The paintings of the multitalented Diane Christiansen, a singer in the local country-rock group Stump the Host, recently won her an Arts Midwest/National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. “Christiansen’s new series of plaster, molded into women’s powder compacts that date back to the 50s, confronts the emotions and relationship tensions that makeup sometimes serves to conceal,” says Lorenzo Rodriguez, whose gallery at 1178 N. Milwaukee will show some of Christiansen’s newest work through May 3. There’s a free opening reception tonight at 6. Regular gallery hours are 4 to 8 Tuesday through Friday and 11 to 5 Saturday. Call 342-5156 for info.
“Though tawdry in nature, the film is an incredible journey through 1960s gay nightlife with one of filmdom’s greatest stars,” say the folks at Facets about The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield, a 1968 documentary of sorts that follows the aging Mansfield as she tours gay night spots and greets fans across Europe. The film also includes photos of the car accident that killed her the following year. The film is being shown on video at Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton, at 7 and 9 tonight and tomorrow and at 5:30 and 7:30 Sunday. It’s $5; call 281-4114 for more.
Can you still make a living as a cowboy? Wayne Herman, who’s the current bareback champion on the rodeo circuit, has amassed more than $600,000 in winnings since 1984. Herman competes today and tomorrow at the World’s Toughest Rodeo, which comes to the Rosemont Horizon, 6920 Mannheim Road in Rosemont. Shows are at 7:30 tonight and at 2 and 7:30 tomorrow. Riders compete in six events: bareback bronc riding, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, cowgirls’ barrel racing, steer wrestling, and bull riding. Other diversions include the mother-daughter yodeling and whip-cracking team of Rice & Renee and comedian Tommy Joe Lucia. Tix range from $8 to $16; call 708-635-6600 for more.
Got the feeling that your understanding of ancient Persian art isn’t up to par? If so, you might try the Smart Museum of Art’s one-day intensive “mini-course” called Masterpieces From Persia: Art From Ancient to Medieval Times, which is offered in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibit, Art of the Persian Courts. The class runs from 9:30 to 3:30 today and includes lectures and gallery presentations in both the Smart Museum and the nearby Oriental Institute, a packet of info, a box lunch, and more. Tickets are $30, $25 for institute and museum members. The museum is at 5550 S. Greenwood; call 702-9507 for details.
The AIDS Foundation of Chicago hopes to raise $300,000 at tonight’s Not Just Song & Dance fund-raiser with the help of dancer Rita Moreno, singer Patti Austin, and comedian Paula Poundstone. The evening gets under way at 6:30 with cocktails and continues with dinner, the performances, and dancing to the Georgia Frances Orchestra afterward. It’s all at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, 720 S. Michigan. Tickets start at $250 per person; attendees also get the book The Faces of AIDS, featuring tributes to local celebrity activists, including Mary Ann Childers and restaurateur Tom Tunney. Call 642-5454 for more.
There’s a couple of opportunities today for people who have a hankering for some folk or country music. First, there’s Freyda & the Atta Boys, performing at 4 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage. The group is basically a reconfiguration of the adventurous and respected folk band Trapezoid. Tickets are $8, $7 for seniors and kids. Call 525-7793 for more. Later tonight country star Patty Loveless–who’s had hits with undemanding but pleasant-enough songs like “If My Heart Had Windows” and “That Kind of Girl”–plays at Whiskey River, the country nightclub at 1997 N. Clybourn. The $12 ticket benefits the Hundred Club, which raises money for the survivors of cops and fire fighters killed in the line of duty. The do starts at 5:30 with a party sponsored by radio station US 99. Call 528-3400 for info.
The massive retrospective of Magritte’s work that just hit town was seen by half a million people in NYC; can the Art Institute beat that? We’ll see. The show, about 200 pieces in all, is made up of surrealist paintings, drawings, sculptures, and more–including Time Transfixed (the painting of the train coming out of the fireplace) and Megalomania (the bronze sculpture of three women’s torsos falling into one another like a Chinese puzzle box). It’s up at the museum through May 30. The Art Institute is at Adams and Michigan; hours are 10:30 to 4:30 Monday and Wednesday through Friday, till 8 on Tuesday, 10 to 5 Saturday, and noon to 5 Sunday. There’s a requested donation of $6, $3 for students and seniors, though Tuesdays are free. The Magritte show requires a separate $6 admission, with no discounts. Call 443-3600.
Bright New City, a group founded by civic doyenne Mary Ward Wolkonsky, sponsors forums on beautifying the city and improving urban cultural life generally. Its current program, A Tale of Five Cities, is an ongoing series of five lectures on civic-planning triumphs from all over the world. The second talk, with Toronto planning commish Robert Millward telling about his city’s innovative planning moves, is at noon today in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State. It’s $5, free for students. The talks for successive upcoming Mondays will be given by visitors from Minneapolis, Charleston, and Paris, same time and place. Call 362-5239.
Any cable system can provide an awesome array of programming, from Cher talking about soap for an hour to charlatans of every religious stripe doing their damnedest to separate suckers from their money. But what we haven’t had yet is a live weekly talk show on animals. The Chicago-based group Animal Rights Mobilization hopes to fill that gap with the debut of a half-hour call-in show, broadcast tonight at 6 on channel 21. The group says the show, which continues the next 12 Tuesdays, will take on all sorts of animal-related topics, from “the fur issue” to responsible pet ownership and vegetarianism. Call 993-1181 for info.
The Chicago Cultural Center’s current exhibition, Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945, includes more than 500 pictures and documents that highlight not only the lives of Anne and her family but the political events that led to the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. It’s accompanied by a full lineup of lectures and special events nearly every day this month. At 5:30 today actor Jon Mozes, who recently adapted and acted in a one-man show on the life and work of Jerzy Kosinski, will present Readings From the History of Anti-Semitism. The free program will include selections from the works of Kosinski, Vaclav Havel, George Orwell, and Cynthia Ozick. It’s in the center’s theater, 78 E. Washington. Call 346-3278 for details.
You can say that artist Andres Serrano was being confrontational with his infamous Piss Christ, the crucifix soaking in a urine-filled box that provoked the growing debate over government funding for the arts. But you can’t say it was a one-shot: in fact, it was part of a series that combined religious icons and all sorts of bodily fluids. (In the recent film Damned in the USA, Serrano shows off his crucifix-filled bathroom.) You can ask him about his work yourself tonight at 6 when he speaks at the School of the Art Institute’s auditorium, Columbus and Jackson. It’s $3, free for seniors and students and faculty of area colleges. Call 443-3711 for more.
Women & Children First hosts three local poets tonight as they read their newest collections. The first is Yvonne Zipter, author of Diamonds Are a Dyke’s Best Friend, who’ll read from her new work, The Patience of Metal. Next up: U. of C. English prof Elizabeth Alexander, whose new book is The Venus Hottentot. And finally, Maureen Seaton will read from her second poetry collection, The Sea Among the Cupboards. It’s free, at 7:30 at the bookstore, 5233 N. Clark. Call 769-9299 for info.