Friday 11/8 – Thursday 11/14
8 FRIDAY Finding a way to move from an “exploitative, consumer-driven” view of architecture and design to one “of mutual understanding and stewardship” is the mission of California-based architect and industrial designer Eugene Tsui, who’ll sit on today’s Chicago Humanities Festival panel Designs for Living. Tsui, who coined the term “evolutionary architecture,” specializes in futuristic, flowing, human-friendly forms, which are in direct conflict with what he calls “the tyranny of the box…an inefficient, ugly, labor-intensive, dangerous, and costly form of architecture.” Fellow designers Lorain Croft (clothing), Edward T. Welburn (General Motors automobiles), and Tim Parsey (Motorola products) will join him on the panel, which will be moderated by Northwestern University theater department chair Virgil C. Johnson. It’s from noon to 1:30 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Washington. Tickets are $5; call 312-494-9509 or see the sidebar in Section Two for more information. Tsui will also give a lecture about his work tomorrow morning at 11 at another CHF event, “Eugene Tsui: Architect for the 21st Century.” It’s at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State; tickets are also $5.
When Chicago police officer Scott Fortino went back to school for photography in 1998, some of his classmates at UIC loved his work, but others took issue with his methods. “In the course of a day of work, I enter and exit all types of places,” he says. “If I find a place interesting, I’ll make arrangements to return [and take pictures].” But when his peers saw his photos of public housing residents, he says, some “thought I was exploiting the situation of living in public housing and the situation of me being a police officer.” His most recent work–images of the police station holding cells and classrooms he sees on a regular basis–is intended to explore ideas of confinement and protection. The photographs are the focus of his first solo show, which runs through December 20 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan. There’s a free opening reception tonight from 5 to 7; Fortino will give a talk at 6. For more information call 312-663-5554 or see www.mocp.org.
9 SATURDAY Civil rights attorney Pearl Hart was in her 70s when she met and fell in love with 50-year-old novelist and human rights activist Valerie Taylor in the early 1960s. The pair went on to found Mattachine Midwest, Chicago’s first homosexual rights organization, and stayed together until Hart’s death in 1975. Taylor moved to upstate New York shortly after that, and then to the warmer climate of Tucson, where she became “the resident grandmother of the lesbian community,” lecturing on lesbian literature and history, writing more novels, and agitating on behalf of the elderly; she died in 1997. “I want to show [that Taylor and Hart] were positive, active women all the way into their mature adult years,” says local historian and journalist Marie Kuda, who cofounded the Lesbian Writers Conference with Taylor in 1974. She’ll present her slide lecture Valerie Taylor and Pearl Hart: A Love Story today from 1 to 3 as part of Horizons Community Services’ “mature adult” seminar series. It’s at 961 W. Montana and it’s free; for more call 773-472-6469, ext. 245.
The Community Renewal Society has worked to fight racism and poverty in the Chicago area since 1882, when it was founded by the Congregational Church. But there’s still a long way to go, says executive director Calvin S. Morris, especially considering the vagaries of the housing market. Injustice in Brick and Mortar: How Race and Poverty Affect Affordable Housing Purchases is the topic of the group’s annual “State of Race and Poverty” conference. The event will include teach-ins on housing-related issues led by experts from the Chicago Rehab Network, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and other organizations, as well as a keynote speech by Alex Kotlowitz, author of 1991’s There Are No Children Here, the story of two boys growing up in the Henry Horner Homes. Check-in and breakfast start at 8 and the conference runs through 1 at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren. It’s $15 (free if you skip the breakfast); to reserve a spot call 312-427-4830.
The annual Chicago Design Show runs through Sunday at the Merchandise Mart; tonight from 5 to 8 the River North Association presents a free design walk hitting 24 area shops. Maps can be picked up at any of them, including Primitive Art Works (706 N. Wells), Sawbridge Studios (153 W. Ohio), the Golden Triangle (72 W. Hubbard), and Ann Sacks Tile and Stone (501 N. Wells). For more call 312-645-1047 or go to www.rivernorthassociation.com.
10 SUNDAY In 1967 painter Jeff Donaldson and other visual artists from the Organization of Black American Culture created the landmark Wall of Respect, an unsigned mural at 43rd and Langley that depicted a pantheon of African-American achievers from Marcus Garvey to Nina Simone. Though destroyed in 1971, the work revived the American muralist movement, spawning at least 1,500 public art projects in African-American neighborhoods across the U.S. The following year Donaldson, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, and sever-al other artists involved with the Wall of Respect formed AfriCobra (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), which continued to champion community-based art. Donaldson will discuss the group’s populist, African-American aesthetic and its national and international impact today from 12:30 to 1:30 as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. It’s in lecture hall 2W89 at Kennedy-King College, 6800 S. Wentworth. Tickets are $5; for more call 312-494-9509 or see the sidebar in Section Two.
11 MONDAY Motivational speaker Mawi Asgedom was born in war-torn Ethiopia; when he was three his mother took him and his siblings on a 200-mile walk to a Sudanese refugee camp. They lived there for four years before the nonprofit World Relief brought them to Wheaton in 1983. Adjusting to their new life wasn’t easy–they didn’t speak the language, they were the only black family in town, and Asgedom’s father, who had been a doctor back home, went blind and lost his new job as a janitor. A drunk driver killed Asgedom’s older brother in the early 90s, and another killed his father a few years later. Still, Asgedom went on to win a full scholarship to Harvard, where he gave the commencement speech at his gradua-tion. Now he’s self-published his mem-oir, Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey From a Refugee Camp to Harvard. The title refers to his father’s advice to “treat all people–even the most unsightly beetles–as though they were angels sent from heaven.” The book was picked up last year by Little, Brown’s Megan Tingley imprint and Asgedom will discuss it at a free reading tonight at 7 at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th (773-684-1300).
12 TUESDAY Publicist and writer Jessica Hopper, who has a regular column in Punk Planet, will join the Sun-Times’s Laura Washington, Chicago magazine’s Steve Rhodes, and others for today’s panel discussion on the Craft of the Columnist. Part of Columbia College’s Creative Nonfiction Week, it starts at 3 at the college’s Ferguson Theater, 600 S. Michigan. Other events today include a 6:30 PM reading by Chris Offutt, author of No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home. The series started Monday and runs through Thursday, and all events are free. For a complete schedule of events call 312-344-8100 or see the Readings & Lectures listings in Section Two.
13 WEDNESDAY For his 1999 digital video In the Rays of Light of Ria Formosa, iconoclastic indie filmmaker (and former Chicagoan) Jon Jost shot with a Sony DX700. The camera was pulled from the market shortly after its release because it didn’t focus properly–images appear slightly blurry and with “a kind of aura or bloom around in areas with brighter light,” says Jost, adding, “I liked this quality very much.” Jost, who’s written, produced, edited, directed, and shot over a dozen feature-length films (he’s perhaps best known for 1990’s All the Vermeers in New York), will screen and discuss In the Rays of Light, which was shot in Portugal, tonight at 8 in room 302 of Columbia College’s Ludington Building, 1104 S. Wabash. Admission is $7; call Chicago Filmmakers at 773-293-1447 for more info. He’ll also appear tomorrow, November 14, at 8 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State (312-846-2800), where he’ll screen his newest film, Six Easy Pieces; tickets are $8.
14 THURSDAY Told through music, dance, drama, and video, the stories in the multimedia Animal Lovers’ Project range from a Greenpeace cofounder’s tale of trying to save (you guessed it) a whale to John Travolta’s memories of his childhood dog. “I wrote the show because I love animals and wanted to celebrate them–for what they are in their own right and also for the powerful way they impact our lives,” explains Ann Arbor-based composer, dancer, choreographer, and singer Jesse Richards. Performed by Richards and her Hundredth Money Ensemble, it opens tonight at 8 and runs weekends through December 1 at the Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont. Tickets are $22; call 773-327-5252 or go to www.animalloversproject.com.