Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Artisans 21 Gallery-- March 20th Event

Judith Guajardo from Artisans 21 Cooperative Gallery sent this press release my way. The event sounds really neat, so take a looksee....

Artisans 21 Gallery, Hyde Park’s leading gallery and gift shop, located at 1373 E. 53rd Street, Chicago, will hold a day of demonstrations on Saturday, March 20, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Learn how to create beautiful art and gifts from recyclables. Join us as our artists demonstrate some fun and easy techniques to turn your trash into treasures. Kids are welcome too.

Artisans 21 Gallery is a cooperative gallery of 20 artisans and craftsmen who sell their work in the gallery as well as work there. Prospective members (artists) are juried according to standards of originality, craftsmanship, and congeniality.

For additional information, call 773.288.7450.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Talking to Hyde Park Locals- Hannah Q.

This week's featured Hyde Park local is 25 year old Hannah Q. who works as a Library Assistant at the Newberry Library, while earning her Master of Library & Information Science. Here's what she has to say about the neighborhood:

How long have you lived in Hyde Park? What brought you to the neighborhood and/or what keeps you here?
This is my 3rd year in Hyde Park. My husband and I moved here for his graduate school program.

How would you describe Hyde Park to someone who isn't familiar with it?
I think of Hyde Park as being really relaxed. We don't have tons of retail or bar options, but we have the beautiful U of C campus, easy access to the lake and beaches, and tons of parks. I love the cultural options like Robie House, the Museum of Science & Industry, Hyde Park Art Center, Doc Films and all the amazing book shops.

You have friends visiting for the weekend-- What do you make sure to show them in the neighborhood? The Point, Jimmy's [Woodlawn Tap], dinner at Cedars [Mediterranean Kitchen], brunch at The Medici, worship at Saint Paul & the Redeemer Episcopal Church.

What is your favorite restaurant and/or business in the area? What about it do you like? What do you recommend there?
It used to be Dixie Kitchen. Brunch at
The Med is always amazing. One of my favorite places in neighborhood is Hyde Park Produce--I'm in there almost every day.

How do you feel about the Harper Court development project and community re-development in general? How do you feel it will impact the neighborhood? What type of development would you like to see, if any?
From what I have read and seen of the project so far, I am mostly in favor of it. In particular, I think that Hyde Park needs more hotel and retail options. And I would love to see more jobs created.

What do you think the neighborhood is missing (if anything)? What do you see as the barriers to Hyde Park having this? Grocery stores. I love having fresh produce stores in the neighborhood, but for my other grocery needs, Treasure Island just doesn't cut it. It is generally more expensive, poorly laid out, and lacks many items we look for. We end up driving to Jewel or Dominick's in other parts of the city to stock up every few weeks. Also, these new CTA cuts are going to make traveling even more difficult for Hyde Parkers as we rely on the 55 bus to get to the Metra and L stations.

Overall, how do you feel about the neighborhood?
Overall, I really feel at home in Hyde Park and enjoy living here. That said, I am glad that I work in another neighborhood, as Hyde Park can feel like an island within the city.

Bonus Question: Feel free to talk about any neighborhood-related issues or topics that I haven't touched on, suggest a question to be included in future interviews, and/or plug your own website or a cause you're passionate about.
I have a photo blog where I post pictures from around Hyde Park and my life in general. I'd love to have folks stop by and have a look!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Time Out Chicago versus Chicago Reader: Battle of the Hyde Park Issues

Just a couple weeks after Time Out Chicago (TOC) put out its What's Wrong with Hyde Park issue (see my post about it here), the Chicago Reader has released its own Hyde Park and Kenwood Issue. If you haven't had the chance to read it, you can check it out here.

Those of you who read my post about the TOC issue may recall that, even though I was bothered by the somewhat negative tone of the title and some of the articles, I generally felt positively about the way the magazine argued for the need for more commerce, entertainment, and dining in Hyde Park. Now that I've read the Chicago Reader issue, though, I'm feeling like I gave TOC too much credit....

As the title suggested, the TOC edition focused essentially on what Hyde Park is missing. The Reader's Hyde Park & Kenwood issue, in contrast, reads like a laundry list of all that is great about the neighborhood. It provides an amazingly extensive guide to local dining, entertainment, shops, bars, arts, theater, and architecture (check it out here, under the Street Level heading). What is refreshing about the Reader issue is that the spin on all of its articles is overwhelmingly positive, yet honest and objective. Whereas TOC used the term "wasteland" to describe the neighborhood, the Reader notes,,"[Hyde Park] is a zip down Lakeshore Drive to astounding treasures." The Reader doesn't, though, ignore the challenges and deep-rooted issues that come into play in the neighborhood. Rather, it thoughtfully explores the complex tension and interdependence between the University and the community and how it plays into local political debates such as the contention over the 6st Street Community Garden.

When all is said and done, the Reader paints a picture of Hyde Park as a community that is fiercely independent, uniquely diverse, and thriving in a way that few other communities could. It values Hyde Park on its own merit and history, unlike TOC which seemed to define it by comparing it to north side communities that may have more yuppy hotspots, but lack the history, culture, and socioeconomic, racial, and cultural diversity and richness that Hyde Park possesses. Some more high quality food and dining in the neighborhood would definitely be nice, but the Reader reminded me that these things are relatively insignificant when you look at the big picture of what living in Hyde Park is all about.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Things to do this weekend! March 6 & 7

Hi folks! So I confess, I completely flaked on putting together this weekend's "Things to Do." Since I already missed last night and most of today, here's a short list of some cool things going on in Hyde Park this weekend:

Saturday (March 6)
Sunday (March 7)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Favorite Things in Hyde Park: Powell's Books

My recent favorite things posts have focused a lot on restaurants and grocers in Hyde Park. This wasn't intentional per se, but I'm a foody and want to show folks Hyde Park has more than they might expect in that department. I definitely have more to say about food and dining in the neighborhood, but I've been overlooking some other great aspects of Hyde Park and want to give them their moment in the spotlight.

With that being said, I'm planning to focus some of my upcoming Favorite Things posts on one of Hyde Park's major claims to fame-- its diverse array of new, used, and antiquarian book stores. For those who are less familiar with the area, Hyde Park is home to several long-standing and nationally well-known Chicago bookselling institutions including 57th Street Books/Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Powell's Books, and O'Gara & Wilson Book Sellers, not to mention our nice but run-of-the-mill Borders and Barnes and Noble store. All of these shops are within a few blocks of each other--most of the same small stretch of 57th-- and each has a unique niche and vibe. I confess, I'm almost as much of a bookstore junky as I am a foody, so bear with me.

This week's featured spot is Powell's Books (1501 E. 57th-- just west of the train tracks, a couple blocks from the museum). Powell's specializes in used, rare, and "academic and scholarly" books. They even have what looks like a mini museum/gallery of rare special edition books from as early as the 1700s. If you're not into academia or antiquarian book collecting, though, don't worry, they also have a big selection of used fiction, comics, art and design books, not to mention all kinds of neat coffee-table-type books (great for last minute holiday gifts!) .

What makes this bookstore so distinctive and fun is that it's also kind of a hang out for locals and a destination spot for Chicagoans from other parts of the city. Unlike most small, independent book shops, Powell's is open until 11PM every night of the week which means people drop in after diner or even on their way out for drinks. I was there once on a Friday night at 10ish and there was actually a young couple there on what seemed to be a first date and, believe it or not, I'm pretty sure they weren't U of C students, as neither appeared to know the area or the store well (I admit, I was eavesdropping a little...). After the couple wandered around the shop for a while, the date ended with the guy buying his date a heavy, rare law encyclopedia. Extremely nerdy? Maybe...but also representative of the store and the neighborhood's quirky vibe.

There is certainly a time and a place for, Borders, and Barnes & Noble, but there is nothing like meandering through walls and walls of books without looking for anything in particular. There aren't many places like Powell's left in the city, and the few that are left really need our support. So, I urge you to check out Powell's next time you're nearby....and maybe even bring a date.