Friday 3/5 - Thursday 3/11
5 FRIDAY The centerpiece of Voices in Time: Lives in Limbo, an art exhibit opening tonight at Las Manos Gallery, is a re-creation of a prison cell furnished with a quilt made from bits of female prisoners' clothing. The show and an accompanying series of free panel discussions explore the consequences of rising rates of incarceration of girls and women. "The impact on their children and on society, in long-range terms, is really great--it far outweighs the experience of that one individual woman," says Salome Chasnoff, executive director of Beyondmedia, which helped to organize the show. It kicks off tonight at 6 with a reception at the gallery, 5220 N. Clark. At 7 attorney Cheryl Graves, founder of the Girl Talk program at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, moderates a panel on race and gender in the prison system. The discussions continue through the month. Call 773-973-2280.
The Chicago Irish Film Festival begins tonight with the U.S. premiere of Mystics, a black comedy in which two washed-up actors set up shop as spiritual mediums. Two actors from the film, David Kelly and Milo O'Shea, will attend, as will Colm Meany (best known to Trekkies as engineering genius Chief O'Brien) and Irish Film Institute curator Sunniva O'Flynn. A reception starts at 6:30 and the screening follows at 8 at the Beverly Arts Center of Chicago, 2407 W. 111th; tickets are $30. The festival runs through Sunday, March 7. Tickets to all other screenings are $10; a pass good for all seven films as well as the opening night party is $50. Call 773-445-3838 or see the festival sidebar in Movies in Section Two for more information.
After a year writing about pedophile and secretly married priests, Sun-Times metro reporter Cheryl L. Reed began to wonder whether nuns were as unhappy as their male counterparts seemed to be. She traveled the country to interview more than 300 sisters--some from cloistered orders who were only allowed to talk for an hour a day, others employed as everything from university professors to prison chaplains--to write her new book, Unveiled: The Hidden Life of Nuns. She'll appear tonight at 7:30 at Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster; call 773-871-3610. At 5 PM on Sunday, March 7, she'll read at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark (773-769-9299), and at 7 PM on Monday, March 8, she'll be at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, 811 Elm in Winnetka (847-466-8880).
6 SATURDAY If the line "Hey good lookin', we'll be back to pick you up later!" fills you with nostalgia rather than giving you the creeps, you probably won't want to miss Isn't That Amazing! The Appeal and Spiel of Ronco and Popeil. Opening today at the Chicago Cultural Center, it's the largest collection of as-seen-on-TV gadgets ever amassed for one exhibit. At 1 this afternoon curator Tim Samuelson will give a free talk on the Pocket Fisherman, the Veg-O-Matic, Mr. Microphone (whose commercial spawned the aforementioned catchphrase), and more. It's up through May 16 in the Chicago Rooms at the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Related events this spring include cooking demonstrations by Frankie J. chef Frank Janisch and a dance party featuring music from classic Ronco compilations like Disco Super Hits and Star Trackin' '76. Call 312-744-6630 or see www.chicagoculturalcenter.org for more.
Don't even think about complaining about winter to Rick Sweitzer--last year he climbed to the top of Antarctica's highest peak, the Vinson Massif, where the windchill factor was a brisk minus 100. Sweitzer founded and runs the Wilmette adventure-travel company Northwest Passage, which takes outdoorsy types kayaking, dogsledding, and mountaineering all over the globe. He'll talk about his travels in this afternoon's presentation, Pole to Pole, sponsored by the DePaul Geographical Society. It starts at 1:30 in DePaul's Schmitt Academic Center, 2320 N. Kenmore, room 154. Admission is $2, $1 for students; call 773-325-7871 for more information.
7 SUNDAY The Beat Kitchen's new Mish Mash Variety Nite series, a weekly multimedia show curated by musician and Chic-a-Go-Go host Mia Park, kicks off with a screening of Headhunter: The Motion Picture, a 36-minute slasher flick inspired by the 1983 album by hair-metal band Krokus. Local musicians Mike Coy and John Zehnder extrapolated the plot--a tale of one cannibal's fight against the spread of megaconglomerates--from the album's song titles. Other entertainment includes a puppet show based on a scene from Shaft and an hour of poetry, improv, and stand-up by Mz. Linda and guests. It starts at 8 PM at the Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont. The $5 admission will also get you free popcorn and drink specials, but you must be 21 or over; call 773-281-4444.
8 MONDAY Though casting against type and gender is a bit more common now than in the past--witness Fiona Shaw's turn as Richard II a few years back--for the most part actors' roles are still limited by the immutable factors of age and race. The free Storefront Mondays Reading Series gives performers the opportunity to interpret roles they'd probably never have a shot at otherwise. In tonight's reading of Cyrano de Bergerac Kathrynne Rosen, as Cyrano, gets to romance Loretta Rezos, who plays Roxana. It starts at 7:30 at Gallery 37, 66 E. Randolph, and will be followed by a reception. Call 312-742-8497.
9 TUESDAY In the deferential context of a museum, it's easy to forget that Italian Renaissance items like reliquaries, colorful bowls, and bronze inkwells were meant to be used, not merely admired. In The Uses of Art in Renaissance Italy, these and other pieces are explained within their original settings in an attempt to present them without contemporary notions of "art" getting in the way. The exhibit opens tonight at 5:30 at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood. Admission is free; call 773-702-0200.
10 WEDNESDAY Maybe it's the thinning ozone layer, maybe it's the bad hair days of winter, but there seems to be a lot of hat-related activity lately. Today the Chicago Cultural Center gets in on the action with the fashion show Crowning Glory: Multicultural Hats, Headwear, and Ornamentation. No fussy velvet-and-ribbon confections here; instead expect Arabic veils and a Native American headdress alongside latex creations from the local artists' collective Fluxcore and a massive Easter bonnet created by local artist Nick Cave. The free show starts at 6 PM in the Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington; attendees are encouraged to wear headgear. Call 312-744-6630.
11 THURSDAY For the last 25 years poet Clayton Eshleman has studied cave paintings in southwestern France. In his new book, Juniper Fuse: Upper Paleolithic Imagination and the Construction of the Underworld, he uses the Ice Age artworks to launch a somewhat unorthodox exploration of the mind of Cro-Magnon man. "I sought to be open to what I thought about and fantasized while in the caves or while meditating on their image environments," he writes in the introduction, "to create my own truth as to what they mean, respecting imagination as one of a plurality of conflicting powers." Currently a visiting poet in residence at Columbia College, he'll read from his work today at 5:30 PM in the school's Ferguson Theater, 600 S. Michigan. It's free; call 312-344-8138 for more.
"Intensive mothering is the ultimate female Olympics: We are all in powerful competition with each other, in constant danger of being trumped by the mom down the street, or in the magazine we're reading," write Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels in the introduction to their new book, The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women. "The new momism," argue the authors, is "a highly romanticized and yet demanding view of motherhood in which the standards for success are impossible to meet," created by the media, the child care profession, and the family values crowd. Their book aims to bring popular images of motherhood back in tune with reality and inspire readers to say "give me a %$#$% break" the next time they read about Sarah Jessica Parker's perfect family. Douglas will appear at 7:30 tonight at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark. It's free; call 773-769-9299.