Friday 10/18 – Thursday 10/24


18 FRIDAY In 2000 the nonprofit Beyondmedia collaborated with Visible Voices, an advocacy group for female former prisoners, to produce What We Leave Behind, a documentary about 42 women recently released from jail and the effects incarceration had on them and their children. An excerpt from the video, along with segments from Ronit Bezalel’s Voices of Cabrini, Kartemquin Films’ Refrigerator Mothers, and several other videos, will be shown at tonight’s Info2Action town hall meeting, where the theme is the relationship between documentary film and social change. The screening will be followed by a discussion with community activists and several of the filmmakers. It starts at 8 at Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark (773-293-1447). Admission is $7 or “pay what you can.”

19 SATURDAY Gillian Wearing claims her 1992-’93 photo project, Signs That Say What You Want Them to Say and Not Signs That Say What Someone Else Wants You to Say, came about almost by accident. As the British artist explained to the Journal of Contemporary Art recently, “One day I went to Regents Park…and asked four people to write anything they wanted to, and one woman wrote: I REALLY LOVE REGENTS PARK….I thought it was great, and quite banal. She held it up and it was winter and I knew without even pressing the button that it worked, and I thought that I’d start asking more people. So it started off not being anything–I don’t always work like that. I didn’t even know what it was I was looking for.” The series of photographs–including one of a man in a suit holding a sign that reads “I’m desperate”–became Wearing’s best-known work; among her other projects are 1996’s Sixty Minute Silence, an hour-long video of 26 police officers trying to remain perfectly still for a formal portrait, and 2000’s Trauma, a video in which people don masks of teenage faces and talk about traumatic experiences they had in their youth. They’re all part of the exhibition Gillian Wearing: Mass Observation, which opens today at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Also opening today is an exhibit of architectural sketches, drawings, models, and multimedia renderings of work–none of which resulted in an actual building–by London-based experimental collective Archigram, which operated from 1961 to 1974. A panel discussion on the group’s work with Archigram members Dennis Crompton and David Greene, artists Vito Acconci and Gregg Bordowitz, and IIT architecture professor Ben Nicholson takes place at 2 and is included with admission ($10; $6 for students and seniors). Both exhibits run through January 19 at the MCA, 220 E. Chicago (312-280-2660), which is open today from 10 to 5.

In 2000 the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force surveyed over 2,500 people at nine black gay-pride celebrations in large U.S. cities and concluded–in a nutshell–that racism is a problem in the white gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities and homophobia is a problem in the black community. The complete results of the survey, as well as the history of black GLBT activism in Chicago and the role of the church in the BGLBT community, will be discussed by academics, activists, and clergy at today’s free symposium, Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud. It’s from 10 to 4 (registration starts at 9) at Columbia College’s Hokin Center, 623 S. Wabash. For more information call 312-344-8594.

20 SUNDAY “A lot of American folk music came out of Irish music,” says Thomas J. Boyle, former president of the Irish American Heritage Center: many Civil War songs were “written” by Irish soldiers who set new lyrics to melodies from the old country, and one of the preeminent original songwriters of the same era was Irish-American Stephen Collins Foster, the man behind “Oh! Susanna,” “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair,” and some very un-PC minstrel tunes. Boyle will be joined by Irish American News columnist Bill Margeson, singer-songwriter Mick Moloney, and vocalist Jamie O’Reilly at today’s forum on The Music of Irish America. It’s part of a weekend of related events and starts at 2 at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox. Admission is $5; call 773-282-7035.

Rural McHenry County-based performance artist Joan Dickinson has kept track of the weather for the last several years, and drew on her old journals to choose the date for tonight’s one-time-only outdoor performance, Devotion, which requires the hazy, shifting light created when the sun sets and the moon rises at approximately the same time. The performance takes place at Nichols Farm and Orchard, where a cast of 18 actors and musicians–and one horse–will perform stories drawn from sources such as Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark, an interview with Tura Satana, Dickinson’s own writing, and a Kaska Indian tale about a village idiot who slays a woolly mammoth. The performance starts just before 5 and will be preceded by an organic farmer’s market at 4 (rain date, October 27). A round-trip bus to the farm leaves from Gallery 312 (312 N. May, 312-942-2500) at 3 sharp; it’s $3 a seat, plus $15 for the performance. Rain date is October 27. Those who are driving can pick up tickets and a map at the gallery up to a week before the event. Reservations are required; call 815-568-1049.

21 MONDAY After making 1966’s The Trace of Stones, about a construction foreman who gets entangled in a love triangle and becomes unpopular with Communist Party officials, East German director Frank Beyer was forbidden to work in Berlin and Potsdam. The film itself was banned by East German authorities and wasn’t screened until after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’ll be shown tonight at 7 as part of a series of Monday screenings held in conjunction with the Smart Museum exhibition “Confronting Identities in German Art: Myths, Reactions, Reflections.” It’s at the University of Chicago’s Max Palevsky Cinema at Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th. Tickets are $4; for more call 773-702-0200 or go to

22 TUESDAY Writer Thomas Steinbeck, son of John, swears he didn’t read any of his famous father’s books until they were assigned in high school, but he remembers his “Fa” as a fantastic storyteller. “He was very Dickensian,” Steinbeck told the Sacramento Bee earlier this month. “He would do all the parts–go into a falsetto for the women’s voices and that kind of stuff. We were little and we just loved hearing stories, and some of them we’d call for again and again.” The tales told in the younger Steinbeck’s first collection of short stories, Down to a Soundless Sea (Ballantine), are based on those told to him by his father, other relatives, and friends. He’ll read from his book tonight at 6 at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State (312-747-4054). It’s free.

23 WEDNESDAY “The Last Expression: Art and Auschwitz,” an exhibit that opened last month at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, includes over 200 pieces made by victims of Nazi atrocities. A free concert of chamber music composed by or dedicated to victims of the concentration camps will be presented today by Northwestern students and faculty in conjunction with the exhibit. It’s at noon at the museum, 40 Arts Circle Dr. in Evanston–where “The Last Expression” runs through December 8. For more call 847-491-4000.

24 THURSDAY Chicago-based Poetry magazine turns 90 this year, making it the oldest “magazine of verse” in the world. Founded by Harriet Monroe in 1912 with the motto (borrowed from Walt Whitman) “To have great poets there must be great audiences too,” the publication made a name for itself by publishing (and paying) such budding talents as Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and Langston Hughes. Tonight at 6 editor in chief Joseph Parisi and senior editor Stephen Young will discuss their new books, both culled from the magazine’s archives–Dear Editor: A History of Poetry in Letters and The Poetry Anthology, 1912-2002. The free event takes place at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton (312-255-3700).