Calendar for October 15, 2014


The Retrieval and The Way of the Jegna
It’s not every evening that one gets to travel back to 1864 for an hour and a half before returning to the present to hear from two empowering modern voices, but the DuSable Museum’s October 23 film and lecture pairing promises just that. The night begins with The Retrieval, a film about a thirteen-year-old black boy who stays afloat in the midst of the Civil War by working for white bounty hunters. The film, which explores themes of loyalty, survival, and the price of freedom in a time of slavery, will be followed by a lecture from “Kwesi” Ronald Harris and Kwaw Oscar Lester (a.k.a. Triple Blak). Harris, director of the African Male Resource Center of Chicago State University, and Lester, a spoken word artist and art educator, will discuss “The Way of the Jegna.” Jegna is a celebrated title in African culture, referring to a brave hero who protects the culture and the way of the people while continuing to grow and learn. DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Thursday, October 23,6pm-9pm. $10, $5 for DuSable members and students with ID. (773)947-0600. (Mari Cohen)

Putney Swope
“I’m not going to rock the boat. Rockin’ the boat’s a drag–what you do is sink the boat,” growls Putney Swope, an advertising firm’s token black executive who is accidentally elected chairman of the board in Robert Downey Sr.’s 1969 cult satire, Putney Swope. Comedian and former Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac will present the film as part of “The Black Cinema Is…” series at South Shore’s Black Cinema House. Hailed by one critic at the time of its release as “vicious and vile…the most offensive film I’ve ever seen,” Downey’s acidic low-budget masterwork chronicles Swope’s overhaul of a fictional Madison Avenue ad agency. With deft force, Swope transforms the buttoned-up corporate office into “Truth and Soul, Inc.,” a predominantly black operation with an unabashedly liberal agenda. The film’s frenetic energy and biting take on race relations have rocked the boat considerably since its release–Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and the Coen Brothers all cite the film as an inspiration for their work. Black Cinema House, 7200 S. Kimbark Ave. Sunday, October 26, 4pm. Free. RSVP recommended. (Olivia Myszkowski)

Finding Fela
Throughout the long history of social unrest and political movements, music has often been used as an avenue for activism. The critically-acclaimed documentary Finding Fela, showing for the first time on the South Side of Chicago at the DuSable Museum, follows the life of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti and his fight for the rights of the Nigerian people in the 1970s and 1980s. Kuti was not only a visionary artist, but also an activist and political figure in his own right. As a world-renowned pioneer of the Afrobeat genre, he created a mesmerizing and wildly popular fusion of traditional Ghanaian and Nigerian music with jazz and funk. His unique sound enchanted the world, but it was his dedication to social issues, namely the corrupt methods of military regimes in Nigeria, that commanded the unfavorable attention of his government. His powerful message demonstrated his willingness to cause a little trouble and put himself in danger for the sake of the people he sang to. Finding Fela follows Kuti in his road to musical dominance, his rise to fame, and the discovery of his own unwavering voice amidst an unstable political landscape. DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Friday, October 17th, 7pm, doors at 6:30pm. $10. (Emiliano Burr di Mauro)

Two Twenty-Seven
Get a rare look at 1950s Bronzeville life with Two Twenty-Seven playing at Kennedy-King. The comedy follows housewife Mary Jenson, who tells the tale of herself and her neighbors in a predominantly African-American apartment building as they juggle their interpersonal relationships and the tribulations of everyday life, all while in pursuit of the American dream. After its debut in 1976, the play went on to win the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award and was adapted into the NBC sitcom 227. With this production, the play returns to its debut stage at Kennedy-King College, the alma mater of the playwright, Christine Houston; Two Twenty-Seven was inspired by Houston’s childhood growing up at 227 E. 48th St. Kennedy-King College Main Theater, 740 W. 63th St. October 324, FridaySaturday, 7pm. $35 adult, $25 senior, $15 student. (773)752-3955. (Kyle Jablon)

C.S. Lewis, On Stage
This week, Provision Theater closes its run of C.S. Lewis on Stage, a one-man show in which your grandfather, or someone’s (Brad Armacost), engages the crowd with original biographical content and excerpts from everybody’s childhood. Best known for his allegorical and fiercely popular children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Clive Staples Lewis was also a noted lay theologian who penned multiple well-known Christian treatises. The show comes to Provision just over fifty years after the author’s passing on November 22, 1963. That this was the same day as the death of fellow author Aldous Huxley and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has yet to find its way into any major conspiracy theory. On stage, though, Lewis is very much alive; Armacost received a 2008 Jeff Nomination for the same role. “We are what we believe we are,” Lewis once wrote. In search of lions and witches and secret lands, into the wardrobe we go. Provision Theater, 1001 W. Roosevelt Rd. Through October 19. Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 3pm. (312)455-0066. (Hannah Nyhart)


Cocoa Tea at the Shrine
Although reggae virtuoso Cocoa Tea will be performing on Halloween, the socially conscious dancehall star is sure to be more smooth than spooky. One of reggae’s most illustrious and consistent artists, Cocoa Tea is well known for his outspoken style and piercing cultural messages. The concert is part of his “Sunset in Negril” tour, which kicks off on October 22 in the United States and moves to Nigeria and Europe in December. The tour will showcase plenty of new material from Cocoa Tea and the Step by Step Band, including the title track “Sunset In Negril” and a cover of Bob Marley’s “War.” Reggae star Louie Culture and DJs Ringo and Papa G. will also be in attendance, so throw away that costume, grab your dancing shoes, and head on over to the Shrine. The Shrine, 2109 S. Wabash Ave. October 31. Doors open at 9pm. $35. Tickets available online or at the door. 21+. (312)753-5681. (Zoe Makoul)

Tribute to the Glitter King
Lean in closer, tiny dancers—your chance to see the “premier Elton John tribute experience” is right around the corner. A classically trained pianist with a heart for rock n’ roll, Brian Harris has made a name for himself as Simply Elton, a tribute act that boasts covers of 110 of the Rocket Man’s biggest hits. Simply Elton will take the stage at Reggie’s for an “intimate solo performance” of the 1974 album Caribou, featuring enduring classics “The Bitch is Back,” “Pinky,” and “Pinball Wizard.” Get your feathers and white-rimmed shades ready, blue jean babies, LA ladies, Mona Lisas, Mad Hatters, all. As Sir Elton would say, “It’s me that you need” (or someone who looks and sounds sort of similar). Reggies Rock Club, 2105 S. State St. October 19, 7pm show, doors at 6. $10. 21+. (312)949-0120. (Olivia Myszkowski)

Regina Carter Quintet at Logan
Make no mistake—Regina Carter isn’t your average violinist. She’s drawn her virtuosic and imaginative music from creative sources as varied as the blues history of Detroit, the traditional folklore of the South, and the rhythmic culture of the African Diaspora. Carter’s technically dazzling and emotionally articulate performances have been recognized for exploring the artistic confluence responsible for American music-making. This MacArthur Genius Grant recipient has been hailed as “the foremost jazz violinist of her generation.” Her quintet will be joined by Edmar Castaneda, acclaimed Colombian harpist and composer, for an installment of the UofC’s “Jazz at the Logan” series. The performance promises to be a musical spectacle as the two daredevil musicians join together onstage. Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. October 24, 7:30pm. $35 general admission, $5 for UofC students. (773)702-ARTS. (Teddy Watler)

Chicago Soul Reunion
It’s been four years since the WHPK Dusties crew started their Soul Reunion shows, and the party has only gotten cooler. The all-volunteer radio station is hosting yet another Soul Reunion, and this time they’ve managed to recruit some of their most renowned DJs, such as Andy, Gary, King George, and PJ Willis, to host a crowd of Chicago soul artists at Hyde Park Records. These legends will be available to meet and talk with, and the DJs will have a steady stream of soul classics playing all day long. The party wouldn’t be complete without some free food and free CDs, of course, so bring your camera and your friends and enjoy a day of music. Hyde Park Records, 1377 E. 53rd St. October 18. 2pm-8pm. Free. (773)288-6588. See Facebook page for details. (Zoe Makoul)

The Ready Set at Reggies
Jordan Witzigreuter, an alternative-pop singer hailing from Fort Wayne, provides the vocals, instrumentals, and everything else as the sole member of the indie act The Ready Set. After creating the “band” in his basement, Witzigreuter was signed to Pete Wentz’s label Decaydance Records before moving to Razor and Tie Records. Since its creation in 2007, The Ready Set has released three studio albums and four EPs, the latest being The Bad & The Better. A mainstay on the Vans Warped Tour stage, The Ready Set combines a variety of influences into a diverse sound and has been praised by Spin Magazine for its “pop-punk style soaring choruses, smooth R&B-style passages, and quick-fire sing-rap verses.” Catch Witzigreuter on the South Side for a free in-store performance before he heads to the West Loop for a show at Bottom Lounge with Metro Station and The Downtown Fiction. Reggies, 2105 S. State St. October 26, 2pm. Free. All ages. (312)949-0120. (Shelby Gonzales)

Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Best known for his 1999 song “I See a Darkness” and its subsequent Johnny Cash cover, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, or Will Oldham, makes folk music that’s thematically more appropriate for the nihilism-tinged post-punk of the twenty-first century than the idealistic values and up-tempo atmosphere of the 1960s. Relying in his best moments on both his fragile, world-wearied voice and a spare instrumental backing, Oldham’s oeuvre exposes a long-neglected avenue for a traditionally masculine figure in the world of indie rock, engaging in the genre’s trademark self-examination without being overly introverted. Most publications will steer new listeners towards I See a Darkness for an introduction to Bonnie “Prince” Billy, but Oldham’s former work under the alias Palace Music holds up just as well, especially the Steve Albini-produced Viva Last Blues. Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St. October 31, 8:30pm. $25-35 advance, $32-42 at door. (312)526-3851. (Austin Brown)


Pocket Guide to Hell: Complimentarity
The latest in the “Pocket Guide to Hell” series of Chicago history tours and lectures led by the Smart Museum of Art, “Complimentarity” focuses on the UofC’s role in the Atomic Age. Thursday’s one-hour tour covers various sites of significance around the school’s campus: highlights include an elm tree that Enrico Fermi sat under and the site of Chicago Pile-1, the first artificial nuclear reactor. During the war, these sites were highly classified, and they’re still easy to miss today. But now, you can engage with the stories of some of the twentieth century’s great scientific minds working to refine a new source of energy that would later become weapons of mass destruction. The Museum will also host an “Objective/Subjective” discussion that connects the tour’s contents to works in the Museum’s collection. Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. Tour October 16, 6pm, discussion October 17, noon. Free. (773)702-0200.  (Julie Wu)

Mexico City is home to a substantial artistic and literary heritage. From Frida Kahlo to Octavio Paz, the city’s artists have revolutionized various forms of expression in Latin America and across the globe. On Friday, October 18, creations from this cultural hub and from Chicago will be on display at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport. As the finale of the Lit & Luz Festival, the exhibition “ARCHIVE: A Live Magazine Show Extravaganza” will integrate visual and literary media and explore the relationships of art and city to history and place with performances shaping a live issue of MAKE Literary Magazine. Artists involved include widely-acclaimed and prize-winning novelist Álvaro Enrique to the anthologized poet Valerie Mejer to Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, among others. Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3221 S. Morgan St. October 18, 7pm. $15 ($50 VIP ticket). 21+. (773)837-0145. (Max Bloom)

18th Street Pilsen Open Studios
Interested in art, but don’t want to limit yourself to just one gallery? Then go to the eleventh annual 18th Street Pilsen Open Studios festival. Pilsen Open Studios is an art showcase for a variety of artists working in Pilsen. Selections include paintings, drawings, prints, photography, mixed media, sculptures, and performance art. The focus of the event will be the studio as the “place for production,” so the featured artists will be opening up their work spaces to the public, allowing viewers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of art-making. All fifty-plus artists either live or work in Pilsen. Neighborhood cafés will also be participating in the event, showcasing art for Pilsen-connected artists who don’t have their own studios. Also offered are a paid mural tour and a paid van tour of the open studios.Colibri Studio/Gallery, 2032 W. 18th St. October 18, noon-8pm; October 19, noon-6pm. Free. (312)545-8579. (Kyle Jablon)

We tend to view art as the embodiment of free expression and creativity. It challenges others’ perceptions by pushing the boundaries of the physical world through aesthetic representation. With this conception of art as something fundamentally unconstrained, it’s often easy to forget that artists face limitations surrounding the act of creation. “Borderlines,” an exhibit opening this week, explores the physical and psychological boundaries of art and “the borderlines that artists place on themselves.” The purpose of the exhibit is to invite viewers to consider not only the artists’ borderlines, but also to ponder their own personal borderlines. “Borderlines” also celebrates the 10-year anniversary of 33 Contemporary, a fine arts gallery in Bridgeport. 33 Contemporary Gallery, Zhou B. Art Center, 1029 W. 35 St. Opening Reception, October 17, 7pm-10pm. Through November 15. Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm. Free. (708)837-4534. (Chloe Hadavas)

Black Eutopia
William McKinley’s barber George Meyer was active in the Republican Party. Novelist and playwright Zora Neale Hurston worked in a barbershop during her college years. From the black-staffed, white-clientele-only shops of the late nineteenth century to the social and political hubs of the early twentieth century, barbershops have helped shape and define black history. For these reasons, Black Eutopia, an interdisciplinary event exploring the role of art in the black community, is set in a barbershop. The highlight of the six-hour event is a discussion led by artists from various backgrounds—visual art, music, arts education, and art therapy. They will cover topics like the relationship between art and labor, portrayals of black bodies by non-black artists, and art outside traditional gallery spaces. In addition, there will be musical performances, hair styling, and pieces of visual art on display. Carter’s Barber Shop, 3620 W. Cermak Rd. October 24, 1pm-7pm. $5. (312)600-8716. (Julie Wu)

If They Mated
For years, late night comedian Conan O’Brien has been eliciting tolerant chuckles by showing audiences two photos of celebrities believed to be dating, and then displaying a hideous photo of what their offspring would look like if they mated. Curator Zachary Harvey has taken this act as the inspiration for a new show at live-work space The Honey Hole, opening October 17. “If They Mated” showcases the work of fifteen artists invited to create an offspring of any sort by combining two items. The results employ a variety of media, including drawing, sculpture, and photography—one piece, for example, features a Little Caesar’s bag placed on top of a pair of shoes. The Honey Hole, 1656 S. Throop St. October 17, 7pm-10pm. Free. (309)657-5635. (Olivia Myszkowski)

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