Eugene Pine grew up in Chicago and on the Chippewa Indian reservation in northern Wisconsin; since then he's moved to Denver and made a name for himself as an important Native American artist. Return of a Native is the first Chicago showing of his work; it's at Okee-Chee's Wild Horse Gallery, 5337 N. Clark, with an opening party tonight from 6 to 9. Pine will be there, along with his paintings and jewelry. The show will be at the gallery for about two weeks. Call 271-5883 for more information.
"Being an ultrafeminine African American man in a promasculine, white-male-dominated society is no bowl of freshly wrapped cherries in the snow, darling." So sayeth militant drag queen activist Vaginal Creme Davis, performer, impresario, and copublisher of LA's Fertile La Toyah Jackson Magazine. Davis is the featured performer at a party tonight that closes out a day-long convention of "queer 'zines" at the Randolph Street Gallery. It won't, of course, be a normal convention--the gallery promises "no panels, no workshops, no speeches, and no sleep." You can hang out with reps from Thing, Homo-core, Bimbox, and Fist in Your Face My Comrade and watch performances, videos, and readings from noon to 8 today at the gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. The party, which features Davis, music from DJ Burle Avant, and a rock band from Toronto called Fifth Column, is at the Hot House, 1569 N. Milwaukee. It's $10 for convention and party, $6 for either one alone. Call Randolph Street at 666-7737 for more details.
The School of the Art Institute's free weekend art classes start today at Navy Pier; every Saturday and Sunday through July 14 (except July 7), you can drop in for one of three afternoon sessions; today there's watercolors, figure drawing, and printing in three separate classes given three times each--at noon, 1, and 2. (The printing class is taught by well-known printmaker Carlos Cortez.) As the summer goes on, there'll be sessions on more complex stuff like mask making, basket weaving, and printmaking. The classes are at the picnic area at the end of Navy Pier, Grand Avenue and the lake; they're held rain or shine. Call the school at 889-5130 for more information.
One of the founders of Chicago Filmmakers is coming back to town to premiere a new film. Noted director Bill Brand's Home Less Home, an unconventional documentary on the homeless that uses interviews, commentary, and analysis of news reports, was recently selected as part of the New York Museum of Modern Art's New Directors/New Films festival. It shows tonight, with Brand present, at 8; it's $4, $2 for members. Filmmakers is at 1229 W. Belmont. More at 281-8788.
Some places don't like cruisers--but not the Niles branch of Fluky's hot dog stand. Friday and Saturday night are standard hangout nights there, as people from all over town come in to show off their hot or antique cars. The success of cruise nights has produced the Red Hot Car Show. This one is the fourth annual; a $10 entry fee gets you a plaque for your dash, a T-shirt, and a chance to have your car voted on by fellow entrants. Things get under way at 10 AM; balloting ends at 1:30 PM. Winners get their trophies at 4. There'll also be a DJ, door prizes, and limbo and Hula Hoop contests. The Niles Fluky's is at 9645 Milwaukee; call 708-965-8708.
This summer's live music series at Navy Pier starts off tonight with a strong lineup and even fireworks. The music starts at 4:30 with the Otters, a pastiche band of members of Big Shoulders, the Drovers, and other groups that's established a Monday-night residency at Schubas. Closing the show will be guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, late of the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. In between will come a variety of other stuff, including the Zingara Gypsy Orchestra, a mixed group of Hungarians and Chicagoans who play Gypsy music from around the world (word is violinist Miriam Sturm is something to see); fiddler Sean Cleland; and Big Shoulders. The show tonight--and similarly wide-ranging lineups for the next five Sundays (except June 9)--are in the ballroom at the end of the pier, and they're free. Tonight, WXRT is also contributing a "sky concert" of fireworks set to a musical score; it's scheduled to start at 9 and last about a half hour. Call 791-7437 for info.
If you're half a century old, weigh 400 pounds, and have a shell nearly four feet long, you take your time getting around. Which is why Peter the Aldabra tortoise's annual quarter-mile walk to his summer home at the Brookfield Zoo can take as long as four hours. Aldabra tortoises are giant, like the Galapagos variety; this one winters in the zoo's reptile house and summers east of the children's zoo. His walk starts at 10:30 this morning. You can watch him for the price of admission to the zoo, which is $2.75, $1 for kids under 11 and seniors. (It's $3 for parking.) The zoo is at First Avenue and 31st Street in Brookfield. Call 708-485-0263 for details.
Funny folkie Pat McCurdy sings songs about nude parties, gives prizes to everyone who comes to his show, and can play any song you can think of, even "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)." His fans--they're not many, but they're loyal--lounge on couches and shout out requests. He plays tonight and every Monday at Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln, starting sometime after 10. Cover is $2. Call 525-6620.
The New Hispanic Politics is what state senator Miguel del Valle will talk about today to the students in a University of Illinois at Chicago class called "The Future of Chicago." It's taught by Dick Simpson, an associate professor of political science and former 44th Ward alderman, and Rob Mier, professor of urban planning and policy and the city's economic development director under Harold Washington. Today's class is free and open to the public, at the John Paul II Center, 700 S. Morgan. Things get under way at noon. Call 966-6461 for details.
Dorothy Parker's Big Blonde is the latest production in Talisman Theatre's "Fertile Ground" series; it's "the story of a woman with stars in her eyes, dreams in her heart, and Scotch in her glass," says Fertile Ground producer Ann Johnson. It's also a monologue by actress Shirley Anderson, who's opening a two-night encore performance at the Talisman Theatre, 2074 N. Leavitt. It starts at 8; tix are $5. Call 235-7763.
Michael Levinson led his first tour--"Hidden Restaurants of Wabash"--more than a year ago. This week he's premiering a new one, Hidden Restaurants of the Financial District, featuring three restaurants that he says are off the beaten lunch-in-the-Loop track. The $6 tour includes food samples along the way; Levinson says if you're used to a light lunch this will do nicely. The tour meets at 1 in front of Barrister Hall, 29 S. LaSalle; it'll go into monthly repertory with the Wabash version in June. Call 792-7076 for more info.
The Uptown tenant-advocacy group Voice of the People got its start when the construction of Truman College in 1968 displaced several hundred neighborhood residents. The group has remained active, rehabbing low-income housing and maintaining a management structure that keeps tenants in control of the group's board of directors. Voice of the People's annual spring party is tonight at the Mont Clare Restaurant, 4343 N. Clarendon, from 6 to 10. Tickets are $25; you'll get hors d'oeuvres, dancing to world music, both live and silent auctions, and entertainment by Mexican guitarist Jesus Negrete and the Frank and Cheryl Cournoyer Family Dancers, a Native American dance group. Call 769-2442 for details.
Robin Trower is a classic British hard-rockin' guitarist who tends to let his Hendrixian influences show a little too strongly. An original member of the rather more textured Procul Harum (though you can tell he wasn't around when they recorded "Whiter Shade of Pale"), he later converted to full-time worship at Jimi's shrine and has been thrilling kids with a taste for grand rolling riffs and spacey solos ever since. He plays--loudly--tonight at 7:30 at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Tickets are $20. Call 929-5959.