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Friday 1/15 - Thursday 1/21

JANUARY

By Cara Jepsen

15 FRIDAY Since the beginning of the last century Mexican businesses have presented their customers with free calendars each Christmas. To meet the demand calendar companies hired scores of artists to churn out paintings of religious icons, Aztec gods, and sexy women. While many of the artists disassociated themselves from this early advertising work, their paintings had a huge impact: "A lot of average Mexicans wouldn't recognize the work of Frida Kahlo but would recognize these," says the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum's David Murga. In 1996 independent curator Alfonso Morales uncovered 200 of the original oil paintings in a warehouse; 66 of them form the foundation of the museum's new exhibition, La Patria Port‡til: 100 Years of Mexican Chromo Art Calendars. The exhibit's free opening reception is tonight from 6 to 8:30 at the museum, 1952 W. 19th (312-738-1503).

16 SATURDAY Many Soviet artists exhibited their work in alternative spaces not because they were cool but because they had no other choice. Between 1976 and 1983 Rafael Levchin and other underground poets and artists in Moscow would get together in each other's kitchens and present their work. The so-called kitchen generation named themselves "metarealists" because their work dealt with an alternative reality. One of their multidisciplinary get-togethers will be re-created today at the Chicago Cultural Center; Levchin has dubbed it Glossolalia-2. He'll be joined by poet and movement cofounder Ilya Kutik (now a poetry professor at Northwestern). The free presentation, which includes a slide lecture and readings of rarely heard works, will be followed by a discussion of Russian poetry. It's at 2 at the center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630).

17 SUNDAY The amateur ski jumpers at the 94th annual Norge Ski Jump Tournament may not set any records, but it is possible that the next Olympic champion will be in attendance; after all, Norge Ski Club president Scott Smith coached the U.S. team in 1992. The event is from 1 to 4 at the club's hill on Ski Hill Road, at the corner of Routes 14 and 22 in Fox River Grove. Admission is $8; children under 12 get in free. Call 847-462-1159 for directions and more information.

18 MONDAY Hardworking youngsters who hope to sing in the Soul Children of Chicago must first face a battery of auditions; then parents are interviewed to determine their level of commitment before children are welcomed into the fold. The SCC is a way of life, with rehearsals every Saturday, regular rap sessions, annual retreats, and a strict moral code. But hard work pays off: the 17-year-old group has released four albums and has appeared on TV and at sporting events. The Soul Children will perform with Sounds of Blackness at a concert tribute for Martin Luther King Jr. tonight at 8 at Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. Call 312-294-3000 for tickets, which range from $17 to $75.

19 TUESDAY Amateur theorists have had a field day ever since Charles Darwin wrote in 1859's The Origin of Species that "the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply." That statement gave rise to social Darwinism, which holds that the weak and poor fall to the bottom, while the strong and unscrupulous thrive. Proponents of laissez-faire capitalism and imperialist, colonialist, and racist policies latched onto the theory to justify their actions. It still plays a role in such public-policy issues as women's and civil rights, immigration, education, and health care, according to Burton Bledstein, a history professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He'll discuss the legacy of social Darwinism tonight at 6:30 at the Glessner House Museum, 1800 S. Prairie (312-326-1480). Admission is $6; reservations are required.

20 WEDNESDAY A generation of junior high school students relied on Schoolhouse Rock to pass the required U.S. Constitution exam. But while Schoolhouse Rock creator Bob Dorough, who sang many of the songs, was teaching TV-glutted youngsters about parts of speech and the lawmaking process, he was also pursuing a successful jazz career that included being one of the first vocalists to appear on a Miles Davis recording back in the 1960s. Tonight the Blue Note recording artist, who is 74, will perform with other musicians at the Guild Complex's Musicality of Poetry Festival VII, which runs through mid-February. Tonight's free event, which starts at 7:30, will be hosted by Quraysh Ali Lansana at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. For more info, call 312-744-6630, or check out the Critic's Choice in the Section Three music listings.

21 THURSDAY After composer Patricia Morehead and her husband bought a summer place in Galena on a street called Black Hawk Trace, they did some research on the Sauk warrior. In 1832 Black Hawk decided to defy the U.S. government--which had pushed his tribe west of the Mississippi, where the land was less fertile--and led his people back to Illinois. Later that year army troops attacked 1,000 Indians, mostly women and children, while they were crossing the Wisconsin River. The slaughter was the inspiration for Morehead's new piece (and part of a larger operatic work in progress), Black Hawk Speaks, which includes passages from his 1833 autobiography as well as a part for the MASS performance ensemble. It'll be presented tonight (and tomorrow night) at Spirits and Shadows, which is part of the Field Museum's "Origins" series of indigenous peoples' music. The event also features Janice Misurell-Mitchell and Catherine Slade's new work, The Gift of Tongues, as well as Steve Reich's Clapping Music, Luiz Anunciacao's Capoeira, and Iannis Xenakis's Dmaathen. It's at 7:30 in Columbia College's newly renovated performance space, 1014 S. Michigan. Admission is $15, $8 for students and seniors. Call 312-554-1133 for more.

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