Like other galleries, Esther Saks uses the traditional summer downtime to try out fresh talent in group shows. Among the featured artists in this year’s New Faces is Katie Kahn, a Chicagoan now living in the Bay Area who has been getting a lot of west-coast attention for her large, intensely colorful oil paintings that use humanlike figures, often in surreal settings. Also in the show are Gregory Grenon, Elise Hughes, Judith Alberte Kasin, Yih-Wen Kuo, Laura Raboff, and Daniella Richter. The exhibit opens with a free reception from 5 to 7:30 PM at the gallery, 311 W. Superior, and runs through August 22. Free viewing hours are 10 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday, but in August the gallery will be closed on Saturday. For more call 751-0911.
Burden of Dreams, the documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo and Werner Herzog’s obsessions, was thought by some to be more compelling than the feature itself. The camera behind the camera doesn’t necessarily create the better film, but it is surely illuminating. Making “Do the Right Thing” is a 58-minute look at how Spike Lee created his controversial new film, and at how outside forces–including the Howard Beach nightmare and the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood–played roles in the movie’s development. St. Clair Bourne’s documentary plays tonight and tomorrow at 8 at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton. It’ll be followed by Bourne’s Langston Hughes: The Dream Keeper. Admission is $5, $3 for Facets members. A special 4 PM showing on Sunday will be followed by a reception and workshop with Bourne; admission is $10. Call 281-4114.
“We wanted to do new musicals but found out there were very few new musicals that were any good,” says Joan Mazzonelli, company manager for New Tuners Theatre. “It’s incredible, but we don’t have a production company in the country that produces new musicals regularly, not even in New York.” So WIT decided to create Making Tuners, its own program of workshops on creating new musical scripts. An open house for interested writers and composers will be held at 2 today in the Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont. It’s free. For reservations, applications for the fall program, and other information, call 929-7367.
Although Chicago’s Asian population numbers nearly 110,000, few local companies have tried to present theater that expresses the Asian American experience. “Although there has been an increase in local color-blind casting, I still see very few Asian American actors working,” says Christina Adaki, a board member of the newly formed Angel Island Theater Company. She says the new group–like its counterparts in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles–will strive to provide Asian American theater artists with an opportunity to present their own work. “Right now it’s important to widen our image beyond the stereotypes of the Japanese gardener, Chinese restaurant owners, gangs, Suzie Wong, and geisha girls,” she says. “A Little Bit of Heaven,” tonight’s benefit for Angel Island, features a short reading from next season’s opener, David Henry Hwang’s F.O.B. There will also be door prizes and a raffle; a round-trip ticket from San Francisco to Hong Kong is the grand prize. It’s from 4 to 7 PM at the Furama Restaurant, 4936 N. Broadway. The ticket price of $30 includes a buffet. For reservations call 472-6550.
Fifteen years ago Reader regular Albert Williams teamed up with composer William Russo to write the off-Broadway pop-opera Isabella’s Fortune. About five years ago, Russo invited Williams to pen the libretto for a new musical piece, The Golden Bird, which is based on the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale about a young prince trying to prove himself by capturing a magic bird. Originally performed by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall, this work will be performed by the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra at 7 tonight at the Petrillo Music Shell, Columbus Drive at Jackson. The orchestra will be accompanied by the Lynda Martha Dance Company and by Roy Leonard as narrator. It’s free. Call 819-0614.
Just when it seemed things couldn’t get worse for the last-place White Sox, its Vancouver farm team refused to take the field and forfeited a game. Turns out the players mutinied because their paychecks were nearly a week late. Minnie Minoso, the former south-side home-run king, will have to take a walk down memory lane in order to keep things upbeat at today’s Celebrity Sports Luncheon, a benefit for Josephinum High School, the Catholic girls’ school in Humboldt Park. Mike McClure, the Sox marketing vice president, will be along–with a whole bunch of excuses, no doubt–as will former broadcaster Frank Diaz, who just joined the Sox PR team. It all begins at noon at Leona’s, 1936 W. Augusta. Tickets are $20. For reservations call 276-1261.
In response to the Corcoran Gallery flap–the Washington D.C. space planned to exhibit the Robert Mapplethorpe show that appeared in Chicago this spring, but under pressure backed out–several congressmen are now threatening to cut funding of the National Endowment for the Arts, one of the show’s government sponsors. If the congressmen succeed, the Illinois Arts Council may be about the only place giving local artists fellowships with significant stipends–$5,000, $10,000, and $15,000. You can find out about the IAC and its application process at a free grantsmanship workshop at 7 tonight at Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. For more call 666-7737.
A name like the Feminist Writers Guild suggests this group spends a lot of time either trying to neuter language or spinning amazonian tales. But FWG is actually open to “any woman who considers herself a feminist and takes her writing seriously.” The group offers a series of monthly discussions on different writing genres. “It’s a way for women to read their work and get feedback in a safe and caring atmosphere,” says member Paula Amann. Tonight’s free poetry critique session begins at 7:30 at 4826 N. Wolcott, All women are welcome; those who want a response to their work should bring ten copies of each piece. You must call first; 728-1453.
Last spring the general assembly defeated Representative John Cullerton’s “hate crimes” bill with a razor-thin 52-to-51 vote. The north-side rep had arugued that antigay violence is on the rise, with 14 incidents reported in April in Chicago. Cullerton couldn’t muster enough votes for a reconsideration, so he then tried unsuccessfully to piggyback the bill on Senator Dawn Clark Netsch’s rape-statistics bill. Cullerton’s proposals may be floundering in the legislature, but Horizons Community Services’ Anti-violence Project is offering a six-week self-defense course, beginning at 7 tonight at 3225 N. Sheffield. It costs $45. Call 472-6469.
“There’s not really much of a middle class left in Chicago,” explains Eduardo Camacho, author with Reader contributor Ben Joravsky of the just released study Against the Tide: The Middle Class In Chicago. “That”s why the city has declined so much in the last 30 years. What we’re trying to do is draw attention to those few people of means who could leave but have chosen to stay.” The authors look at case studies and tie them to issues such as gentrification, deindustrialization, and racial hostility. Camacho, coauthor of three other urban studies, will be the luncheon speaker at the annual meeting of the Chicago Council on Urban Affairs at noon today at the Chicago Athletic Club, 12 S. Michigan. Tickets are $20, $15 for members; reservations are requested. Call 782-3511.
Tonight’s Dance Under the Stars will be a big-band reminiscence–the Franz Benteler Royal Strings will stcik to standards such as “One O’Clock Jump” and “String of Pearls.” Song medleys will also include tunes from the 50s, 60s, and a few contemporary hits. Barbecue, sandwiches, and soft drinks will be available at 6; the music starts at 7:30. It’s all at the Daley Bicentennial Plaza, 337 E. Randolph in Grant Park. The music is free. Call 294-4790.