Arts & Culture

LGBT artist uses art to express politics, gender identity

By Grace Austin and Zhu Zhu

Artist Brad Leslie is known for his landscape and portrait paintings. But following last November’s presidential election, his work has taken a more political turn.

Leslie’s latest work, on display at the Center on Halsted in Boystown, showcases a unique point of view as a gay man and working artist in a highly politicized climate.

Leslie uses Charles Atlas-esque, pre- and post-World War II imagery to delve into gender identity and what it meant to be a boy growing up in the 1960s.

Photo at top: Brad Leslie has steered into different styles of work as he grows as an artist. (Zhu Zhu/MEDILL)

Westinghouse senior builds a bright future with a best friend

By Allie Burger

Coreyoun Rushin’s got a lot going on.

He is one of the top high school basketball prospects in the city. He has multiple Division I offers. And he didn’t even play his freshman year or at a local basketball powerhouse.

Here’s how Rushin stuck to his promise to a best friend, in the process pursuing his dreams and changing the basketball culture at George Westinghouse College Prep in East Garfield Park:

Photo at top: Coreyoun Rushin and Jocke Fields helped Westinghouse win the 2017 IHSA Class 3A regional championship. (Allie Burger/MEDILL)

Pop-up venture unites local businesswomen for extended success

By Allie Burger

Local businesswomen are working together under the philosophy that no one individual is stronger than the group.

The Boss Babe pop-up shop at Block 37 in the Loop has given seven female entrepreneurs the opportunity to sell their products brick-and-mortar style under the same roof.

Photo at top: Boss Babe has been extended from Jan. 1 through the end of May due to its continued success. (Allie Burger/MEDILL)

Chicagoans preserve their Cambodian heritage

By Peter Jones

Khemarey Khoeun will become the first Cambodian-American woman to hold office in the U.S. after being elected to the Skokie Park District Board last Tuesday.

Cambodians first began arriving in Chicago as refugees escaping the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. Years later, the Cambodian community in Chicago continues to maintain its traditions and culture.

In Uptown, the Watt Khmer Metta Temple provides a peaceful place for Cambodians to gather and pray. The National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial preserves the turbulent history of Cambodians and ensures that future generations will not forget their heritage.

Photo at top: Cambodian monks pray at the Watt Khmer Metta Temple in Uptown. (Peter Jones/MEDILL)

Palette & Chisel serves art community for 120 years

by Jingnan Huo

Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts was started in 1895 by a group of Art Institute night students who needed a place to paint during the day. Each Sunday, the students would hire a model they could draw or paint in natural daylight.

In 1921, the artists bought a run-down Italian mansion on Chicago’s Gold Coast and named it their home. The Academy remains in the mansion, thanks to the non-profit property tax exemption granted by Cook County.
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The Remedy brings smiles to ‘L’ riders at the Lake Stop

By Manasi Kaushik

The Remedy, a Chicago-based musical group from the South Side, performs at the Red Line’s ‘L’ stop to bring hope, happiness and joy to the lives of people.

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Photos: Is the tattoo parlor the new barbershop?

By Grace Austin

Tattoos have become near ubiquitous, with 3 in 10 Americans now having them, according to a 2015 Harris poll. As tattoos become more mainstream, so do the number of tattoo parlors and the kinds of people getting inked.

Chicago’s Deluxe Tattoo has a reputation for easy rapport and detail-oriented artists, similar to a barbershop or a nail salon. Here’s a glimpse into a day at the tattoo parlor in Uptown.

Photo at top: Artist Jason Vaughn works intently on a customer. Tattooing requires intense precision and care. Most artists study for years before striking out on their own. (Grace Austin/Medill)

Millennials look to traditional music to help preserve Puerto Rican culture

By Alissa Anderegg
Translation of Luís Lace Melecio interview by Yarilet Perez

In the beachfront Puerto Rican community of Piñones, the vibrant music of bomba fills the breezy air, as duelling drummers beat in rhythmic unison.

The sounds come from Corporación Piñones Se Integra, an organization that teaches locals and tourists the art of bomba as a way of passing on the music to future generations.

One of Puerto Rico’s traditional Afro-Caribbean musical forms, bomba is considered a rhythmic dialogue between the dancers and the drummers. Puerto Ricans hope this musical dialogue will turn into actual dialogue that will be a key part in preserving the Afro-Puerto Rican culture.


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From South Side to Sinatra: Mike Smith still embodies Chicago jazz

By Mike Davis

Mike Smith still remembers the first time Frank Sinatra yelled at him.

“He’d turn around and give you this look that went right through you…” Smith said. “One time Sinatra yelled at me that it was too loud. So, I brought everybody down and we played softer. The next night he came up to me and wanted it louder.”

This came with the job description of saxophonist and music contractor. As a saxophonist, Smith’s job was to play loud or soft, but always well. As a music contractor, his job was to hire the musicians he and Sinatra shared the stage with. His first exposure to the contracting process was in high school, when he put together the school’s first jazz band.
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Second City student prepares for the main stage

By Stephanie Rothman

Second City is a Chicago institution, yet you may not understand what it takes to make it on the main stage. Before being allowed to audition to become a fully contracted Second City comedian, students must go through six levels of the Second City training program.

Carly Glenn was two shows away from graduating and making her way upstairs.

Photo at top: Carly Glenn performs onstage at one of her last Conservatory shows at Second City. (Stephanie Rothman/MEDILL)