Cynthia Plaster Caster posing leaning on her side with a case reading "The Plaster Casters of Chicago"
Cynthia Plaster Caster in 2002 Credit: Jim Newberry

Legendary artist and writer (and onetime Chicago mayoral candidate) Cynthia Plaster Caster passed away in April after a lengthy illness, but Gossip Wolf isn’t done mourning. Future generations of local musicians and fans won’t get to bask in the splendor of her warm, glowing personality—thankfully her famous plaster casts of the private parts of musicians will be around to inspire awe, joy, and/or hilarity for many years to come. On Thursday, July 7, many of Plaster Caster’s friends and admirers, including several who’ve been immortalized by her molds, will celebrate her life with songs and stories at Metro. More than a dozen artists will perform, including Jon Langford and his Mekons bandmate Sally Timms, Langford’s group the Waco Brothers, Chris Connelly, Suzi Gardner of L7, and Bobby Conn & Monica Boubou. 

The Aluminum Group and the Dishes are also paying tribute to Cynthia Plaster Caster by releasing a collaborative cover of the Kiss tune “Plaster Caster” that they recorded in 2000 for the documentary of the same name. (It wasn’t used at the time.) Guests on this epic track include Timms, Andrew Bird, Rebecca Gates, Douglas McCombs, John McEntire, and Marydee Reynolds. Tickets to Metro cost $20, the song costs $1 (or more) on Bandcamp, and proceeds from both benefit Girls Rock! Chicago, a nonprofit dear to Plaster Caster’s heart.

On Thursday, June 30, public art series Art on the Mart debuts two new works projected on the side of the Merchandise Mart—including a video celebration of footwork culture called Billiken. The piece uses archival footage from Chicago’s Bud Billiken Parade, which is not only a historic touchstone for the city’s Black communities but also an important event for its footwork scene. The directors of Billiken are Shkunna Stewart, who leads south-side youth dance troupe Bringing Out Talent, and Wills Glasspiegel, cofounder of footwork-centered arts and racial justice organization Open the Circle. The piece includes more than 100 dancers from Chicago troupes such as BOT, Goon Squad, and Silent Threat, plus animation from dancer and filmmaker Brandon K. Calhoun and score music by foundational footwork producer RP Boo (whose track uses recordings of the Rich Township Mighty Marching Machine). Billiken will be projected regularly through September 7, and to celebrate its debut on Thursday, RP Boo will spin on the Chicago Riverwalk at 8 PM, followed by speeches from Billiken participants and a 9 PM showing.

A preview video for Billiken

On Thursday, June 30, Constellation hosts Chicago Film Archives’ tenth annual Media Mixer. The event includes premieres of three new shorts made using CFA footage by local filmmakers paired with local musicians: Kishino Takagishi worked with Daniel Knox, Tempestt Hazel with Azita Youssefi, and Janelle Dowell with Sen Morimoto. Morimoto will perform live, and everyone but Knox will participate in an onstage panel discussion. The event starts at 8:30 PM; tickets are $20, $15 in advance.

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