Friday 1/11 – Thursday 1/17

11 FRIDAY While artists here in the West are busy profaning religious icons with all manner of bodily excretions, their up-and-coming confreres in Armenia are celebrating 1,700 years of Christianity by glorifying the faith. A touring exhibit of religious art by Armenian students–including paintings, ceramics, and textiles that depict scenes from the life of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, who, after reputedly suffering 12 tortures and 13 years in a snake-ridden pit at the hands of King Tiridates, took the country by storm, making it the first nation in the world to convert, in 301–will be in Chicago today and tomorrow. It’s at the Armenian General Benevolent Union, 7248 N. Harlem (773-792-0344). Hours are 7:30 to 10 PM Friday and 10:30 AM to 5 PM Saturday. Admission is free. Saturday from noon to 3 there will be a children’s celebration of lessons and carols in honor of Armenian Christmas, which was January 6.

12 SATURDAY According to professional hypnotist Evan Gollrad, when the world peanut market became glutted around the turn of the 20th century, farmers asked agronomist George Washington Carver to come up with some new uses for the legume. Carver sat down upon the sandy soil and asked the peanut in his hand, “What are you good for besides eating?” After meditating a while, he came away with some 300 ideas. Helping people perform similar mental feats is the goal of Gollrad’s seven-session course Developing Your Psychic Powers, which teaches students to use their subconscious minds to solve problems–anything from healing an illness to creating more closet space. The two-hour sessions start today and are held Saturdays at 10 AM through February 23 in room L-965 in the continuing education department at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson. The entire course is $59; register by calling 773-907-4440.

Opening tonight at Jettsett Gallery and running through February 7, the 911 Show features the work of over 50 painters, sculptors, photographers, videographers, poets, and musicians responding to September 11. There’s a free reception from 6 to midnight; at 7, WLS-AM talk-show host Jay Marvin (whose depiction of a figure fleeing the burning towers is included in the show) will moderate a panel discussion featuring artists Ed Paschke and Gary Dobry, Reader contributor Fred Camper, Chicago Artists’ Coalition membership director Betty Ann Mocek, collector Larry Gerber, poet Sterling Plumpp, and musician Sugar Blue. It’s at 3350 N. Paulina; call 773-477-7251 for more information.

13 SUNDAY In 1910, on the south side of Chicago, Defender entertainment writer William Foster became the first African-American filmmaker when he began producing slapstick comedies starring black vaudeville performers. Black-cast films made in primarily black production houses and screened in black theaters for black audiences, says University of Chicago professor Jacqueline Stewart, “were able to develop because of segregation, and were known as ‘race films’ because they were intended to uplift the ‘race.'” Doc Films, in conjunction with a graduate seminar taught by Stewart, will screen a series of rarely seen race films–which range from melodramas to westerns to comedies–Sundays through March 3 at 7 PM at the Max Palevsky Cinema in the U. of C.’s Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th (773-702-8574). Screenings–with live musical accompaniment for the silent films–are $4 and will be introduced by students from Stewart’s seminar. Today’s installment features the short comedies Spying the Spy (1918), Two Knights of Vaudeville (1915), and A Natural Born Gambler (1916), starring legendary comedian Bert Williams, the first African-American performer to star in the Ziegfeld Follies.

14 MONDAY Described as a Czech Eraserhead, Jan Svankmajer’s comic horror story Little Otik is based on a folktale about a childless couple who raise a tree stump as their baby. In the veteran animator’s live-action update, the stump comes to life, sprouting a tongue and teeth and developing a voracious appetite for meat, starting with the family cat. Little Otik will be screened tonight at 6 and 8:30 PM, part of its weeklong run at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State (312-846-2800). Admission is $8.

15 TUESDAY Is the current Palestinian uprising a direct result of the failure to implement the Oslo accords of 1993? In a course entitled Israel Since Oslo: Where Are We Today?, an examination of the accords, videotaped speeches, newspaper articles, and passages from the Chumash and the Koran will guide a “critical and balanced” analysis of the road from Oslo to intifada. It starts today and will be held Tuesdays at 7 through February 19 at Anshe Emet Synagogue, 3760 N. Pine Grove. Tuition is $72; call 773-868-5119 for more.

16 WEDNESDAY You’ve tried the Zone diet, you’ve tried the Suzanne Somers diet, but have you tried Your Last Diet? Author Kathleen DesMaisons aims to help you regain control of your life by addressing the problem of sugar addiction. Among DesMaisons’ seven revolutionary steps to kicking the habit: eat a potato before bed, write down what you eat and how it makes you feel, and just plain stop eating sugar. The Albuquerque resident will discuss and sign her book today at 7 at Transitions Bookplace, 1000 W. North (312-951-7323); the event is free.

17 THURSDAY “Corner buildings anchor and contribute to the identity of a neighborhood,” says architect Jonathan Fine–which is why it’s a shame when they’re replaced with drive-through franchise developments. Those concrete boxes not only make the city ugly but drive out the mom-and-pop stores that Fine says sustain a neighborhood. “Walgreens, Burger Kings–these developments on corners create architectural voids fit for automobile life, but not for urban life,” he says. “They’re doing Chicago an injustice.” At today’s installment of the free “Preservation Snapshots” series, entitled The Vanishing Urban Corner, Fine will discuss the threat to these buildings and offer suggestions on how they can be protected. It’s at 12:15 in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington (312-922-1742).