ILI West Loop ChicagoKumiko, a cozy, Japanese-inspired restaurant and bar nestled in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, has been named one of the World’s Greatest Places of 2019 by TIME Magazine.

TIME’s list annually spotlights the 100 most noteworthy museums, hotels, parks and restaurants from all over the world. TIME selected Kumiko based on its innovative cocktail menu, which is influenced by co-owner and beverage director Julia Momose’s Japanese heritage. Patrons can enjoy a drink alongside steam buns, short ribs and other small plates crafted from Japanese ingredients by chef Noah Sandoval.

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SoybeansA marker commemorating the first soybeans ever planted in Illinois was placed at the Louis and Clark Community College in Alton, Illinois nearly 167 years after John Lee of Alton helped them take root.

However, Lee did not receive this crop by ordinary means. Illinois’ long history with soybeans begins 500 miles off the coast of Japan in 1950, after a shipwrecked Junk stranded 17 Japanese sailors at sea.

The group was transported to San Francisco after the North American freighter Auckland rescued them from the wreck. Among the survivors was Joseph Heco, pictured left, who later became the first Japanese person to be naturalized as a United States citizen. A chest of goods he and his shipmates brought from the wreck contained the very first soybeans that Illinois would see.

At the time, Alton resident Dr. Benjamin Franklin Edwards was residing in San Francisco. Like many others during this time, Edwards was drawn to California by the gold rush.

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Our July Artist of the month is Ellen Ransom of Evanston. Ransom is a portrait artist whose goal is to show African Americans around the world that they too can be portayed in art.

How long have you been an artist or when did you start?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing something! I was the youngest of four children and the only girl being raised alone as my brothers remained in Alabama with my grandmother and their father. I didn’t have much company or playmates and therefore found ways to entertain myself by drawing everything in sight. Upon becoming a teenager, my oldest brother joined my mother and me, but still, as a baby sister, there were not a lot of opportunities for my brother and I to interact together, besides art. 

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tom headshotTom Heflin of Rockford is our June Artist of The Month. Hieflin began his career as an artist in the spring of 1970. He often opens his home to visitors who can come and view his latest work.

How long have you been an artist or when did you start?

With a wife and five children I was working in a sign company and doing my art at night and weekends waiting for the proper time when I could launch my career as a fine artist. It took 16 long years but I reached a point when I was 33 years old and decided it was now or never. I found an abandoned farm house on a dead end road 10 miles from the little city of Freeport, Illinois. The owner gave me permission to use it and wouldn’t charge me rent because it had no indoor plumbing and only a kitchen wood stove for heat. So with my hopes and dreams I moved into this old haunted place and started my career as an artist in the spring of 1970.

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artistAdrienne Pike Adelphia is our May Artist of the Month from Ottawa. She is inspired by artist like Homer Winslow, Georgia O’Keefe and Andy Evenson.

How long have you been an artist or when did you start?

I’ve been an artist all of my life. I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember.

Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion and if so, would you tell us about it?

I’m not sure there that there was a specific moment. But, I do remember an assignment in first or second grade. We had to cut out a little figure and dress it as the profession we wanted to go into. My figure had a paint smock and a palette…

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