Legend has it that in 1891 Sherlock Holmes and his archenemy Moriarty went over Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Fred Levin, a member of several Sherlock Holmes societies, has visited the site four times. In honor of Sherlock Holmes’s “birthday,” Levin will talk about the waterfall incident at 7 tonight at the Fiery Clockface Bookshop, 5311 N. Clark. The talk is free, with refreshments; details at 728-4227.
World-champion roper J.W. Stoker’s trickiest feat is the Texas Skip, in which he spins his lariat vertically and jumps–on horseback, of course–back and forth through the loop. But Stoker does a slew of other tricks, and his horse even spins a rope. They’ll both be at the International Championship Rodeo, tonight through Sunday at the Rosemont Horizon, 6920 N. Mannheim, Rosemont. Show times are 8 PM Friday and Saturday and 2 PM Sunday. Tickets are $8 to $11, $6 to $9 for kids; get them at the Rosemont Horizon box office during the day or charge them at 559-1212. More info at 635-6600.
If they can raise the money, the folks at the Committee for Labor Access plan to send a three-man film crew to cover the upcoming elections in Nicaragua; then they’ll turn their footage into a cable-TV video. They’ll collect for travel expenses and equipment at tonight’s Nica-Video Rock ‘n’ Roll Bash. The $6 admission gets you food and drink, local bands Stockyard and the Rootless Cosmopolitans, and a few of CLA’s previous videos. It starts at 8 at the U.E. Hall, 37 S. Ashland. Info at 226-3330.
Back in November the National Endowment for the Arts withdrew a $10,000 grant for an exhibit in New York that dealt with AIDS; after some controversy, they reinstated it. Susan Wyatt, the director of the New York gallery where the exhibit was eventually shown, is one of the speakers at today’s conference at the Public Library Cultural Center, Artists’ Voice on AIDS. The daylong event will include speakers, panel discussions, and performances by the Windy City Slickers, Mordine & Company dancers, and performance artist Kermit Berg. It runs from 10 AM to 4 PM on the second floor of the center, 78 E. Washington. Admission is free, but you should register at 744-9797.
Folksinger Guy Carawan is best known for spreading the spiritual “We Shall Overcome” through the south a few decades ago, turning it into a theme song of the civil rights movement. These days he’s mostly busy updating old folk songs, adding modern lyrics or setting old words to contemporary music. Tonight and tomorrow he teams up with Janie B. Hunter, a folksinger and storyteller from the South Sea islands who uses her hands and feet as musical instruments, at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage. Tickets for tonight’s 7:30 concert are $10, $8 for Old Town School members, and $6 for seniors and students; a screening of the documentary We Shall Overcome starts at 6:30. Tomorrow’s children’s show starts at 2:30 PM, and tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Order tickets at 902-1919; more details at 525-7793.
Los Angeles artist Michael Asher has spent the past year at the University of Chicago’s sociology department, researching papers written by professors there at the turn of the century that offer remedies for the social ills brought on by the industrial revolution. Their writings address the effects of machinery on human creativity and the need to preserve those things most threatened by factory production: individuality, craftsmanship, respect for nature. Asher will present fragments of some of these published papers in his current exhibit, which opens today and runs through March 4 at the university’s Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis. Gallery hours are 10 to 4 Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free; more at 702-8670.
Learn to dance like an old Scotsman at tonight’s open house of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Chicago branch. It runs from 6 to 8:30 at the Saint Josaphat parish hall, 2311 N. Southport. It’s free, and you don’t have to bring a dancing partner. Call 708-985-6065 or 708-9574494 for more info.
Learn to make clay pots, ceramic tiles, or silver jewelry at one of Lill Street Gallery’s winter classes, which start today. All day and evening classes last ten weeks; the varying fees–$135 to $225 for adult classes–include materials and 80 hours a week of open studio time at the gallery, 1021 W. Lill. To register, or for more info, call 477-61185.
Organic chemist Joe Arrigo will give the straight dope on artificial sweeteners, radon, acid rain, asbestos, animal testing, plastic-waste disposal, generic drugs, and almost everything else in his class Coping in a Chemical World, which starts tonight at Harper College, 1200 W. Algonquin in Palatine. It meets Mondays from 7 to 9:20 PM for six weeks. Tuition is $33, which includes parking; register at 708-397-3000, ext. 2410.
The four men and one woman in Acme Vocals do a rap version of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song, plus jazz, Motown, gospel, bluegrass, and reggae–all a cappella. The five Chicagoans have been performing together for a little more than two years, and tonight through Sunday they become the first musical group to perform at Catch a Rising Star in the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker. Show times are 7:30 Tuesday through Thursday, 8 and 10:30 Friday, 8:30 and 11 Saturday, and 8:30 Sunday. Admission is $10 Friday and Saturday and $8 the other nights, plus a two-drink minimum. The group is also raffling off a future private performance; a $5 or greater donation will earn you the chance to win, and the money goes to charity. More info at 565-4242 or 761-7664.
The names Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning usually bring to mind huge fields of color or giant paint splatters on wall-size canvases. Actually, Pollock and de Kooning both did lots of small-scale paintings, and many other abstract expressionists never did any large-scale work. Abstract Expressionism: Other Dimensions, an exhibit of more than 140 small-scale works by 43 artists, opens today and runs through March 11 at the Terra Museum of American Art, 666 N. Michigan. Museum hours are noon to 8 Tuesday, 10 to 5 Wednesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 Sunday. Admission is $4, $2.50 for seniors, and $1 for students; 664-3939 for details.
Tribune columnist Clarence Page has a few interests in common with the late Martin Luther King Jr.: social and political issues, black American politics, and constitutional rights. He’s written and lectured on all of those things. Tonight at 6, he’ll give a talk on Martin Luther King Jr. at the School of the Art Institute’s auditorium, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Admission is free; call 899-3703 for details.
The city of Chicago will spend $2.4 million over the next five years on neighborhood-improvement projects. Where that money goes is revised every year; this year, for the first time, the city is seeking citizen input. Free Capital Improvement Program workshops are scheduled for tonight at 7 at Walt Disney Magnet School, 4140 N. Marine; Thursday, February 1, at 7 at the Department of Aging and Disability Center, 2101 W. Ogden; Thursday, February 8, at 7 at Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. Saint Louis; and Tuesday, February 13, at 7 at the Marquette Park field house, 6700 S. Kedzie. Call the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group, 939-7198, for details.
Contenders in tonight’s Battle of the Bad Bands include Brigid Murphy’s Milly and the Juicers, Andy Soma’s the Gurus of Permissiveness, Brendan deVallance’s Misery Loves Company, and Robert Daulton and the Experience. It starts at 8:30 at Club Lower Links, 954 W. Newport. There’s a $4 cover; 248-5238.