Chicago artist Yvette Kaiser Smith says her crocheted fiberglass sculptures are abstract representations of a theme she started exploring a year ago: the influence of groups on the individual. Using a standard crochet hook and traditional patterns, she constructs what she sees as "narratives of identity" from spools of fiberglass roving. Community Structure, Study #10, for example, consists of 17 crocheted panels, each stitched in a different pattern; she says the interplay between panels suggests what happens to individuals and smaller groups in a dynamic city like Chicago. Sculptural Flesh, an exhibit of Smith's work at the Elmhurst Art Museum, features seven of her draped, resin-treated fiberglass meditations on the effects of being bound together and runs through October 26. The museum's at 150 Cottage Hill in Elmhurst, and hours are 1 to 8 Wednesday; 10 to 4 Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday; and 1 to 4 Friday and Sunday. Admission is $4, $2 for students. Call 630-834-0202.
In one much remarked-upon scene from Sam Jones's 2002 Wilco documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett (who's later kicked out of the band) argue about a transition between songs; when it's over, Tweedy goes into the bathroom and throws up. In Joe Losurdo and Jake Austen's new mockumentary, I Am Trying to Take Your Cash, the bass player and songwriter for local masked band the Goblins, Dom Nation, gets into it with guitarist Buh Zombie (who's later kicked out of the band). Afterward, Nation grunts and groans over the toilet. When he unzips his mask and vomit comes out, he explains: "I had a bad burrito for lunch." The satire, shot like its target in artsy black and white, pokes good-natured fun at the Wilco doc--and at the Goblins. It'll be shown tonight at the Chicago Underground Film Festival as part of For Those About to Rock, a bill of music-oriented shorts that also includes Ballad of a Teenage Queen c. 1986, Cortlandt Alley, Stairway at St. Paul's, Six Feet Underground: Life in Death Metal, and Dark Funeral: A Black Metal Documentary. Screenings are tonight at 5:15 and Sunday, August 31, at 8:30 at Landmark's Century Centre, 2828 N. Clark, Chicago. Tickets are $9; call 866-468-3401 or go to www.ticketweb.com. For more on the festival see the sidebar in Movies or www.cuff.org.
Now in its 17th year, Casa Guatemala in Uptown provides a free family health clinic; runs ESL, Spanish, and computer-literacy classes; and sponsors the Konojel Junam ("all together" in Mayan) youth group as well as local community radio and TV projects. It also supports NGOs and microwatt radio in Guatemala. Today the organization is holding its first cultural arts celebration, Festival del Maize, which will include live music and dance, food, Loteria (Latin bingo), and the creation of a community mural. It runs from 10 to 7 in LaBagh Woods in the Cook County Forest Preserve, on Cicero just north of Foster in Chicago, and it's free. Call 773-334-9101 or see www.casaguatemala.org for more information.
Jim Boushay and Rickey Sain, founders of the social-justice think tank Resources Unlimited, started their annual Festival of Potluck Foods eight years ago in their Oak Park courtyard and were amazed when 125 people showed up. Last summer 600 hungry people attended the event, which promotes diversity (gustatory and social), and this year benefits six nonprofit social service agencies in Chicago and the suburbs. A potluck dish that serves eight people or more is your ticket to get in. It starts at 1 PM today at Stevenson Center and Park. Main courses are served at 2:30; dessert and music begin at 3:30 and continue until 7. People of all ages are welcome for "feasting, mixing, music, art, and performance." Stevenson Park is located on Lake, one block west of Austin, in Oak Park. Call 708-524-8387 for more information.
When Lakeview resident Al Weisman started the WOOGMS Labor Day Parade (the acronym stands for "Wellington-Oakdale Old Glory Marching Society") in 1963, it consisted of Weisman, his son, Tony, and some neighborhood children marching around the block behind an American flag. The WOOGMS motto is "Everybody marches--nobody (just) watches," and these days the event attracts over 1,500 red-white-and-blue-wearing participants, who hoof it to a beat provided by the Jesse White Drum Corps. Tony Weisman, who took over after his father died in 1974, will lead today's parade, with help from his own two sons. It starts at 11 AM on the corner of Pine Grove and Wellington in Chicago and ends on the lawn of Saint Joseph Hospital, 2900 N. Lake Shore Drive, where the Jesse White Tumblers will perform. There'll also be some surprises in honor of the free event's 40th anniversary; for more information call 312-755-0888 (weekdays) or 773-327-4924 (Labor Day weekend).
The 8th Day Center for Justice's weekly Silent Vigil Against War and Racism has consistently attracted about 20 participants--though a spokesperson says that when they launched the vigil after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the group's pacifist stance "was difficult for people to accept." Nowadays the protesters are focusing their attention on the continuing U.S. presence in Iraq, and often find themselves breaking their silence to answer questions from curious passersby. It takes place today and every Tuesday from 8 to 9 AM outside Chicago's Dirksen Federal Building at Jackson and Dearborn; bring your own signs. For more information call 312-641-5151.
"This festival celebrates the joys and struggles of working-class people. It seeks through art to popularize what our history books erase and to stimulate each of us to think of the ways we, as creative people, can use our imaginative powers." So reads the manifesto for the Chicago Labor and Arts Festival, the sixth installment of which kicks off tonight with Nina Corwin's Word Gourmet event at the Guild Complex. Guests include artist and labor activist Carlos Cortez and poets Liz Marino, Sharon Warner, Brenda Cardenas, and Corwin, who'll all perform spoken-word pieces about their work experiences. It's at 7:30 at the Guild Complex at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, Chicago. Admission is $5, $3 for students and seniors. For more call 773-227-6117 or see www.chicagolaborarts.org.
"I think everyone's feelings about events like September 11 or Iraq are incredibly mixed and often contradictory," says poet and Columbia College lecturer Chris Green. "Poems seem to reflect reality more than just the surface pictures and ideas we get on TV." Green, who's also an editor at the Evanston-based Rhino magazine, cites Poetry magazine's September 2002 issue on 9/11 and Sam Hamill's Internet project Poets Against the War as examples of how the poetry of witness can help victims of war and violence grapple with their experience. He'll use audio and video clips of live readings by poets such as Seamus Heaney and Yehuda Amichai to examine the connection further at tonight's free event, The Art of Peace: Poetry's Response to Terrorism and War, this year's first installment in Columbia's "Intersections" series. He'll start by showing a ten-minute satirical video about media coverage of September 11 and the war with Iraq. It's tonight at 6 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington in Chicago (312-744-6630).