"What we want to do is rotate the holes every two months or so," explains Michael O'Brien, the president of Par Excellence!, the artist-created miniature golf course that began as a show at the School of the Art Institute. The course pays each commissioned artist a percentage of the take. "We're also a little unusual in that we pay up front for their materials," says O'Brien. The newest artist to contribute to the course is Jim Meehan, who'll be unveiling his animated neon piece, I Was Born on a Pirate Ship at tonight's Open Party & Putt, a reception from 6 to 9 at 1800 N. Clybourn. Regular course hours are 11 to 11 Monday through Thursday, 11 to midnight Friday, noon to 1 AM Saturday, and noon to 10 Sunday. Admission is $5, $4 for seniors, and $3.50 for kids under 12. Call 278-4653.
Jean Scharfenberg may be to Chicago what Lee Strasberg was to Hollywood: as a theater professor at Illinois State University since 1966, Scharfenberg has taught such area actors as John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf, Terry Kinney, Gary Cole, and John LeMay. In cooperation with the university, she'll be offering an eight-week acting workshop for Chicago actors from June 9 to July 28 at Steppenwolf Theatre. Auditions for the class begin at 11 AM today at 2851 N. Halsted. Tuition is $275. Call ahead for a reservation at 309-438-8783.
Patti Filardi was on her way to visit her grandfather last October when two men stepped out of the shadows, stabbed her, took $30, and left her for dead. When it was over, she was left paralyzed from the neck down. Although she's regained some movement in her arms, neck, and wrists, Filardi is still dependent on others to get around. The Friends of Patti Filardi want to raise $25,000 to get her a handicapped van and an electric wheelchair. Today's benefit in the terrace at Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison, includes a full buffet and an open bar. Admission is $25. Raffle tickets are $1; prizes include a weekend at the Drake Hotel with dinner at Bistro 110. The silent auction features a baseball signed by the Cubs, a basketball signed by Michael Jordan, a hockey stick signed by the Hawks, paintings by local artists, and more weekend hotel packages. Filardi, who friends say is in great spirits, will be there. It all starts at 4 PM. Call 708-518-0435.
The day the Challenger spacecraft was to lift off, Cable News Network was there both to tape the event and to put together a promotional behind-the-scenes look at its own workings. When the spaceship exploded in mid-flight, the CNN crew got more than it ever expected: a startling documentary on the CNN staff producing split-second live coverage of the disaster as it occurred. The documentary will be part of CNN: The First Ten Years, a tribute to Ted Turner's 24-hour news channel, opening today at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, 800 S. Wells. The opening reception, which starts at 12:30, includes a panel discussion with CNN Chicago bureau chief Jeff Flock, national correspondent and space expert Tom Mintier (the only person reporting live on camera during the Challenger explosion), supervising producer Michael Klein, and the Tribune's James Warren as moderator. There will be continuous screenings of CNN highlights, including the Tiananmen Square riots and the Iran-contra hearings, plus special reports and documentaries. The program runs through July 1. Regular museum hours are noon to 5 Wednesday through Sunday, 10 to 5 Saturday. Admission is a suggested $3, $2 for students, $1 for seniors and kids under 13. Call 987-1500.
Arts activist Jose G. Gonzalez has been trying for years to start a Latino community arts center and museum. He founded MIRA, an arts advocacy group focused on Hispanic needs, and has been involved with the social service agency Casa Aztlan, the Mexican Fine Arts Museum Center, and almost every significant arts event in the Pilsen/Little Village area for almost a generation. With the opening of El Zocalo Gallery at La Margarita Restaurant's new headquarters in Dearborn Station, 47 W. Polk, Gonzalez has a new space in which to play with his sense of aesthetics and ethnic identity. His first project as curator is a show of Alex Galindo's photographs and Arturo Miramontes's paintings. The opening reception for both the gallery and its first exhibit is from 2 to 5 this afternoon. It's free. Call 829-1620 or 777-6666.
Local jazz pianists Mike Kocour and Brad Williams take the stage Mondays and Tuesdays at the Gold Star Sardine Bar, 680 N. Lake Shore Drive. Kocour, a Rogers Park native, seems to prefer more traditional Porter and Gershwin tunes, while Williams has been known to wander into more progressive songbooks and occasionally into an improv set or two. Kocour has the stage on Monday, Williams on Tuesday. Music starts at 7. There's no cover, but you've got to buy one drink. Call 664-4215.
The No Exit Cafe doesn't really have a set closing hour for its Monday-night open mike sessions. "We stay here until the last person on the sign-up list has done whatever it is he or she is going to do--though it's usually music, or something closely approximating music," says manager Bruce Empfield. Since the show starts at 8:30 and the list often numbers more than 20 people, sometimes the doors don't close until the wee hours. It's free to play or just listen. The cafe's at 6970 N. Glenwood. Call 743-3355.
With abortion still a hot issue and this fall's gubernatorial election pitting two prochoice candidates against one another, the Chicago office of the National Organization for Women is humming on Tuesday volunteer nights. There are phones to be staffed, letters to be answered, pamphlets to be folded, and envelopes to be stuffed. To help, show up at 5:30 at 53 W. Jackson, room 924. The sessions run till about 8. You don't need to call first, but you can: 922-0025.
Ever since its inception, the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization has been of a liberal bent, landing most of its endorsements in the Democratic column. But the emergence of Jim Edgar, a prochoice and often progressive Republican, has caused a major uproar in IVI-IPO's sensitive ranks. The membership might actually endorse Edgar later this summer, unless--as some of Edgar's supporters predict--Dem candidate Neil Hartigan manages to stack the endorsement session. You can watch the machinations for all this tonight when, for the first time since 1972, both of the major-party candidates will be present at the group's annual Independents Day Dinner. The gala starts at 6 at the Great Hall of the Congress Hotel, 520 S. Michigan. Tickets are $60. Call 663-4203.
Back in 1973 the New Art Examiner began as an eight-page tabloid dedicated to covering the national art scene but focused firmly on Chicago and the midwest. It still provides the most comprehensive coverage of the city's art scene, but it has also expanded its national coverage with a system of regional editors in Washington, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. As a not-for-profit group, the magazine depends on grants, contributions, and the occasional fund-raiser--like tonight's benefit auction, featuring photography by more than 100 artists, including painters and writers as well as photographers. The auction begins at 7, following a 5 PM reception at the Northern Illinois University Art Gallery, 212 W. Superior. It'll feature the work of Barbara Crane, Nan Goldin, Sol LeWitt, Sally Mann, Andres Serrano, and many others. Tickets for the reception are $15, $25 per couple. Call 836-0330.
Since the election of Violeta Chamorro as president, Nicaragua has been in a constant state of unrest. The Sandinistas passed a series of laws in their last days in power that protect privileges and properties they acquired during their administration, and the Chamorro government would like to undo those. So Sandinista sympathizers have been striking in both the public and private sectors, bringing the country to a virtual standstill. Orlando Perez, coordinator of a disabled-activists group affiliated with the Sandinistas, will talk tonight about how the revolutionaries are confronting the new government and adapting to their new role as the loyal opposition. The program begins at 7:30 PM at Saint Pius Church, 1909 S. Ashland. Admission is $5. Call 276-5626.