This year's School of the Art Institute summer travel class--in which students roam around the midwest looking for backwoods artists working outside the mainstream--is being documented in a pair of exhibitions featuring both art that students found and their own work inspired by it. Sacred Spaces and Other Places: The Artist in the Landscape of the Upper Midwest runs through October 13 at the school's Betty Rymer Gallery at Columbus and Jackson. It consists of six multimedia installations curated by class teachers Lisa Stone and Jim Zanzi, made up of original paintings, sculpture, and objects, photographs of other work, and interpretive text. The second exhibit, Field Notes, is the students' work; it runs through October 1 at Gallery 2, 1040 W. Huron. Free receptions for both shows are tonight, from 5 to 7 at the Rymer Gallery and from 6 to 8 at Gallery 2. Regular viewing hours at Rymer (443-3703) are 10 to 5 Monday through Saturday; Gallery 2 (226-1449) is open 11 to 6 Tuesday through Saturday.
The fine lines that separate Jim Jones, Jerry Falwell, and Joseph Cardinal Bernardin will probably not be much discussed as the Parliament of the World's Religions comes to a close today; but how precarious the distinctions are is well evident in the parliament's professed desire to give a "progress in religion" prize to Watergate conspirator turned jailhouse preacher Charles Colson. Anyway, one of the convention's big stars is the Dalai Lama, who'll be speaking tonight at the Petrillo Music Shell, at Columbus and Jackson in Grant Park. The event starts at 6 with a performance by the Drepung Loseling monks; then the Dalai Lama will talk until 8:30 or so. It's free; call 629-2990 for more info. Another final parliamentary event is today's Divine-Love-Meditation Workshop, taught by Sushree Meera Devi of the International Society of Divine Love, will include instruction in meditation, breathing exercises, yoga postures, and integral relaxation through chanting. It's from 10 AM to 1 PM in room 280 of DePaul's Schmitt Academic Center, 2320 N. Kenmore. The $15 fee includes a light vegetarian lunch. Call 708-331-6624 to sign up.
The American School of Japanese Arts in San Francisco is bringing an amalgam of comedy, martial arts, and calligraphy to the College of DuPage tonight. The program includes the U.S.-based Theatre of Yugen, which specializes in kyogen, the stylized, comedic counterpart to Noh theater; calligraphic artist Kazuaki Tanahashi, who will show off his impressive five-foot-wide brush strokes accompanied by a corps of koto and taiko drummers; and shintaido master Haruyoshi F. Ito. It starts at 8 at the college's Art Center, 22nd Street and Lambert Road in Glen Ellyn. Tix are $15. Call 708-858-2800, ext. 2208. Ito will also share a bill Wednesday morning with guitarists Henry Kaiser and Jim O'Rourke. That event runs from 10 to 11:30 in the Wabash Room of the Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe, and it's free; call 708-867-1263.
If you can stand the long trip out there, check out the 16th annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival in Geneva, which'll feature six stages of music over two days. From 11 to 10 today and 11 to 6 tomorrow there'll be music from the Chicago Cajun Aces, Jutta & the Hi-Dukes, Mark Dvorak and Marianne Mohrhusen, and many others, plus vocal and instrumental workshops, jam sessions, story telling, even a liar's contest. Admission is $10 a day, $6 for seniors and teens, free for kids under 12. It all takes place at Island Park, an island in the middle of the Fox River in downtown Geneva. There are two entrances to the island: on the north at Route 38 and the river, and on the south under the Chicago & Northwestern railroad trestle, just northeast of the Kane County Government Center at 719 S. Batavia. The train stops about four blocks away. Call 708-897-3655 for more details.
No sooner will the Lamaheads file out of the Petrillo Music Shell on Saturday than the Park District will start setting up for Viva! Chicago, the city's annual Latin music fest. Tonight's lineup includes Angeles Ochoa with Mariachi de Acero and Alfonso San Vicente and the Total Sound; tomorrow's headliner is Celia Cruz, the greatest Latina pop singer. The free shows run from noon to 10 both days at the bandshell, Columbus and Jackson; call 744-3370.
Anthropologist and photographer Joe Davy has spent three years in Thailand and Laos, but all the photographs in his current exhibit, Hmong Portraits, are of Hmong emigres in the Chicago area. Some were taken in Uptown, but the Chicago Hmong now mostly live in Albany Park, says Davy; he's also followed some to Milwaukee. His show is up through September 30 at the Darkroom Aids Upstairs Gallery, 3449 N. Lincoln. It's open Monday through Saturday from 9 to 6, until 8 Thursday; admission is free. More at 237-4167.
A selection of 32 silk screens by Andy Warhol--rather grandiosely titled the Warhol World Tour--can be inspected on the mezzanine level of North Pier through next Sunday, September 12. Viewing hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 to 9, Friday and Saturday from 10 to 10, and Sunday from 11 to 7. North Pier is at 455 E. Illinois; the exhibit is free. Call 836-4300.
What's Wrong With This Picture: How Hollywood Depicts American Jews is the subject of the fourth annual Frances Rooz Memorial Lecture at Skokie's Jewish Community Center today. The lecturer is Patricia Erens, artistic director of the Jewish Film Festival and a member of the advisory board of the Film Center of the Art Institute. There's a continental breakfast at 9:45; the talk begins at 10:30. It's all free. The center is at 3706 Dempster in Skokie; call 975-8375 for info.
The Structural Engineers' Association of Illinois produces more interesting events than many full-time cultural organizations in town; tonight's offering is the somewhat awkwardly titled talk Challenges to Build the World's Tallest Building. The dinner meeting takes place at the Como Inn, 546 N. Milwaukee, and features Makoto Watabe, a senior exec with the Shimizu Corporation, which is thinking about erecting a 1,800-foot-tall building in Tokyo. (The Sears Tower, by comparison, is 1,450 feet tall.) There's a cocktail reception at 5:15, and dinner starts at 6. It's $25, $20 for members. Call 372-4198 for reservations.
Loopy New York monologuist Spalding Gray's newest work, Gray's Anatomy, is reputed to detail with a clear eye the medical problems of an aging monologuist. He performs it tonight through September 12 at the Goodman (as usual), which is at 200 S. Columbus. Tonight's $50 tickets include a 6:30 cocktail hour and the 7:30 show; for another hundred you can dine with Gray apres performance. Additional show times are tomorrow and Thursday at 7:30, Friday and Saturday at 8, and Sunday at 12:30; tix are $20-$22. Call 443-3800.
Mies van der Rohe completed the 860 N. Lake Shore Drive apartments in 1955 for developer Herbert Greenwald. That same year he designed a private home in Weston, Connecticut, for Greenwald's brother. The house--now one of only three private homes by the architect left in existence--has been added onto twice. At tonight's Graham Foundation lecture architect Peter Gluck will describe his attempts to carry out the assignments with Mies's sensibilities in mind. Adding to Mies starts at 8 at the foundation's digs at 4 W. Burton; it's free. A free exhibit of photos and drawings of Gluck's work on the house will be up there through September 30; viewing hours are 9 to 4 Monday through Thursday. Call 787-4071.
If you missed the recent run of Aaron Freeman's newest work, Disguised as a Grownup, you can catch it in an encore performance tonight that's also a benefit for the International Rescue Committee, recently cited by Money magazine as the most efficient charity in the U.S.; more than 94 percent of the committee's income goes into its programs, which have ranged from rescuing anti-Nazi fighters in the 1930s to bringing assistance to the Kurds in Iraq last year. The show costs $25; it's at the Royal George Cabaret, 1641 N. Halsted. A cash bar opens at 6:30, the show at 7:30. Call 404-1392.