Whatever you call it–East Pilsen, Pilsen East, the Chicago Arts District, Podville, the Prinicipality of Podmajersky–the area around 18th and Halsted swarming with what real estate types call “creatives” offers a range of free events this weekend as part of the 38th Annual Pilsen East Artists’ Open House.

This year’s curated show, “CS: 38” at 2003 S. Halsted, offers the “best of the best,” including work by Barbara Hashimoto, Miguel Guzman, and ROOMS Productions. Tonight’s opening reception from 6 to 10 PM promises extraordinary opportunities for overly ambitious-hairstyle gawking and, this being a gallery opening, free booze and tiny snacks.

Off-Off Campus, the University of Chicago’s premier comedy group (full disclosure: I am an Off-Off alum), performs an improv set at the EP Theater (1820 S. Halsted) at 1 PM on both Saturday and Sunday. Outside the theater’s rear entrance, bands will perform both days from 2 to 7 PM (see schedule below) in the Fire Arts Garden (19th and Halsted). Summer Fireflies present dance/street theater performances at regular intervals from 5:30 to 7 PM on Saturday at the Main Mall Garden (733 W. 18th).

At Under The Wire (2210 S. Halsted), Tejal Mehta will decorate the body of burlesque dancer Ms. Cherish with a full-body henna from 6 to 10 PM Friday and noon to 7 PM Saturday and Sunday. Free samples of Richard Sturm hand-crafted vodka will be served.

Look for the info booth at 1821 S. Halsted for a complete schedule and maps of participating venues.

Fire Arts Garden

           Saturday          Sunday 
 2 PM    Thaddeus Cosgrove     Abbi Rajasekhar  
 3 PM    Felipe Restrepo  Miles Benjamin
 4 PM    Gabe Luiz  Rachele Eve
 5 PM    Color Radio  Martha Berner
 6 PM    Band Called Catch  The Future Laureates