The print edition cover for the Reader, Vol. 52, No. 9, features photography by Carolina Sanchez. Credit: Carolina Sanchez

There’s a quiet poeticness to cover subject Diana Solís’ work. The Mexico-born photographer prefers for her stills to do the talking, and doesn’t fuss about whatever recognition her pieces might garner. Being fixated on her work leaves little room for, as she puts it, adding too much crema to her tacos.

Learning more about the Pilsen resident’s approach, I see distinct parallels between her and our exiting publisher Tracy Baim. There are a lot of good things to say about Baim and her leadership, which effectively saved this publication from shuttering. Certainly more than could ever fit in this space. The thing is, Tracy wouldn’t want for that to be my focus.

She wasn’t out for laurels in the fall of 2018 when she joined the Reader when it was at the precipice of a shutdown; a year later when she fought to reshape the operation into a nonprofit; or during a global health crisis that, along with irreplaceable human loss, saw our industry decimated. Through it all, Baim admirably kept the ship afloat, and launched as many diversified products as she could muster: Camping mugs! Cookbooks! A coloring book! And just about anything else you could think of. It was our “dancing for dollars” phase, as she calls it.

Our little jig era gave us another industry-wide distinction, as no staffers were laid off during the pandemic.

Last summer, when I first started flirting with this job, Baim announced her plans to step down. Being aware of her reputation, and having worked under some publishers who can be described as questionable at best, I had but one question for her during our initial chat: “Is there anything I can do to keep you onboard longer?” She turned me down with a polite chuckle. She felt her job was done, and it was time for new blood to take charge. That’s another thing you don’t see very often among media types—knowing when to step aside in order to give space to someone else. That’s another common thread shared with Solís, who also works as an educator to inspire youth and immigrant families to create art from their distinct point of view.

Enter Solomon Lieberman, whose dynamic point of view will aid in ushering in a new Reader era. “It connects my entire life at this chapter,” Lieberman said of his new role during a recent WBEZ interview.

Welcome to the team, Solomon. You have big shoes to fill. Sensible Skechers to be exact.

From The Issue (Volume 52, Number 9)

The Frequency Festival tunes into music that grows between methods and genres

The fest’s 2023 lineup includes the first Chicago appearance of French composer Pascale Criton, the just-intonation guitar experiments of Berlin-based Julia Reidy, and the premiere of Aperiodic’s commission from Swedish composer Magnus Granberg.

New York duo Joanna Mattrey & Steven Long find beauty in small changes

The Gage Park Latinx Council nurtures community and identity 

The queer, DACA-led southwest side group addresses community needs around food, health, and public space.

Publisher’s note

Moving on from the Reader

North Carolina’s Cor de Lux make something pretty out of pandemic anxiety on Media

The beautiful business of show

Drury Lane’s A Chorus Line is not to be missed.

Little bird, big dreams

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! offers pure joy.

A heartbreaking Lady Day

Alexis J. Roston’s take on Billie Holiday combines sparkle and vulnerability.

When a chair is a springboard

Curious Theatre Branch’s homage to Caryl Churchill is a mixed bag.

Boozy tiki drinks, Cantonese cuisine, and Elvis Live!

The eccentric North Riverside restaurant Chef Shangri-La has been a staple for generations, and the owners hope it’s here to stay.

Speaking purpose into artists’ lives

Self-made manager Lyrical is an unsung hero of the Chicago music community.

The one that got away

Marriott’s production of Big Fish flounders.




Diana Solís returns to photography with a new project inspired by Pilsen.

Rochester rap phenom RXK Nephew headlines one of the winter’s best shows

Open your eyes to Science on Screen

Dario Robleto’s exhibit at the Block Museum and the associated film series explore the beauty and the price of humanity’s quest for knowledge.

Run to the Annual Festival of Films from Iran

Films from Ebrahim Golestan and Amir Naderi complement contemporary entries.

Black Belt Eagle Scout reconnects with her ancestors through The Land, the Water, the Sky

Infatuation and identity

Definition’s Alaiyo traces one Black woman’s search for roots and romance.

Good guy with a gun

A film by John Mossman targets the myth.

Mayoral debate was a poor night for Chicago

The mayoral candidates need to remember that hope is political.

Mare Ralph, board member at Girls Rock! Chicago

“Young people are in a process of figuring themselves out and figuring out who they are. And ultimately, what our camp strives to be is a safe place to do that.”

In praise of pickup basketball

Thomas Beller’s essay collection captures the pure joy of street ball.

The YWCA and Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline support Chicagoland’s sexual assault survivors

Memphis hip-hop sensation GloRilla plays her second big Chicago show in three months

Midnight Minds drop a new album of serene and soothing ambient psychedelia

Plus: Metallic hardcore band Bovice throw a listening party and launch a tour, and Chisel DJ at Big Star to celebrate a reissue of their final album.

Chicago band Anatomy of Habit explore dark moods on Black Openings

Chaos theory

How far will Chicago dare to go in its experiment with democracy?

Chicago indie rockers Fran help cushion the world’s tough blows with Leaving

Roscoe Mitchell’s kaleidoscopic artwork

In his first solo art exhibition, the legendary musician presents not a constellation of ideas but the universe itself.

Yes, queen!

The Bronzeville-based Queendom by Romance sells sexy pieces in an array of sizes.

A potato-themed speed dating venture

Hot Potato Hearts is building a space for finding new friends and partners.

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