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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dear Abby, is it offensive to wear a mink stole in Chiberia in 2014?

Although this is my third winter living in Evanston, this is my first real Chicago winter - the first two winters living here were very, very mild. This winter, I have learned terms like Polar Vortex, Chiberia (Chicago + Siberia) and ice damming (aice dam occurs when water builds up behind a blockage of ice and water then gushes down your walls inside your house). This winter has been cold, for real!

This was a recent Facebook post from the Chicago Tribune: Chicago weather update: Arctic air blowing across Iowa and southern Minnesota will drive temperatures to as low as minus 10 today, minus 23 overnight and maybe 3 above zero on Tuesday. Wind chills will drop to minus 35 today, minus 40 tonight and Tuesday and minus 30 Tuesday night.

Most of my relatives live in California, where there is no winter, and they cringe at the weather updates for Chicago, asking questions like "You walked how far in the snow?" and "Do you wear ski goggles on the walk to work?" These are all legitimate questions and they should be scared for me, I'm a notorious weather rebel!

Once when I was living in New York City, I wore shorts to the gym and walked for more than 15 minutes in 9 degree weather. I had wind burns on my thighs for weeks! But I've grown up and I respect Chicago's weather and have rarely been under dressed when out in the cold.

During the last Polar Vortex my mother was in a total panic for my life and dug up Grandma Min's mink stole from 1957 and sent it to me in the mail. A mink stole? My mother wanted me to wrap it around my head to keep to warm, "Wrap it around your hands when you walk to work!" she screamed into the phone when I called to let her know it arrived safely.

So now I've got this mink stole (photo above) and granted it's very pretty, and very soft, and totally needed in this weather, do I wear it? Will someone throw a bucket of blood at me? I know this isn't Portland in 1995, but what's the social etiquette for wearing mink in 2014? In the Berkeley of the Midwest? Any thoughts?

Thank you for reading my blog Evanston Newbie, a blog dedicated to helping you too fall in love with the City of Evanston, just like I did. If you have any questions or need to get in touch with me about this blog, Evanston, or anything else you can email me at Also feel free to send me announcements about upcoming Evanston events and I will promote them here!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Photo: Mallard Duck Feet on Snow

How cute are those duck feet prints? This makes the Polar Vortex seem not soooooo bad!

Photo by Amber Tris Ray of Northwestern University

Friday, January 17, 2014

Photos: Artist Marco Rotelli lights up Deering Library at Northwestern

Snowflakes and poetry: Artist Marco Rotelli lights up Deering Library on Northwestern Campus. Photos by Anne Berkeley

All week, Rotelli has been projecting light against the facade of Deering Library from 5 to 9 p.m. in a show named after a Dylan Thomas quote, “Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light.” Lights are up until tonight.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 Cultural Fund Grant Program Application Due Feb. 14

The 2014 Cultural Fund Grant Program guidelines and application form is now online. Evanston not-for-profit arts organizations whose primary mission is to provide performing, visual or literary arts programs or services may apply for a general operating support grant of up to $1,000 from the Cultural Fund Grant Program. Please note that the actual grant award amount may be less than $1,000.
This grant program is administered by the Evanston Arts Council and the Cultural Arts Coordinator, Jennifer Lasik. By providing financial assistance to not-for-profit arts organizations, the Cultural Fund supports artistic excellence throughout the community. The Arts Council strongly encourages the development of broader participation by Evanston’s diverse cultural community through collaborative efforts among artists, arts organizations and the greater community.
A free grant writing technical assistance workshop will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, January 27, 2014 at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Room 106, 927 Noyes St. The application must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, February 14, 2014 .
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. For more information, please contact Cultural Arts Coordinator Jennifer Lasik at 847-859-7835.
Click here to access the form.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Igloos, Bolivians and the Polar Vortex

As many of you know, there's been a Polar Vortex hitting North America and the temperatures in Evanston, IL, have been as low as 42 degrees below zero in the last couple of days. In fact the temperature was below zero for 37 hours straight, hence the name Chiberia.

I'd been in a mild (to say the least) panic for several days leading up to the pending frozen doom and happlily accepted an invite to make empanadas and drink wine on Sunday with friends from Bolivia who happen to celebrate every single moment of life, regardless of the temperature.

Upon arriving at our Bolivian friend's home we made and ate lots of empanadas and drank wine, escaping the cold until Sergio (the lead Bolivian) invited us out into the yard to help with the igloo. They had a friend from South America who celebrated the blizzard several years back with a train of igloos in her yard and they were excited to build an igloo too. We all went outside and took turns scraping out the inside of a huge snow mound, creating quite a lovely and big igloo, waiting in line patiently as each person did their part scraping. It was so fun and I managed to calm down with the manual labor of our project.

The next day schools and businesses closed across Chicagoland, leaving me and my family home inside our warm houses with temperatures outside as low at 42 degrees below zero. As I sat in the living room looking out at all the snow I thought to myself "why not be like our friends from Bolivia and go make some igloos?"

We started with one igloo in the backyard, pictured below, which we decorated with colored blue water. Then we moved on to the front yard where we built two more igloos with a tunnel connecting them. We could only stay outside for 15 minutes at a time, for fear of frostbite.

None of us would have ventured into the cold to build igloos had it not been for our inventive friends from Bolivia. I"m so grateful to Sergio and Paola for teaching us to enjoy every moment in our new lives; sometimes it takes new eyes to help you see the glory of your environment.

It's been crazy living in a Polar Vortex these past few days but it's been fun and I'm so happy to have a yard with light and fluffy snow we can turn into igloos and new friends from Bolivia who are teaching us how to live with vigor, no matter the zip code!


Thank you for reading my blog Evanston Newbie, a blog dedicated to helping you too fall in love with the City of Evanston, just like I did. If you have any questions or need to get in touch with me about this blog, Evanston, or anything else you can email me at Also feel free to send me announcements about upcoming Evanston events and I will promote them here!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Polar Vortex at Dempster Street Beach

This is what the beach looks like after temperatures reached an all-time low of minus 42 degrees! According to the Chicago Tribune, the temperature reached zero early this afternoon for the first time in about 37 hours. My friend Erika has been walking around Evanston snapping pics of the snow and today's image from Dempster Street beach is very representative of what happens when a Polar Vortex comes to the beach! Yowza!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Evanston Art Center Launches Living Studio Residency with Artist Ben Whitehouse


The Evanston Art Center is pleased to announce an energetic new program called the Living Studio Residency. The Living Studio Residency is a community-based artist-in-residence program that provides a meaningful platform for local and national artists to transparently make and share work. The residency focuses on artistic visibility and public engagement around contemporary artistic practices and processes. The Art Center views its residency as an investigation of openness, generosity and exchange while challenging traditional notions of art studio. For the first time in the Art Center’s history, we are excited to make our space and community available to an on-site artist. For winter 2014, we have selected local artist Ben Whitehouse (January 5-April 13, 2014). We hope that the public will take full advantage of Ben’s time with us and stay alert for upcoming events and programs with him.

Artist Ben Whitehouse in residence from January 5 through April 13, 2014

Whitehouse was born in London in 1962 the son of documentary filmmaker Ronnie Whitehouse. Ben came to prominence in the mid-1990’s as a gifted painter interested in the way light and time shape our experience of the world. His work has been exhibited at over 20 museums and galleries including his current installation at the Crocker Art Museum, CA. Ben also seeks the use of alternative exhibition spaces, In 2006, for example, he created an installation on the Astrovision Screen on Times Square and in 2012 he made an installation in the chapel of a Chicago area church.
For more about Ben see his website:

Be on the lookout for Ben's Sunday March 22nd Gallery Talk here at the EAC and a community workshop at the Evanston Civic Center on Saturday April 6th.

Additionally, Ben will be a guest lecturer as part of a series of lectures given by Stephen Alltop at Northwestern University. This lecture on January 23rd will focus on the various ways in which art and music can converge. Ben has long considered merging a video of his to a live symphonic performance. Stephen has asked him to do this in January 2015 with the Elmhurst Symphony, which he directs. At the lecture, Ben will be sharing and discussing the video piece that will later accompany Vivaldi's Winter Allegro 3rd movement with the Elmhurst Symphony.


Thank you for reading my blog Evanston Newbie, a blog dedicated to helping you too fall in love with the City of Evanston, just like I did. If you have any questions or need to get in touch with me about this blog, Evanston, or anything else you can email me at Also feel free to send me announcements about upcoming Evanston events and I will promote them here!

Roller Skating Nights are Back this January!

Chandler-Newberger Center
Saturdays, January 4 – 25:
6:30 to 9:00 p.m. (All ages)

1028 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
P: 847.448.8252

Friday nights too! 

Fleetwood-Jourdain Center
Fridays, January 3 & 17
8:00 to 11:30 p.m. (18+ who are post-high school)
Sundays, January 5, 12 & 26
3:00 to 6:00 p.m. (Youth)