Fashion designers have long defended the unwearable creations they send down the catwalk by claiming they are art. Now some of the more extreme pieces from over the years are going on display at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibit Skin Tight: The Sensibility of the Flesh includes fiberglass dresses by London designer Hussein Chalayan and leather corsets by the Belgian duo known as A.F. Vandervorst, plus an interactive installation by “trend forecaster” Li Edelkoort that explores notions of skin through different papers and textiles. A party tonight celebrates the opening of this exhibit and also that of Plastic Economies, a retrospective of work by local artist Dan Peterman, who’s been grappling with recycling systems in his art since the late 1980s. “Plastic Economies” includes Eau Claire (1988)–a homemade contraption that distills pure water from Dr. Pepper–and his latest project, Standard Kiosk (Chicago), in which he’s turned various waste receptacles into structures like market stands and bicycle repair stations; they’ll be installed on the MCA’s plaza. The opening is tonight from 6 to 9 at the museum, 220 E. Chicago in Chicago. Admission is $15, but if you’re the guest of an MCA member it’s free; call 312-280-2660.

As the juror for the show Art by Asian Women, local artist Cat Chow chose 34 works that she hopes “will encourage audiences to look beyond the stereotype of an Asian woman.” They include Huong Ngo’s Generating Static at the Speed of Two, in which the static produced by rubbing together two felt bibs generates random animations, and Ema Yamagata’s moss-and-fishnet Fake Fur Coat, which she made as a Northwestern student under the mentorship of Chow. The show opens tonight with a reception from 6 to 9 at Woman Made Gallery, 2418 W. Bloomingdale in Chicago, and it’s free. Call 773-489-8900.

Because the real thing was so fun–or more likely because it wasn’t–the folks at Collaboraction are hosting the 21-and-over Prom 2004: Just Like Heaven, featuring live music from Dave LaCrone and the Chaperones, a “make-out room,” a detention center where volunteers will scold you for your bad behavior, and (here’s what makes it all bearable) an open bar. The party starts at 9 PM at the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie in Chicago, and runs until 2 AM, when shuttles will be waiting to transport revelers to the afterparty at Rednofive, 440 N. Halsted. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Call 312-226-9633 or see www.collaboraction.org.


Today the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is road-tripping to Indianapolis to visit an annual market of Native American arts and crafts. Sponsored by the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the market includes paintings, drawings, jewelry, baskets, and other works by 185 Native American artists. You can also visit the Eiteljorg itself, home to paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and Frederic Remington as well as a temporary exhibit about Jews in the old west. The bus leaves at 8 AM from the Mitchell Museum, 2600 Central Park in Evanston, and arrives in Indianapolis around 11:30; movies on Native American themes will be shown en route. It returns to Evanston between 9 and 10 PM. Tickets are $45 plus admission to the museum and market ($8 in advance, $12 at the gate). To register call 847-475-1030 or go to www.mitchellmuseum.org.

Today’s Pedal Through Pilsen bike tour will visit the lush gardens planted around the numerous buildings owned by the Podmajersky family and stop by the El Milagro tortilla factory, the Bom Bon Bakery, and the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum. Riders leave at 9 AM from the field house at Dvorak Park, 1119 W. Cullerton in Chicago. The $30 registration fee includes lunch; call 312-746-5083 to sign up. i To celebrate today’s opening of the new Skylight Wellness center, the owners are offering a bevy of free activities including a fragrance-mixing workshop, an introduction to Pilates and ball workouts, and chair massages. It kicks off at 9 AM with yoga and a brunch and continues all day, with special classes and art projects for kids in the afternoon and food and live music in the evening. It’s at Skylight Wellness in the Morseland Building, 1220 W. Morse in Chicago. Call 773-856-6091.


Using museum specimens, Brookfield Zoo biologist Oliver Pergams extracted DNA from the skin of white-footed mice native to Illinois and discovered that the genotype most common 150 years ago is now extremely rare. The report coauthored by Pergams, Dennis Nyberg, and Wayne Barnes published last year in Nature caused a sensation in scientific circles: “This was the first time evolution this rapid had been shown in mammals,” Pergams says. “Humans are changing the environment more rapidly than it would change otherwise, and animals are evolving more rapidly to adapt to it.” This morning at 10:30 he’ll give a free talk titled Rapid Evolution: Natural Selection and Human Intervention at the Ethical Humanist Society of Greater Chicago, 7574 N. Lincoln in Skokie; call 847-677-3334.


Blow your whole paycheck on beer by Sunday night? The Empty Bottle’s booking free shows most Mondays; tonight’s bill features the Grackles, the Black Hand, and Twin Wrecks the Memory (who describe themselves as a “blue-collar blend of rock, punk, and booze”). It starts at 9:30 at the Bottle, 1035 N. Western in Chicago; call 773-276-3600.


In an intergenerational event marking the 50th anniversary of the landmark desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, local students from the Chicago Historical Society’s Teen Chicago program will interview four veterans of the civil rights movement: Anne Braden, a white woman, faced sedition charges after a house she and her husband bought for a black couple in an all-white Louisville neighborhood was bombed in 1954. Joseph De Laine Jr. is the son of the Reverend Joseph A. De Laine, a leader in the desegregation fight. Fannie Rushing volunteered with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee while still in high school; and Third Ward alderman Dorothy Tillman worked as an organizer for Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The discussion, Personal Stories From the Civil Rights Era, starts tonight at 6:30 in the auditorium of the CHS, 1601 N. Clark in Chicago. It’s free, but reservations are required; call the Illinois Humanities Council at 312-422-5580.


Dan Robbins and a partner designed the first Paint-by-Numbers set in 1949 as balm for a public baffled by Pollack, de Kooning, and Kline. Little did they know that their seascapes and sad-eyed animals would one day be prized by collectors of kitsch. Today at 6:30 PM, in conjunction with an ongoing exhibit on hobby art, “Outside the Lines: Ordinary Pastimes, Extraordinary Art,” Oak Park resident Robbins will give a free slide lecture in which he’ll show some prototypes and talk about how he came up with the idea for “instructional painting.” He’ll also sign copies of his autobiography, Whatever Happened to Paint-by-Numbers? It’s at Intuit, the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, 756 N. Milwaukee in Chicago. Call 312-243-9088.

The Book Stall at Chestnut Court is the launchpad for Robert Kurson’s national tour promoting his new book, Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II. Kurson, a Harvard Law School grad and journalist who’s worked for the Sun-Times, Esquire, and Chicago, uses his subjects’ seven-year obsession with a U-boat sunk 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey to plunge readers into their adventures 230 feet below the ocean’s surface. In the end, he says, it’s “as much a quest for answers about themselves” as the unraveling of a historical mystery. The hype says it’s another Perfect Storm; Kurson will speak briefly and sign copies at 7 tonight at the bookstore, 811 Elm in Winnetka. It’s free; call 847-446-8880.



Chicago Seven defendant Tom Hayden joined the mainstream ages ago, but the former California state senator is still committed to social activism. His new book, Street Wars: Gangs and the Future of Violence, analyzes the history of gangs in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago and puts the blame for the problem in part on inflexible law-and-order culture: “When it comes to the inner city,” he writes, “our country thrives politically on scapegoating rather than finding solutions.” Hayden goes on to propose a New Deal-type system to give opportunities to young people who turn to gangs for the understanding and respect they crave. Hayden discusses and signs his book tonight at 6 at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State in Chicago. It’s free; call 312-747-4080.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Beth Kelly.