By Bill Wyman

Friday 12

The folks at Randolph Street Gallery say that the exhibition What’s Love Got to Do With It? “examines the infinite possibilities of love and how they are represented in our culture.” The group show, one of two shows opening at the gallery tonight, features everything from painting and sculpture to installations and performances, including something called Kiss Piece, in which a lipsticked Julie Laffin will explore love by smooching the ground. Also opening tonight is Robert Blanchon’s Gum, Waste, Indentations, Stains, and Envelopes, which uses discarded items in various stages of decay as metaphors for society’s ills. It includes “part of a garbage disposal, a significantly oversized business shirt, a gum indentation of [the artist’s] teeth, and a continuous roll of vellum paper with the image of a monumental stack of greeting-card envelopes repeated endlessly.” The opening runs from 6 to 8 at 756 N. Milwaukee. It’s all free. Call 666-7737 for more.

The four galleries that call themselves Uncomfortable Spaces also have free openings tonight. Ten in One Gallery (1542 N. Damen; 486-5820) has Left of Center: New Art From Los Angeles, painting, sculpture, photography, and video from a dozen SoCal artists. MWMWM (1851 W. Chicago; 666-0204) presents new work by Car, the nom d’art of Brad Killam and Michelle Grabner. The show offers viewer participation and a giveaway. Tough (415 N. Sangamon; 733-7881) has Incrementum, a survey of kinetic sculpture by Gary Justis. And Beret International Gallery (1550 N. Milwaukee; 489-6518) features New Low, a joint show from Jesse Bercowetz and Michael Hoag. Bercowetz collects bathroom-graffiti poetry and etches it into metal plates; Hoag creates sculptures of common objects, like milk jugs. All the openings run from 7 to 10, except for “New Low,” which starts at 6.

Saturday 13

West African drum master Babatunde Olatunji returns to the Art Institute for three cheap concerts. The Nigerian-born musician, whose 1959 album Drums of Passion helped introduce Western audiences to African music, has performed most recently as a founding member of the Planet Drum ensemble. He last performed at the Art Institute in 1990. His shows are today at 11, 1, and 3:30 in the Rubloff Auditorium, accessible through the museum’s east entrance, at 230 S. Columbus. It’s $3 per show. Call 443-3600 for more.

Hemingway heads might find a “champagne tea” toasting a new study of the author’s later works worth the trip to Oak Park. In Hemingway: The Postwar Years and Posthumous Novels, author and hometown gal Rose Marie Burwell argues that three of Hemingway’s posthumous works–A Moveable Feast, The Garden of Eden, and Islands in the Stream–were intended as a trilogy, albeit one left unfinished at the time of the writer’s 1961 suicide. The tea starts at 4 and Burwell talks at 5 at Oak Park’s Hemingway Museum, 200 N. Oak Park. It’s free, but the sponsoring Ernest Hemingway Foundation asks that you reserve a seat by calling 708-848-2222.

Wahyu Cakraningrat: The Divine Blessing of Kingship is a performance with central Javanese shadow puppets, complete with an accompanying gamelan, or orchestra, comprised of the University of Chicago’s Central Javanese Gamelan Group and Friends of the Gamelan. The free show is at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn, at 8 tonight. Call 753-1191 for details.

Sunday 14

The Chicago Sacred Harp Singers celebrate the group’s 12th birthday today with its annual Anniversary Singing program, in which it keeps alive a tradition of distinctive, easy-to-learn “pitch note” singing. Anyone can join in the singing–no experience required. The free event is at 10:30 AM at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4632 N. Knox. Call 276-4277.

The children’s art show Young at Art II opens today at Gallery 312. The Marwen Foundation, the Menomonee Club, and Picture This, groups that work with local artists and schoolkids throughout the year, sponsor this annual exhibition and art sale. Proceeds benefit the sponsoring children’s groups. It runs from 2 to 5 at 312 N. May. Admission is free. Call 942-2500.

Monday 15

A couple of events mark a noted birthday today. Chicago’s newest congressional representative, Jesse Jackson Jr., is the keynote speaker at Push Excel’s sixth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative breakfast. The two-hour celebration includes entertainment by the gospel group the Barrett Sisters. The $50 event begins at 8 in the International Room of the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan. Call 373-3366, ext. 253, for more. On the other side of the Loop is a free all-day conference at Chicago-Kent College of Law. Issues in Diversity, the school’s Martin Luther King Jr. series, includes sessions on family and health care issues at 10:30 and 1:15; U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo gives a talk called “The Role of the State in a Diverse Society” at 2:45. It’s at the college, 565 W. Adams. Call 906-5252 for details.

Former mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek handled one of the most difficult political jobs in the world with humor and aplomb for nearly 30 years. While he’s in town to pick up an honorary degree from Loyola University, he’ll give a free talk, “Reflections of a Peacemaker,” today at 10 at the school’s Edward Crown Center, 6525 N. Sheridan. Call 508-2374.

Figure Sculpture, a ten-week clay-sculpting class covering basic modeling and hand-building techniques, the use of armatures, and different ways to treat the surface of your completed project, begins tonight at 7. It’s $280, and just one of a variety of classes held at the Lill Street gallery, 1021 W. Lill, throughout the winter. Call 477-6185 for details.

Tuesday 16

Poet Honor Moore turned a personal experience into the play Mourning Pictures, a collage of dialogue, poetry, and music in which a woman tries to cope with her mother’s life-threatening illness. The show, with original music composed and performed by Larrance Fingerhut, opens tonight at 7 and continues Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 through February 25 at the Famous Door Theatre, 3212 N. Broadway. Tickets are $15. Call 404-8283 for more.

Wednesday 17

Chicago’s greatest living cartoonist reads from her new book today. Female Problems: An Unhelpful Guide is the latest collection of acerbic takes on feminism, politics, cats, and food from Nicole Hollander, the creator of the daily comic strip “Sylvia.” She talks at noon at Women Employed, 22 W. Monroe, suite 1701. There’s a suggested donation of $5. Call 782-3902.

The new show at the Smart Museum of Art, Mark Rothko: The Spirit of Myth, refers to the painter’s noted quest to capture “the spirit of myth” on canvas. The show covers a key transitional period in Rothko’s career, during which he shifted from fairly representational subjects to abstract color fields. There’s a free opening reception tonight from 5 to 7 at the museum, 5550 S. Greenwood. Call 702-0200 for details.

Five independent bookstores–Women & Children First, Barbara’s, the Children’s Bookstore, 57th Street Books, and the Book Stall at Chestnut Court–are sponsoring an appearance by Hillary Rodham Clinton, who’s written her first book, It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us. Part memoir, part position paper on public policy issues involving kids and family, the book takes its title from the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” Things get under way tonight at 6. Admission is $25, which will get you a signed copy of the book. A portion of the proceeds benefits Children’s Memorial Hospital and La Rabida Children’s Hospital. It happens at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Call 769-9299 for more.

Thursday 18

The experimental-music series at Urbus Orbis continues tonight with Lineage Duets, an improvisational collaboration of Tim Keenan, a percussionist with Brazilian influences, and Dave Maddox, a saxophonist with a classical background. The pair play in the back room of the cafe, 1934 W. North, at 9. It’s $6. Call 252-4446.

American poet Gustaf Sobin has lived in France since the 1960s. The author of Voyaging Portraits and Breath’s Burials, Sobin gives a free reading at 3 today in Columbia College’s Hokin Hall, 623 S. Wabash. Call 663-1600, ext. 5695, for information and reservations.