About 25 years ago, three young brothers made their debut at a local talent show at the Henry Horner public-housing projects. Maurice, Fred, and Verdine White grew up to be the core of Earth, Wind and Fire. Now in its 33rd year, the Henry Horner Annual Talent Show is still drawing potential superstars. More than 50 members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, ages 6 to 18, will compete in four different categories. Theyll be judged by a panel of parents and volunteers, starting at 6:30 PM at 1832 W. Washington. Admission is $3. For more call 648-1666.
One of this country's premier poets, Ellen Bryant Voight writes with a southern earthiness, a common-sense humor, and, says critic Stanley Kunitz, "a quiet splendor." The author of The Lotus Flowers, The Forces of Plenty, and Claiming Kin, Voight has been awarded a Guggenheim, a Pushcart Prize, and an Emily Clark Award; her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Antaeus, and Ploughshares. She is also the founder of the highly acclaimed MFA programs at Goddard College and Warren Wilson College. She'll be reading at 8 tonight at the Poetry Center at the School of the Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Admission is $5, $4 for students and seniors. Call 955-1408 for more.
Get ready for this three-hour marathon: Sixties Underground: Be-In, a retrospective of underground films from that decade. Sponsored by the Experimental Film Coalition, the celluloid orgy includes Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable, a psychedelic light show featuring the Velvet Underground and Nico in a 1968 Chicago club appearance; Robert Frank's Life-Raft Earth, about an enviromentalists' demonstration; and Oh Dem Watermelons, a funky antiracist protest film. It's at 8 tonight and tomorrow at Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. Tickets are $4, $3 for students. For a full list of films call 666-7737.
The late James Baldwin was moody, and temperamental, but sensitive and generous. His work includes such classics as Go Tell It on the Mountain, Giovanni's Room, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen, a gripping essay on Atlanta's child murders. Baldwin is featured today on Loyola University's "Word of Mouth," a series that replays lectures recorded by WFMT over the last 30 years. Baldwin's talk on the moral and social responsibilities of the artist airs at 4:30 PM on WFMT (98.7 FM) Call 565-5000.
The surrealist movement, founded by Andre Breton in Paris in 1924, is still alive--though Octavio Paz, who was associated with the original movement, recently called today's Chicago surrealists" very orthodox." What's new in surrealism is in a new anthology, Arsenal: Surrealist Subversion, edited by Franklin Rosemont, a late addition to Breton's Paris group. The book's debut will be celebrated at 7 tonight at Powell's Bookstore North, 2850 N. Lincoln. The free party features music by Douglas Ewart and friends. For more call 472-4528.
If you believe that commercials are often more entertaining than the programs the advertisers sponsor, you'll get a kick out of Excellence In Advertising: The Clio Awards, today's program at the Film Center of the School of the Art Institute. Now in their 29th year, the Clios honor creativity in hawking everything from Michelob beer to Cheer detergent. The cream of the crop will be screened at 4:15 and 6 today in the school theater, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Tickets are $5, $3 for members. Call 443-3733.
A Full Night of Jewish Entertainment means Jewish soul music, sharp-tongued comedy, and story telling. North Shore Congregation Israel is throwing a party featuring the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, comedienne Caryn Bark, storyteller Susan Stone, and the Chicago Symphony's tuba player Ariel Sasson. It's all at 7:30 PM at the temple, 1185 Sheridan in Glencoe, Tickets are $4 at the door. Call 427-5570.
He's now making athletic-shoe commercials with Michael Jordan and signing multipicture deals with big Hollywood conglomerates, but once upon a time Spike Lee had to make art with a hand-held camera and whatever his Brooklyn neighborhood had to offer. That's largely how Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop, his first feature, came about. It's a funny, often poignant look at a local barbershop, where people hang out and play the numbers hoping to hit it big. Released in 1983, the film was largely ignored by critics and moviegoers, and is still rarely screened. You can catch it at 7 tonight at the University of Chicago's Social Sciences Building, room 122, 1126 E. 59th St. It's free. Call 702-9554.
David Nelson's portrait of Mayor Harold Washington caused a public uproar. Less well publicized was the ensuing internal turmoil at the School of the Art Institute, where the painting had been exhibited as part of a student show. Since then, a minority task force has been exploring racism within the school structure. Black students drafted a series of demands, including the hiring of at least one African-American staffer in every department. Hispanic students have held separate meetings, as have gay and lesbian students. Some of these people belong to Ethnic American Students United, an organization of minority students committed to promoting cultural awareness and diversity within the school. The group is currently sponsoring A/ Part of the Whole, a free art exhibit that shows how ethnicity enriches artists' work. Running through March 18, it's in the school's Columbus Drive Gallery, Columbus at Jackson, which is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 to 4:30 (Tuesday until 7:45), and Sunday from noon to 5. For more call 443-3703.
Although Joseph Cornell had his work included in the 1936 dadaism and surrealism exhibition at the Museum of Modem Art, his reclusive nature kept him from becoming as well-known as his contemporaries Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. Cornell's constructions are idiosyncratic, informed by everything from literature to ballet to history, and often include vials, sand, or moving elements. The Richard Gray Gallery, 820 N. Michigan, is showing Cornell's collages and box constructions through March 31. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 to 5:30. Viewing is free. Call 642-8877.
Lorraine Hansberry, the first black woman playwright to be produced on Broadway, grew up in Chicago, where she picked up a lot of the material that wound up in Raisin in the Sun. Although she was later the pride of her community, Hansberry wrote in her letters that she often felt terribly lonely and isolated. Present and future Hansberrys needn't feel alone. Chameleon Productions, a culturally diverse women's theater company, offers peer support as it promotes quality work by women of color. Some of the brightest jazz talents in town will be helping the company celebrate The Night of the Chameleon, a benefit at Traffic Jam, 401 W. Ontario, that kicks off at 6 PM. Tickets are $20, $5 after 9. Call 907-2188.
The Phantom Tollbooth is a modern classic for kids. Bored out of his skull, little Milo gets a chance to travel and learn when he is given a turnpike tollbooth that becomes his ticket to Dictionopolis, Digitopolis, and adventure. Norton Juster's tale has been adapted for the stage in a DePaul University Theatre School production at the Blackstone Theatre, 60 E. Balbo. Show times are 10 AM Tuesday and Thursday, 2 PM Saturday; it runs through March 11. Tickets are $3.50, $3.25 for DePaul students, alumni, employees, and subscribers. For information call 341-8455.