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Friday 4/30 - thursday 5/6

APRIL

By Cara Jepsen

30 FRIDAY While some Mexican artists have been concerned with making political, nationalist statements, sculptor and painter Jose Luis Cuevas chooses to depict the solitude and alienation of the individual. What Is Our Strangeness?, Cuevas's first local solo exhibit, opens tonight at Aldo Castillo Gallery, 233 W. Huron (312-337-2536). The free opening reception from 5 to 9 doubles as an expansion party for the gallery.

George Balanchine, widely considered one of the greatest choreographers of our time, preferred to call himself a craftsman. Tonight Violette Verdy, who danced with Balanchine's New York City Ballet for 20 years, will discuss what it was like Behind the Scenes With Balanchine, part of the Alliance Francaise's monthlong "Fete des Arts." Verdy speaks at 6:30 at the Alliance, 54 W. Chicago. Tickets are $8. For reservations call 312-337-1070.

In the 17th century, women with a musical bent often enjoyed more creative freedom if they joined a convent. This weekend the Newberry Consort, featuring sopranos Christine Brandes and Ellen Hargis, will perform music composed by cloistered nuns at a series of concerts called Celestial Sirens. Performances are at 3 on Thursday, April 29, and tonight at 8 at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Saturday's concert is at 8 at Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake in Oak Park. Tickets are $25 and $35, $22.50 and $31.50 for seniors, and $12.50 and $17.50 for students. On Sunday they'll perform at 3 at Northwestern University's Lutkin Hall, 700 University in Evanston. Tickets are $20 and $25, $18 and $22.50 for seniors, $10 and $12.50 for students. Call 312-943-9090 for more information on all four shows.

MAY

1 SATURDAY The public will get a chance to find out what exactly they do at Argonne National Laboratory when the research center holds an open house as part of the Discovery 2000: Illinois Science & Technology Expo. The event features demonstrations, science shows, and activities from 9:30 to 4:30 at the lab, just south of I-55 at 9700 S. Cass Avenue in Argonne (between Darien and Lemont, or about 25 miles southwest of downtown). Call 630-252-6660 for more.

A million potheads from Johannesburg to Oslo are expected to take it to the streets for today's international 20-city Million Marijuana March. Their rallying cry: "Stop all cannabis arrests, release the medicine, stop the prison state!" The Chicago march starts with music and speakers at 11 at Federal Plaza, 220 S. Dearborn; they'll begin walking at noon. Call 312-683-5172 for more.

The performance group Goat Island researched its latest piece, The Sea & Poison, for two years. This cryptic work concerns "the effects of poison on the body and landscape, and of the pollution of time and space," bringing together elements like the Italian tarantella (a dance that was supposed to purge the body of venom from a spider bite), deformed frogs, and the 1957 movie The Incredible Shrinking Man. The piece premieres Friday; tonight's show includes a postperformance "context talk/response" by environmental-health specialist Peter Murchie. The performance is at 7 (the show continues through May 9) at the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, 615 W. Wellington. Tickets are $12, $8 for students and seniors. Call 773-281-3953 for reservations.

2 SUNDAY Actors in Union and Confederate uniforms will spin tales of gallantry, courage, and misfortune at this weekend's Civil War Encampment, put on by the Ridge Historical Society. As part of a demonstration of the rigors of camp life, an army doctor will perform some gruesome old-fashioned "surgery" on an unlucky soldier. The encampment will be set up from 11 to 5 Saturday and today at Morgan Park Academy's athletic field, on 112th between Lothair and Bell. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for children. Call 773-881-1675 for details.

For the past few weeks an exotic-looking motorcycle with a sidecar has been causing a gaper's block at the entrance to the Brown Elephant resale shop in Lakeview. The 1957 BMW replica--which needs some work--will go to the highest bidder at a silent auction this weekend to benefit the Howard Brown Health Center. Bidding runs from 11 to 6 on Saturday and from 11 to 3 today at the shop, 3651 N. Halsted. The opening bid is $3,000, but it's free to gawk. Call 773-388-1600 for more.

3 MONDAY This American Life's Ira Glass is everywhere these days--in the newspaper, in magazines, and now in record stores. He'll attend today's This American Life CD release party, along with contributors Sarah Vowell and Cheryl Trykv and cartoonist Chris Ware, who designed the cover of the two-CD set and the trading cards inside. The party starts at 7 at Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark (773-477-5994).

On this day in 1791 Poland approved a new liberal constitution, only to be carved up by Austria, Prussia, and Russia four years later. But the holiday is still an excuse for the Hash House Harriers to conduct their annual Polish Constitution Day Hash. The hash, a noncompetitive run following a trail of flour, chalk arrows, and toilet paper, ends with a round or two at a pub. The run starts at 7 PM at the Mazury Club, 2459 N. Pulaski. It's $5, but first-time runners hash for free. For more info call 312-409-2337.

4 TUESDAY An exhibit of the costumes worn by dancer and choreographer Ruth Page during her long career opens today and runs through June 15 at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State (312-747-4050). A preview Monday at 5 includes talks by organizers Ann Barzel and Larry Long.

5 WEDNESDAY More on the War Between the States: tonight Civil War authority Brooks Davis will speak about the life of Abraham Lincoln and compare the "man of faith" to the man from Hope, our current commander in chief. The talk starts at 7:30 at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, 6500 S. Pulaski (773-582-6500). Admission is free.

6 THURSDAY Rich Cohen's 1998 book Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams begins at an LA deli where his father, Herbie, and some old pals from Brooklyn, including TV interviewer Larry King, pass the time reminiscing about the good old gangsters of yesteryear. Through them the book explores the exploits and legacies of the key players of the Jewish underworld, including Meyer Lansky, Louis Lepke, and Orthodox hit man Red Levine, who refused to work on the Sabbath. Cohen will read from the new paperback version tonight at 7:30 at Barbara's Bookstore, 1100 Lake in Oak Park (708-848-9140).

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