Calendar 

Friday 7/18 - Thursday 7/24

JULY

18 FRIDAY The 24 garments in Sean Sorensen's piece American Burqa include a rubber fetish burqa, a Hawaiian print burqa, and an "I Love New York" burqa, plus burqas made of denim and camouflage cloth. They're on display as part of the group show Politics as Usual, which opens today. Among the works by the 25 other artists are Take Off the Head 2003, a large-scale installation by Friese Undine composed of 660 portraits of political, military, and corporate figures, and Last Seas, an oversize sculpture of a white bird by Laura Davis. There's a free reception tonight from 6 to 9 and the exhibit runs through August 23 at Aron Packer Gallery, 118 N. Peoria; call 312-226-8984.

"They're seedy and burnt-out and probably strung out, but they really feel like they're on a mission to share this message of love and make people realize we actually live in paradise," says performer Kestutis Nakas of Spin and Marlene Milton, the fictional lounge act he and his wife, Audre Budrys, portray in Len Jenkin's play Dream Express. The Miltons' repertoire ranges from "Walk Away Rene" and "Let's Get Physical" to obscure tunes like the traditional Bahamian gospel song "I Bid You Goodnight." Jenkin and Nakas first developed the show in New Mexico in the early 90s; since then it's gone through several incarnations, but this weekend marks its Chicago debut. Performances are tonight and tomorrow, July 19, at 11 PM at Angel Island Theatre, 731 W. Sheridan (the run continues next Friday and Saturday, July 25 and 26). Tickets are $10, $8 for students and seniors; call 312-213-3952.

19 SATURDAY Among the 40,000 or so people currently incarcerated by the state of Illinois, approximately 400 are "C-number" prisoners--the classification for inmates serving open-ended sentences. Most are African-Americans between 50 and 60 years old, and all were sentenced prior to 1978, when determinate-sentencing laws were implemented. In 1978 their parole rate was 57 percent, but these days it hovers between 1 and 4 percent, even though advocates for C-number prisoners say they have the lowest recidivism rate (14 percent) in the system. Several groups, including the Chicago-based Campaign in Support of C-number Prisoners, are working to change the policies of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, which rules on petitions for parole. Today's free town hall meeting on the issue will include former C-number prisoner Grady Brown, PRB chairman Craig Findley, senate Judiciary Committee chair John Cullerton, former Illinois Department of Corrections warden Edna Lee, Uptown People's Law Center attorney Alan Mills, state representative Lou Jones, and assistant state's attorney Mark Shlifka. It'll be moderated by Howard Saffold of the Positive Anti-Crime Thrust and takes place from 1 to 4 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 5700 S. Prairie. Call 773-871-3938 for more information.

20 SUNDAY "We felt that doing nothing in a period of repressive violence was in itself a form of violence. That's really the part I think is hardest for people to understand," explains former Weatherman Naomi Jaffe in Sam Green and Bill Siegel's new documentary, The Weather Underground. The film juxtaposes modern-day interviews with Jaffe and other former Weathermen--including locals Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers--with archival footage of the radical anti-Vietnam war group, which called for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government and in its day sprang Timothy Leary from prison and bombed more than a dozen buildings. Siegel and Green say they couldn't have gotten started without a $1,000 grant from the Chicago Underground Film Festival, and tonight Siegel, Dohrn, and Ayers will attend a special benefit screening for CUFF. It's at 7 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State (312-846-2600). Tickets are $15 and include admission to a private postshow party at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. The film's commercial run starts August 1 at the Music Box; the Chicago Underground Film Festival begins August 27. For more information see www.cuff.org.

Over the past five years, vocalist Lynn Book's work has evolved from multimedia productions to what she calls "concert theater," in which she performs "musical vocal text" composed of singing, scatting, wailing, ranting, and the occasional birdcall. Book, a former Chicagoan, will present a new piece called Notes on Desire with percussionist Kevin Norton on Saturday, July 19, at 7 at the Acorn Theater, 107 Generations Drive in Three Oaks, Michigan, as part of Columbia College's Michiana Festival of the Arts. Tickets are $15; call 269-756-3879 or see www.michiana.colum.edu. Tonight they'll appear at 8 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; following the show, at 10, guitarist Jeff Parker and bassist Tatsu Aoki will join them for an improvised set. Tickets are $10; call 312-362-9707.

21 MONDAY In 1830 Hector Berlioz composed his Symphonie fantastique after becoming infatuated with an Irish actress named Henrietta Smithson, whom he saw playing Ophelia in an 1827 production of Hamlet. He sent her flowers, wrote her letters, and rented an apartment near hers but got no response. "I am about to begin my symphony in which the development of my passion will be depicted," he wrote to a friend. The bombastic, emotional five-movement piece about obsessive love is the first entry in the Ravinia Festival's One Score, One Chicago initiative. Like the book project that inspired it, the program will feature a new work each season and is designed to spur discussion and bring culture to the sweating masses. (Smithson, by the way, eventually gave in to Berlioz's obsession and married her stalker in 1833.) Tonight at 7:30, classical music expert Sylvie Desouches will discuss Symphonie fantastique at Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster (773-871-3610). It's one of a long series of free lectures at area libraries and stores; for a complete list of events go to www.ravinia.org or www.chipublib.org. Also, on July 25 the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform the symphony and on August 17 the Ravinia Festival Orchestra will present a version tailored to families and children. And August 28 through 31 puppeteer Basil Twist will illustrate pianist Christopher O'Riley's solo rendition of the work by manipulating cloth, glitter, feathers, mirrors, and more--all in a 1,000-gallon tank of water. All performances are on the Ravinia grounds at Lake Cook and Green Bay roads in Highland Park.

22 TUESDAY Selecting art and deciding where to put it can be intimidating for the layperson, says one of the organizers of tonight's free panel discussion, Rituals of Art and Interior Design. "We wanted a group of up-and-coming youthful designers to discuss how they select their art and furniture when they're looking at a space--how their eye looks at a room and says, 'This painting will go there.'" The panelists include Shea Souci of Souci Horner, David Grout from Gary Lee Partners, architect John Vinci, and designer Mitch Putlack. It starts at 6:30 at Ann Nathan Gallery, 212 W. Superior (312-664-6622). The panel, organized by the Chicago Art Dealers Association and part of a series of events called "A World of Art in Chicago," begins with a free reception from 5:30 to 6:30 at three adjacent galleries--Ann Nathan, Perimeter (210 W. Superior), and Habatat (222 W. Superior). For more call CADA at 312-649-0065 or see www.chicagoartdealers.org.

23 WEDNESDAY "There are a ton of great disabled performers and writers and visual artists in the Chicago area," says Terri Thrower, the producer of Crip Slam! Disability Takes on the Arts. The three-event festival started July 16 with performances by actors Susan Nussbaum and Tekki Lomnicki. Tonight's installment features a song and monologue by dancer Alana Wallace, a polio survivor who performs in a wheelchair; a slide presentation by visual artist and spina bifida survivor Riva Lehrer; and a rap performance by T-10 and Psycho (T-10 takes his stage name from the medical term for the location of his spinal cord injury). It's emceed by activist Mike Ervin, one of the organizers behind "Jerry's Orphans," an annual protest of the MDA telethon, and starts at 7:30 at UIC's IIDD Auditorium, 1640 W. Roosevelt, room 166. It's free, wheelchair accessible, and includes captioning and audio description; there will be a reception afterward. The final, poetry-oriented event takes place July 30 and features work by Peter Cook and Kenny Lerner's Flying Words Project as well as by Jim Ferris. For more information call 312-355-1253.

24 THURSDAY "The word Voltaire is in the mosaic on the ceiling of Preston Bradley Hall, which I think is really cool," says Peter McDowell, program coordinator at the Department of Cultural Affairs, which is presenting Leonard Bernstein's Candide--based on Voltaire's satiric novel--as its free summer opera this year. Directed by Jay Paul Skelton, the operetta features a chorus of 14- to 21-year-olds from Gallery 37. It opens tonight at 8 and runs through July 29 at the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington. Tickets can be picked up in advance at the CCC's Visitor Information Center (limit four per person). For more information call 312-744-6630.

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