The Jewish Community Centers' annual Citywide Hanukkah Celebration will feature an appearance by acting mayor Sawyer, a brief presentation on the meaning of the holiday by Rabbi Mordecai Simon, and a performance by a choir of Russian-Jewish immigrants. The festivities, which commemorate the commitment of the Jewish people to maintain their homes, temples, and culture, begin at noon today at Daley Plaza, at the corner of Dearborn and Washington. It's free. For more information call 346-6700.
The School of the Art Institute's third annual Holiday Art Sale is a real roll of the dice. All of the items are works by current SAIC students, and include ceramics, clothing, jewelry, paintings, photographs, and textiles. You could very well take home the art of a future Georgia O'Keeffe or Ed Paschke, but you might wind up with just a nice frame. Cash and personal checks are accepted, but plastic is a no-no. The sale runs from noon to 7 PM today and tomorrow at Hefner Hall (the old Playboy mansion), 1340 N. State. Free shuttle buses will run from the school's entrance at Columbus Drive and Jackson to the hall during the sale. Call 443-3713 for more.
Truly unique holiday gifts will be on the block during the Chinese American Service League's Year of the Dragon Dinner/Auction. Embroidered silk clothing, antique Chinese furnishings, cloisonne jewelry, and original artwork will go to the highest bidders during the league's annual fund-raiser. In addition, students from the organization's chef training program will offer an international buffet. The fun starts at 5:30 PM at 310 W. 24th Pl. in Chinatown. A $20 tax-deductible donation gets you in. For more call Sharon Yee at 791-0418.
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory calls its genetic research "manipulated evolution"; others say such experiments could easily become genetic fascism in the wrong hands. Dr. W.R. Gomes, a professor and acting dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will talk about the implications of test-tube evolution in tonight's lecture, Designer Genes, Frozen Assets, and Clones From the Bank: Boon or Bane? A question-and-answer session and a reception will follow the presentation, which begins at 8 in Fermilab's Ramsey Auditorium in Wilson Hall, on the corner of Kirk and Pine roads in Batavia. Tickets are $2. Call 840-2787.
Tonight only, the MinaSama-No Theatre Company, one of our town's few Asian-American performance groups, presents Norman's Special Day, a new one-act comedy. Written, directed, produced, and performed by Asian Americans, the play is the story of a modern young Asian American who is granted three wishes on his birthday by a mystical Asian wizard. Show time is 7:30 PM at the Midwest Buddhist Temple, 435 W. Menomonee. The suggested donation is $2. Call 907-2180 for information.
If you can't find anything at the SAIC or Chinese American Service League holiday gift affairs, try the Chicago Underground Designers Christmas Bazaar. For the third year in a row, Dawn Hurwitz and her gang of more than 85 artisans are putting on a big one-of-a-kind display everything from clothing and jewelry to "woven things and paper things and things made with stones." It runs from noon to 7 PM at Navy Pier, Grand Avenue and the lake. It's $2 to come in and browse; kids get in free. For more call 989-4200.
While Santa pays a special visit to the sea lion pool at the Lincoln Park Zoo, his helpers will pass out songbooks and greenery for the 12th annual Caroling to the Animals. After a few warm-up choruses of "Jingle Bells" and other faves, carolers will serenade the residents of the primate and reptile houses and the Children's Zoo. The Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus, the Young Naperville Singers, the Jubilate! Children's Choir, and the Palatine Children's Chorus--accompanied by the Chicago Brass Quintet--will also be featured. Free treats include cookies and hot cider. It all starts at 3 PM at the zoo, 2200 N. Cannon Dr., and it's free. For more call 294-2493 or 935-6700.
Make this a movie night, beginning with local filmmaker Julia Cameron's God's Will, a ghost story shot entirely in Chicago. Cameron worked successfully for ten years in the Hollywood studio system before striking out on her own; God's Will is her feature debut. It'll be screened at 6:15 as part of Women in Film's monthly meeting, which starts with a reception at 5:30 PM in the State of Illinois Building's lower-level auditorium, 100 W. Randolph. Cameron will take questions from the audience after the show. Admission is $3 for WIF members, $10 for all others. Call 372-2363.
The Man Who Left His Will on Film is a haunting 1970 Japanese movie about a young 60s leftist who finds the loaded camera of another radical who has leapt to his death while fleeing the police. Even though the found footage is meaningless, the young man becomes obsessed with it and eventually relives the events that led to the suicidal jump. Directed by Nagisa Oshima, the black-and-white film is in Japanese with English subtitles. It'll be screened at 7 and 9 tonight at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton. Admission is $3 for Facets members, $5 for all others. For more call 281-4114.
Pasta is the American food of the 80s, but the experts at making the stuff are still the Italians. Giuliano Bugialli--teacher, lecturer, and award-winning cookbook author--celebrates the publication of Bugialli on Pasta (Simon & Schuster) with a cooking demonstration and book signing today at Convito Italiano, 11 E. Chestnut. It starts at 5 PM, and it's free. For more call 943-2983.
If, after hitting the SAIC student sale, the Chinese American Service League auction, and the Underground Designers Bazaar, you still have a few names left on your Christmas list, try the 13th annual Lill Street Holiday Show and Sale. The midwest's largest ceramic center, Lill Street offers work in clay, glass, and fiber, as well as fashion accessories by studio members and by other local and national artists. Prices range from $2 to $1,500; Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are happily accepted. Better yet, Lill Street will accept returns through January 10 for store credit or exchange. Holiday hours are 11 to 7 daily, except 11 to 8 on Thursday and noon to 5 on Sunday. The center is at 1201 W. Lill St. Call 477-6185.
It's not enough that it has a futuristic front room and a gritty urban dance floor. Esoteria fills up tonight during its two multimedia Happenings, Barbara Murray's arts extravaganza. The 8 and 11 PM showcases include music, painting, fashion design, jewelry, dance, dramatic performances--and even tarot readings. Esoteria is in the alley at 2247 N. Lincoln. Admission is $3, $1 with an invitation. Call 549-4110 to get one.
Lloyd Shin, East West, and Signet are all downtown galleries with a focus on Asian art, but it is in Uptown--where a large number of Asians reside--that the Beacon Street Gallery has put together a world-class exhibit of Chinese Peasant Paintings. Many of the works, which come from all over China, have never been seen before in the U.S. The gallery is at 4520 N. Beacon, and it's open Wednesday through Saturday noon to 6 PM. The show is free and runs through January 28. For details call 561-3500.
Founded in 1947, the German-American Singers of Chicago boast a varied repertoire, including folk songs and works by Palestrina, Bruckner, and Praetorius. Directed by Dr. Alfred Gras since 1971, the singers have performed throughout the midwest, have toured Europe, and have three albums to their credit. They'll give a free concert at 3:30 PM in the theater of the Public Library Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 346-3278.