Credit: Jagwired

Christa van Baale, publicist for Neo-Futurists and Raven Theatre, attended:

The block party at Farragut and Paulina

I attend all kinds of block parties, but my favorite one is my own neighborhood’s party. It’s not a huge one—it’s just put together by the people who live around our block, which is in Andersonville. It’s great because we have a mix of people in our neighborhood, and the party is a great way to bring them together. It’s also a handy way to meet the people you say hello to every day, but don’t get to talk to. It’s the first place where I met a lot of my neighbors when I moved in two years ago. There’s no performances, but they always bring out the fire engine, which is cute for the kids. Embrace your own block parties when they happen—you don’t have to go to someone else’s.

Credit: Chicago Community Darkroom

Lauren Bost, assistant director at Judy Saslow Gallery, checked out:

The Chicago Community Darkroom

Last week I got a sneak peek of the new incarnation of the community darkroom that’s reopening at Milwaukee and Augusta. It looks fantastic, the facilities look great, and more importantly, it’s a service that the photography community here desperately needs. Any alumni of Columbia or SAIC knows how it feels to finish school and suddenly lose access to everything you need to make your art. I got so inspired from their efforts that I’m now working on my own home darkroom and bringing my whole practice back to life.

Kristin Collins, managing director at the Artistic Home, read:

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

This book’s a great summer read about families and relationships—I read it in a day. It includes a little bit of surprise, as new relationships come to light, and the main characters—who are in their 30s and 40s, and who have gotten settled into thinking one-dimensionally for a time—have a reawakening. Their lives change, and instead of resisting they go with the changes and end up in much richer places than where they were. I love how the book deals with the ways we connect with all sorts of people, and how those who we don’t expect to become vital to us at first meeting eventually do. And how people we see one way, we learn to see in a different way—and how people can come to belong to you, even if you’re not related to them by blood or marriage.

Credit: Bojangles

Alexander Fedirko, Pilsen-based visual artist, derived inspiration from:

Summer night bike riding

Bike riding has been one of my favorite things about living in Chicago and an inspiration for my “Cityscape” paintings. It’s a great release when I get a little stir-crazy and want to reconnect with the city. From my Pilsen studio, I go east to Dearborn and ride north through the tall buildings and Picassos, toward the corncobs, over the river, past the bars, and up to North Avenue, where I hang a right and head back south on the LSD bike path. From there you can really crank the bike, but be sure to look up and catch the spectacular views of the city. I exit the bike path at Soldier Field, go over the pedestrian bridge, head west on 18th, and loop back to my studio. I feel that Sunday through Tuesday nights at around 11-ish are the best times to ride—few cars, and very cool and quiet.

Credit: Joshua Albanese

Mia Billetdeaux, cofounder of Azimuth Projects, saw:

The Improvised Shakespeare Company at Del Close Theater

The lights dimmed and the cast invited us to suggest titles that would become the story arc of the night’s show. “Macdeath,” “The Merry Wives of Wrigley,” “As Your Mom Likes It!,” and “Taming of the Jew” were among the titles suggested by the raucous crowd. By intermission I had already cried so many tears of laughter that I couldn’t even remember which title was chosen. Hilariously true to Shakespeare’s recurring themes of betrayal, lust, murder, power, and caricaturing the French with a sprinkling of iambic pentameter, the company does justice to literary buffs and fans of Chicago’s bountiful improv scene alike.

—Compiled by Lauri Apple