Friday 5/4 - Thursday 5/10
By Cara Jepsen
4 FRIDAY One of the most successful "city symphony" films of the early 20th century is 1934's Halsted Street, which follows the thoroughfare up from the prairie south of the city through a cross section of ethnic neighborhoods to the posh north side. It was made by the local chapter of the Film and Photo League, an international organization devoted to documenting protests, strikes, and working-class life that fizzled out after the onset of the cold war. The New York chapter supplied some of the footage for 1942's Native Land, a film about fascism and the oppression of laborers narrated by Paul Robeson. Both films will be shown tonight in conjunction with the Smart Museum's exhibit "Ben Shahn's New York: The Photography of Modern Times." University of Chicago art history professor Tom Gunning will introduce the free program, which starts at 7:30 in the U. of C.'s Film Studies Center in room 307 of Cobb Hall, 5811 S. Ellis (773-702-0200).
5 SATURDAY In the 1950s Thomas E. Warner's father, who suffered from sickle-cell anemia, lived in Alabama and had trouble getting transfusions because of restricted blood allotments for African-Americans. Warner lived in Chicago and worked at Michael Reese Hospital; when the hospital got wind of his father's situation it arranged to fly blood down south. Warner's mother would pick it up at the airport and take it to his father in the hospital. His father passed away in 1963; in 1971 Warner's wife, Dolores, founded the Michael Reese chapter of the Sickle Cell Anemia Volunteer Enterprise to benefit the hospital's hematology-oncology department. Tonight it'll hold a benefit called Bringing Jazz to the South Side of Chicago, Cabaret Style. It starts at 6 with a carnival and card games; live entertainment, including a magician, the Crosswind Band, and DJ Luther, starts at 8; the steppin' begins at 9:30 at the hospital's Rothschild Pavilion, 2816 S. Ellis. Tickets are $30; call 312-791-2231 for reservations.
West African traditions, booty-jiggling moves, and postmodern dance all inform the work of New York-based choreographer Robert K. Brown's troupe, Evidence, whose mission is in part to address issues of race, class, gender, and assimilation. They conclude their Chicago debut tonight when they perform three works, including High Life--a piece for ten dancers that touches on the great migration, the exodus of young people from West African villages, and "the implications of newfound freedom and self-determination." The company performs Thursday, Friday, and tonight at 8 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan. Tickets are $20; call 312-344-8300.
6 SUNDAY According to Chip Berlet, coauthor of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, former Louisiana state representative and onetime grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke is a good example of someone who uses coded language to push a racist agenda. Tonight at 6, Berlet will be part of a panel on hate groups and the First Amendment; other participants include Kit Gage from the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation and civil rights attorney Standish Willis. It starts at 6 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo. A $7 donation is requested; call 312-362-9707.
7 MONDAY What do Lydia Lunch, Stephen King, Fakir Musafar, David Cronenberg, Cornell University, and the Church of Satan have in common? They all own paintings by controversial "sexpressionist" Reverend Steven Johnson Leyba. The Native American artist (whose media include oil paint and collage, as well as "beads, hair, cum, shit, and blood") is also the founder of the performance group United Satanic Apache Front, whose work--in Leyba's words, a "combination of political content, blood ritual, sadomasochistic sex, native dance, spoken word, and experimental music"--has alienated and fascinated everyone from Native American activists to young hipsters. Leyba is currently driving around the country promoting his new book, Coyote Satan Amerika: The Unspeakable Art and Performances of Reverend Steven Johnson Leyba. He'll appear tonight at 7 at Quimby's Bookstore, 1854 W. North (773-342-0910). It's free.
8 TUESDAY In the early 1990s, School of the Art Institute adjunct associate professor Alan Cohen visited the sites of former Nazi concentration camps and photographed the pebbles, concrete, and bricks on the ground. In 1994 and 1996, he went to Germany to document the "scars" that remain where the Berlin Wall once stood. Two years later he traveled to France, where he shot the remnants of trenches and bunkers on the World War I battlefields at the Somme and Verdun. Eighty of his photos are on display in a new exhibit, On European Ground, which opens Sunday and runs through June 17. Cohen will discuss his work today at a lecture called "Events Become Geography." It's at noon at Northwestern University's Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 1967 South Campus Dr. in Evanston (847-491-4000). Admission is free; bring your own lunch.
9 WEDNESDAY In August the city will host Ladyfest Midwest Chicago, a four-day showcase of women's art, music, performance, and activism. Over the past few months organizers have been holding a slew of benefits; tonight's film and video fund-raiser will feature work by local artists, including Kate Horsfield's Queers and Steers, Sadie Benning's Aerobicide, excerpts from Mary Patten's Riot Grrrandmas!!!, and many others. There will also be a bake sale and a live performance by filmmaker and puppeteer Laura Heit. It all starts at 8 at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. Admission is $5; you must be 21 (773-227-4433).
10 THURSDAY A belated midlife crisis, impending retirement, and a woman's struggle with facial disfigurement are a few of the topics that'll be addressed in tonight's "Best of the Shorts" installment of the Silver Images Film Festival, which features films focusing on older characters. The screening will be preceded by a concert from 84-year-old jazz violinist Johnny Frigo--who has performed for both Al Capone and Brigid Murphy--and piano virtuoso Joe Vito. They play at 6:30 at the Cultural Center's Randolph Cafe; the screening begins at 7:30 in the Claudia Cassidy Theater. It's at 78 E. Washington and it's free; call 312-744-6630 for more.