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arts & culture Meeting Midway

A Film Unfinished

MDW Fair displays Chicago’s art ecology by Cecilia Donnelly TWO MEN AND ONE WOMAN ENTERED A MYSTERIOUS STRUCTURE IN THE GEOLOFTS WAREHOUSE, home of the MDW (“Midway”) Fair. A sign at the threshold warned that the inside of the structure was dark, but promised that movement would activate light. The whole structure roared, filled with an unidentified gust of air. Inside, a spotlight shone on a big fan, which turned lazily. One of the men said, “…but the fan is unplugged! Dun-dun-dun!” They laughed half-nervously and the other said, “It’s like a haunted house…of art!” Though the MDW Fair was hardly haunted, it was a bit reminiscent of a funhouse. Members of the Chicago art scene—independent artists, commercial gallery owners, and unincorporated galleries—brought their finest and strangest, including a start-up moveable bar, a bike-trailer house sculpture and twenty feet of recycled clothes and grapefruit rinds. So much was going on at the GeoLofts that it was easy to miss art pieces and their fascinating creators tucked away in corners. The MDW Fair was created as a joint project by the Chicago cultural organizations threewalls, Roots & Culture, and the Public Media Institute. According to the event website, MDW’s organizers hoped the event would “demonstrate the diversity, strength, and vision of the people/places making it happen in the art ecology of our region.” Though the mission statement seems opaque, the message is uncomplicated: ecology is, after all, about relationships. At MDW, Chicago artists and art aficionados celebrated their interconnectivity by coming together in that sunny warehouse space to show off their things–-many of which represented collaborative efforts and shared ambitions. One of the producers of AREAchicago, a free yearly arts publication, attested to the unity of the Chicago arts scene. “Everyone kind of knows everyone,” he said. “It’s very incestuous—that’s it: incestuous.” He laughed, gesturing to a copy of Lumpen magazine at the next table over, adding that Lumpen had a habit of covering the same stories as AREA, but with different takes on the issues. The same names were bandied about in conversations with different people through the course of the afternoon, and it was obvious that the attendees are part of a tight-knit community. Every other person, when asked how they had ended up there, said something like, “Well, Ed Mar [Ed Marszewski, co-director of Bridgeport’s CoProsperity Sphere] called me up and said, ‘Get your butt down here!’” Across the river from Ed Mar’s well established art collective, the immense building served as both community gathering place and art object. Hardwood floors soared up into beams holding up airy windows and exposed hardware. The GeoLofts’ name suggests the owners’ hope for the space: to build a “living laboratory for evolving sustainable technology and a blueprint for future private development, in a community of likeminded businesses that collaborate on ideas and services.” True to their mission, an example of working geothermal heat was shown in the third-floor lounge, near signs that called for businesses and artists to move in. But it was hard to know the true potential of the warehouse’s sustainable energy ambitions, because, as part of the exhibit, the second and third floors had been stuffed with, well, stuff. A tiki bar, a reflective gold tent, and a woman caressing passersby with a boot could be found in one area, making the sight of a plain armchair seem almost surprising. The armchair and a corresponding couch belonged to Joseph Rynkiewicz, of Hornswaggler Arts, an “experiment in art commerce” that illuminates the cycle of the arts community by emphasizing its own sustainability. Hornswaggler sells cocktails at art events and uses the profits to buy a work of art from the featured artist. They now hope to create the Hornswaggler Collection and loan these pieces to homes and businesses, continuing the self-sustaining cycle of Chicago artwork. The MDW Fair brought together dozens of projects, like Hornswaggler, and offered forums for discussion, support opportunities, cocktails and snacks. Attendees included art students, of course, but also elderly folk, and young parents with well-swaddled babies. Sustainable ecologies are all about pro-creating and passing down genes and, as evidenced by the enthused stroller-riders, it is clear Chicago’s art lives, and will continue to do so.

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neighborhood happenings FILM & STAGE

This film, which is a critical exploration of the of archival footage shot in the Warsaw Ghetto, includes analysis of the Nazi construction of images of Jewish life in the Ghetto, as well as interviews with the cinematographer of the original footage, and survivor’s responses to the biased images that were presented to the public during the World War II. The screening will be dedicated to the memory of the recently deceased Miriam Bratu Hansen, professor in the Departments of Cinema & Media Studies and founder of the Film Studies Center, and will be shown in the presence of its award-winning director, Yael Hersonski. Max Palevsky Cinema, 1212 E 59th St. April 28. Thursday, 7pm. Free. (773)702-8575. docfilms.uchicago.edu (Aliya Ram)

“Corn’s-A-Poppin’” at Doc Films

A buttery gem will melt onto the big screen this week with “Corn’s-A-Poppin,” the next in Doc Films’ “Underground Cinema” series. A little known Missourian musical extravaganza “Corn’s-A-Poppin’ is the zany product of a semiprofessional television crew from Kansas City, directed by the able hands of Robert Woodburn and seven-time Oscar nominee Robert Altman. A delightful country-western musical about the trials and tribulations of producing a failing program called “The Pinwhistle Popcorn Hour” the movie features everything from “songs about balloons and traveling to Mars” to scenes in which singers are pelted with popcorn. Mooning and swooning about their embarrassments and failures, the chorus of characters caterwaul their way through the one hour film, leaving you crooning for more. Max Palevsky Cinema, Ida Noyes Hall. 1212 E 59th St. April 28. Thursday, 9:30pm. $5. (773)702-8575. docfilms.uchicago.edu (Eric Shoemaker)

The Silence of the Archive: Roundtable Discussion of “A Film Unfinished”

Film criticism will merge with World War II history in a stimulating discussion with Israeli director Yael Hersonki, following the screening of her award-winning “A Film Unfinished.” This roundtable conversation offers the unique opportunity to personally connect with a renowned documentary filmmaker. Participants will hear in detail how she went about reconstructing the Warsaw Ghetto of 1942 and also engage in a critical dialogue with the director face-to-face. “A Film Unfinished”—which combines actual wartime footage of the Ghetto, personal interviews with Holocaust survivors, and Jewish perspectives on Nazi propaganda—has received considerable recognition in the international film community for its compelling story and refined use of the documentary genre. Hersonki’s visit promises an evening of insightful, thought-provoking discussion. Film Studies Center, 5811 S Ellis Ave. April 30. Saturday, 8pm. Free. Reservation required. (773)702.8596. filmstudiescenter.uchicago.edu (Jake Smith)

Sleeping Beauty

The Chicago Kids Company is offering a whimsical twist on a classic fairy tale in its production of Sleeping Beauty, which will take the classic story of a narcoleptic princess to a new level. While the play comes complete with all the typical fairy tale trappings (enchanted spinning wheels, evil godmothers, and dare-we-say “dreamy” princes) the directors at the CKC give Sleeping Beauty some quintessential Chicago flair: only a magical jazz record can wake Princess Lilly is from her century-long catnap. Although the play is geared for children aged two to twelve, youngins and geezers alike are sure to enjoy the performance. The show comes complete with audience participation, sing-along songs, and an abundance of primary colors. Guaranteeing to have everyone in the audience “laughing, clapping, singing, and cheering” this production shan’t be a snooze. Beverly Arts Center, 2406 W 111th St. Through April 29. Complete schedule available online. (773)205-9600. $10. chicagokidscompany.com (Anna Fixsen)

Chi-Town Spring All Star Comedy Jam

Given that Arie Crown has time and time again knocked on Chicago’s funny bones with its A star comedy line ups, it comes as no surprise to hear that this Saturday it has

assembled an unrivalled spring comedy show, featuring such names as Dominique and Lavell Crawford. If you have been hankering after some laughs as the sky dawns brighter and brighter and the winter chills wane, Arie Crown will be the place to go—the place where you will be able to see multi-talented marvels like the acting, rapping, singing Joe Torry own the house with their dazzling smiles and their unfailing senses of humor. Arie Crown Theater, 2301 S Lake Shore Dr. April 30. Saturday, 8pm. $40-$75 (312)791-6190. ariecrown.com/events/events.jsp (Aliya Ram)

MUSIC Psychostik

Don’t make any assumptions about heavy metal until you have seen Psychostik. Part slapstick, part heavy metal, this band is a mash-up of hardcore musical machismo, comical lyrics, aggressive riffs, and playful antics. It is like a combination of Hells Angels and Richard Simmons. Add in a generous dollop of satire, and the result will be a performance that will keep both the beat and the laughter going. Unlike the serious, more lyrical songs of conventional heavy metal contemporaries, Psychostik’s music lightens it up by commenting on the mundane: beer, tacos, women’s directions, and spam mail. Reggie’s Rock Club, 2109 S State St. April 28. Thursday, 7pm. $10 advance, $12 door. (312)9490121. reggieslive.com/rockclub (Wenjia Zhao)

The Rose Ensemble

If you hear an awesome rumble beneath your feet next Friday, fear not: it's just the ancients awakening. That is to say, it's the Rose Ensemble singing at Rockefeller Chapel. To build their repertoire, this group digs through the world's manuscript libraries to find gems from long ago. Next week, the ensemble performs “Slavic Wonders: Feasts and Saints in Early Russia, Poland, and Bohemia.” The wonders will include Czech hymns from the 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th centuries; double-choir works from the Polish Renaissance; powerful Baroque motets from the Russian Orthodox Church; and a newly-commissioned Bogoroditse Djevo (the Slavonic “Ave Maria”) by Sergey Khvoshchinsky. They'll even recount the thrilling legends of a few saints, including the good king Wenceslaus. With their imaginative vocal music and an enthusiastic, informal atmosphere, the Rose Ensemble hopes to stir your soul and form a connection to past eras. Rockefeller Chapel, 5850 S Woodlawn Ave. April 29. Friday, 7:30pm. $35 general, $5 student. (773.702.8068).chicagopresents.uchicago.edu (Sharon Lurye)

The Musical Void

Some say the definitive musical interpretation of the void already exists in John Cage’s 4’33’’. The score, which was arduously conceived sometime in 1947, is comprised of a single and powerful movement--silence. The silence is monolithic in its consistency, only occasionally threatened by an ailing audience member’s cough. Despite the existence of this work, Jason Ajemian, Bill Mackay, Mississippi Gabe Carter, Academy Records, Andy Hall, and Frank Van Duerm will be presenting alternative musical interpretations of the void. Not much information is available about the event, which seems fitting giving the subject. Nonetheless, expect to be asked to deduce a lot from little. If worst comes to worst, and the night is a bummer, at least you can take it as an intentional metaphor for the void. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S Cornell Ave. April 29. Friday, 7pm. Free. (773)324-5520. hydeparkart.org (Tyler Leeds)

Rahsaan Patterson

“There’s something very Biblical about it,” Rahsaan Patterson said of his latest release, “Wines & Spirits.” Yet, this album has less to do about his Pentecostal upbringing than his memories of driving around New York, passing liquor stores, their signs advertising “Wines & Spirits.” In a way, that’s the perfect allegory for Patterson’s music, for it’s a catalog of soulful songs whose sounds are inspired by R&B, jazz, gospel, and rock. Chronicling his journey from choirboy to 80s child star to underground soul singer, Patterson’s songwriting has been compared to that of


Chicago Weekly - arts & culture 04.28.11