Chicago's foot fetishists will be experiencing sensory overload for the next several weeks as Due Passi Tra le Stelle--an Italian exhibit of famous movie stars' shoes--opens at the Chicago Athenaeum in the Hancock Center today. The show features more than 120 pairs of famous dog coverings--the ground-level stars of Nina, Out of Africa, La Dolce Vita, Cleopatra, and lots of others. The Athenaeum is on the lower concourse of the Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan. Admission is free; it's open 11 to 6 Monday through Friday, 10 to 5 Saturday and Sunday. Call 829-9650.
Steve Reich's most recent full-scale work, Different Trains, used three string quartets--one live, two taped--and a dense overlay of recorded reminiscences by Holocaust survivors and wartime American train passengers to underscore the vast differences that separated people in the years of World War II. His ensemble, Steve Reich and Musicians, makes its first Chicago appearance in five years tonight as part of a new-music series sponsored by Jam Productions and the Goodman Theatre. Reich will be performing from several of his classic works, including "Drumming Music, Part I" and "Six Pianos"; you'll also hear the premiere of "Typing Music," part of a project commissioned for a 1992 premiere in Germany by the Stuttgart Opera. Reich performs tonight at 7:30 at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Tickets are $25. Call 929-5959 for details.
The International Brotherhood of Magicians' motto is "Fraternity, publicity, mystery." In the spirit of the second, they've informed us that the organization's annual All Chicagoland Magic Show is at Mather High School, 5835 N. Lincoln, tonight at 7:30. Featured are Terry Evanswood, Chezaday, Don Wiberg, juggler Paul Bachman, and more. Tickets are $6-$8. Call 334-2855 for more info.
If you take a 16-inch mirror and focus its reflection of sunlight into a funnel-shaped sapphire one millimeter wide, you can create a beam of light 84,000 times brighter than sunlight, more concentrated even than that produced on the surface of the sun itself. What does that have to do with Indiana!!!, a performance-art show tonight at Link's Hall? Its creator, physics PhD candidate Dave Cooke, is the guy who headed up the sunlight experiment at the University of Chicago. The scientist-cum-performer's new show is a melange of music, slides, video, and performance, all dedicated to "that weird and crazy" title state. Cooke performs tonight at 9 at the Link's Hall Studio, 3435 N. Sheffield. It's $5. Call 363-3871 for more info.
The people who scream about the outing of Pentagon officials hardly complain at all about the U.S. military's own version of outing--the discharging of gay and lesbian service members. One defiant survivor is Perry Watkins, who spent nine years fighting his (honorable) discharge in 1981 before the U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled against him. Watkins was tossed out not for being caught in a homosexual act--which is specifically what the stupid but longstanding Army rule prohibits--but for merely admitting his homosexuality publicly. Watkins speaks and answers questions tonight at the Rodde Center, on the 12th floor of the Uptown Bank Building, 4753 N. Broadway. He'll be there from 5 to 8. There's a requested $5 donation; call 271-4155 for details.
When bizarre percussionist Gregg Bendian perfomed a solo percussion piece in the University of Chicago's Bergman Gallery, domain of the Renaissance Society, last year, he marvelled at the strange acoustics created by the room's 35-foot ceiling, freestanding walls, and corner turrets, and he sold the Renaissance Society on the idea of writing a new piece designed to exploit the weird sound vibrations. Tonight Bendian, along with Gene Coleman (reeds and clarinet), Chris DeChiara (guitar), Rross Feller (saxophone, electronics), and Dorothy Martirano (violin), debut the specially composed piece, Map. They perform tonight at 5 at the gallery, 5811 S. Ellis. It's $8, free to Renaissance Society members. Call 702-8670 for more.
You can sample the confections of ten of Chicago's top pastry makers at a reception tonight to honor the Women's Foodservice Network's Chicago Woman Pastry Chef of the Year tonight at the 95th. The $30 ticket--$25 in advance--gets you a taste of the nominees' work, a glimpse of Chicago Woman Chef of the Year Jennifer Smith of Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, and even a wine tasting courtesy of California's Domaine Caneros winery. The whole affair is a benefit for the network's scholarship fund; it runs 6 to 8 tonight on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan. Call 929-6845 for more.
A lecture series on Aspects of Cubism, sponsored by the Smart Museum of Art, continues tonight with "Reform Versus Revolution: Fernand Leger and Russian Constructionism" by Mount Holyoke College professor Robert Hebert. Next week Evelyn Silber, assistant director of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in England, talks about "Spatial Geometry: Aspects of 20th Century Sculpture." The lectures are at 6 at the Arts Club of Chicago, 109 E. Ontario. They're free, but make reservations at 787-3997.
Annie Sprinkle calls herself a "post postporn modernist, still in search of the ultimate sexual experience." Like Karen Finley and Frank Moore, she's taken performance art to uncomfortable new levels of explicitness. She's returning to Chicago for a two-week engagement at Theater Oobleck, 5153 N. Ashland, for nightly 8 o'clock shows through October 27. Tickets are $18. Call 929-6529 or 878-4557.
It's a day for literary reflections. A lecture series called City Life and the Future Museum, sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Art and the art school of UIC, continues tonight with "The Semiotics of Museums," a talk by theory-of-literature professor Mieke Bal from the University of Amsterdam. (You might even be able to find out what semiotics is.) The series runs for three more weeks at the State of Illinois Building auditorium, 100 W. Randolph, with receptions starting at 5:30 and the talks at 6. It's $12 at the door. Call 280-5168 for more.
Another lecture series, Censorship and the Arts: Historical Perspectives, kicks off tonight with School of the Art Institute professor George Roeder speaking on "Artists as Censors: Censorship of the Visual Arts in the U.S.A. since 1900" and Northlight Theatre artistic director Russell Vandenbroucke speaking on "The Powers of the Stage Versus the Powers That Be." The pair speak at 7 and 8 respectively. The series continues for three more weeks at the Mary and Leigh Block Gallery at Northwestern University, 1967 Sheridan Road in Evanston. The lectures are $5, $15 for the series, and free to gallery members. Call 708-491-4000.
Michael Blake grabbed an Oscar last year for his screenplay to Dances With Wolves, adapted from his novel. His newest book is Airman Mortensen. He'll read from it tonight at the Kroch's and Brentano's Evanston store, 1711 Sherman, at 7:30. It's free to listen; the book is $20. Call 708-328-7220 for details.
To wind up this literary day, comedienne Judy Tenuta, who calls men "love slaves" and "stud puppies" and has founded her own religion, reads from her first book, The Power of Judyism, which includes chapters on "Where Not to Mate" and "Pet Peeves of the Goddess." She'll be at the Unabridged Bookstore, 3251 N. Broadway, at 7:30 tonight. It's free. Call 883-9119.
Want a sneak peek at the Harold Washington Library but can't stand the crowds? The new pride of Chicago, designed by Thomas Beebe and one of the largest municipal libraries in the world, is the subject of a private tour tonight sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Art's Northside Affiliates Group. There's a buffet and cocktails at 5:30, followed by a slide show and tour. The whole shebang costs $35, $25 if you're a member of the Northside Affiliates. The library is at 400 S. State; call 433-1590 for reservations.