All the big-time art fairs on the east side of town have goosed the west-side galleries of Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, and Bucktown into taking some competitive action. But the gallery owners and managers of the West Side Gallery District Association would rather switch than fight: they’ve pooled their resources and rented out a space in River North for a group show. Go West, a sampling of art from the WSGDA’s 25 member galleries, opens tonight with a free reception from 5 to 9 at the new space, 730 N. Franklin. The group also plans to occupy a booth at the New Pier Show (see Wednesday). More-adventurous art hounds–those who aren’t afraid of a little public transportation–can visit the galleries themselves tomorrow: all 25, most of them within walking distance of the el stop at Damen, North, and Milwaukee, are participating in an open house running from noon to 9. Maps and information about WSGDA galleries will be available at the opening and all participating galleries. Call 772-6965 if you need more info.
John Frohnmayer: George Bush’s stooge in the NEA or principled warrior for artistic freedom? Frohnmayer himself takes the latter view in Leaving Town Alive, his memoir of his two and a half years as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. You can hear him read from the book and talk about it at 7:30 tonight at Barbara’s Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells. It’s free; call 642-5044 for more.
It’s National Astronomy Day! Chicagoland’s two centers of astronomical interest, the Adler Planetarium and the Cernan Earth & Space Center, both have daylong activities planned. At the Adler, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., 12 hours of rocket launching, exhibits, planet-gazing, and films and lectures kick off at noon. It’s all free. Call 322-0304 for more. Out at Triton College’s Cernan Center, 2000 Fifth Ave. in River Grove, members of the Chicago Astronomical Society have similar goings-on scheduled from 2 to 10 PM. It’s free as well. Call 725-5618 for details.
The local collective Kartemquin Films has produced documentaries on everything from labor disputes to strange nuns. Tonight founders Jerry Blumenthal and Gordon Quinn will be feted as Facets salutes Kartemquin Films’ 25th Birthday. Three noted films–Trick Bag, Now We Live on Clifton, and The Inquiring Nuns–will be screened at 7:30, with a reception to follow. It’s at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton; admission is $5, $3 for members. Call 281-9075 for info.
Legend has it that more than 750,000 people attended the first Chicago Day, part of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, at a time when Chicago’s population totaled one million. For the last five years some of the city’s leading–and oldest–cultural institutions have celebrated with free admission and special Chicago-oriented exhibits and programs. The Art Institute, the Chicago Academy of Sciences, the Chicago Historical Society, the Field Museum, and a dozen others will continue this tradition and throw open their doors from 10 till 5 today. There will be free CTA service among them and accompanying support from radio station WBBM (78 AM), which will broadcast live from the Chicago Cultural Center. For information on the programs call 230-4884.
Dawn Greening, cofounder in 1957 of the Old Town School of Folk Music, helped establish say the folks at the school, “the warm, welcoming atmosphere where everyone–beginners to professionals–mingled and learned from each other, a philosophy still at the heart of the school today.” Greening, who died last month, will be remembered at 6 tonight with a free tribute, show, and potluck supper at the school, 909 W. Armitage. Call 525-7793 for details.
Erica Jong struts her stuff tonight on the final night of the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago’s literary series for 1993. “An Evening With Erica Jong” gets under way at 7:30 at Temple Jeremiah, 937 Happ Rd. in Northfield. It’s $15; call 708-675-5070 for more.
The ongoing discussion series commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Jeff Awards continues at 5:30 this evening with Music for the Theatre. Composer Larry Schanker will moderate a panel of more than a dozen sound and music professionals who’ll talk about composing and adapting muor dramatic effect as well as the different ways that music can be incorporated into a production. The free event is at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 708-263-4043 for details.
Can gay and lesbian employees of Chicago companies get together to get their achievements recognized and protect their rights? That’s the focus of Out at Work: Gays and Lesbians in the Workplace, an all-volunteer group that’s holding a free organizational meeting tonight at 7 at Ann Sather, 929 W. Belmont. Call 794-5218 for details.
The first of Chicago’s three competing art exhibitions opens tonight. (For the other two, see Thursday.) Art 1993 Chicago: The New Pier Show will feature local, national, and international exhibitors in a novel 47,500-square-foot tent between North Pier and the Chicago River. Tonight’s opening party is a benefit for Gallery 37, the summer arts program held on Block 37, the vacant Loop lot across the street from Marshall Field’s. The event runs from 5:30 to 9:30; the $60 ticket gets you a first look at the show, a banquet buffet, and music from the Sherwood Conservatory of Music. Call 744-7528 for details. Accompanying the show will be a six-day exhibit of floating sculpture made specially for this event in Ogden Slip. The show is presented by Flo-Tilla, the group that sends the sculpture parade floating down the Chicago River each August. The buoyant art will be on view from 1 to 10 daily through Monday. Call 772-3879 for info.
In the introduction to her new book the searching and clear-thinking columnist Anna Quindlen notes that had her two predecessors on the New York Times’s op-ed page written under their initials, readers might never have discovered that they were women. Further, she notes–perhaps overly hopefully–that her successors might someday write in an “atmosphere so egalitarian that making much of being a woman [would be] superfluous.” Still, she continues, “Right here, right now, I believe it is not only possible but critical, not only useful but illuminating, for a woman writing an opinion column to bring to her work the special lens of her gender.” Her second collection of columns is Thinking Out Loud; Quindlen will read and sign the book at 7:15 tonight at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark. It’s free, but the book costs $22. Call 769-9299 for details.
Transportation buffs won’t want to miss the Friends of Downtown’s monthly brown-bag luncheon today. The program includes a screening of the rarely seen municipal-transportation classic Streamlining Chicago, a 21-minute documentary produced in 1939 by the city’s Department of Subways and Superhighways. The film provides an overview of the never-completed 1935 Chicago Transportation Plan and includes rare footage of the construction of the State Street subway. The newly restored print shows at noon in the theater of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Afterward there’ll be a discussion led by city staffers and transportation engineers. It’s free; call 977-0098 for details.
Art Chicago International ’93 throws its opening-night party from 5 to 10:30 at the Merchandise Mart ExpoCenter, 350 N. Orleans; it’s a benefit for the Museum of Contemporary Art. The ticket costs $150; call 280-2660. Then there’s the third art exhibition, which is the oldest. The 14th annual Chicago International Art Exposition, generally known as Art Expo, is at McCormick Place’s Donnelley Hall, 411 E. 23rd St. Artist Ed Paschke is the honorary chairman; the opening-night gala at 5:30 PM benefits the Chicago Community Programs for Clinical Research on AIDS. It’s $25, $10 for students. The show officially opens tomorrow and continues through Monday; hours are noon to 8 daily, till 6 on Monday. Tickets are $10, $7 for students and seniors. Call 787-6858 for details.