By Bill Wyman
"One of the many distinguishing factors of contemporary Oaxacan painting," according to Alberto Blanco, who's written extensively on Oaxacan artists, "is its deep rootedness in the myths and legends of the native land without renouncing, because of it, the late 20th century cosmopolitan aesthetic." Myth & Magic, an exhibit of paintings from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, opens tonight from 6 to 8:30 at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 1852 W. 19th, and runs through May 19. It's free. Call 738-1503.
The editors of Fish Stories are holding a literary soiree tonight, offering readings as well as an open mike and hoping to encourage writers to submit poetry and short fiction for the journal's second issue. There will be wine, hors d'oeuvres, and door prizes. A $3 donation is suggested. It takes place from 7 to 9:30 at the Eclectic Junction, 1630 N. Damen. Call 334-8510 for more information.
The tragedy of Yitzhak Rabin's dying at the hands of a radical Israeli will be explored tonight by Marvin Zonis, a professor in the U. of C. graduate school of business who teaches international political economy and psychology. He gives a free lecture, The Assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin: Political and Social Lessons for Israel and the U.S., at 8:30 at Hyde Park's Hillel House, 5715 S. Woodlawn. Call 752-1127 for more.
The Illinois Engineering Council wants students creating urban designs to consider environmental factors and traffic demands as well as to find an approach toward land use that would accommodate business, residential, and industrial needs. The group is sponsoring the Chicago part of the Future City Design Competition, a national challenge to teams of junior high school students, who will work with the aid of computer simulation software and good old-fashioned models. Winners go on to the nationals in Washington, D.C., with the top prize being a trip to the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. You can check out the local contestants' work today at the University of Illinois, in the Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted, where the models will be judged beginning at 9. The awards ceremony is at 1:30, and the models will be up until 2:30. It's free. Call 930-9119 for more.
Mush! Mush! One of the few criticisms we'll make of living in an urban center is that opportunities to holler out those redolent words are somewhat circumscribed. You can indulge yourself today at a dogsled demonstration in the Will County forest preserve. "Musher Mania" will show off the mechanics of the sled and the preparations for a run. Weather permitting, you can even see an actual dogsled run. It's from 1 to 4 today; preserve officials say that a new ice-skating pond should be available for use. The entrance to the preserve is in south-suburban Will County, on Ridgeland Avenue two miles south of the town of Monee. Call for details at 708-534-8499.
Chicago's Twentieth Century Railroad Club likes nothing better than a train ride, even if it's just to go to brunch. The group's planning a run up to Fox Lake today on Metra's Milwaukee District North Line. It leaves Union Station at 10:35. Ride to the end of the line, then head for Dockers restaurant on Pistakee Lake. The trip is $5 if you use Metra's weekend pass; the buffet is $7.95, $4.95 for kids. To make reservations with the club call 829-4500.
The folks at the Old Town School of Folk Music say the musical traditions on the island of Sardinia, west of the Italian mainland, go back four or five thousand years and that the island's relative isolation has minimized the influence of outside forms. Sardinian music can be heard tonight from a group called Tenores de Oniferi, which the school says proffers "a polyphonic singing style like no other in the world, [one] that is in turn haunting and lyrical and then suddenly dissonant." The group will be accompanied by Sardinian Orlando Mascia, who plays a triple clarinet called the launeddas. The shows are at 5 and 8 at the school, 909 W. Armitage. Admission is $15, $13 for members, $11 for seniors and kids. Call 525-7793.
You can enjoy a five-course cigar dinner at Tuttaposto restaurant tonight without any Freudian overtones. The menu includes duck sausage pizza, roasted portobello mushroom, filet mignon, cheese, and dessert, along with a fistful of cigars and a variety of accompanying red wines. More cigars and cognac finish the evening. The meal is $75 and starts at 6:30 at the restaurant, 646 N. Franklin. Call 943-6262 for the required reservations.
Through his speeches, his newspaper, the Negro World, and his Universal Negro Improvement Association, Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey became the leading proponent of black separatism around the world before fraud charges involving a steamship company put him in jail and then got him deported in 1927. The Goodman Theatre commissioned Chicagoan Charles Smith to write a play based on Garvey's life; Smith's epic account, Black Star Line, opens tonight at 7 at the theater, 200 S. Columbus, and runs through February 17. Tickets are $25 to $38. Call 443-3800 for more.
A longtime New Republic writer now ensconced at the New Yorker, Sidney Blumenthal wrote a reputedly dishy portrait of the Washington press corps that's being produced by the Next Theatre Company for the Chicago Theatres on the Air series, which tapes staged readings of plays for later radio broadcast. You can go watch the taping of This Town, Blumenthal's first play, tonight at 8. Richard Kind, of Mad About You, and Gates McFadden, of Star Trek: The Next Generation, star. It happens in the Lake Shore Ballroom of the DoubleTree Guest Suites, 198 E. Delaware. Tickets are $20; the recording will be broadcast on WFMT April 21. Call 753-4472.
The Silences of the Palace is a revealing first feature by Tunisian director Moufida Tlatli about a young singer born into a harem. Through flashbacks the film focuses on a community of female servants who clean, cook, and indulge the men's sexual needs. Reader contributor Ted Shen calls the film an "understated feminist parable" that evokes an "oppressively insular everyday life on the estate of a nobleman." The film plays tonight at 6:30 and 8:45 at the theater, 1517 W. Fullerton. Admission is $5. Call 281-4114.
Connections and marketing smarts are as important as talent in becoming a successful freelance writer, the folks at Chicago Women in Publishing say. Today's Chicago Woman editor and publisher Sherren Leigh will be at the group's meeting this evening to give an overview of the local publishing scene and tips on how to get an editor's attention. The event, which is open to men, is $20, $15 for nonmembers who reserve a place, and $10 for members who reserve a place. It's at 6 at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Call 440-0540 for details.
Director Mary Zimmerman returns to work with the Lookingglass Theatre Company tonight for the world premiere performance of S/M, billed as a "dream biography." The play, said to be unsuitable for children, adds the writings of the Marquis de Sade and Baron Leopold von Sacher-Masoch to the list of literary classics she's adapted for the stage. It's at 7:30 in the Steppenwolf Studio Theater, 1650 N. Halsted, where it continues through February 11. Tickets are $19.50 and $14.50, with a limited number of $10 tickets available at the door each night. See the theater listings in Section Two or call 335-1650 for more information.
Farther north two one-act plays by David Wesley Graham, billed under the name Wasp in a Lampshade, continue at Transient Theatre tonight. Midnight Snack features characters named Bryn and Sable, whose partnership escalates into violence and despair. Eclipse is said to be a disturbing and violent play in which a man kidnaps his coworker and holds her captive while trying desperately to win her affection. The show is at 8 at the theater, 1222 W. Wilson, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through February 24. Tickets are $10. Check Section Two's theater listings or call 334-6811 for more information.
A political scientist will give a free talk tonight examining whether black moves toward self-help have actually hurt the economic standing of African-Americans. Preston Smith, who teaches at Mount Holyoke College and is at DePaul University on a fellowship this year, delivers a lecture titled Self-Help Ideology and Black Conservatives: Perpetuating Disinvestment in Black Communities at 5:45 in suite 9100 of the Egan Urban Center, 243 S. Wabash. Call 362-8990 for details.
William Hare spent three years traveling the Middle East and researching 2,000 years of turmoil to write Struggle for the Holy Land: Arabs, Jews and the Emergence of Israel. He gives a free talk about his book tonight at 7 at Borders Books and Music, 830 N. Michigan. Call 573-0564 for details.