An art piece by Alisa Toninato, featuring cast-iron pans remolded into Midwestern states
Illinois Over Easy

Working with iron has cast a spell on Milwaukee sculptor Alisa Toninato, who says it’s her favorite medium, and operates an Etsy shop called MaidenFE (Fe is iron when it pulls up a chair at the periodic table). Late last year she started an ambitious functional art project, casting weighty pans in the shape of states, starting on Wisconsin. The skillets are sold individually (starting at about $400) or served up configured in interlocking groups that cling to a wooden backdrop by powerful magnets. The geographic conglomeration of cast ironies pictured is $6,000, and it’s perfect for making Midwestern omelets.

Items contestants can win from the Thomas Moser furniture company

Summer Loving

Just when did you say those dog days would be over, Florence? No complaints, mind you—this is a great season in Chicago, and if you feel the love like I do, here’s a chance to win some swag from the Thomas Moser furniture company. We may not have a local outpost of the master Maine woodworker (and Chicago native) any longer, since the company closed its showroom in the Tree Studios last spring, but in celebration of its new Drift reclining chair and ottoman, it’s giving away two classy cloth totes stuffed with Maine merchandise. Post a picture of you-and-yours enjoying summer on Moser’s Facebook page (ThosMoser), and if enough people LIKE it, you’ll win cookbooks, an Amazon Kindle, Tom’s swell coffee-table book, mugs, and all sorts of fine flotsam and jetsam. (You won’t win a chair though—the handsome new designs start at $3,200.) Include the hashtag #DRIFT, and get it up there by July 28.

A painting by Mary Hatch

Mind the Hatch

If you’re up in the Saugatuck/Douglas area this weekend, stop by my friend Mary Hatch’s art exhibit at the Button-Petter Gallery on Sunday, July 24 for a champagne reception from 1–5 p.m. Mary’s a terrific figurative painter with a singular sense of color and composition, and she’ll be showing new prints and paintings. The gallery is pretty interesting, too—it’s a merger of Chicago’s ex-pat Button Gallery (which has ties back to 18th century London) and the gallery Joyce Petter opened in 1973, and boasts 10,000 square feet of exhibit space and a lovely, sprawling outdoor sculpture garden.

Ben Hollis of 'Wild Chicago'

Wild Chicago

Remember the original, pre-HGTV and pre-internet, Wild Chicago television show that started airing on WTTW in the 1980s? If not, it was an influential, fast-paced half hour that showcased unusual businesses, services, and events around town. Well, Emmy-endowed host Ben Hollis has dusted off his pith helmet, ironed his khakis, and is back, running around the North Side like an over-caffeinated Marlon Perkins, filming for W.I.L.D. (What I Love Doing) Andersonville, an online series of profiles of such local businesses as Woolly Mammoth, GreenSky, and Joel Berman Architecture and Design. Watch them on YouTube or on A-ville’s homepage.

The storefront of Green Sky

Green Skies, Smiling at Me

Sadly, the bloom’s off the rose for Sunburst Flowers, at the corner of Ashland and Balmoral. It’s weird how Andersonville can’t support more flower shops, isn’t it? (Thanks, Marguerite Gardens, it’s you or the three-for-$10 bouquets at Jewel now, I guess.) I stopped by to see what was on sale last weekend. The flower and gift shop will be closing sometime around the end of August, the owner told me, and he’s selling off everything, including store fixtures, coolers, cabinets, seasonal decorations, urns, vases, and even computer programs. Lots of good stuff is left, and expect prices to drop from the already reduced 50-percent discount. Sunburst abuts GreenSky, so I sidled over to see the eco-friendly goods there, and was impressed by the selection of handcrafted artwork, license-plate collages, stealth recycling bins, and these lawn chairs, made from smooshed-up plastic milk cartons. The next time you’re strolling Clark Street, it would be worth it to veer a tad west and check out GreenSky.