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This week I’m handing the keyboard over to our amazing Editorial Director Kate Dwyer. If I’ve been SJP playing the role of a drastically less problematic (hopefully…) Carrie Bradshaw, Kate is the real thing.

Our “personal news” is all about a part of this project Kate and I have taken on together and that she will be stewarding… lucky for you! Take it away, Kate!

— Abby Pucker, GERTIE founder and C.E.O.

Chicago has one of the world's most robust cultural communities across art, theater, comedy, nightlife, food, music, and the literary world, just to name a few sectors. But they're not connected. GERTIE is a multimedia project with an eye towards building an infrastructure to connect all of these different scenes and advance Chicago's creative economy.

In the wake of the past three years, there has never been a better time to unite the Chicago culture community — when much of the world shifted online, everyone remembered how deeply we missed discovering new spaces, connecting with new people, and having spontaneous conversations in the physical world.

Last year, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern released a report calling Chicago a “center for news experimentation.” Outlets like The Reader, Block Club Chicago, Vocalo and City Cast are reinventing local news. Abby and I see GERTIE's digital media platform as a contributor-led arts hub focusing on behind-the-scenes content and opinion coverage welcoming you into the spaces you always knew existed but never heard about.

Think of our network as that friend-of-a-friend who always knows what’s going on. You can lean on our contributors for invitations to actually-fun, one-of-a-kind events and insider knowledge about how to build spaces like restaurants, nightlife series, and galleries. (Scroll down for our first contributor-sourced events digest...)

We’re hard at work building a new website, but for now, you’ll find contributor content here in the GERTIE newsletter and on our Instagram. Throughout the spring, as the team gets closer to launching a membership program (more on that soon!), we'll also be hosting events where contributor content comes to life.

If there’s someone or something we should keep on our radar, let us know! Reply to this email or DM us @gertie.chicago (after you follow, of course 😉).

Until soon,


P.S. thank you Lucca, Antonio, Kaylen, Elise, and Jake for writing about yourselves in the third person. It's never easy!

Meet Our Contributors...

Lucca Colombelli (@luccart) is an art-school dropout and gonzo gallerist with a mission (or maybe something to prove). He’s always working and somehow never really working 🤔. Despite his vague international background, Lucca is a Chicago guy at heart. Some nights, he’s an artist masquerading as a businessman; other nights, he’s a businessman masquerading as an artist. Right now, he’s the one-man show behind Povos Chicago, but will soon build out his team. Catch him on an off-night playing the local dive bar music circuit or making intricate meals for himself. Big thinker; big doer; big believer in leaning in. “I am excited to share the low-key, artist-run, know-a-guy Chicago art events where you have life-changing experiences by accident,” Lucca says, “and the highly-produced, coordinated local efforts that deserve recognition.”

Antonio Robles Levine (@Blesstonio) is a Chicago-based DJ, classically-trained musician, event/music producer, and dancer. Antonio is fascinated with club culture and has spent years studying and curating events in Chicago and Santa Barbara. His multicultural Puerto Rican, Black, and Jewish backgrounds lend him an attuned, eclectic ear ready to sonically compel audiences and create electric and magnetic dance floor experiences. As a club dancer committed to fostering an inclusive, dance-focused environment, Antonio believes in the legacies of clubs and dance floors as brave spaces for “queerness, blackness, transgression, community, inclusivity, freedom, liberation, inspiration, and radical joy” (Honey Dijon), where dancers and DJs are equal, active participants in protecting these sacred spaces of movement.

Antonio is the co-founder and resident DJ of Fortune, a party series that centers dance as liberation and holds a safe space for the TQLGB+, Femme, Non Binary, BIPOC, and disabled communities. On GERTIE, Antonio is excited to discuss the state of nightlife (both institutional and underground) in Chicago. “I'm also happy to share my extensive experience as a clubber and dancer, in hopes that draws more awareness and excitement around Chicago nightlife post-quarantine,” he says.

Kaylen Ralph (@kaylenralph) is a gallery enthusiast and Windy City Market regular. She writes constantly, reads widely, and walks everywhere. She likes her Diet Cokes crispy and her notebooks college-ruled. In January 2019, Kaylen founded Ladies Who Lit, a book club celebrating writing by women through strategic programming partnerships. She works for the West Town Chamber of Commerce. Kaylen says: “If writing about art is like dancing about architecture or knitting about music (people have said this), then pass me the yarn and I'll tie a bow around uniquely Chicago stories that touch all corners of your cultural curiosities.”

Elise Fernandez (@dads_new_girlfriend) is a lifelong Chicagoan with a true thirst for soaking in everything this city has to offer. Over the past 12 years, Elise has produced events, concerts and comedy shows; managed nationwide tours; and been a comedian, performer, writer and Fly Honey. When she wasn’t putting on some of your favorite shows in the city, Elise was working as a nanny, karting little kiddos to every museum, park & gallery this city is bursting with. In the last two years,

Elise has taken a step back from performing while undergoing cancer treatment, but is so excited to be making a comeback. Right now, she’s writing a solo show, which will premiere in the fall.

Jake Potashnick (@notyetachef) is a Chef and proud Chicagoan. He has worked in 14 kitchens in eight different countries. His work experience ranges from dingy breakfast diners to three-Michelin-star establishments. Jake is currently in the process of opening Feld, his first restaurant, where he will create a nightly-changing tasting menu that will highlight the farmers and producers of the Midwest. On GERTIE, he'll share a glimpse into the trials and tribulations that accompany opening a fine-dining restaurant from the ground up.

GERTIE x Artadia Studio Progressive

GERTIE is partnering with Artadia for our latest artist studio progressive on March 5th from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM at Mana Contemporary. Artadia is a non-profit that gives unrestricted grants of $15,000 to some of the most exciting up-and-coming artists in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Boston and Atlanta. Often, these artists go on to be some of the most important and impactful artists in contemporary art. Chicago alumni include Theaster Gates, Nick Cave, and Jim Duignan, just to name a few.

Join GERTIE as we visit the studios of Artadia’s 2022 Chicago Awardees including Maryam Taghavi, Azadeh Gholizadeh, and Selva Aparicio.

Want plans this week?

TODAY from noon to 5:00 PM A Very Serious Gallery is hosting a closing party and all-day pancake social for its “Winter Dreams” show.

TODAY from 4:00 to 8:00 PM The Digs is hosting an open house featuring studio tours, clay demos, and cool hangs at the artist-owned and run ceramics studio.

TONIGHT Ariel's Party is on from 9:00 PM until 2:30 AM. $5. Ariel Zetina, DJ Inward. @ The California Clipper, 1002 N California Ave.

TONIGHT Elixir is presenting “mutable” from 10:00 PM until 4:00 AM. $16. Maharani, Jenniferfauxxpez, Veri Peri, Frail808. @Secret Location. Location released the day of once tickets are bought. New Queer/femme focused underground party series.

TOMORROW (2/26) Nine Bar is having a dice night fundraiser to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association, nonprofit organization advancing research, care and advocacy for people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS, and related neuromuscular diseases.

On Tuesday 2/28 at 6:00 PM, artist Brendan Fernandes will be giving a talk at the School at the Art Institute of Chicago.

On Thursday 3/2, Groppler Zorn will be playing some face-melting, mind-bending psychedelic jazz at Hungry Brain. Get your tickets here.

On Friday 3/3 from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM, our very own Lucca Colombelli will host an opening party for his new gallery, Povos, at 1541 W Chicago Ave. The inaugural exhibit “Bloom” is a 31-artist spring group show celebrating themes of rebirth and growth. (You do NOT want to miss this one.)

On Friday 3/3 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, there will be an opening reception for “We've Been Doing It:  A Women's Empowerment Show” co-presented by the West Town Chamber of Commerce and ARC Gallery as part of West Town First Fridays on 3/3 5-8 p.m. at WTCC Headquarters (1819 W. Chicago Ave.)

On March 4th at 10:00 AM, the MCA will be hosting Deem Journal’s first symposium. Called “Designing for Dignity: A Convening of Possibilities,” the day of talks will explore how design can create more equitable and inclusive communities. Speakers include Amanda Williams, Germane Barnes, Ramon Tejada, Tonika Johnson, and Otez Gary. ⁠Get tickets here.

On March 4th, THE UNDERGROUND is happening from 9:00 PM and 5:00 AM. $10. Tommasso B2B Sheldon Randolph, Subwüf. @The Post (One of the best nightclubs in Chicago (on caliber of smartbar)) DM IG for address or purchase ticket in link.

Until March 9th, you can catch the “Floor Show” at Chopin Theatre. It’s part rock show, part David Bowie homage and part "performance spectacle."

“Chlorine Sky” is playing at Steppenwolf until March 11th.

Catch the Lincoln Lodge Show — the nation's longest running independent comedy showcase — every Friday and Saturday at 8:00 PM.