Credit: Courtesy Carol Fox and Associates Public Relations

Snow! So? There’s plenty to do in Chicago over the next few days, both inside and outside. Read on for some ideas.

FRI 1/28 

The Arts Club of Chicago presents an online performance by Courtney Mackedanz, who will offer an “inquisitive movement interaction” with “Surplus Tension,” an exhibition of work by Hannah Levy which closes tomorrow at the venue. Reader contributor S. Nicole Lane wrote of the exhibit: “Levy’s works are dangerous and kinky. They are metal-erotic. Sexy and smooth.” Mackedanz’s piece, which runs approximately 45 minutes, explores “the relationship between the skin as a surface and the armatures of structure that lay beneath.” This event is free to watch and will stream via YouTube beginning at 6 PM; reservations are available via Eventbrite.

The weather is cold, but Windy City Playhouse promises to raise the temperature with Sons of Hollywood, a look at 1920s Tinsel Town through the intertwined stories of gay film stars Ramon Novarro and William Haines, whose lives went in different directions with the rise of the puritanical Motion Picture Production Code. Mexican-born Novarro, often billed as a “Latin lover,” broke off his affair with experimental composer Harry Partsch, battled alcoholism most of his adult life, and was murdered by a pair of brothers he had hired from a male escort service. Haines was arrested for picking up a sailor in 1933; rather than accept the sham “lavender marriage” urged on him by studio mogul Louis B. Mayer, he opted to stay with his life partner Jimmie Shields and move into a highly successful career as an interior designer to the stars. David H. Bell directs the script by Barry Ball and Windy City Playhouse associate artistic director Carl Menninger, and it’s being presented at their flagship theater (3014 W. Irving Park), with tickets ($65-$75) available now through April 16 at Tonight’s show starts at 8 PM.

Looking for some “syrupy, dreamy” and guitar-heavy slowcore? There’s few better rock genres that capture the midwinter experience and you need look no further than northwest Indiana trio Cloakroom to deliver it. They’re headlining a concert tonight at the Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western), recommended by Reader contributor Luca Cimarusti. This 21+ show starts at 10 PM, with DJs from Physical Medium and Matt Talbott opening, and advance tickets are still available.

SAT 1/29 

Looking to venture out? Maybe get a little busy with your hands? Why not try a woodworking class at the Rebuilding Exchange (1740 W. Webster), a nonprofit focused on repurposing found materials. At 10:30 AM, there’s a bench making class ($110) where you’ll learn to measure, cut, and assemble salvaged wood into a basic bench. Remaining workshop slots are extremely limited, but don’t worry: Rebuilding Exchange regularly offers a slate of classes on woodworking, home improvement, and more to satisfy your need to DIY.

It’s never a dull Saturday in Chicago, and with Gerber/Hart’s online Amigas Latinas discussion, you don’t even have to go outside to enjoy some of the city’s cultural offerings. As the archives’s website explains: “Founded in 1995, Amigas Latinas was a volunteer-run organization that served the LBTQ Latina community through monthly discussion groups, support groups, workshops, and more. The group advocated to ensure that legislators, funders, and other not-for-profit organizations consider the intersection of issues faced by LBTQ Latinas, who often struggle within Latinx communities and larger LGBTQ organizations.” The group’s archives are stored at Gerber/Hart. At 2 PM, join former Amigas Latinas board member Lourdes Torres, Amigas Latinas’s cofounders Mona Noriega and Evette Cardona, and queer Latinx artists Amanda Cervantes and Jose Luis Benavidesas as they discuss how this collection has informed–and can continue informing–creatives, activists, policymakers, and more. This event is free, but advanced registration is required.

Chicago theater artists (heck, all Chicago artists) are used to taking care of their own in times of need, and Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre steps up tonight for Amy Armstrong, a longtime Chicago cabaret artist (she arrived here from Detroit in 1995) whose powerful pipes and bawdy badinage (“If I was a drag queen, my name would be Sheeleeta Corndog”) with her performing partner Freddy Allen landed them a finalist’s spot on America’s Got Talent back in 2009. Armstrong has also raised a ton of money over the years for LGBTQ causes. Viva La Diva is the community’s way to give back to Armstrong, who relocated permanently to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to receive medical care after a cancer diagnosis in 2018. She still needs funds for treatment costs, and Theo Ubique hopes that this one-night extravaganza with Armstrong and Fernando Gonzalez will both remind everyone of Armstrong’s chops and give a beloved performer some budgetary breathing space. It’s at 7 PM (doors open at 6:30) at Theo Ubique’s home venue, 721 Howard Street in Evanston; tickets are general admission (priced between $50-$125) at; proof of vaccination required, no one under 12 admitted.

YouTube video
Amy Armstrong sings a medley of songs from sitcoms in 2007.

The hot dance spot tonight is the Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia), where experimental techno DJ Ariel Zetina returns with Ariel’s Late Night Dance Party. Warming up the floor will be DJs Composuresquad and Julio Córdova of regional reggaeton collective Agua de Rosas followed by a live performance by emerging house-influenced underground duo Magin. Then Ariel takes to her tables to wrap up another exciting entry in queer nightlife. The fun starts at 10 PM for hoofers 21+, and tickets are choose-your-price: $5, $10, or $15. 

SUN 1/30

Pilsen Art House (1756 W. 19th), an arts and community venue, has been hosting a regular pop-up vendors market in their indoor and outdoor spaces for the last several months. This week, they gave the reins to the south side based metaphysical shop The Apothecary Cupboard, who will be selling crystals, offering tarot readings, and sharing space alongside like-minded local sellers like Coco Pets (pet treats), Cosmic Crab Crafts (crochet), and Piquet Sweets. You can check out the entire list of vendors and food sellers here, and the entire affair is free to browse from noon to 5 PM. 

For the latest in arty electronic music, check out Lyra Pramuk at the Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western). Drawing inspiration from both choir music and the European club scene, this classically-trained vocalist layers her voice to create breathtaking and often danceable tracks Micco calls “cybernetic Gregorian rave music.” The show starts at 8:30 PM and is 21+. Tickets are $20 or $18 when purchased in advance.

Reader contributor Bill Meyer wrote about local percussionist Tim Daisy and his two ensembles which will debut tonight at the Hungry Brain (2319 W. Belmont). You can catch Birdwatchers (Daisy’s trio with Mars Williams and Marvin Tate) as well as the Tim Daisy 4tet (a collaboration with cornetist Josh Berman, tenor saxophonist Molly Jones, Daisy, and bassist Jakob Heinemann) starting at 9 PM (21+, advance tickets are available here).

MON 1/31

Tonight’s Monday Night Foodball pop-up at Kedzie Inn (4100 N. Kedzie) features a menu of marinated pork, chocolate cake, and other delights courtesy of Avondale’s Moonwalker Cafe. Pre-orders are being taken via the restaurant’s Instagram DMs, and walk-ins (while sometimes risky, these dinners sell out!) are welcome. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for entry at the Kedzie. You can pick up your pre-order and eat at the bar from 5-9 PM tonight. 

Reader senior writer Leor Galil recommends the “languid, Americana-inflected indie rock” of local band Dogs at Large, which you can catch on a free bill tonight at the Empty Bottle. They are opening for Baby Jesus Paper Boy and Space Gators, and the entire 21+ concert starts at 8:30 PM. Tickets are not required, but reservations are helpful to the venue and can be made through Eventbrite.

TUE 2/1

Gerber/Hart Library and Archives is getting into the podcast game, and today they’ll release Unboxing Queer History, an eight episode series beginning with “The Dirty Old Lady: Chicago Drag History and the Mystery of Miss Tillie.” Episodes will be available on multiple platforms (i.e. wherever you already listen to your podcasts), and you can find more information at the Gerber/Hart website

Through March 27, multidisciplinary artist Andrea Bowers has a solo show culminating over 30 years of her activism-inspired artwork on view at the MCA (220 E. Chicago). At 6 PM tonight, she’ll join fellow artist-activists John Quigley and Marcos Ramirez ERRE to discuss experiences and share ideas about developing creative practices that intersect with social justice. This event will run concurrently in person and online, so select the appropriate option and pay what you can at registration. (The suggested amount is $15.) 

Each Tuesday in February, the non-profit organization Homeroom will present Chicago drummer and composer Avreeayl RA at Elastic Arts, as part of RA’s residency with the organization. Homeroom’s residency program is an initiative that seeks to provide reliable and paid performance work to Chicago artists. RA will be joined tonight by his ensemble Dream Stuff, featuring Ed Wilkerson, Peter Maunu, Jim Baker, and Jason Roebke. This is an all-ages performance starting at 8 PM, but proof of vaccination and masks are required. Advance tickets are available here

WED 2/2

Writer Hanif Abdurraqib and illustrator Ashley Evans will read from and discuss their new children’s book Sing, Aretha, Sing, which captures a young Aretha Franklin during the height of the civil rights movement. This online event is hosted by the American Writers Museum via Zoom, and all-ages are welcome to watch together starting at 6:30 PM. Advance registration is available here.

Country music has been created by Black people since its conception, and unfortunately Black people’s contributions to the genre have long been overlooked by fans. Black Opry Revue, a musical ensemble featuring Jake Blount, Niki Morgan, and more, seeks to support Black musicians who perform country, blues, folk, and Americana music. They’ll be on stage tonight at City Winery (1200 W. Randolph) for a kick off performance to celebrate Black History Month. This all-ages show starts at 8 PM, and advance tickets are available here

THU 2/3

“Crip*” is an exhibition that centers disabled artists while exploring how artists of a variety of non-normative identities are expected to perform their identities for the art world, often to their own creative or professional detriment. The gallery writes that together the creatives involved “articulate variations of ability and experience. They delineate between the empowering and useful aspects of identity that facilitate dialogue and the constraining or limiting aspects that extinguish it.” Public hours for this exhibition at UIC’s Gallery 400 (400 S. Peoria) are 10 AM-5 PM on Thursdays and Fridays, plus noon-5 PM Saturdays through March 12. Check out the gallery’s website for more information.

Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago police officer convicted in 2018 for killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, is expected to be released from prison today. The groups Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and Black Lives Matter Chicago were both instrumental in pushing for Van Dyke’s original conviction, and today they’re gathering to demand the U.S. Attorney and the Department of Justice indict him at the federal level. You can join them today at 5 PM at Federal Plaza (219 S. Dearborn) to stand in solidarity as the groups deliver these demands. 

Epiphany Center for the Arts (201 S. Ashland) presents gallery walkthrough tours on Thursday evenings for the group art exhibition “Agave!,” which features art made from agave fibers. Tonight they’ll be joined by representatives from Del Maguey Mezcal who will be pouring samples (for those 21+) of their liquor. The exhibition runs through April 9 in the venue’s Chase Gallery, and tonight’s tour is open from 6 to 8 PM. More information is available at the center’s website.