By Bill Wyman
Ehlers Caudill Gallery says its new exhibition of William Wegman photographs is the whimsical shooter’s first Chicago show in seven years. Wegman went to the University of Illinois; while teaching at Madison he began his professional career as a performance artist, painter, and photographer. “William Wegman Photographs: 1970-1995” includes photo documentation of his early performances as well as a sampling of his classic weimaraner Polaroids and newer works. There’s an opening reception tonight from 5 to 7 at the gallery, 750 N. Orleans. It’s free. Call 642-8611.
We’ve heard a lot about the Church of the SubGenius; its cryptolegendary founder, Bob Dobbs; its self-described status as a dangerous cult; and all of the apocalyptic folderol that makes up the church’s social philosophy. But we’re still not sure what the point is. You can find out for yourself tonight at a “devival” meeting–dubbed “Slack Crusade 1996”–where Reverend Ivan Stang and other church elders will pontificate; according to press materials, they “encourage sinning while ranting to a rock music sound track.” The Chicago Underground Film Fest will screen between-set clips. It’s $10 at the Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee. Doors open at 8. Call 549-0203.
The Factory Theater describes its newest production, Abba-Rama, as “a whirlwind musical revue set to the beat of Abba’s greatest hits. . . . Not since the Six Flags Great America music revues of the late eighties has this much charm, pep, and pop hit the stage.” The show plays tonight at 8 and continues at the same time Fridays and Saturdays through March 17 at the theater, 1257 W. Loyola. It’s $7. Call 274-1345 for details.
The University of Chicago’s 36th annual folk festival opens tonight with a diverse show that includes the Morris Brothers, a string band from West Virginia; Basquing in Sound, a Basque folk group; Ireland’s Solas; and the award-winning Kristi Guillory-Horace Trahan-Tracey Schwarz Cajun Ensemble. The fest begins tonight at 8:15 and continues tomorrow at 7:30 and Sunday at 6:15. Tickets are $14 a night, $7 for kids and students. It’s in Mandel Hall, 57th Street and University Avenue. Call 702-9793.
This weekend is the last chance to see two site-specific works in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s current building, which closes Sunday: Charles Simond’s Dwellings–the miniature cliff houses built into the brick wall of the museum’s basement cafe–and Max Neuhaus’s sound installations in the stairwell. Tomorrow and Sunday they’ll be serving refreshments with the show Moving Forward, Looking Back: A Photo History of the MCA and distributing invitations to a planned summer solstice celebration at the new site. You can also videotape a farewell message to the museum from noon to 2 both days. The MCA, 237 E. Ontario, is open today 10 to 5, tomorrow noon to 5; it’s scheduled to open July 2 at its new Chicago Avenue location. Admission is $5, $2.50 for seniors and students, free to children under 12. Call 280-2660.
“Commitment to Love,” the third annual gay and lesbian wedding fair, gives prospective knot-tiers an opportunity to find gay-owned or gay-sensitive businesses to help with the affair. Organizers say they’ve doubled their exhibit space this year. It’s from 3 to 6 today at the Halsted Street Cafe, 3641 N. Halsted. The $5 admission charge benefits Horizons Community Services. Call 784-6956.
Milly’s Orchid Show goes Hawaiian tonight. Besides your host Brigid Murphy, in the guise of hapless country star Milly May Smithy, you’ll get appearances by corrosive essayist and monologuist David Sedaris, local actors Edward Herrera and David Kodeski of the Pansy Kings, Poi Dog Pondering, Paula Killen, hula dancers, and others. The $20 show is at 8 at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Call 929-5959 for more.
Bizarre-o-Rama 3, billed as a “perfect adult shopping experience,” takes over the Vic Theatre today with exhibits, fashion, and wares for all sorts of kinky enterprises. There’ll be a show of fashions from “the world famous Paul C Leather and his troupe of traveling perverts,” organizers say, as well as a “steamy rubber and latex presentation” from the folk at the Taboo Tabou sex shop. The $5 affair takes place from 11 to 5 at 3145 N. Sheffield. Call 588-8242 for details.
Moved by the “tremendous impact” of the Million Man March, political cartoonist Greg Harris donated his personal archive to the Chicago Public Library’s Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature. To mark the donation the archive’s home, the Woodson regional library, 9525 S. Halsted, has mounted the exhibit Cartoons by Harris: Controversial Commentaries on America’s Race Crisis. The free show is open today from 9 to 9 and runs through March 1. Call 747-6909 for more.
“When last seen in Theater Oobleck’s 1991 show The Spy Threw His Voice: A Plagiarism in Two Acts, Secret Agent Man was out of favor with his CIA bosses for his deconstructionist tendencies and was being distended, dismembered, and disemboweled by the mysterious bearded lady, Samuel French. But now he’s back and ready to throw his ventriloquist’s voice into the brave new post-Soviet Bloc world.” This bit of PR is about all you need to know about The Spy Was in Stitches: The Further Adventures of Secret Agent Man, a new play by the Oobleck’s David Isaacson. It’s tonight and every Tuesday in February at 8 at the Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln. Admission is $7 or whatever you can afford. Call 327-6666 for more.
Siskel and Ebert join Steppenwolf’s half dozen most successful ensemble members at a gala tonight celebrating the theater’s 20th year. The plan is to have each of the movie stars–Gary Sinise, John Malkovich, John Mahoney, Laurie Metcalf, Joan Allen, and Austin Pendleton–get a short career overview at the hands, or thumbs, rather, of the team. Steppenwolf at the Movies with Siskel & Ebert is at 8 tonight at the theater, 1650 N. Halsted. Tickets range from $250 to $1000 (which includes dinner, the show, a reception, and participation in the creation of a souvenir mini movie). Call 335-1888 for details.
Shell Oil, which plays a major part in Nigeria’s economy, was recently criticized for not trying to stop the country from executing writer Ken Saro-Wiwa. Tonight DePaul University professor Doulass Cassel Jr. will explore the role of multinational corporations in third world countries and discuss whether and how they should respond to human-rights concerns. The executive director of the university’s International Human Rights Law Institute, Cassel is also an international lawyer and weekly commentator for ‘BEZ. His talk–“Human Rights Violations: What’s a Poor Multinational to Do?”–is a presentation of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. It begins at 5:30 at the University Club, 76 E. Monroe. It’s $22, $12 for council members. Call 726-3860 for more.
British actor and biographer Simon Callow visits the Film Center tonight to talk about his book Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu and to show two seldom screened Welles shorts, The Fountain of Youth, a 1958 TV pilot written, directed, produced, and narrated by Welles, and Return to Glennascaul, a Welles-narrated, Oscar-winning ghost story. The event starts at 6 at the center, Columbus and Jackson. Admission is $6, $3 for Film Center members. Call 443-3733 for details.
Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal follows a weary knight on his long journey home from the Crusades. “Hardened, cynical, and without faith, [he] progresses aloof through a country cruelly ravaged by the Black Plague until he meets Death face to face,” write the folks at the Film Center. The resulting chess game became one of the most memorable images on film and helped make Bergman’s career. The film screens tonight at 6 as part of a Bergman retrospective. Cezar Pawlowski, an instructor at the Art Institute, lectures. It’s $6, $3 for members, and will be shown at the theater, Columbus and Jackson. Call 443-3733.
The Chicago Dramatists Workshop Playwrights for the ’90s fest continues tonight. Ten actors and four directors put on eight short plays to give you a sample of local playwriting talent. The offerings this year range from 15 Minutes in the Age of Reason, in which Catherine the Great of Russia travels to the 1970s New York disco scene, to The Office, described in press materials as “an 8-hour comedy in 10 minutes.” The festival runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 through March 3; tix are $12; the theater’s at 1105 W. Chicago. Call 633-0630 for more.