Ian Barford is starring in Linda Vista, the world-premiere play by Tracy Letts that just opened at Steppenwolf Theatre. But while his 50-year-old character Wheeler’s best days are behind him, 50-year-old Barford is a sought-after and busy actor—happily living in Evanston with his wife, Anna D. Shapiro, and their 7-year-old twins. Barford became an ensemble member at Steppenwolf in 2007, but he has performed in many of the company’s best productions over the last 30 years, including the original staging of August: Osage County, which is also by Letts. Beyond Chicago, he was the dad in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on Broadway, and regularly gets character roles on television and film projects. But it’s this newest work that will define Barford’s upcoming year. “It’s funny, it’s contemporary, the language is alive and full of Tracy’s razor-sharp wit and humor,” says Barford. “Wheeler is going through a difficult divorce, and some of his decisions are hilarious, and some of them are shocking. He’s so insightful about certain things but so stupid about others.” And beyond loving his character, flaws and all, Barford realizes the incredible place he is in. “It’s a privilege to be part of this company, to do this work, to be able to tell these stories with people of Tracy’s caliber,” he says. “He’s not only a close and dear friend; he’s an artist I greatly respect.” Funny, because audiences are saying the same thing about Barford—an actor it’s a privilege to spend time with—no matter what role he’s playing. Through May 21, tickets $20-$89, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago -Laura Hine
An art aficionado’s answer to the pub crawl, Evanston Made’s studio tour sends you on a trip around the city to visit artists’ lairs. Lisa Degliantoni, attached to an artist herself, was surprised when she arrived in Evanston six years ago to find that there was no such event in a town that is swimming in creativity; it boasts one of the highest concentrations of artists among similar-sized cities in North America. Degliantoni, now co-chair of the Evanston Arts Council, remedied that with the founding of June’s Evanston Made, a monthlong celebration of local artists that features public exhibits, studio tours and pop-up shops. “I like being surrounded by creatives,” explains Degliantoni. “As a visual-arts advocate, my goal is to promote Evanston as a cultural pit stop. And though I do not make things myself, I make things happen by serving as a conduit.” The rapid attention and growth in this annual event—now in its fourth year—validates her efforts. Evanston Made is unique in that it is not a juried event, and even emerging artists are encouraged to participate if they live or work within city limits. Over 150 pieces are on exhibit throughout the city, kicking off with a traditional art opening June 2, from 6 to 9pm at Evanston Art Center (expect wine, cheese and maps). The studio tour follows on June 3, from noon to 5pm, with over 75 artists’ workspaces open to the public. Participating businesses turn the city into a gallery by showcasing art on their walls through June 30, and the pop-up shop offers treasures for sale at Evanston Art Center. And to include the kids, June 17, there is a free day of activities for your budding mini-Monet. -Cynthia A. Raymond
Wilmette’s Amy Kartheiser may have just started her eponymous interior design company in 2014, but she comes with a lifetime of experience. “My mom was a designer, but after college, I went to work in the corporate world,” she says. When she asked her mom to help her decorate her first condo, she had an epiphany. “I realized I was in the wrong business. I just loved the design process.” She quit her job and, for the next 10 years, worked with her mother. She went on hiatus as the busy mom of two youngsters, but once the youngest started kindergarten, she went back to work with a very personal project: gutting and completely renovating the family’s Lincoln Park home. “I had a dream team on that project,” she says. “And it was a great way to get back into the design world.” A leading design magazine published the project, which launched her solo career. The family’s next move was to Wilmette, where, once again, rehabbing an older home led to both work and accolades. Modern Luxury Interiors Chicago recently named Kartheiser Best Contemporary Designer, and she won a coveted room at the 2017 Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens. She also has in-progress projects all over the North Shore and in the city: “I do have a style, and I think that’s why people hire me, but I like to get a feel for how my clients like to live,” she says. And her mom, now retired, still loves to see Kartheiser’s progress. “She’s very proud that I followed in her footsteps.” -Laura Hine
There are people in this world who look like they have it all. The marriage, the job, the house, the car... but according to celebrity psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo of Lake Forest, those are often the people who are struggling the most.
Lombardo, in private practice and a regular contributor on Good Morning America and Today, is also the author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love ($17, Seal Press). “What I figured out is that perfectionism often gets in the way of our happiness. A perfectionist looks like a highly accomplished person on the outside, but they are struggling with judgment and self-criticism on the inside,” she says. “How you view yourself impacts every interaction you have, and conditional self-worth is giving other people the power to say what your value is.”
When Lombardo talks in her disarming manner about self-judgment, you can see her mass-market appeal as a voice of reason. “I like to say that perfectionism is like a chocolate cake. You can have the finest organic eggs and richest chocolate to make your cake. But if you then dump in a cup of dirt, no one is going to eat it,” she says. “And that’s what perfectionism is. It has some good ingredients—striving for excellence, wanting to be successful, wanting other people to like you. Those are the good things. The dirt is the judgment.’”
In addition to working with individuals, Lombardo has found great success coaching the leaders of some of the country’s largest companies. “When I work with an executive team, everything can change. In a company’s culture, if employees are afraid of failure, no one is going to take a risk and put their ideas out there,” she says. “Leaders have to give themselves permission to fail in order to find their greatest success.” -Ann Marie Scheidler
Dan Marguerite grew up in Wilmette in a family that was passionate about cooking out. One of his father’s best friends was George Stephen, inventor of the iconic Weber kettle grill, so it only makes sense that Marguerite—looking for a new venture after a long career trading stocks—opened the Backyard Barbeque Store in his hometown. Thirteen years later, sales of high-end grills, patio accessories and catered events were sizzling, so Marguerite decided to expand. In January, the Backyard Barbecue Store moved to a newly renovated location at the corner of Green Bay Road and Wilmette Avenue.
The new digs on the southwest corner of the intersection, which transformed the garish blue former carwash into the attractive, multifunctional indoor-outdoor space, are a hit with both Marguerite and his customers. “I just love how much room we have, and I’m really happy with everybody’s reaction to it,” he says. “They love the design, and they ask questions about the architect.”
Marguerite worked with architect Chuck Cook and landscape architect Jim O’Brien—both Wilmette locals—to design an outdoor entertainer’s paradise. They completely gutted the old car wash and created a light-filled space with intricate stonework, reclaimed wood and clever lighting that feels as laid-back and authentic as your own backyard. The space is twice that of Marguerite’s original store, with plenty of room to display merchandise—the Big Green Egg section is impressive—and showcase built-in grill stations that are all the rage. “There’s a big trend toward charcoal grilling now,” says Marguerite. “A lot of people are doing outdoor kitchens too. They want an extension of their kitchen in summertime where they can entertain and cook outside.”
The new building allows Marguerite to expand his popular cooking demos, beer dinners, wine tastings and private parties. If that isn’t enough fun, he plans to add an on-site brewery to the new location. Cheers! 535 Green Bay Road, Wilmette -Marjie Killeen