Author Archive for Nandini Ramakrishnan

Preschool of Hard Knocks

“It was simply a composite of everything gone wrong.” Portia Kennel remembers. “The neighborhood was on the worst census track in the nation. It had every single risk factor at the time…poverty, overcrowding, failing infrastructure. Poor maternal health was rampant…

Collectors’ Edition

My heartbeat swells quickly to the rhythm of the saxophone. I am in an apartment near 55th and Everett, praying I don’t knock any of the thousands of art pieces down to the ground. Alice Scott is showing us around…

String Theory

With the care of a surgeon, the efficiency of a businesswoman, and a virtuosity only possessed by a violin maker of 30 years, Sharon Bowen straightens the bridge of a violin. “There’s 50 pounds of pressure on this spot,” she coos. “It’s a beautiful thing, this instrument.”

Bowen Violin Shop occupies 649 square feet on the eighth floor of the Hyde Park Bank building, 500 of which are covered in stringed instruments, their cases, a workbench, and a very old Macintosh desktop. In the open space, founder, owner, and sole employee Sharon Bowen sports a blue flannel shirt with appliquéd fall leaves and rhinestone-encrusted black plastic glasses while stretching her legs out on her father’s old green striped couch. She proclaims her surroundings are the results of “weird, out-there accidents.”