Tony Fitzpatrick is primarily known as a printmaker, but after his father died in 1998 he started making collages as a way of dealing with his grief. Inspired by Joseph Cornell's "Penny Arcade" series, the former bouncer and boxer has compared the process to quilting, "where your hands are all over it and it functions as a psychological map or diary of ourselves." Several of his collages will be featured in Remembered City: Prints and Drawings by Tony Fitzpatrick, a comprehensive look at his career that opens today at the DePaul Art Museum. There's a free opening reception tonight from 5 to 7 at the museum, 2350 N. Kenmore in Chicago; the show's up through November 26. Fitzpatrick will lecture on his work on October 22 at 3:30 (and there'll be a related panel discussion on "Art and Life in the City" at 3:30 on October 30) in DePaul's student center, 2250 N. Sheffield, room 314, in Chicago. For more information call 773-325-7506.
Last fall the city of Aurora decided to make itself a center of literary activity. Mike O'Kelley of the Aurora Economic Development Commission says the long-term plan includes building a cultural campus where "people can come to be immersed in the ideas and feel of midwest literature." They're getting a head start with this weekend's Midwest Literary Festival, which features lectures, workshops, and panel discussions by about 130 authors and illustrators--though not all are from the midwest. High-profile guests scheduled to speak at the 1,800-seat Paramount Arts Centre include Anne Lamott (today at 11) and Jacquelyne Mitchard (at 2); Frances Mayes will appear tomorrow at 1, following an 11 AM screening of the not-yet-released film adaptation of her book Under the Tuscan Sun. The festival runs from 10 to 8 today and from 11 to 6 Sunday. The Para-mount is at 23 E. Galena; all festival activities take place on Stolp Island in the Fox River downtown and most--including the lectures, the movie, and a raft of kids' stuff--are free. See www.midwestliteraryfestival.com or call 630-897-5500 for more information.
After Roz Long rented a space in downtown Elmhurst's Liberty Building for Purse-ona, her one-of-a-kind-handbag shop, it occurred to her that the York Road structure--a former bowling alley with a number of vacancies--would make a great building for artists. Long, who produces Elmhurst's annual Art in the Park festival and figured she knew "about a thousand" potential tenants, ap-proached the building's owner. Now tenants of the renamed Liberty Arts Building, 120 N. York, include painters, jewelry makers, and a fabric arts shop, along with architects and Web designers. Today's open house runs from noon to 6 and is part of Elmhurst's Uptown/Downtown Block Party, which also encompasses a music stage at City Center Plaza (Schiller and York) and 17 restaurants selling tasting portions on the street for $1 to $3 each. At 6:30, 29 fiberglass autos, from the town's summer street-art project "Cool Kiddie Cars" will be auctioned; bids start at $250. The block party runs from noon to 10 along York Road in downtown Elmhurst; it's free. Call 630-993-1600.
"The Israeli occupation has disastrous health care consequences for the Israeli and Palestinian populations alike," says Jennifer Bing-Canar, program director of the American Friends Service Committee's Middle East Project. "Communities are under curfew and closure, and hospitals are empty because people can't get to them. What happens when you're in labor or are a kidney dialysis patient or are having a heart attack and there are trenches dug all around your village?" The AFSC hopes to send an initial delegation of volunteer health care professionals to the occupied territories in January. "What we hope to provide," says Bing-Canar, "is a real connection between Americans here and people working on the ground--Israeli medical activists and Palestinian physicians--to personalize the story." A benefit to help launch the Palestinian Medical Relief Project takes place tonight at 7 at Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago. Tickets are $25 and must be reserved in advance by calling 312-427-2533, ext. 18.
"Showed a Czech film" and "Dresses like a Communist" are just two of the notes the FBI took on Arnold Mesches between 1945 and 1972. Three years ago the artist, activist, and teacher, who's now 79 and lives in Manhattan, used the Freedom of Information Act to request a copy of his files and received a large box of reports with blacked-out names and other details. "Not only did they have the dates my kids were born, they also had how much they weighed," he told the New York Times last year. "I can't tell you how nonsensical it was." Mesches combined the files with newspaper clippings, paintings, drawings, photos, and handwritten text to create a series of "illuminated manuscripts" juxtaposing the documents with images of, among others, Marilyn Monroe, Nikita Kruschev, and Malcolm X. The resulting exhibit, Arnold Mesches: FBI Files, opens today and runs through October 31 at Columbia College's Glass Curtain Gallery; hours today are 9 to 5. It's at 1104 S. Wabash in Chicago; Mesches will give a lecture on October 17 at a reception running from 5 to 8. For more information call 312-344-6650 or see www.colum.edu/glasscurtain.
Last April, 80-year-old Chicago writer Harry Mark Petrakis--who just published his 18th book--told Poets & Writers Magazine how much he loves to give readings. "Writing tends to be, as you know, a lonely, solitary occupation. You don't really know what response you're getting until the book or the story is published, and then a few people may talk to you, a few people may write
to you. But to be able to read your work and speak of your work before an audience and get an instantaneous reaction--that's been enormously rewarding and fulfilling for me." And he's good at it, having spent years lecturing to make ends meet. Tonight at 6 he'll read from and sign copies of Twilight of the Ice, his new novel set in 1950s Chicago, at the Newberry Library, which will formally induct his papers into its Midwest Manuscript Collection at the same event. It's at 60 W. Walton in Chicago, and it's free; call 312-943-9090.
"Never come give it up, whatever you may squander / The figs in the pockets and the cousins down under / By blood are the passions passing us up / By pill is the poison feeling / The heat it kills me everyday / By graveyard vigil and candles I bake / And kitchens are aching for archangel falls / Of soft baby bottoms and polished skulls, amen." Those eight lines are all that's available so far from former Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan's forthcoming book of poetry. He'll reveal more when he kicks off the Poetry Center's annual reading series tonight with a benefit multimedia performance of his verse at 6:30 at the Art Institute's Rubloff Auditorium, 111 S. Michigan in Chicago (enter on Columbus). Tickets are $35; call 866-468-3401 or go to www.ticketweb.com. For more, see www.poetrycenter.org.
"I wanted people to gain an understanding, not only on the local level but also on the national level, of how mural art can be used as a way to cause social change and create environments that are influential in the public eye," said Heather Becker earlier this year in a Reader feature on her 2002 book, Art for the People: The Rediscovery and Preservation of Progressive- and WPA-Era Murals in the Chicago Public Schools, 1904-1943. "Chronicle [Books] picked up on the fact that it not only was a local story about Chicago. It was also about a grassroots project that started out small and struggled through many hurdles to end up being the largest mural preservation project in American history." The book covers the eight years Becker and the Chicago Conservation Center (of which she's the CEO) spent locating and restoring 438 battered murals in the storerooms, basements, and hallways of 68 local schools. She'll discuss the project today at a free Landmarks Preservation Council brown-bag-lunch lecture at 12:15 in the southwest meeting room on the fifth floor of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington in Chicago (312-744-6630).