Chicago artist Sandra Perlow’s paintings look like they’ve swung down a fairly straight path that started with 1950s abstract art. Her colorful quasiorganic shapes dance into patterns that remind critic John Brunetti of wallpaper or drapery designs, though they don’t look like anything that’s appeared on a wall or window since about 1965. In the catalog for “Swing,” her show at Oakton Community College’s William A. Koehnline Gallery, Brunetti writes that Perlow is working with “deconstructed” patterns, “orphaned fragments bound by the tension of the spaces in between them.” She’ll be in the gallery to discuss her work at 6:30 on January 21. “Swing” continues at the college, 1600 E. Golf Rd. in Des Plaines, through January 24. Gallery hours are 10 to 5 Monday, Tuesday, and Friday and 10 to 6 Wednesday and Thursday. It’s free; call 847-635-2633.

One hundred years ago, W.E.B. DuBois wrote in The Souls of Black Folk: “Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” DuBois went on to examine the effects of the jim crow laws that followed emancipation, evaluate the remedies for racism proposed by Booker T. Washington and other thinkers of the era, and outline his own views on how African-Americans might best combat inequality–specifically, by pushing for civil rights and access to education. The watershed essay collection is one focus of this year’s meeting of the American Historical Association, which will hold a free panel discussion on DuBois and his book from 2 to 4 today. Participants include historians Stephanie Shaw (Ohio State University), David Blight (Amherst College), Elsa Barkley Brown (University of Maryland), and Earl Lewis (University of Michigan). It’s at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton in Chicago (312-255-3700). The library will host three more public lectures marking the work’s centennial February 18, March 22, and April 24; for more details go to www.newberry.org.


In 1956 President Eisenhower signed legislation to create the interstate highway system; modeled on Germany’s autobahn, the 41,000 miles of road were designed for efficient military transport and civilian evacuation in case of nuclear attack. In addition, one mile in every five is straight, so that–if necessary–portions can be used as airstrips. The national highway system–particularly the stretch of I-55 between Chicago and downstate Bloomington–is the focus of John Wanzel’s multimedia installation The National Defense and Interstate Highway System in Miniature, which opens tonight and runs through February 1 at Dogmatic Gallery, 1822 S. Desplaines, Chicago. Also opening tonight is Melissa Schubeck’s Sad Dogs and Silly Cats, an installation of video, photographs, and vibrating kinetic sculptures bearing pictures of kittens. The free opening reception is from 6 to 10 at the gallery; for more information call 312-492-6698 or see www.dogmaticchicago.com.

Since he got laid off from his job four months ago, Tim Bolger’s spent much of his time thinking about economics and reading folks like Karl Marx and Jeremy Rifkin. “Our country and most of western Europe are set up in ways that make access to money and credit easy,” he says. “We buy a home and it’s ours–we have clear title to it….But in most third world countries [legal ownership] is only for a privileged few.” Bolger, who’s also a member of a local Toastmasters club, holds that governmental systems put in place after the Depression–such as the FDIC–will prevent another catastrophic economic collapse in the U.S. He’ll give a talk called How to Make Poor Nations Rich, or the Economy Isn’t As Bad as You Think tonight at 8 at the College of Complexes at the Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln, Chicago. Admission is $3, and a purchase of food or drink is required. For more call 312-353-0446 or go to www.collegeofcomplexes.homestead.com.


In 1990, high school dropout Sue Hendrickson discovered the largest, most complete, and best-preserved known Tyrannosaurus rex fossil, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Parents and children are invited to learn about Hendrickson’s find and ask the self-taught fossil hunter questions during this weekend’s Sue School, a series of informal 40-minute lectures by members of the Field Museum’s geology department on the dinosaur bones that bear her name. The talks start at 11 and 1 Saturday, January 4, and today, and are free with admission to the museum ($10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, and $5 for children 3 to 11). They’ll be followed by Q & A sessions with the lecturers and Hendrickson, who’ll also sign autographs from 9 to 11 and 2 to 5 both days. The museum’s at 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. in Chicago; call 312-922-9410.

Delta bluesman David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 88, was recognized as a national treasure last year when he was awarded an NEA National Heritage Fellowship, a prize created 20 years ago to honor American folk artists. He’s also the focus of local filmmaker Scott Taradash’s new documentary, Honeyboy, which traces the musician’s career from rural Mississippi to New Orleans, Memphis, Houston, and the Windy City (where he still lives). Edwards and Taradash will answer questions at the premiere screenings tonight at 5 and 7 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Chicago (312-846-2800). It’ll be shown again Thursday, January 9, at 8:15; tickets are $8. For more see the Critic’s Choice in Movies.


Today tenor Frank Little and soprano Barbara Ann Martin will open the Music Institute of Chicago’s monthlong series of faculty concerts, From Sea to Shining Sea. Accompanied by pianists Abraham Stokman and Emilio del Rosario, Little, who’s sung opposite divas like Beverly Sills and Renata Scotto in 200 performances at Chicago’s Lyric Opera and five seasons at the Met, and Martin, who’s been a soloist with the CSO and the Israel Philharmonic, will perform infrequently heard Americana, including pieces by Charles Ives, George Crumb, and local composer Dan Tucker. It starts at noon in the institute’s Thoresen Performance Center, 300 Green Bay Rd. in Winnetka. This year’s series, which continues at noon every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through January, is devoted to American composers. All of the concerts are free–call 847-446-3822 for the complete schedule.


Local clinical psychologist Bernard Golden believes that suppressing one’s ire–something most of us learn in childhood–only leads to trouble, while understanding and controlling their fury can help people make positive changes in their lives. He’ll explain further when he discusses his book Healthy Anger: How to Help Children and Teens Manage Their Anger tonight at 7 at Transitions Bookplace, 1000 W. North, Chicago (312-951-7323). It’s free.


English country dancing is more sedate than its American counterpart, square dancing, but some of the figures the dancers create are similar, and neither form is difficult to execute. “You don’t have to have any physical aptitude for it–if you can walk, you can get through this type of dancing,” says high school physics teacher and ECD enthusiast Tom Senior, who will call tonight’s dance at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1509 Ridge in Evanston. Admission to the bimonthly event, which starts at 8, is $5, and beginners and singles are welcome. For more call 847-329-9173 or see www.chicagobarndance.com.


The African-American verbal tradition of double entendres and wordplay runs from ancient Yoruba culture in Nigeria through contemporary rap music, and it’s vital to the work of installation artist David Hammons. His 1988 piece Skillets in the Closet–a rough-hewn cabinet with a stark white door and a dark interior filled with burned skillets–plays with the notion of racial identity as a skeleton in the closet. His work, as well as that of poet Harryette Mullen and 40s- and 50s-era baritone Al Hibbler, are the focus of Columbia College poetry program coordinator Paul Hoover’s lecture Stark Strangling Banjos: Linguistic Doubleness in the Work of African-American Artists David Hammons, Harryette Mullen, and Al Hibbler. It’s part of the school’s ongoing free lecture-discussion series “Intersections: A Meeting Place for Diverse Ideas on Contemporary Culture and the Arts,” which is organized in conjunction with the Chicago Cultural Center. It starts tonight at 6 at the center, 78 E. Washington, Chicago. For more information call 312-744-6630 or go to www.intersections.colum.edu.

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