HotHouse has been contracted to bring its signature arts and culture programming expertise to the Alhambra Palace Restaurant. Starting in Fall 2016, HotHouse will unveil a new series of adventurous multi-disciplinary programming that will emphasize contemporary international culture.
HotHouse will exponentially expand the offerings already at Alhambra - both in the main stage room - the Babylon Room and in the second floor, Marrakesh Room. One goal is to expand the number of professionally run venues in the center of the city and make them attractive and accessible to diverse populations from throughout the region. In the Marrakesh Room, HotHouse will be opening the space to community groups and emerging artists by broadly circulating a Call for Proposals for events. A particular focus for the main stage will be the showcasing of ensembles from the Middle East as an avenue to foster tolerance and understanding through culture.
HotHouse brings to Alhambra a thirty-year legacy of introducing to Chicago audiences some of the world's most compelling voices - often underrepresented in the local market. Known for introducing pop music from Africa, the Caribbean and South America, producing successive impactful festivals and for championing innovative Jazz music, HotHouse has enjoyed a reputation as a leader and major influence on the Chicago cultural scene. Directing the project at the Alhambra is Marguerite Horberg, the Founder and Executive Director of the non - profit HotHouse. Horberg has previously founded numerous festivals (Women of the New Jazz, Jazz en Clavé, Old and New Dreams) and has been honored with dozens of professional awards (Best of Chicago, Chicagoan of the Year, and the Abbey, etc.) for her years of service.
The Alhambra is an ideal setting for HotHouse's vibrant programming-a paean to beauty with every surface embedded with imported mosaics or otherwise decorated to reflect the glorious influence of Moorish design. " When I walked into Alhambra last year I was overjoyed. Each corner has been constructed to transport the visitor to a magical place and the attention to detail is stunning. I knew that world music and so many of the complex cultural expressions that are not currently being staged with the absence of HotHouse would find a home here" says Horberg.
Mamoun Abu El-Khair, the General Manager of Alhambra expressed the same enthusiasm. "We were looking to expand our profile as a destination for world music and rebrand the club as a space that welcomes the voices of peace from around the world. We knew that HotHouse would be the perfect partner for this project". HotHouse is bringing onto its staff an assistant artistic director to coordinate booking and logistics. Suzanne Harris has a long history producing rich cultural events around the city and in New York. Horberg and Harris will be the lead team developing the project on behalf of Alhambra.
Intrigued by the history and art of Alhambra, the eponymous palace and fortress complex of the Moorish monarchs of Granada in southern Spain, Dr. Nasar Rustom hoped to one day bring the culture, art, and splendor of Alhambra to the city of Chicago. Over the course of several years and many trips to the Middle East and North Africa, Dr. Rustom amassed a large collection of artifacts to eventually display and furnish at his restaurant. In order to recreate the splendor of the original Alhambra, Dr. Rustom began commissioning artisans from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco to recreate the Moorish style of art for the hand carved wood furniture, sculptures, rugs, stone mosaics, arabesques, and crystal chandeliers that are to be found around the restaurant.
HotHouse was founded in 1987 to provide a forum for expression in the arts that was under-represented elsewhere in the Chicago cultural community. It was created primarily to curate multi-arts and educational activities that bolstered the prominence of innovative artists working in the margins of the commercial market and to facilitate events that amplified a variety of progressive social movements. The New York Times wrote of HotHouse "few clubs anywhere offer a wider range of first-rate world music, from wildly vibrant Afro-pop to avant-garde jazz than HotHouse." And a "Best of Chicago" award opined "from European avant-garde jazz acts that don't even play in this hemisphere to performance art to world music to the city's more esoteric acts, [HotHouse] has consistently pulled in some of the planet's most innovative acts."
For two decades the organization maintained two award-winning cultural centers where it presented its programs-the first catalyzed growth in the Wicker Park neighborhood (1987-1995) and the second spurred development in the South Loop in downtown Chicago (1995-2007). The board of directors is currently pursuing plans to build its third site.
HotHouse develops its programs in response to a variety of community needs and seeks to extend the milieu of the academy and position high caliber (and international) arts innovation before underserved populations throughout the Chicago metropolitan region.