Demonstrations by ethnic artists will be given from 11 to 1:30 today on the concourse level of the State of Illinois Center, 100 W. Randolph. Ukrainian egg decorating, Latvian weaving, Jewish and Polish paper cutting, native American drawings, and Norwegian rosemaling will be showcased by the Illinois Artisans Shop, which is located on the second floor overlooking the concourse and is a treasure trove of artist-made goods. Free; more at 917-5321.
Phil and Blanche, songwriters for the local (and late) fave group Phil 'n' the Blanks (one critic described them as "a thinking person's dance band"), have regrouped as Wild Kingdom and make their debut at 10 tonight at Gaspars, 3159 N. Southport. Also, keep your eyes and ears peeled for their first video, "Stop-Stop," to be released soon. $5 cover; 871-6680 for details.
The announcement of Marilyn's Wake includes a card of the kind that commemorates Catholic funerals: on one side is a picture of Saint Francis of Assisi chatting with a branchful of birds, on the other a rather dreadful poem and the information that Marilyn the dog bought the farm on February 27, 1987, with her funeral planned for midnight tonight at Zoroya's Funeral Parlor, 1702 S. Jefferson. Tom Zoroya is apparently a grown-up who does murals and installation pieces, so I think we can trust that this will not be a real pet funeral but something with pretensions toward art. You can be the judge of whether they are realized. Free, with details on Marilyn's Wake at 738-3442.
Seeing birds is not the same as watching birds, apparently. Paul Kallman of the Chicago Audubon Society will elaborate on the topic of field identification techniques in a slide lecture and guided walk for new bird-watchers from 8 AM to noon today at the North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski. BYO binoculars (a few pairs will be available for loan). The event is free but preregistration is requested: 583-8970.
The Lincoln Park Zoological Society throws its annual members' Easter party from 10:30 to noon in the zoo's Large Mammal Habitat, 2200 N. Cannon Drive. This is the kind of thing you need to pay attention to if you want your city kid to grow up with a sense of roots and tradition (not to mention a major Photo Opportunity -- the little woozums with the Easter bunny). Members are invited free; memberships are $25 for individuals, $35 for families, and will be sold the day of the party. Further details at 935-6700.
The Brookfield Zoo is also planning some Easter Eggcitement, which starts with an Easter parade led by Mr. and Mrs. Bunny and the zoo's Clydesdale wagon at 1 today and tomorrow, 8400 W. 31st Street in Brookfield. Other activities today include the longest bunny hop in the world and a magic show; tomorrow's special event is the Easter bonnet contest, plus more magic. Admission is $2.25, 75 cents for children 6 to 11; 485-0263.
Graham Chapman, a founding member of Monty Python (the one whose name is spelled Raymond Luxury-Yacht but is pronounced Throat Warbler-Mangrove), presents "And Now for Something Completely Different," a history of the troupe in video clips. It'll be staged at 7:30 this evening at Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Admission is $15, with a two-drink minimum. More at 929-5959.
The North Branch Prairie Project is looking for a few (or more) good men and women to help restore and manage the Somme Woods Prairie with a workday and picnic that starts at 9 AM. Sounds like a fitting and pleasant way to celebrate resurrection and life, whatever your persuasion and regardless of whether you are thinking religiously, seasonally, or ecosystematically. Take Dundee Road west from the Edens to Waukegan Road; turn north and you're there. More information at 775-5003, 475-4335, or 969-5812.
Perhaps you can satisfy, to some degree, your desire to be in England now that April's here, with this week's crop of Shakespeare's birthday events. Tonight, for example, there's Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare, an evening of poetry and drama sponsored by the Goodman from 6 to 9 at the Red Lion Pub, 2446 N. Lincoln. Admission is $3; more at 348-2695.
The Chicago premiere of Sir Michael Tippett's Piano Sonata no. 4 will be performed in a recital by Clive Swansbourne, who is also making his local debut, 6 PM in Fullerton Hall at the Art Institute, Michigan at Adams. This is a revised version of the sonata, completed in 1986 and performed by Swansbourne at the composer's request. The pianist will also play Beethoven's Diabelli Variations and Bach's Overture in the French Style. Tix are $7, $5 for students, seniors, and the disabled, they will be available at the door. more at 443-3794.
Columbia College's visiting artist lecture series concludes for the year with a slide lecture by Wharton, 7 PM in room 403 at Columbia, 600 S. Michigan. This event is billed as "a rare public appearance" by the artist, who was honored with a career retrospective that filled the entire Museum of Contemporary Art a few years back. She's an Art Institute graduate, a founding member of Artemisia, and she still lives here. The talk is free; 663-1600, ext. 380.
Sydney Schanberg, currently a Newsday columnist and the journalist whose story became the movie The Killing Fields, speaks on "The Journalist as an Outsider" at 8 tonight at the Roycemore School, 640 Lincoln in Evanston The lecture is free, but tickets must be reserved in advance: 866-6055.
Quartet, an exhibit of etchings that demonstrates the process, opens today and will be on view through August 23 at the Chicago Academy of Sciences, 2001 N. Clark. Quartet is also the name of the handmade book that the etchings were made for: the project involves the artistry of two doctors -- Lewis Thomas, four of whose essays are the text of the book, and artist Joseph Goldyne -- in collaboration with printer/designer Wesley B. Tanner, who hand set and printed the book at the Arif Press. The handbound volume will also be on display (165 were made, 130 of which are for sale at $900). Hours for the academy are 10-5 daily; $1 admission, 50 cents for kids and seniors, with info at 549-0606.
This is the bard's official birthday (his 423rd, to be exact) -- a fact that Loyola will celebrate with its eighth annual marathon reading of Shakespeare's sonnets, starting at 1 this afternoon in Damen Hall, 6525 N. Sheridan. All the sonnets have already been divvied up, but spectators are invited to join in the celebration that will also feature cake and singing. Free, with information at 508-2780.
If you hurry, you can cap off your revelry at Mundelein College, 6363 N. Sheridan, where a Shakespeare Festival will be held from 5 to 7:30 in the school's McCormick Lounge. The Old Town Renaissance Consort will play, a juggler will juggle, people will be dressed in a style befitting the occasion, and a complete Renaissance buffet will be served. $2 in advance, $3 at the door; more at 989-5415.
The Jewish Community Centers of Chicago are responding to the recent trading scandals with a discussion titled Insider Trading: Jews and Business Ethics at 8 tonight at the Florence G. Heller CC, 524 W. Melrose. Robert A. Pritzker, president and CEO of the Marmon Group and a lecturer at the U. of C. business school, and Kenneth D. Alpern, who teaches philosophy at DePaul, will address the clash between business and personal ethics and question whether Jewish ethical requirements are compatible with capitalism. $5; reserve at 871-6780.