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.)

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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