The centerpiece of Voices in Time: Lives in Limbo, an art exhibit opening tonight at Las Manos Gallery, is a re-creation of a prison cell furnished with a quilt made from bits of female prisoners’ clothing. The show and an accompanying series of free panel discussions explore the consequences of rising rates of incarceration of girls and women. “The impact on their children and on society, in long-range terms, is really great–it far outweighs the experience of that one individual woman,” says Salome Chasnoff, executive director of Beyondmedia, which helped to organize the show. It kicks off tonight at 6 with a reception at the gallery, 5220 N. Clark in Chicago. At 7 attorney Cheryl Graves, founder of the Girl Talk program at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, moderates a panel on race and gender in the prison system. The discussions continue through the month. Call 773-973-2280.

The Chicago Irish Film Festival begins tonight with the U.S. premiere of Mystics, a black comedy in which two washed-up actors set up shop as spiritual mediums. Two actors from the film, David Kelly and Milo O’Shea, will attend, as will Colm Meany (best known to Trekkies as engineering genius Chief O’Brien) and Irish Film Institute curator Sunniva O’Flynn. A reception starts at 6:30 and the screening follows at 8 at the Beverly Arts Center of Chicago, 2407 W. 111th in Chicago; tickets are $30. The festival runs through Sunday, March 7. Tickets to all other screenings are $10; a pass good for all seven films as well as the opening night party is $50. Call 773-445-3838 or see the festival sidebar in Movies for more information.

Sermons aren’t the only performances given by Park Ridge Community Church senior minister Brett McCleneghan. This weekend he’s acting in Arsenic and Old Lace in the church’s great hall. Cast through open auditions, the production includes both members and nonmembers of the church; McCleneghan, who also directs, plays the daffy nephew who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt. The secular comedy, about two perfectly proper and fatally charming old aunts, is “a way of inviting the community in and building fellowship,” McCleneghan says. “If God doesn’t have a sense of humor, we’re in a lot of trouble.” Performances are at 8 tonight and tomorrow, March 6, at 100 S. Courtland in Park Ridge. There’s a suggested donation of $10. On Saturday at 6 there’ll be a spaghetti dinner before the show for an additional $10, $5 for kids. Call 847-823-3164.


If the line “Hey good lookin’, we’ll be back to pick you up later!” fills you with nostalgia rather than giving you the creeps, you probably won’t want to miss Isn’t That Amazing! The Appeal and Spiel of Ronco and Popeil. Opening today at the Chicago Cultural Center, it’s the largest collection of as-seen-on-TV gadgets ever amassed for one exhibit. At 1 this afternoon curator Tim Samuelson will give a free talk on the Pocket Fisherman, the Veg-O-Matic, Mr. Microphone (whose commercial spawned the aforementioned catchphrase), and more. It’s up through May 16 in the Chicago Rooms at the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington in Chicago. Related events this spring include cooking demonstrations by Frankie J. chef Frank Janisch and a dance party featuring music from classic Ronco compilations like Disco Super Hits and Star Trackin’ ’76. Call 312-744-6630 or see for more.

Don’t even think about complaining about winter to Rick Sweitzer–last year he climbed to the top of Antarctica’s highest peak, the Vinson Massif, where the windchill factor was a brisk minus 100. Sweitzer founded and runs the Wilmette adventure-travel company Northwest Passage, which takes outdoorsy types kayaking, dogsledding, and mountaineering all over the globe. He’ll talk about his travels in this afternoon’s presentation, Pole to Pole, sponsored by the DePaul Geographical Society. It starts at 1:30 in DePaul’s Schmitt Academic Center, 2320 N. Kenmore, room 154, in Chicago. Admission is $2, $1 for students; call 773-325-7871 for more information.

The violence in Israel must come to an end before meaningful Palestinian-Israeli settlement talks can take place, says Sara Roy, a senior scholar at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and author of The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-development. Roy argues that Israel must withdraw its army to 1967 borders while Palestinians implement a cease-fire and an international force is installed as a buffer between them. She says Palestinian terrorism will end only when the Palestinian people put pressure on militant groups among them, and that’ll happen only when they have a stake in meaningful change. Today at 3 Roy will deliver the seventh of a series of eight “Voices of Conscience and Dissent” lectures sponsored by the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine. It’s at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake in Oak Park, and it’s free. Call 312-427-2533, ext. 18.


The Beat Kitchen’s new Mish Mash Variety Nite series, a weekly multimedia show curated by musician and Chic-a-Go-Go host Mia Park, kicks off with a screening of Headhunter: The Motion Picture, a 36-minute slasher flick inspired by the 1983 album by hair-metal band Krokus. Local musicians Mike Coy and John Zehnder extrapolated the plot–a tale of one cannibal’s fight against the spread of megaconglomerates–from the album’s song titles. Other entertainment includes a puppet show based on a scene from Shaft and an hour of poetry, improv, and stand-up by Mz. Linda and guests. It starts at 8 PM at the Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont in Chicago. The $5 admission will also get you free popcorn and drink specials, but you must be 21 or over; call 773-281-4444.


Though casting against type and gender is a bit more common now than in the past–witness Fiona Shaw’s turn as Richard II a few years back–for the most part actors’ roles are still limited by the immutable factors of age and race. The free Storefront Mondays Reading Series gives performers the opportunity to interpret roles they’d probably never have a shot at otherwise. In tonight’s reading of Cyrano de Bergerac Kathrynne Rosen, as Cyrano, gets to romance Loretta Rezos, who plays Roxana. It starts at 7:30 at Gallery 37, 66 E. Randolph in Chicago, and will be followed by a reception. Call 312-742-8497.


In the deferential context of a museum, it’s easy to forget that Italian Renaissance items like reliquaries, colorful bowls, and bronze inkwells were meant to be used, not merely admired. In The Uses of Art in Renaissance Italy, these and other pieces are explained within their original settings in an attempt to present them without contemporary notions of “art” getting in the way. The exhibit opens tonight at 5:30 at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood in Chicago. Admission is free; call 773-702-0200.


Maybe it’s the thinning ozone layer, maybe it’s the bad hair days of winter, but there seems to be a lot of hat-related activity lately. Today the Chicago Cultural Center gets in on the action with the fashion show Crowning Glory: Multicultural Hats, Headwear, and Ornamentation. No fussy velvet-and-ribbon confections here; instead expect Arabic veils and a Native American headdress alongside latex creations from the local artists’ collective Fluxcore and a massive Easter bonnet created by Nick Cave. The free show starts at 6 PM in the Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington in Chicago; attendees are encouraged to wear headgear. Call 312-744-6630.


“Intensive mothering is the ultimate female Olympics: We are all in powerful competition with each other, in constant danger of being trumped by the mom down the street, or in the magazine we’re reading,” write Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels in the introduction to their new book, The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women. “The new momism,” argue the authors, is “a highly romanticized and yet demanding view of motherhood in which the standards for success are impossible to meet,” created by the media, the child care profession, and the family values crowd. Their book aims to bring popular images of motherhood back in tune with reality and inspire readers to say “give me a %$#$% break” the next time they read about Sarah Jessica Parker’s perfect family. Douglas will appear at 7:30 tonight at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark in Chicago. It’s free; call 773-769-9299.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/David R. Phillips.