Tag Archives: Tourism

Chicago Art

In anticipation of Chicago Artists Month


From the streets to the galleries, Chicago has never lacked passion, expression and innovation. To honor Chicago’s commitment to culture, let’s talk about art. From the days of hosting one of the most successful World’s Fairs in 1893, Chicago has permanently stamped its mark as a city of culture and expression. Today that mark has touched all corners of the city’s society.

At the heart of art in this vibrant city is The Art Institute of Chicago, where numerous exhibits grace gallery floors and invite locals and tourists to experience the creative genius of artists from across time. The institute holds numerous exhibits such as the galleries of Greek, Roman and Byzantine Art and galleries of modern art. The latest exhibit that will swing through the Institute in July will be the painted tapestries of Édouard Vuillard. exh_vuillard_window_overlooking_the_woods_480The exhibit will bring together two halves of Vuillard’s earliest pieces. First Fruits is a two-part tapestry done by Vuillard in 1899. This is the first time since 1950 that the pieces will be reunited, after being sold into separate private collections over 50 years ago.  The exhibit will open July 11 and will stay until October 6: http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/painted-tapestries-reuniting-two-decorative-paintings-douard-vuillard.

If older century tapestries are not your style, Chicago brings current issues to the spotlight as well. An art exhibit by Ti-Rock Moore has been displayed in the Gallery Guichard since July 9. Moore’s piece is controversial, as it infuses the events of last year’s Ferguson shooting with a raw display of expression. Her piece is said to display the Statue of Liberty, a noose and Michael Brown all in the same context. She makes an argument for privilege in America with this impactful and controversial exhibit. The exhibit will last through August 10: http://www.galleryguichard.com/#!blank/ckje.

Art truly begins with the artist, and their inspiration by people and events. As Moore is inspired by Michael Brown, spectators will be inspired by the lush forest that Vuillard brings to the fabric. A young designer was inspired by another aspect of Chicago–the homeless population. Ian Todd decided to use his efforts as a design student to help the plight of homeless people on the streets of Chicago by redesigning the cardboard signs that are often seen with the homeless community in any city. Todd turned the typical handwritten sign into an appealing advertisement. Homeless Signs - ChicagoUsing several elaborate fonts, Todd wrote the messages of homeless people on cardboard signs to help them stand out. Todd, a California native, proved that using art in the smallest way can bring attention to the big issues.  He brought the stories of the city’s homeless to the news, as they highlighted his cause as a demonstration of community in downtown Chicago: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-homeless-signs-typography-met-20150705-story.html.

Artists in Chicago are making big waves, whether it be Moore with dramatic exhibits, or Todd with writing fonts on cardboard signs, the city pulls together to appreciate the passion behind the acts that drive these artists.

And if Chicago brings out the artist in you, share your work with the numerous art competitions around the city. The Chicago Artists Month competition invites people to submit their work as a chance to participate in the 20th anniversary of Chicago Artists Month that will take place in early October to mid-November: http://chicagoartistsmonth.org/

Artists bring history, style and culture to Chicago. The culture of Chicago made even Frank Sinatra swoon. After all is it not he that sang it best?

New York Pizza

Must Try Pizza Restaurants in New York

BuzzFeed’s recent article on 18 Pizza Joints You Must Try Before You Die, covers many pizza restaurants in the New York City area. Therefore, if you are moving to (or already live in) New York, we have a list of suggestions for your next pizza craving.

Di Farra PizzaOur first recommendation is Di Fara Pizza. Some people wait up to three hours to eat their delicious pizza; it is that good! Di Fara opened in 1964 by Domenico DeMarco, an Italian immigrant who came to the US in 1959. The pizzeria holds the number one spot for pizza in the New York Zagat for eight years straight and received excellent reviews and features in The New York Times and on the Food Network. Di Fara keeps its pizza authentic by importing tomatoes from Italy!

GoodfellasSecondly, Goodfellas in Staten Island is world renowned for their tequila pizza, made with coconut, mango, tomato, shrimp, lime, tequila, bacon, and white sauce; it won best pizza at the 2012 International Pizza Expo. Goodfellas was established in 1992 by Scot Cosentino. Cosentino only uses fresh ingredients for his pizzas and cooks them all at 800 degrees in traditional wood-fire brick ovens. The famous food has attracted famous actors such as Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz.

Joe's PizzaAnd last but not least is Joe’s Pizza, which was opened in 1975 by Joe Pozzuoli, another Italian-born chef. Joe’s pizza is called “the quintessential New York slice” by New York Magazine and GQ listed it as one of the “Best 25 Pizzas on Earth.” The restaurant was also featured in Spider Man 2; Toby McGuire, as Peter Parker, worked as a delivery boy for Joe’s. This Hollywood highlight inspired other celebrities to stop on by and try a piece, including big names like Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, and more. Even Kevin Bacon said to Maxim Magazine that “for his last meal he’d want a slice of Joe’s Pizza.”

Newcomer's Handbook for New York CityThis is far from a complete list of the excellent pizza joints in New York, but these three should give you a good introduction to the New York pizza scene. And, as always, if you want to know more about what to do in the city after you have your slice of pizza, check out our Newcomer’s Handbook to Moving to and Living in New York City.

Written by: Kristin Monteith

The Coffee of Portland

Portland's Best Coffee Houses

Heart Coffee RoastersCoffee has become the source of life for some of us here at First Books and according to Buzzfeed’s new article 25 Coffee Shops Around the World You Have to See Before You Die, it’s a good thing we’re located in Portland, OR, where the list’s number one and three shops are located.

Portland’s Heart Coffee Roasters makes it to the number-one slot on Buzzfeed’s list. According to the “About” section on their website, Heart’s motivation is to offer “uncompromising quality.” To achieve this result, they begin with green (unroasted) coffee and roast it a temperature that fully develops its flavors; each cup of coffee must pass a “standard of excellence” before making it into the hands of the customer. The Heart crew now serves affogatos, an espresso-lover’s favorite, which is a scoop of ice cream or gelato topped with a shot of espresso. Heart’s homemade ice cream consists of coconut cream, maple syrup, vanilla bean, and Himalayan pink salt; therefore, it is vegan and lactose-intolerant friendly. And though this treat is only sold in Heart’s two café locations, you can still order their special roasts and other items from their online shop.

Stumptown CoffeeThe third shop on Buzzfeed’s list is Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which has five shops (including their headquarters) in Portland as well as a few locations in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Stumptown is a farm-to-coffee-cup kind of place that builds relationships with the farmers in order to obtain the “best beans in the world,” resulting in the best coffee. Duane Sorenson first opened the shop in 1999 with the dream to make coffee based on the quality not the quantity, which, based on the popularity of his shops, is a dream he has more than achieved.  Cold brew, one of  Stumptown’s most raved about creations, tastes of pure caffeine and is a perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer morning. Don’t be disappointed if there are no shops near you; Stumptown sells a variety of their blends and even brew kits on their online store, so you can bring Stumptown’s goodness home.

Written by: Kristin Monteith