Hollingsworth. Violinist Katarina Visnevska performed during the cocktail hour. Guests mingled both outside on the hotel’s terrace and inside in a festive ballroom and bid on an array of items in the silent auction. Guests for the evening included past honorees Jean Antoniou, Dr. Randy Epstein, Greg Hyder, John and Myra Reilly, Mary Ann Rose and Heinz Kern, Dr. Joel Sugar, Susanna Negovan and Mamie Walton. Congrats Sherrill and Charles!
With the perfect mixture of champagne, charity and breathtaking city views, the Tasting Stars event, held at DIRTT Environmental Solutions Showroom, attracted more than 150 guests. In its 12th year, the Tasting Stars premier champagne event raised over $45,000, and for the fourth consecutive year benefited A Silver Lining Foundation’s Buy A Mom A Mammogram® program. Proceeds from the evening funded the entire spectrum of breast health testing at The Evelyn Goldberg Mammography Center at the University of Illinois Hospital. The center is named in honor of the foundation’s Founder and Chairman, Dr. Sandy Goldberg’s, mother whose philosophy “we are all family and we have to help each other through the tough times” is the cornerstone of ASLF’s mission. Founder and Chairman Goldberg created A Silver Lining Foundation in 2002 to ensure that socioeconomic status never affects an individual's ability to obtain information, timely cancer screenings and/or diagnosis. For more information click here or call 312-345-1322. Congrats on all you do Sandy!
The League of Chicago Theatres celebrated the Chicago theater industry and community during its elegant annual Gala at the Swissotel Chicago recently. This one-night-only event brought together friends of Chicago theatre and raised $120,000 for programs to support Chicago’s 240 member theatre companies. Champions of Chicago theatre honored at this year’s event included The Alphawood Foundation, awarded the 2014 Advocacy Award; Michelle Boone, Commissioner, and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events was honored with the Tribute Award; and the Artistic Excellence Award was awarded to director Gary Griffin. Executive Producer Ben Fuchsen and Executive Director Brad Jayhan-Little accepted the Broadway in Chicago Emerging Theatre Award on behalf of Oracle Productions. The evening also included cocktails, a seated dinner, live and silent auctions and live performances. Robert Upton, 2014 winner of the Chicago arm of the August Wilson Monologue Competition, performed his winning piece from Wilson’s Seven Guitars. In a tribute to Artistic Excellence Award Winner Gary Griffin, numbers from some of Griffin’s most notable Chicago productions were performed, including selections from Gypsy, Road Show, and The Color Purple. League of Chicago Theatres board member Jan Kallish, Producer, Jan Kallish Productions, was the darling Gala Chair for this year’s celebration. (Photos by Kimmy Noonen).
Lookingglass Theatre’s Junior Board hosted its 13th Annual Madhatter’s Ball at Block 37 on June 14. More than 650of Chicago's young arts supporters enjoyed carnival cocktails, delicious bites from local restaurants, fun house games and performances from circus artists from the Actor’s Gymnasium and more. This year’s celebration raised $60,000 to support the operation and expansion of Lookingglass' education and community programs, which encourage self-esteem and creativity in thousands of students every year. The event also featured a carnival of gourmet bites from restaurants that included BlackFinn, Gino's East, Sunda, Taco Joint and Zed451. A cavalcade of entertainment featured photo memories from Action Booth, Benjamin Barnes Magic, Windy City Rollers, DJs Brock Manke and Lani Love and more. The Ball was hosted by Artistic Associates Lindsey Noel Whiting and Kareem Bandealy. The event was co-chaired by Jessica Barrutia, Junior Board VP of Marketing & PR (Hill+Knowlton Strategies), Jennalee Reiff, Junior Board VP of Sponsorship (Design Kitchen), Jordan Rummel, Junior Board Social Committee Chair (Mesirow Financial).
There's a hot new restaurant in town that has Chicago buzzing with excitement! Fig & Olive opened recently to rave reviews at 104 E. Oak Street! I loved the fresh, inviting decor and the food was spectacular! It's 10,000' ft, two levels with a gorgeous bar. Congrats to Jasper Nowell (awesome guest relations manager!), sweet Joe Taylor (regional director of operations) and Robin McKay (events manager) on a beautiful spot on a street that desperately needed YOU! See you again very soon!
This summer, a cool partnership will shake LGBT entertainment and fashion. Nationally respected fashion designer, Borris Powell, on the cusp of launching a brand new men’s line, has chosen rising star film director/producer, Kyle Thomas, as the face of his anticipated “Freedom” line. Kyle Thomas, who is producing and directing the highly anticipated upcoming show, SEX + LOVE, is honored to partner with Powell. “There’s a huge shift in culture with marriage being granted to LGBT individuals, and Borris and I have had long conversations about how there’s a desire within gay culture to focus less on the raw sexuality of past decades and to now be courted by a gentleman. Being a gentleman is inherently classic. We grew up on Disney films. It doesn’t matter whether you’re straight or gay, being a gentleman is sexy,” Thomas states. Borris agrees, “It’s about the art and the way that we can make people feel. We want to give people that sense of glamour and romance, whether it be for three hours when she’s in my gown or he’s in my suit. We all want that romance and fantasy, and those things exist here and now. You just have to believe in them once again.” (Photos by Ronald Leon Hale, makeup by Lauren Wiltgen).
One of my favorite photogs, Caitlin Collins Saville, is having an exhibition of her work in Lake Forest, on Friday, July 25. The opening reception for "Beautiful Life" will be at Re-invent Gallery, 202 Wisconsin Ave. from 6-9pm. The exhibition of fine art images will be on display through September 6. Lake Forest native, Caitlin Saville Collins is a member of one of the oldest family's in Lake Forest's history and has always had a passion for viewing life through a lens. Her solo photographic exhibition will highlight many different stages and subjects of her career and lifetime as a Lake Forest resident. Food and drink will be served and all are welcome. For more info, visit www.reinventlf.com
The 26th annual Crystal Ball, hosted by DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS/Chicago), was held at Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom recently. This black-tie affair was the fourth in a series of Believe Galas dedicated to DIFFA/Chicago grantees and raised more than $500K to help fund education and advocacy to advance the fight against AIDS. This year's spirited gala theme, The Crystal Ball, built awareness among the over 700 attendees that a future without AIDS is possible. The evening's program celebrated new developments and discoveries while recognizing individuals and organizations supporting AIDS research. Catherine De Orio, new host of Chicago's "Check, Please!" and gala emcee, engaged the crowd as well as keynote speaker Dr. John Flaherty, HIV specialist and Director of Infectious Diseases Fellowship Training Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. They were joined by Meg and Jim Prendergast and Hunter Kaiser who conducted the live auction. The event was co-chaired by Frances Renk (LOVE HER!), Ron Leiserowitz, Lynn Fordon and Mary Jo Fasan. The evening's entertainment featured the U.S. debut of the Famous Band, one of Canada's top touring bands, and had the crowd on its feet. There was also a fabulous performance by a Michael Jackson impersonator who performed "Thriller" among other Jackson hits. As tradition has it, the night ended with the announcement of DIFFA/Chicago's Unsung Hero. This honor went to the organization's hardworking Auxiliary Board. For more info, click here. Congrats to ALL!
Birthdays, birthdays, birthdays! I know my friends are getting sick of celebrating (LOL!), but I was thrilled to share another party with fellow Gemini friends Lynn McMahan and Toni Canada. It was a fun gathering at Tavern on Rush recently where the champagne (and Pinot Grigio) flowed! Patty Brand Nalepa wrapped our lovely gifts in custom paper from her new company, ISnapWrap.com. Rochelle Trotter conducted a fun game in her exuberant style and had everyone in tears (laughing not crying!). There were balloons, darling cakes, lovely gifts and, most importantly, the shared fun with beautiful friends. Thanks so much for making this big birthday so memorable! Partygoers included Kristina McGrath, Korinna Isselhardt, Jan Flanagan, Dusty Stemer, Michaela Parrillo, Rebecca Besser, Dede Lubeznik and Nina Mariano. Muah!
Alderman Bob Fioretti surprised his longtime lady-love, Nicki Pecori, with a birthday party at Rosebud on Taylor Street. More than 50 friends from all over the country feted this beloved lady with an after-party following at their home. Guests included Tribune writer Rick Kogan and his darling Kate, Dr. Sandy Goldberg and her Greg among many others. Love and Happy Birthday Nicki!
Another birthday boy celebrated his big day recently, Bunky Cushing! If you're not reading his entertaining social commentary on his own blog, The Squire of Society, or his columns in local magazines, then you are really missing out on what's happening in the Windy City! Happy birthday Bunky!!
Congrats to Chaz Ebert and director Steve James who co-hosted the Chicago premiere of "Life Itself", the unflinching look at the life of legendary film critic Roger Ebert. Based on his best-selling memoir of the same name, the film explores the legacy of Ebert's life, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the Sun-Times to becoming one of the most influential cultural voices in America. It's a must-see. It's heartbreakingly honest and is inspiring from beginning to end. Roger wanted to show his world, warts and all. As he told one of the film's producers, Michael Ferro, he didn't want to be portrayed as an icon, he was a film critic. During the Q & A at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the crowd gave Chaz and Steve a much deserved standing O. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese (The Departed) and Steven Zaillian (Moneyball), the documentary recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of Ebert---"a story that is by turns personal, funny, painful and transcendent." (The film is now running at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema and is also available on ITunes and VOD.)
Do you have a "black thumb" when it comes to gardening? Would you like your terrace to look "camera-ready"? If so, you need to call fabulous urban landscaper Joanne Greene! "On the Ledge Landscaping" has a gift for the art of gardening that's reflected in her stunning window boxes, urban planters, small landscapes and rooftop gardens for city dwellers in the Chicagoland area. I was fortunate to have Joanne help design my terrace and I think it looks fabulous! Her plant choices were spot-on and are thriving and she helped me add the drama I needed. Now I've even attracted cardinals and finches to my aerie in the sky, thanks to Joanne! She also designed WCIU's "You & Me This Morning" co-host Jeanne Sparrow's terrace and it looks beautiful! AND Chicago Magazine named her the "Best Windowbox Designer". For a complimentary consultation, call 312.560.5815. Happy Planting!
Huge congrats and good luck to beloved Joffrey Ballet Community Outreach director, Pierre Lockett. After many years with the Joffrey, he is stepping down to continue to follow his passion of transforming lives through dance by working with youth from the Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Park District and various dance schools throughout the city as an independent consultant. He has impacted the lives of thousands of Chicago's youth (and the lives of their families) and I'm thrilled he will be continuing to share his joy and passion for dance around the city. We are so lucky to have him in our lives! Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared June 30 to be Pierre Lockett Day in Chicago. I think it should be EVERY day for all the good he does! Happy dancing Pierre!
I've always been a fan of The Baton Show Lounge and through the years have taken friends, fans and celebs there to enjoy this one-of-a-kind show that stars female impersonators Chilli Pepper, Mimi Marks, Sasha Colby, Ginger Grant and so many talented others. The Continental Pageantry Systems have become famous for their success in producing the most elite and competitive pageants around the globe with the best of the best in the art of female impersonation competing for the coveted titles. Credit for the success of the Continental Pageantry Systems is found in the man that started it all, Jim Flint. Over the years, the System has grown to include not only the Miss Continental Pageant but also the Miss Continental Plus and Elite contest as well as the MR Continental Contest. This year's Miss Continental event prelims will be held on Sunday, August 31 with the finals being held on Labor Day, Monday, September 1st, at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield. Each contestant puts on a performance worthy of Broadway! For tickets or more info, call 312.527.9338 or visit www.theBatonShowLounge.com
The 3rd annual Chicago Arkive Benefit, a not-for-profit leader in the global conservancy effort, was held on June 19 at the Racquet Club with beloved Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, as guest speaker. There was an afternoon invite for children and parents/grandparents to meet and get up close and personal to Hanna and some of his favorite animals from the Columbus Zoo. They included a cheetah, a serval, a clouded leopard, penguin, kangaroo, palm civet, a sloth and an armadillo! As
nature's "media vault", Arkive's goal is to collect and link stunning wildlife imagery, state-by-state with local conservation organizations in order to raise awareness for conservation of the natural world. Co-chaired by Cindy and Christopher Galvin and Sue and Terrance Graunke, the event raised more than $100K.
Shine & Dine will host its annual networking event to benefit Step-Up Women's Network on August 7 at Bridgeport Art Center's Skyline Loft, 1200 W. 35th St. Enjoy delicious tastings from top Chicago restaurants, meet-and-greet with Step-Up teens, a silent auction and more. SUWN empowers girls from under-resourced communities to live up to their full potentials through mentoring opportunities. This year's event will honor Catherine De Orio (host, Check, Please! and Kenia Rodgriguez (Step Up Class of 2012, DePaul University 2016). (Click here for tickets and more info).
Congrats to beloved philanthropist Francee Harrington on her recent appointment as President and Chief Development Officer of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Foundation! They are so lucky to have her! :-)
Hope you're enjoying this beautiful summer! And remember, I want YOUR news! If there's anything fun or interesting, please send it my way! I love to celebrate ALL things Chicago and the fabulous people in it!
Love, as always,