Free things to do in Chicago | April 3–9

Josh Berman and His Gang

Josh Berman and His Gang Photograph: Jon Crawford

Here's a great list of free things to do this week in Chicago.

Wednesday 3

"Artificial Turf."
3–7pm, Peanut Gallery
Two dozen M.F.A. students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign present their new work in painting, sculpture, photography, metal and new media.

D.S. Tequila Company's Team Trivia
8pm, D.S. Tequila Company
Walk away with $100 or get your dinner comped just for knowing useless shit.

Thursday 4

"John Neff."
10am–5pm, Renaissance Society
We have long admired Neff's conceptual photographs and installations. The Chicago artist made this show's intimate black-and-white works by outfitting a flatbed scanner with antique camera components.

"Structures for Reading."
10am–6pm, Center for Book and Paper Arts
Moyra Davey, Gareth Long, and Chicago artists such as Sterling Lawrence and Johana Moscoso riff on books and the act of reading in installation, photography, video and sculpture.

Celebration of Migration
6–8pm, Art Institute of Chicago
This tribute concert honors the city's storied history of migration and is held in conjunction with the museum's exhibit, "They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910–50." Featured artwork depicts how African-American, Mexican and European migrants and immigrants changed Chicago during the first half of the 20th century. The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and members from the South Side Community Art Center perform live.

Berman, Labycz & Roebke + El is a Sound of Joy
6:30–9pm, Comfort Station
Comfort Station kicks off its third season with two improvised sets. Members of Dhalgren and Flux Bikes open in unpredictable quintet El is a Sound of Joy. Improv-scene force Josh Berman's cornet chops steer bassist Jason Roebke and modular synth wizard Brian Labycz in the second set.

Lee Sandlin
7pm, The Book Stall
Sandlin discusses his fascinating new book, Storm Kings: The Untold History of America's First Tornado Chasers.

Laura Antoniou
8pm, Leather Archives and Museum
Famed leatherwoman and kinkstress Laura Antoniou, who has sold more than 600,000 books and had her work translated into five languages, signs her darkly funny new novel, The Killer Wore Leather.

10pm, Smart Bar
Smart Bar continues to dedicate Thursdays to all things bass with this monthly residency from DJ the Tornado. Bassweight covers all manner of low-end high jinks, spanning future bass, dubstep, U.K. garage and drum ’n’ bass. Bass culture don of London via Cali, Hellfire Machina, heads up the Bassweight first anniversary. Kelly Dean, Sushi, Tornado and Geecee spin all that dubstep and futurebass stuff you robots love so much.

Friday 5

"The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India Since 1989."
10am–5pm, Smart Museum of Art
This exuberant exhibition chronicles Sahmat’s fight for freedom of expression in India and against the religious extremism that has caused numerous deaths there since 1989. Works by famous artists such as Vivan Sundaram and Zarina are outnumbered by pieces that reflect Sahmat’s commitment to recruiting non-artists, especially children, and its eagerness to take its projects to the streets. While it’s impossible to convey the vibrancy of most Sahmat actions in a museum setting, the collective’s courage and creativity still inspire. Through Jun 9.—LW

"Animal Kingdom."
10am–6:30pm, City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower
Popular Chicago artists including Kathleen Judge, Dan Grzeca, the Bird Machine, Diana Sudyka and Delicious Design League put a bird (and other animals) on their prints and gig posters.

"Tanya Aguiniga: Driftless Zone."
11am–6pm, Volume Gallery
Aguiñiga’s observations of the Midwest's Driftless Area during a 2,000-mile voyage from Los Angeles (where she lives and works) to Madison, Wisconsin, inspire the designer's new woven rugs and wall hangings. Opens Fri 15, 6–8pm.

Acid Baby Jesus + Hellshovel
6pm, Permanent Records
Back in 2010, the members of Montreal’s Hellshovel and Athens, Greece’s Acid Baby Jesus collaborated on the Voyager 8 EP. These partners in garage-psych arms have kept in touch, and tonight reteam to melt your brain.

Smokey Joe's Southside Soul Shack
8pm, Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar
Homing in on the black pride and blaxploitation entertainment of films like Disco Godfather, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song and Willie Dynamite, brother on the sly Joe Bryl explores the music of African-American culture in the '70s, spinning gritty funk, rib-sticking soul and underground disco, and programming funky films from his badass video library.

9pm, Beauty Bar
Chicago has always maintained a strong connection to its roots in house music and the sounds that helped create it. Celebrating the past and present of this music, Loves Records (a subsidiary of Chicago house label Fresh Meat) hosts, and its A&R head, Samone Roberts, spins this vinyl-centric night with guests from across the house and techno spectrum.

Hearts and Minds
9:30pm, Bar DeVille
Steering Bar Deville's weekly jazz series are Hearts and Minds, a trio from local improvisers Jason Stein (bass clarinet), Paul Giallorenzo (piano, synthesizer) and Frank Rosaly (drums).

Saturday 6

"The Divine Marva Pitchford Jolly: Sapphire and Crystals Remember."
9am–5pm, South Side Community Art Center
Joyce Owens and other members of Sapphire and Crystals pay homage to Jolly (1937–2012), who cofounded the African-American women artists' collective more than 25 years ago, by presenting works made during the 1990s, when she was a leader of the organization.

"Karthik Pandian: The Incomparables Club."
11am–5:30pm, Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Pandian presents new sculptures and paintings as well as a multimedia installation based on a performance that he filmed in 16mm at a Chicago black-box theater.

"Adam Gondek: What You Get and What You See."
Noon–6pm, The Mission
Gondek paints over pin-ups from old pornographic magazines, transforming them into color fields that thwart the viewer's gaze. In the SUB-MISSION project space, recent SAIC M.F.A. Juneer Kibria presents the site-specific installation Hidden Noise.

Global Activism Expo
Noon–6pm, UIC Forum
Team up with community members, activists and scholars to spark a dialogue on high-priority topics—violence, rape and war. Less intense components run the gamut from a CircEsteem showcase, a world music stage and a film festival to a food court.

Myopic Poetry Series
7pm, Myopic Bookstore
This installment of the popular poetry series features Aase Berg, Lara Glenum and Johannes Goransson.

Sunday 7

"Bob Snyder: Orniphonia 2."
9am–5pm, Lincoln Park Conservatory
Experimental Sound Studio continues its Florasonic series with Snyder's four-channel audio installation, in which electronic circuits generate ever-changing sounds that mimic bird calls.

"For and Against Modern Art: The Armory Show +100."
Noon–5pm, DePaul Art Museum
The 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art (a.k.a. the Armory Show) attracted a record 189,000 visitors when it stopped in Chicago. Reuniting prints, drawings and paintings that future heavyweights such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso presented there, "For and Against Modern Art" delves into the controversies ignited by these avant-garde works. Opens Fri 5, 5:30–7:30pm, includes 6:30pm lecture—"The Armory Shows: Modernity as Pathos"—by scholar Jean-Michel Rabaté.

Monday 8

"Rube Goldberg's Ghost: Confounding Design and Laborious Objects."
9am–5pm, Glass Curtain Gallery
An impressive group of artists, including Fischli & Weiss, Joanne Greenbaum and Taylor Hokanson, offers absurdist answers to real problems.

"Joan Mitchell: At Home in Poetry."
11am–4pm, The Poetry Foundation
Mitchell’s (1925–92) first solo show in the city of her birth since 1974 illustrates the Abstract Expressionist’s love of poetry through artist’s books, her stunning quadriptych painting Minnesota, and letters from poet friends such as Frank O’Hara. While the small exhibition could explore the connections between poetry and Mitchell’s visual art in more depth, it reminds viewers that her work is, in O’Hara’s words, filled with “the ecstasy of always bursting forth.” Through May 31.—PH

Civic Orchestra of Chicago
8pm, Symphony Center (Orchestra Hall)
Cliff Colnot leads an all-Russian program featuring works by two of his contemporaries: Anatoly Lyadov and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Lyadov's fairy tale–inspired tone poem, The Enchanted Lake, creates an atmosphere of mystical serenity with its use of harp, celesta and flute, while Rimsky-Korsakov's symphonic suite Sheherazade was inspired by pictures from The Arabian Nights.

Tuesday 9

The Exorcist
6pm, Harold Washington Library (Cindy Pritzker Auditorium)
Relive the head-spinning scenes and remember the reason you don't eat split-pea soup. The library shows Chicago native and Academy Award–winning director William Friedkin's 1973 thriller before he visits on Apr 16, when he'll discuss his memoir, The Friedkin Connection with Filmspotting cofounder and host Adam Kempenaar.

Voices: Kate Levant
6–7:30pm, Gallery 400
As a grad student, Levant presented her work at New York's Zach Feuer Gallery after Yale refused to host her blood drive–based performance piece. Now based in Amsterdam, the Chicago native was featured in the 2012 Whitney Biennial.

Off Chances
9pm, Danny's Tavern
If you like your gays in skinny jeans, queer heaven awaits at this night of smooth sounds and chatty goodness.

Relax Attack: Marquis Hill Trio
9:30pm, The Whistler
Rising trumpeter Marquis Hill plays behind his second disc as bandleader, Sounds of the City.

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