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Friday 23

Polar bears weigh about one pound at birth, but they can grow up to weigh 1,600 pounds. Bulk, however, doesnt interfere with their agility. They can run about 35 miles an hour and are also powerful swimmers. Theodore Gary, a securities trader turned Arctic photographer, spent parts of the last two winters stalking polar bears outside the town of Churchill in northern Canada. The result is The Wandering Giants, 20 of Gary's original color prints of polar bears in their natural habitat, which will be on exhibit through March 10 at the Orca Aart Gallery, 300 W. Grand. Gallery hours are 5:30 to 8 Thursday and Friday, and 11 to 5 Saturday and Sunday. Prints sell for $350 each, but viewing is free. Call 245-5245.

With any luck, this year's showing by the School of the Art Institute's minority student group won't be upstaged by any flag controversy. Artists of Color United (previously the Ethnic Student Union) is sponsoring Aesthetics and Ethnicity, a juried exhibition of works in various media representing some of the cultural diversity of the school's student body. The show opens with a reception from 6 to 8 tonight at Gallery 2,1040 W. Huron. Also opening is The Locker, a collaborative installation by Melissa Jay Craig and Bart Habermiller. Both shows can also be seen from 11 to 6 Tuesday through Saturday. They're free. Call 226-1449 or 443-3703.

Saturday 24

In an exclusive interview with Ted Koppel, Nelson Mandela put political stuff aside and talked about his favorite movie stars (Carmen Miranda and Tyrone Power), and about how Tyson will win the championship back. You can lighten up too and celebrate the release of Nelson Mandela tonight with the Chicago Committee in Solidarity With Southern Africa. The party begins at 7:30 at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren. It will include music by Mark Durham and Vision, featuring Chavunduka, a cash bar, African food, and door prizes. Tickets are $5. Call 427-9868.

Sunday 25

Fidel Castro just announced big changes in Cuba, but they don't include elections or the end of one-party rule. According to news reports, Castro has called for "the perfection of socialism." Marc Frank, for the last five years the People's Daily World's man in Havana, will talk about the party line in Cuba: In the Eye of the Storm, a presentation that will cover the U.S. invasion of Panama, the war in El Salvador, Nicaragua's elections, and other regional crises. It begins at 2 PM in the Buckingham Room of the Congress Hotel, 520 S. Michigan. It's $3, $1 for the unemployed, students, and seniors. Call 768-3800.

In one picture a swan swims quietly across a marble floor. In another a lonely businessman walks through the surf to a gigantic escalator. Scott Mutter--who calls himself a visualist--makes photomontages from disparate images. The idea of blending photographs together came to him while he was studying Chinese, in which characters are layered to form new meanings. A new show of his work opens today with a reception from 3 to 5 at Loyola University's Fine Arts Gallery in the Edward Crown Center for the Performing Arts, 6525 N. Sheridan. Regular gallery hours are 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday. It's free. Call 508-2820.

Vaclav Havel, Czechoslovakia's dissident playwright turned president, was once forbidden to write during one of his prison stints--except for one letter a week to his wife. His guards told him the letters could only concern personal matters. So when Havel wrote about philosophy, the letters were confiscated. He devised a writing exercise describing his moods--two to a letter; that too was forbidden. Eventually, exclamation marks, underlining, and foreign words were all banned. The Increased Difficulty of Concentration, one of Havel's early plays, will be the inaugural production of the Next Lab, a new workshop series affiliated with the Next Theatre Company. Performances run tonight through Wednesday. Curtain time is 8 at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes in Evanston. There's no admission fee. Call 708-475-1875.

Monday 26

After Sam Cooke was shot, thousands of people showed up to pay their respects to the voice behind such hits as "You Send Me," "Cupid," and "Chain Gang." The crush of fans at Cooke's wake was so intense that they crashed through the plate-glass window at the Leak Funeral Home on South Cottage Grove. Though Cooke was known primarily as a singer, he also wrote and produced for young artists he'd discovered, such as Bobby Womack, Billy Preston, and Lou Rawls. Lambus Dean, who played Cooke in ETA Creative Arts Foundation's A Change Gon' Come, presents a Sam Cooke tribute today, featuring songs by Cooke and stories about his life. The free show starts at 5:30 in the theater of the Public Library Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 346-3278.

Tuesday 27

At today's Housing in Chicago forum, Alderman Luis Gutierrez, Mayor Daley's choice to head the City Council housing committee, will respond to another Daley appointee, housing commissioner Michael Schubert, who will promote the administration's view on the city's housing crisis. Gutierrez will be joined by the Metropolitan Planning Council's Mary Decker and the Neighborhood Institute's Cecil Lawrence. It all starts at noon on the eighth floor of the Chicago Athletic Association, 71 E. Madison. Admission is $8, $5 for members of the Chicago Council on Urban Affairs. If you want lunch (another $5) call ahead 782-3511.

Wednesday 28

Asian Pacific Americans, a handbook put together by the local chapters of the Asian American Journalists Association and the National Conference of Christians and Jews, is a fact-filled guide for anyone writing about or dealing with the Asian American community. The handbook features demographic information on more than 20 Asian nationalities and a glossary of appropriate terms, as well as information on anti-Asian violence, reparations for Japanese Americans, and even mail-order brides. The handbook can be picked up free at a press conference at 9:30 AM at WBBM TV, 630 N. McClurg. A light breakfast will be served. Call 236-9272 for reservations and more information.

Saturn and Mars will be only 1.1 degrees apart tonight. Mars wont cuddle up to another planet until it comes within 7.5 degrees of Venus in March. Dan Joyce and Bill Becker of the Chicago Astronomical Society will host tonight's free star watch at 8 at the North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski. If the skies aren't clear, the program will be canceled--so call ahead at 725-5618.


Thursday 1

Today only, one of Chicago's leading investment firms will waive all commission fees for investors who purchase publicly traded shares of any one of the 130 major corporations headquartered in town. Take Stock in Chicagoland Day is Howe Barnes Investments' way of celebrating its 75th anniversary. You can purchase up to 1,000 shares or $10,000 in principal, whichever is less. Potential investors should call 930-2900 between 8 and 3.

Now that East Germany has admitted some responsibility for the holocaust, there's the question of reparations for the victims. The role of East Germany will be one of several issues discussed during Moral Choices, Visions of Order, Remembrances, a conference on resistance to the Nazi regime. The three-day event kicks off with a free keynote address by Dr. Marion Grafin Donhoff, copublisher of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, at 7 PM at the Arts Club of Chicago, 109 E. Ontario. Reservations are requested. For a full conference schedule call 329-0915.

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