Monthly Archives: February 2010

TKGO City Guides, Evanston Launches!

We are excited to announce that TKGO City Guides, Evanston has arrived!

After four years living in Evanston, Illinois and attending Northwestern University, we’ve finally compiled our list of don’t-miss spots for eating, meandering and shopping in our favorite Chicago suburb. This is not an exhaustive list of everything Evanston offers, rather a well-curated selection of reviews for what we consider some of our favorites and most interesting spots in the city. As always, we love to hear from you, so drop us a comment with your thoughts, feedback or suggestions.

While you’re on our City Guides page, check out other available guides: TKGO City Guides, Acapulco, TKGO City Guides, Buenos Aires, TKGO City Guides, Philadelphia and TKGO City Guides, Princeton. These guides are always changing as we return to the places we love and update you on our new favorites, so check back periodically for changes.

Our next endeavor, TKGO City Guides, Chicago, will debut at the end of next week.

Tara and Karina for TKGO

The Bloomsbury Group

One of Northwestern University’s hidden treasures is the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. It’s located conveniently right on campus and best yet, it’s free for anyone who ambles in. Still, few students take advantage of the opportunity to see art from Mapplethorpe, Michelangelo and Motherwell on display, all of which happened in the past year.

We recently stopped in to see the current exhibit, A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections, which runs through March 15. The British modernist group included artists and writers (plus an economist) Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, E. M. Forster, Roger FryDuncan Grant and John Maynard Keynes.

 

"Dancers" (1910-1911) by Duncan Grant, from the Tate Museum (tate.org.uk).

 

The Bloomsbury group was, in essence, a group of friends that became a self-proclaimed “family.” Lacking a common ideology or artistic style, friendship was the only glue that held them together. Bloomsbury was a terribly unchic part of London in the early 1900s, and they spent their time there experimenting with styles and surfaces that defied Impressionist and Post-Impressionist tradition. At the Charleston Farmhouse (their vacation home in East Sussex) and the Omega Workshops (in Bloomsbury), they learned from each other; Vanessa Bell was called a hopeless painter by critics before she met Roger Fry. Walking through the five rooms of the exhibit, you not only see each artist’s experiments with different artistic styles, but the works of those around them, whose influence is obvious.

What stuck with us the most was not the art, but the camaraderie. And as corny as it sounds, when reading about their collaborations, we couldn’t help but see some of ourselves and TKGO in the Bloomsbury artists and their movement. Good friends are all you need to start a project that changes the way the world is perceived.

(Unfortunately, museum rules prevented us from taking photos, but check out some images at the Block Museum official site. For more information on the Bloomsbury Group and images, take a look at this site.)

Tara and Karina for TKGO

New Orleans in Need

Between the Saints taking the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras madness, it’s been quite the past couple weeks for the city of New Orleans.

I love New Orleans. It’s a charming and vivacious city with loads of personality. They’re big on music (it’s the birthplace of jazz), they’re big on food (beignets and jambalaya are my personal favorites), and they’re big on celebrating (case in point: Mardi Gras). The circumstance in which I first experienced The Big Easy, though, was a little different.

 

Abandoned home in the Lower Ninth Ward

 

Two years ago I spent my spring break with 13 other Northwestern students in New Orleans. The trip was through the Alternative Student Breaks group at NU, and we spent a week repairing houses in the Lower Ninth Ward. When we arrived it was two years post-Katrina, but in parts of the city and especially in the Lower Ninth Ward, it looked as though the devastating storm could have just passed through. The Lower Ninth Ward, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and the area Katrina hit hardest, was almost a ghost tone with stretches of half-wrecked and abandoned businesses and homes continuing for miles. Our first time driving around the Lower Ninth Ward we sat in the vans staring out, shocked and silent. We couldn’t believe it could possibly still look like this.

 

Abandoned business in the Ninth Ward

 

Even two years after my trip, the rebuilding effort in New Orleans is far from over. Just a few days earlier I was reading Time magazine’s “The Moment” piece on New Orleans. “New Orleans is still a high-poverty, high-anxiety mess. Some of its neighborhoods have barely begun to rebuild, and it’s still outrageously vulnerable to coastal storms. Its levees are too weak, and the wetlands that once protected it from hurricanes continue to melt into the Gulf,” writes Michael Grunwald.

Unfortunately, domestically and abroad we have experienced too many other disasters since Katrina, but it is too soon to shift our focus from rebuilding and protecting our country’s most unique city. We still have a long way to go.

 

Lower Nine

 

To learn more about the organization my ASB trip volunteered with (Lower Nine), click here.

Karina for TKGO

Chinese New Year 2010

The Ox is out — make way for the Year of the Tiger! If it’s your year (if your birthday was in 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998… or 2010), you are supposed to wear an article of red clothing every day for good luck. Apparently, a red scarf or even earrings will suffice, so that could be doable! Tigers are unselfish, independent, daring, impulsive and noble.

We’re both big fans of Chinese New Year celebrations. Tara went to the parade this year in Chicago’s Chinatown, and growing up, Karina has celebrated the holiday with her family.

The present: Chicago does it right

This year, like many, Wentworth Avenue was packed with Chicagoans wandering the streets and hanging out in every dim sum joint and bakery in Chinatown hours before the parade. Unlike in China, when not a single person works during the New Year, all the Chicago restaurants, shops and bakeries face the biggest business days of the year. Here’s a look at this year’s parade and celebration, from behind throngs of onlookers.

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Tara for TKGO

The past: A family tradition

In early elementary school, Chinese New Year was about gold coins, red envelopes and re-reading Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year (great book, by the way). Once my family adopted my little sister from China when I was nine, celebrating the holiday became much more involved. My family joined the local chapter of Families with Children from China, and my mom became one of the group’s organizers. In fact, one of her major annual undertakings was planning and executing the organization’s Chinese New Year celebration. The events were cultural blowouts of food, (hello, unlimited Chinese buffet) music, activities and performances. We took over a restaurant for it every year, and the event sold out every year. We had lion dances, yo-yo artists, ribbon dancing, martial arts and one year, a famous Chinese paper cutter.

 

I always looked forward to the event, and now that I’m away from home for the holiday, each year when the day comes around, I feel as though I am missing something.

Karina for TKGO