dancers from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater pose in a pyramid
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Credit: Dario Calmese

You can eat beef, watch movies, and learn about graffiti this week. No reason to be bored in Chicago! Check out these online and in-person events. 

FRI 3/4

Yesterday was International Sex Workers’ Rights Day, which began in 2001 to call attention to the unique labor risks and concerns of pleasure providers. In honor of the occasion, the Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago curated the “Chicagoland Sex Workers 2022 Art Exhibition,” which will be on view through Fri 3/25 at Arrticles Gallery (2150 S. Canalport, Unit 2A-11). The gallery is open by appointment only and you can reserve a time to visit by emailing them at (MC)

There are better ways to celebrate Irish heritage this month than puking on St. Patrick’s Day—how about choosing not to get sick and enjoying the Chicago Irish Film Festival? Of note is Keep It a Secret, a documentary about how surfers were the only subculture brave enough to hold a sporting event at the height of the Troubles. There’s also Bicycle Thieves: Pumped Up, which trades the neorealism of Vittorio De Sica’s postwar classic for magical realism about a downwardly-mobile millennial bike courier, and Irish-language thriller Doineann, where a television producer living on a remote island is forced to rely on a retired police officer to find his missing wife and child. Tonight’s schedule includes a screening of Once Upon a Time in Ireland at 6 PM at the Society for Arts Gallery (1112 N. Milwaukee). In-person programming runs through Sun 3/6 at various locations including Society for Arts, Theater on the Lake (2401 N. Lake Shore Dr.), and the Logan Theatre (2646 N. Milwaukee), while virtual programming will be available to watch from Mon 3/7 until Sun 3/13. For tickets and a complete schedule of films, visit (MC)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Ida B. Wells) for the first time since the COVID-19 shutdown with a rotating repertory of celebrated pieces tracing the troupe’s history. Tonight at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 3 PM, the company presents hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris’s Lazarus, inspired by the life and work of founder Ailey. (The recent PBS American Masters documentary on Ailey is still available via streaming.) Saturday afternoon at 2 PM, Ailey & Ellington spotlights three short ballets done in homage to Duke Ellington: Pas de Duke, Reflections in D, and The River, presented with Blues Suite, a piece performed on the first Ailey program in 1958. (A discussion with company artists follows this performance.) Tomorrow at 8 PM, the program highlights seven short pieces created by Robert Battle, who celebrates his tenth anniversary as Ailey’s artistic director; the lineup includes the Chicago premiere of For Four, featuring a score in 4/4 time by Wynton Marsalis and capturing “the pent-up energy of a world cooped up during the pandemic.” Each program concludes with Ailey’s masterpiece Revelations, which premiered in 1960. Tickets are $48-$138 at (KR)

SAT 3/5

Why not cap off what might be a very balmy Saturday evening with some live music? At 7 PM, locals Semiratruth and Silas Short open for Kaina, as she brings her newest songs to the Metro (3730 N. Clark) for an all-ages show hosted by Vocalo 91.1. Tickets for this show are available at the Metro box office and online at Etix. Or explore Scottish and international music with the “Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling,” Alasdair Fraser. He’ll be joined by cellist Natalie Haas as they take the stage at the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Szold Music and Dance Hall (4545 N. Lincoln) at 8 PM (all-ages, advance tickets available here). (SCJ)

Last Nerve Live, a brand-new theater company, kicks off its inaugural production in previews tonight with founder Bill Ball’s comedy Creating ARThur, in which Alex and Andy—brothers grieving the death of their older brother, Arthur—determine to fulfill his dream of having one of his paintings hung in a major museum. Having no knowledge of the art world, the two men are quickly sucked into a vortex of fraud and other shenanigans. Ball, an Emmy-winning television writer whose professional focus has been largely in the global travel realm (including the PBS series Journeys) originally planned to produce the show before the pandemic. It’s finally getting an outing at Theater Wit (1229 W. Belmont) under the direction of Josiah Motok, running through Sun 4/10. Tonight’s preview starts at 7:30 PM, and tickets are $10-$45 at (KR)

Belfast native Cathal J. Ferris wrote and performs Stray, a semi-autobiographical solo show, based on his own reemergence after 18 months of rehabilitation in the wake of a nervous breakdown. It’s the second in a series of solos Ferris has created (his first, Drunken Lullabies, toured the UK and was streamed during the shutdown). The piece, billed as “a satirical comedy about the personal, social, and mental issues that get in the way of happiness,” plays tonight only at the Den (1331 N. Milwaukee) at 8 PM; tickets are $21 at (KR)

SUN 3/6

Evanston Art Center hosts an opening reception this afternoon for “Black Field/White Field,” an art exhibition featuring work by Dr. Yaoundé Olu, a painter, award-winning cartoonist, publisher, and former owner and operator of the South Shore’s Osun Center For the Arts (a gallery and community space Dr. Olu ran from 1968-1982. Dr. Olu’s drawings were recently featured in the book It’s Life As I See It and at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Today’s free opening happens from 1-4 PM at 1717 Central in Evanston, and the exhibition is on view through Sun 3/20. (SCJ)

Did you know sci-fi and gore purveyor Bucket O’ Blood (3182 N. Elston) has a book club (Bloody Reads)? If you’re looking for a sinister weekend read, rush to get this month’s pick: Yan Lianke’s The Day the Sun Died. Written by China’s most banned author (according to Financial Times), the book takes place over the span of 24 hours as a village is slowly ravaged by sleepwalkers on a day when the sun threatens to never rise again. As much as it’s a commentary on the Chinese government, it’s also plain visceral and disturbing. The discussion runs from 7:30-10 PM. RSVP, mask, and proof of vaccination are required to join, and you can buy the book from the store. (MC)

Canadian singer Begonia is a soulful pop singer with a sublime balance of sensual and restrained, and she’s performing tonight at Schubas (3159 N. Southport). Her lyrics have a sparse matter-of-factness that she uses her voice to richly embellish, equal parts lilting, delicate, gushing, and aggressive. Her stage show is designed to encourage languishing in the aesthetic pleasure of her indie R&B sound–and will be well served by local dream pop artist and opener Bigkid. For only $13, those 18 and over can catch both acts at 7:30 PM. (MC)

MON 3/7

For a master class introduction to Chicago graffiti history, check out “Family Resemblance: The Evolution of Chicago Graffiti Style.” This group exhibition combines sketchbooks, canvases, photos, and other ephemera to demonstrate what makes Chicago style unique and document the ideas and influence of its earliest pioneers, such as Trixter, Pengo, Slang, Orko, Drastic, B-Boy B, East, Warp, Fess, and Take2. The exhibition is on view through Sat 5/7 at Epiphany Arts (201 S. Ashland), and can be seen before most upcoming events at the venue. You can also email to schedule an appointment. (MC)

Another delicious Monday Night Foodball is in store tonight featuring a pop-up of Chicago delights by local chefs Eric May and Titus Ruscitti. They’re hosting “Hot Mix Beef,” a tribute to the Italian beef sandwiches that they both grew up with, and the menu includes classic beef, sausage, or vegan mushroom on D’Amato’s bread. Pre-orders are always the way to go, but walk-ins will be welcome. It all goes down from 5-9 PM tonight at the Kedzie Inn (4100 N. Kedzie). (SCJ)

GZA, a founding member of the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan visits City Winery (1200 W. Randolph) tonight and tomorrow at 8 PM. He’ll be performing both shows with a live band in celebration of his 1995 solo album Liquid Swords. Advance tickets to these all-ages concerts are available here. (SCJ) 

TUE 3/8

Today is International Women’s Day, and if you’re looking for some good insight into the rocky road toward intersectionality and feminism, then the Frances Willard House in Evanston might be a good place to start—specifically, their online community history project, “Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells.” It contains background information and essays on the conflict between Willard (leader of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and a suffragist) and journalist and anti-lynching activist Wells over Willard’s racist claims that alcohol led Black men to assault white women. Wells’s protests eventually led the WCTU to pass resolutions condemning lynching, but as the website for the project diplomatically notes, “Willard’s language and actions complicate her legacy.” You can find original documents, community conversations, and public programs on the site, as well as the essay “When White Women’s Silence Endangers Black Women” by Chicago writer and activist (and Wells’s great-granddaughter) Michelle Duster. The Frances Willard House itself will reopen for tours this month on Sun 3/6, Sun 3/13, Thu 3/10, and Thu 3/24 at 1, 2, and 3 PM. Admission is $15 and reservations are available by emailing or calling 847-328-7500. (KR)

Navigating the court system as a survivor of domestic violence can be a daunting and triggering challenge. The Chicago Reader is teaming up with Injustice Watch for tonight’s online presentation, “Navigating Cook County’s Domestic Violence Court.” Reader staff writer Kelly Garcia will facilitate a discussion featuring Mallory Littlejohn of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Amanda Pyron of the Network, and survivor Alisa Holman. The livestream event will also include a spoken word performance by Sandra Brown, and remarks by host Maya Dukmasova, Injustice Watch senior reporter. It all starts at 6 PM and registration is requested at Eventbrite.

At 9:30 PM tonight, bouncy house DJ Fingy opens for cruise-control rockers Olive Avenue at the Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia). Olive Avenue make music designed to transport you to 70s and 80s montages. It’s sound that functions as an auditory cue to embrace a campy sense of compressed time. To dance to it is to attempt collapsing multiple experiences into a singular moment laced with an almost sickening amount of sincerity—like if an “a-ha!” sequence in a retro romcom could be reduced to choreography. There will be vibes—but not of the overwhelming or intense variety. Anyone 21 and up can experience said vibes for $10. (MC)

WED 3/9

The National Museum of Mexican Art is teaming up with the Whitney to host an online discussion called X as Intersection: Latinx Artists in Conversation. Focusing on restorative justice and worldbuilding, it’s the third and final installment of a discussion series which brought together artists who benefitted from the Latinx Artist Fellowship. At 6 PM tonight, you can hop on Zoom with Carolina Caycedo, Miguel Luciano, Guadalupe Maravilla, Vick Quezada and Juan Sánchez. As the museum’s website explains, “each artist’s work explores deeply-rooted beliefs in Indigenous philosophy, environmental justice, and liberation politics to probe forms of world-making that exist outside the framework of Western, neoliberal ideology.” Each artist will expand on how restorative aesthetics and methods of community building inform their creative practices. This event is free, but registration is required. (MC)

Pour One Out is a monthly storytelling series produced and hosted by storyteller and performer Ada Cheng, and for this month’s round they’ve chosen a virtual space to present the theme of courage. In addition to being mindful of health safety, being online allows Pour One Out to include a robust and diverse lineup of guest storytellers: Viggy Alexandersson, Kemlyn Tan Bappe, Xochitl Guerrero, Jason Jeremias, Vicki Juditz, Jezrie Marcano-Courtney, Kristina Tendilla, and Jamie Umanzor. The presentation starts at 7 PM and you can get streaming information when you pre-register at (SCJ)

Feeling peckish? Celebrate National Meatball Day (not yet a federal holiday) with Bar Roma (5101 N. Clark) as they host their second annual Meatball Eating Competition. Participants will be encouraged to eat as many meatballs as they can within three minutes, and the winner will receive $100 (plus bragging rights). It’s $20 to enter, and to reserve your competition spot, call the restaurant at (773) 942-7572. Regular diners are welcome to come and enjoy selections from the Bar Roma menu from 4:30 to 9:30 PM, and the contest starts at 7 PM if you want to plan for a tableside view. (SCJ)

THU 3/10

Enjoy dinner at Split-Rail (but don’t forget to make a reservation first!) and then take in Erica McKeehen’s photography exhibition “Authoring Allure” at the Martin (both at 2500 W. Chicago). McKeehen, a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, focuses her lens on Chicago’s burlesque scene. As a culmination of years of intimate portraits of friends and colleagues she’s found in the community, this exhibition celebrates camaraderie, bodily autonomy, and sexual expression. Can’t make it today? The show will be on view through Sat 3/19. Check out the Martin’s website for hours and other information. (MC)

Woman Made Gallery (2150 S. Canalport, Unit 4A-3) is hosting a celebration in honor of International Women’s Day tonight from 5:30-7:30 PM. Expect refreshments and networking time with gallery members, along with a panel discussion featuring community artists. A donation to the gallery is requested for admission, and can be arranged at Eventbrite. More information about this event and the 30-year-old Woman Made can be found at the gallery’s website. (SCJ)

Artist and musician Andy Slater presents a selection of recent sound-based work inspired by his research into obscure scientific theories about blindness and transdimensional hearing. Slater will host a screening followed by a discussion about his work, starting at 6 PM tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State). “An Evening with Andy Slater,” is presented in partnership with the Disability Culture Activism Lab at the School of the Art Institute’s Department of Art Therapy and Counseling, the organization Access Living, and Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago (in conjunction with their current exhibition “Crip*”). Advance tickets are available, and SAIC and UIC students can get in for free with a valid ID. (SCJ)