It's four years behind schedule and cost a lot more than it was supposed to, but who's quibbling? The weekend-long Millennium Park Grand Opening kicks off today with music, dance, and performance to celebrate the transformation of a former rail yard into 24.5 acres of landscaping, art, and architecture. From 5 to 7:30 PM visitors can enjoy polka, "gypsy swing," stilt walkers, a magician/juggler, and much more throughout the park. At 7:30 Frank Gehry's swooping Pritzker Pavilion will be inaugurated by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, who'll perform works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Copland, plus the world premiere of John Corigliano's Midsummer Fanfare (see Music Critic's Choice). At 10 Redmoon Theater will illuminate the park with lanterns, fire, and film; shortly thereafter late-night performances from the Fulcrum Point New Music Project and Fareed Haque & the Indo-Pak Jazz Coalition start on the terrace at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, while DJs Steve "Silk" Hurley and Derrick Carter spin in the Bank One Promenade. Saturday and Sunday events include a sunrise workout, a parade, and tours of the park with stops at Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate (aka "the bean") and the Crown Fountain designed by Barcelona's Jaume Plensa. It's all free; the park is on Michigan between Randolph and Monroe in Chicago. Call 312-742-1168 or see www.millenniumpark.org.
Sun-Times music critic Jim DeRogatis strikes a blow against the ossification of rock with his new book, Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics. DeRogatis tapped 34 writers to tackle canonical rock albums that they think suck donkey dick (DeRo's pick: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). Tonight he and coeditor Carmel Carrillo (who's also his wife) will read from and discuss the book, along with local contributors Dave Chamberlain, Allison Augstyn, Chris Martiniano, Bobby Reed, Chrissie Dickinson, Anders Smith Lindall, and the Reader's Bob Mehr--whose bete noire is U2's The Joshua Tree. It's at 8 PM at Quimby's, 1854 W. North in Chicago; call 773-342-0910.
The public can view artists in their natural habitat as part of the Hyde Park Art Center's Artists in the Garden series. Today the tour heads to Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood to visit the studios and gardens of calligrapher Heather Aiken, installation artists Jackie Kazarian and Chris Novak, and painter Tim Burke. All of the sites are within a few blocks of each other. It runs from 11 AM to 1 PM; the meeting location will be revealed when you call to reserve a spot at 773-324-5520. It's $20 and space is limited.
Music and entertainment from bluegrass to reggae will be featured on two stages at Evanston's 19th annual Ethnic Arts Festival, which also offers a poetry tent, folk-dance lessons, and a 100-flag parade. Edibles include jerk chicken, crab Rangoon, tabbouleh, and Swedish breakfast rolls, and if you want to take home a souvenir, 125 artisans and vendors will be hawking everything from antique Japanese textiles to Mexican silver jewelry and hand-knit Irish sweaters. The festival runs from noon to 7 today and tomorrow at Dawes Park, Sheridan Road and Church Street in Evanston. Admission is free; call 847-448-8260.
Jerry Soverinsky has led European bike tours through his Chicago-based company CBT Tours for 24 years; now, for those who prefer to go solo, he's compiled his knowledge into a book, Cycle Europe: 20 Tours, 12 Countries. Besides itineraries, information on accommodations, and tips on luggage transfers, the Second City graduate throws in the occasional lighthearted cultural tip, such as "You'll instantly know when you've met a native European: they'll bow and tie your shoes." Soverinsky will answer questions and sign copies of the book today at 3 at Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster in Chicago; call 773-871-3610.
Since Madonna went all kabbalah on us, there's been a surge of interest in Jewish mystical literature and symbolism. Now a new annotated English translation of the Zohar, the classic text of kabbalah, may make the practice a bit less cryptic for dabblers and scholars alike. Scholar Daniel C. Matt, an international authority on Jewish mysticism, consulted ten manuscript versions and two printed editions of the original Aramaic text to produce his groundbreaking 12-volume work, the first two books of which were published last fall by Stanford University Press. He'll discuss his work in today's talk, The Zohar: Masterpiece of Kabbalah--A New Annotated Translation. It's at 2 at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 618 S. Michigan in Chicago. Admission is $12, and reservations are requested; call 312-322-1743 or e-mail email@example.com.
Sergio Leone's mythic 1969 film, Once Upon a Time in the West, is a masterpiece, says Reader critic Dave Kehr--"a film that expands his baroque, cartoonish style into genuine grandeur, weaving dozens of thematic variations and narrative arabesques around a classic western foundation myth." Directed by Leone from a script he wrote with Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci, the film was a commercial failure when originally released and was savagely recut by its distributor, Paramount Pictures. Now Paramount has redeemed itself with a new 35-millimeter print of the hard-to-find English-language director's cut. It screens this week as part of the Gene Siskel Film Center series "America, Italian Style: The Films of Sergio Leone." Tonight's show is at 6:30 at 164 N. State in Chicago. Tickets are $9; call 312-846-2800.
Buddy Gallery describes its 20x20x20 Nite as "a very special sort of mixer for the hoi polloi of our divergent cultures and scenes." The organizers chose 20 people to show 20 slides or digital files of their creative endeavors for 20 seconds per image, or about seven minutes per person; presenters include artists, storytellers, and someone who'll give a tutorial on how to ID an FBI agent in your midst. There'll be breaks between each speaker, and the gallery will provide drinks and snacks. It starts at 8 PM at Buddy, on the second floor of 1542 N. Milwaukee in Chicago. A $5 donation is requested; call 773-342-7332.
The 50th annual DuPage County Fair begins with today's opening ceremony at 11 AM and wraps up the first day of its five-day run with an 8 PM performance by country singer Brad Paisley and a fireworks display. The fair includes the usual carnival and pony rides, tractor pulls, and demolition derby, along with a chance to see pigs race, cows give birth, and 4-H kids part with their livestock. Hours are 10 AM to midnight through July 25 at the fairgrounds, 2015 W. Manchester in Wheaton. Admission is $6, $3 for seniors, and free for kids 8 and under. Grandstand events, including Paisley and Randy Travis (July 22), are an additional $5 to $8; $15 for VIP seating. See www.dupagecountyfair.org or call 630-668-6636.
Feast restaurant is hosting a wine tasting every third Wednesday of the month this summer. July's installment heads northwest for A Taste of Oregon. Fifteen pinot noirs, pinot grises, and chardonnays--all organic--will be available, along with a selection of cheeses. It's from 6 to 8 PM at Feast, 1616 N. Damen in Chicago, and it's $30. Reservations are encouraged; call 773-772-7100.
Lately the local art scene has seen lots of "lazy, doodly drawings, modestly scaled work, unframed work, and a rainbow palette-that Roy G. Biv sort of coloring," says Jeff Ward of the arts nonprofit ThreeWalls. Today's installment of the group's salon series asks, "Why is that?" Artists Howard Fonda, Michelle Grabner, and John Parot are slated to participate as respondents in the free discussion Unicorns, Rainbows, and the Care Bear Stare: The Prevalence of Fantastic Doodling, Utopian Overtures, and Sentimental Nostalgia in Recent Art; attendees are urged to bring "ideas, participatory spirit, and libations." Doors open at 7 PM, and the event starts a half hour later at ThreeWalls, 119 N. Peoria, #2A, in Chicago. For more information call 312-432-3972 or see www.three-walls.org.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Rich Foreman Photography.