Friday 6/7 – Thursday 6/13
7 FRIDAY Gospel recording artist and producer Richard Smallwood began his career with God when he accepted salvation at age eight, and for more than 20 years now the Lord hasn’t let him down. His late-70s debut album, The Richard Smallwood Singers, spent 87 weeks on the Billboard chart, and since then he’s won a Grammy, performed at the White House, and been honored by the Smithsonian as a “gospel innovator.” His songs have been covered by Whitney Houston, Destiny’s Child, Boyz II Men, and Patti LaBelle, but through it all he’s remained humble. “You have to realize that your gift does not make you special,” he says in an interview at Gospelflava.com. “Because if justice were really dished out the way it should have been, we would find we’re not worthy of the gift.” He’ll be performing this weekend at the 18th annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival in Grant Park with his 21-member ensemble, Vision. Also on the bill are Men of Standard, Lee Williams & the Spiritual QC’s, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Percy Gray Jr., and others. The festival starts tonight at 5:30 and continues through Sunday. It’s free; call 312-744-3370 for more information.
Ladies and gentlemen! Behold the circus banners of Fred G. Johnson, a social commentator and master painter of flash art who lived for almost a century. Step right up to witness his genteel portraits of so-called freaks, like Emmett the Armless and Legless Boy, who’s painting a landscape with a brush in his mouth. A free opening reception takes place tonight at Carl Hammer Gallery, 740 N. Wells, at 6; call 312-266-8512 for more information.
8 SATURDAY At the turn of the 20th century Edward S. Curtis was known as a society photographer, but a documentary assignment in Alaska brought him in contact with Native Americans, and soon afterward he journeyed to Montana to photograph an outlawed religious ritual. When Curtis realized the federal gov- ernment was wiping out indigenous cultures, he set out to photograph every tribe in the west still practicing traditional ways, eventually sacrificing his marriage and the respect of his friends and family. His 20 volumes of quasi anthropology were criticized for blending fact and fiction, and shortly after he finished the last one all his photography disappeared from public view. Anne Makepeace’s award-winning video, Coming to Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians, will be shown today at 10 AM at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Following the screening, Makepeace, archaeologist Hartman Lomawaima, and curator Melissa Wolfe will discuss the lives and work of Curtis and Chicagoan Elbridge Ayer Burbank, whose oil paintings of Native American rituals are currently on display at the library. The event is free; call 312-255-3700 for more information.
The APC Import Expo is hailing itself as the “cure for the common car show,” with chicks in bikinis stretched out over the hoods of custom hot rods that look less like cars than pimped-out spacecraft. Besides the auto competitions, the expo will offer DJs, video games, an amateur skateboarding competition, a radio-controlled miniature-car race, and separate booty-shakin’ contests for men and women (according to the APC Import Web site, if you’re a lady “it takes skin to win”). It starts at noon today at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, Rosemont. Tickets are $21.50 on-line at www.importexpo.net, $19 the day of the show. Call 281-353-5738 or see the Web site for more information.
9 SUNDAY Most revolutionary literature is one-sided and overly emotional. But in 1996 the Chicago Revolutionary Network started a newsletter to promote a rational, socially conscious global commo wealth, presenting information from all sorts of radical viewpoints. After three 16-page issues, however, the project collapsed. Now the network is looking to revive “Revnews,” and tonight at 6:30 it’ll hold a brainstorming meeting at A-Zone, 2129 N. Milwaukee. Admission is $1; call 773-878-6569 for more information.
10 MONDAY The Teen Cross-Town Ensemble, a program sponsored by Steppenwolf Theatre Company, pairs high school students with writing and acting professionals to channel the teenagers’ natural inclination toward histrionics into poetry and drama. Tonight at 7:30 Steppenwolf ensemble members will take to the main stage to perform a compilation of that work, which explores issues of personal identity, love, and community. Cross-Town Traffic is at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted; tickets are $16, $40 for the show plus a meal at Soul Kitchen. Call 312-335-1650 or see www.steppenwolf.org for more information.
11 TUESDAY Some grow wise with age, some just grow senile. So speculates Goodman Theatre associate producer Steve Scott in the dramatic reading Another Year Older. His performance is part of WBEZ’s “Stories on Stage,” a program of staged readings now celebrating its tenth anniversary. Scott performs tonight at 7:30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. Tickets are $15, $12 for MCA and WBEZ members; call 312-397-4010 for more information.
12 WEDNESDAY In her photo-realistic paintings and drawings, renowned still-life artist Jeanette Pasin-Sloan turns everyday objects–mostly cups and bowls–into op-art patterns of light. She’ll be in town today, recounting her trials and triumphs in what she perceives as a male-dominated art world, as part of the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago’s luncheon series “Women in Action: The Road Less Traveled.” Networking starts at 11:30 at the University Club, 76 E. Monroe, with lunch to be served at noon. It’s $48, $38 for members, with a $5 late fee for registrations received after Friday, June 7. Call 312-461-9366 or see www.pwcc.org for more information.
13 THURSDAY Christopher Carter’s mind-reading ability is based on basic math and the likelihood of an unimaginative audience, but it was still pretty weird when he knew that everyone watching his early-90s performance on The World’s Greatest Magic was thinking about gray elephants in Denmark. Be astounded tonight at 7:30 as Carter pays homage to famous mentalists of yore at Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark. Tickets are $20. He’s in town until July 21; call 773-388-0730 or see www.mindcramp.com for more information.