BookNerd Adventure, now with more opera!: Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art & Starlounge Coffee

(Alternate post title: In which BookNerdMom gets to head off into the city on her own while baby goes on his own trip with Daddy.)


The Museum:

Chicago’s Ukranian Institute of Modern Art is one of those well-kept Windy City Secrets.  When I told the folks in my bookbinding class about the “Literature/ART” show I’d seen advertised, I was met with a bunch of “Where’s that?” questions.  The folks in my class know a thing or two about the local art scene,  so my interest was ignited.  What was this mystery place?  Expectations high, I bundled up against the cold and headed out into the unknown.

Located, duh, in the Ukranian Village neighborhood of Chicago, the UIMA is a small, well-kept, space that showcases art by (double duh) Ukranian artists.  At present, they’re showcasing a series of paintings by Ukranian schoolkids based off the literature and folklore of the country.


I’m no great artist, by any means, but many of these kids’ talent put my painting skills to shame.




Arriving home, I felt like I was missing something.  I don’t know jack about the folklore of this region.  So I did what any resourceful modern girl does, and googled “Ukrainian Folk Tales.”  I found a couple wonderful sites.

Most interestingly, as I’m all about adaptation, I discovered that one tale, “May Night,” was turned into an opera by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.  Below, you can hear the most famous piece from the opera – “Levko’s song.”

A little opera on a Monday.   You’re welcome.

In addition to the special show, UIMA also has a more permanent collection.  The very friendly lady who was minding the gallery was even kind enough to turn the lights on for me, as I was the lone visitor when I went.


The UIMA folks are very excited about the upcoming exhibit – works by Mykola Zhuravel.  I know this because, separate from each other, both employees gave me postcards for it  .The “Literature/ART” show runs until February 12th, and UIMA is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12-4pm.  Also, it’s free.  So there.

The Coffee:

I believe that no two things in this world go together as well as books and coffee.  Not two blocks away from the UIMA is a Chicago coffee lounge that I’d heard about, but never visited before.  (Honestly, I’m rarely to never in the UKVillage ‘hood.)

Starlounge Coffee is great.  The end.


I won’t pretend that some of the folks around me were giving off pretentious hipster vibes.  (The flannel-clad dudes next to me were talking in hyper-metaphors and there was something about how the government is xeroxing our brains, which made me roll my eyes.  But only a little.)  However, I can forgive pretentious atmosphere if the coffee is good – and man, is it good.  And clever.

That gorgeous thing in the photo above is a Gingerbread Trainwreck – made of espresso, steamed milk, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, and honey.  I expected some hyper-sweet concoction along the lines of what Starbucks might produce for the masses, bu the drink was surprising in it’s subtlety.  t There are also delicious-sounding drinks on the menu called “Unicorn Blood” and “Vanelly Furtado.”  Clearly, I will need to return to Starlounge quite soon with my husband, who likes his coffee drinks not too sweet.  I think he’d dig the drinks featured here – I mean, there’s one with espresso, steamed milk, and rosemary. Those clever, clever people.

Next time you find yourself near the Chicago/Western intersection, take a minute and visit these two fine places.  Art and Coffee.  Nothing wrong with that.

Curious about these stories? Buy “Russian Fairy Tales” from IndieBound.


About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on January 30, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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