Iris Goldstein, president of ARC Gallery, visited:

Millennium Park

The park is so visually beautiful, and is a wonderful asset for the city. My husband and I live downtown, and we went over to the park for the Chicago Blues Fest; it was a beautiful day, and we sat on the curb, listening to the blues, and looking at the lake beyond. It was a tremendous thrill. It just filled me with a great sense of well-being. I like the area around Buckingham Fountain; we like to go there to sit on the nice benches in the shade, and read. ARC’s inviting 14 artists from Paris this summer and hosting them, and while I was at the park I was thinking about how I’m so anxious to show the park to the French artists. That’s a lot to say, for artists coming from Paris. But I felt very strongly about it.

Erin Gallagher, jeweler and jewelry shop owner, read:

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This book came out a long time ago: it’s a murder mystery set around the 1893 World’s Fair, which took place in Chicago. The mystery wasn’t the part that made the story memorable for me, but the use of the Fair as a backdrop, the historical references, the discussion of where the buildings came from, their temporary aspect, and the drama of Daniel Burnham. I’m a jeweler, so Chicago’s architecture is my favorite part of the city—it’s like jewelry on steroids, these huge creations and designs. For someone who works on a small scale, it’s so impressive to see something created on such a large scale. Anyway, I don’t know if I would have loved this book had it not been set here. The story was pretty good, but the background made it a lot more interesting. If it had been set in Toledo, the story would not have been as gripping for me.

Patrycja Wierzba, independent curator at Society for Arts, saw:

The Winner by Wiesaw Saniewski

This film is a Polish-American production, with some of the scenes and part of the story based in Chicago. A lot of footage was shot in Wicker Park. The story’s about a famous Polish-American pianist who lives in Chicago; for personal reasons, he travels to Poland, meets an older man who’s a gambler, gets involved in betting on horse races, and experiences a life change. One thing I liked about this movie was that you don’t see many Polish-American productions that are based in Chicago, so for someone who lives here, it was interesting to see where they shot the movie and to recognize the places. Because this movie was shown in Poland as well, I was interested in how I perceive Chicago as a person who lives here. I also saw the movie in Poland, and over there I had a different point of reference. Instead of being excited about it being shot in Chicago, I got a bit homesick for Poland.

Todd Frugia, artistic codirector of ROOMS Gallery, saw:

The Chicago Code

Recently I watched a parallel universe play out on this television show. I produce performance art and video in Pilsen, and had to schedule our “non-paying” art film’s shoot around Chicago Code‘s “paying” schedule; our director of photography was on their crew. We had drinks at an Irish pub version of Skylark, I had to dodge lighting gear at F&R Liquors, and we watched a car chase from Nightwood. The Code crew totally screwed up my day when their shoot kept me from parking at Storage Today. It was pretty fun to watch last summer and fall unfold, television cop-style. And it was sad seeing the show get canceled—just when it was getting good.

Michael Renaud, art director for Pitchfork and host of the Show ‘n Tell Show, read:

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice by Ivan Brunetti

Brunetti’s newish book is a straightforward instructional guide on how to approach cartooning. It’s mostly made up of assignments to be worked out with pen and ink, but I picked it up for the less tangible exercises. Ivan’s creative process is humble and honest with an insane amount of clarity. He thankfully emphasizes the importance of content and storytelling over stylish facades, and likens the narcissistic artist obsessed with style to hopeless lovers and military dictatorships. The book is a testament to what it preaches—beyond recommended brands of technical pens and grid systems, there is a heart and a soul. It’s a lesson in self-awareness, which is something that just about everybody could use these days.

—Compiled by Lauri Apple