Helie Lee’s 1996 debut novel, Still Life With Rice, fictionalized the story of her grandmother’s escape from North Korea to Seoul in 1950. The book was a surprise best-seller in the U.S.; unfortunately, its success unintentionally endangered the son Lee’s grandmother had left behind, because she’d used his real name and included his photo in the book. Ultimately the author and her father traveled to Korea and helped her uncle and his family escape to the south. “That day, at the Yalu River, staring helplessly into his terrorized face, I hadn’t fully realized what a dangerous thing I had done the year before,” she writes in her 2002 chronicle of the harrowing trip, In the Absence of Sun: A Korean American Woman’s Promise to Reunite Three Lost Generations of Her Family. Lee will speak at 9:30 this morning at the inaugural event in Columbia College’s biannual Woman Warrior Festival, the theme of which is “Asian Women in America: Creating Our Own Identity.” It runs today from 8:30 to 5 at the school’s Hermann D. Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash in Chicago, and continues through June 27. A weeklong pass is $35; individual sessions are $5. For more information call 312-344-7870.

Icelandic artist Arnor Bieltvedt originally planned to follow the family tradition and become a businessman. He’d already gone through college as a business major and completed a master’s degree when a friend asked him to paint a portrait and, he says, “a door opened.” Bieltvedt started all over, earning an undergraduate degree in art from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Washington University. Now head of the art department at North Shore Country Day School, he’s painting the local landscape and says he sees a relationship between the portrait work he started with and his current expressionistic renderings of nature. Whatever the subject, he says, “You’re representing some kind of life force and your own life at the same time.” His mixed-media paintings can be seen at Anne Loucks Gallery, 309 Park in Glencoe. Gallery hours are 11:30 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday; call 847-835-8500.


Noble Fool Theater Company’s dearly departed Flanagan–and his entourage of wailing, singing, not-terribly-distressed relatives and friends in the imaginary County Sligo village of Grapplin–are coming to Saint Charles. Flanagan’s Wake, Chicago’s long-running interactive comedy, opens tonight and runs through August at Pheasant Run Resort’s Preservation Hall studio theater. It’s the first production since Noble Fool agreed to take over all Pheasant Run theater operations, and will be followed by a season of comedies in the renovated 300-seat main-stage facility, which most folks in the area knew as a dinner theater. The grieve-along starts at 8 on Friday, 7 and 9:30 Saturday, and 2:30 Sunday at Pheasant Run Resort and Spa, 4051 E. Main in Saint Charles. Tickets are $25; call 630-584-6342.

Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns), AJ Schnack’s documentary on They Might Be Giants, is quirky, whimsical, clever, and ironic–the same qualities that make people either love or hate the New York-based pop duo. The film includes cartoons, performances, interviews with former senator Paul Simon, Sarah Vowell, Ira Glass, Jon Stewart, and Dave Eggers, and clips of Janeane Garofalo, Harry Shearer, and others reading TMBG lyrics. It opened Friday, June 20, and runs through June 26 at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport in Chicago (773-871-6604). Tonight’s 7 PM screening will be followed by a discussion with Schnack and Glass. Tickets are $8.50 and will become available one hour before the film. For regular show times see the movie listings.


There are more than 360 monuments to famous men in the Windy City but only one–the sculpture of 19th-century reformer Jane Addams that overlooks Ohio Street Beach–honoring a woman, according to the nonprofit organization Alive Ltd. That statistic inspired the group’s new exhibit, Women Alive: A Legacy of Social Justice. Opening today at Archeworks, the free exhibit includes mementos, photos, and essays honoring contemporary movers and shakers like Shore-bank president Mary Houghton, former Urban Gateways executive di-rector Ronne Hartfield, and Printers Row Book Fair cofounder Bette Cerf Hill. The show is up through August 24 at 625 N. Kingsbury in Chicago; gallery hours are noon to 6 Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and 2 to 8 Tues-day. Call 312-456-2726 or see www.aliveltd.org for more information.


Organic Theater artistic director Ina Marlowe had worked with actor Tony Mockus in the past and knew he had a son (Tony Mockus Jr.) who was also an actor. “When I suggested we do Sleuth with him and his son, they both jumped at the idea,” she says. The two have worked together in movies such as Backdraft and The Untouchables but haven’t performed on the same stage in years. In Anthony Shaffer’s 1970 thriller–which opens with the line “I understand you want to marry my wife”–they play rivals. It opens tonight at 8 and runs through July 20 at the Kathleen Mullady Memorial Theatre, 1125 W. Loyola, Chicago. Tickets cost between $25 and $30; call 773-561-5600.


“In the shadows of what remains of Cabrini Green, / cars line up, obedient, snaking / into sink-holed streets, salt-smudged from last / snow’s fall.” So begins Larry O. Dean’s poem “Gold Coast Hand Car Wash,” which appears in his new chapbook, Identity Theft for Dummies. “That phrase, ‘identity theft,’ just seems to be everywhere these days,” Dean says in a press release. “Coupling it with the very popular ‘For Dummies’ series just seemed to come natural. Plus, I thought it would sell!” The local cartoonist, journalist, singer, songwriter, actor, and poet will read from Identity Theft at tonight’s free release party, which starts at 8 at Quimby’s, 1854 W. North in Chicago (773-342-0910). For more see www.larryodean.com.


“I think people are really interested in finding out what’s happening on the ground; I think they get overwhelmed by the headlines,” says a spokesperson for the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, the sponsors of tonight’s free lecture and discussion, Eyewitness Palestine: An Evening With International Solidarity Movement Activists Henry Herskovitz and Michael Levin. The ISM, a group that uses nonviolent direct action to protest Israel Defense Forces activities in the occupied territories, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last month (the Nobel committee singled out three members, including the late Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an IDF bulldozer in March, for special recognition). The event starts at 7:30 at the Maze branch of the Oak Park Public Library, 845 S. Gunderson in Oak Park; for more information call 312-427-2533, ext. 18, or see www.palsolidarity.org.


“The theme is basically the diversity of what people can generate with a couple of pieces of cardboard, a knife, and a can of spray paint,” says Josh MacPhee, curator of the traveling exhibit Stencil Pirates and author of a book by the same name to be published early next year by New York’s Soft Skull Press. MacPhee, who’s been making and researching street art since high school, found more than 30 artists from some 20 cities to submit work on paper in editions of 10 to 40 prints for the exhibit. Everything’s priced under $50 because, says MacPhee, “I wanted to have an art show where anyone can walk in and leave with a piece of art.” The exhibit went up Tuesday, June 24, and runs through Friday, June 27, at Buddy, 1542 N. Milwaukee in Chicago; there’s a free reception tonight at 8. Call 773-342-7332.

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