Arts Calendar, 11/19-11/25


The Mystery of Irma Vep
With an anagram in its title (Irma Vep = vampire), Charles Ludlam’s two-act “The Mystery of Irma Vep” takes wordplay seriously. Or at least as seriously as the campy, fast-paced play treats anything: It satirizes genres from gothic horror to Victorian “penny dreadful” melodrama to classic film, and employs many sound cues, special effects, and quick costume changes (just two actors–Erik Hellman and Chris Sullivan–play all eight characters). Sean Graney, founder of the Hypocrites theater company, directs this new production, for which Court Theater commissioned the creation of its own crossword puzzle. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. November 12-December 13. (773)753-4472. $32-56/$24 students. (Robin Peterson)

Fefu and Her Friends
The University of Chicago’s University Theater presents “Fefu and Her Friends,” a play that confronts the gap between community and communication among eight upper-class women as they rehearse for a theatrical presentation. Set in Depression-era America, the play explores bonds of sisterhood and the rigid social hierarchy of the 1930s. The play is written by Maria Irene Fornes and directed by William Glick, a third year in the College. Third Floor Theater, Reynolds Club, 5706 S. University Ave. November 18-21. Wednesday-Friday, 8pm. $6. (Elly Fishman)


The Heiz
Japan is home to some of the premier interpreters of American rock ‘n’ roll. Having spawned campy, fun-loving, exclamation mark-flinging acts like the 5,6,7,8’s, Shonen Knife, and Guitar Wolf, Japan’s scene is often characterized as a love nest of 1960s American garage rock and Japanese zaniness. Tokyo’s the Heiz are the descendants of Chuck Berry and the Ramones, dwelling in the mythical America of leather jackets, endless highways, and rebel yells. Chicago’s retro punk favorites Vee Dee help bear the battered banner of ROCK ‘N’ ROLL!!! back to Reggie’s. Reggie’s Rock Club, 2109 S. State St. November 19. Thursday, 7:30pm. $6. 17+. (Brandon Hopkins)

Pavel Haas Quartet
Named in memory of the Czech composer and Auschwitz victim, the Pavel Haas Quartet has won a slew of contests in recent years, including the Prague Spring International Music Festival and BBC Music Magazine’s “Chamber Choice.” The promising string quartet will bring three classics of chamber music to Mandel Hall: Schubert’s “Quartettsatz in C minor,” Shostakovich’s “Quartet No. 10 in A-flat major,” and Beethoven’s “Quartet in F major.” University of Chicago professor Steven Rings will deliver a lecture before the concert. Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St. November 20. Friday, 7:30pm. $32/$5 students. (Brandon Hopkins)

Girl Talk
Gregg Gillis’ Girl Talk project, initially a side gig from his studies in biomedical engineering, began as a glitchy heap of inscrutably chopped-up samples from outdated pop songs, rabid Japanese noise, and hip-hop hits. Gradually, he shifted away from artsy glitch music to crowd-pleasing mash-ups, generating critical hyperbolia and raging fandom with his third album, 2006’s “Night Ripper.” The audio collages on Girl Talk’s CDs are often more recognizable than their sample material, but it’s Girl Talk’s live shows that have won him his fan base. Though he makes music with mouse clicks, Gillis’ stage-diving stage persona parties harder than any med student on Earth. Standing and dancing space is reserved for the first 260 to arrive. Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St. November 21. Saturday, 8pm. Sold out. (Brandon Hopkins)

Baroness and Earthless arrive on the South Side as Reggie’s flings open the metal floodgates, unleashing a torrent of sludge laden with crooked serpents, the skeletal fists of burned warlocks frozen into perpetual devil’s horns, heaving terrestrial matter, Marshall Stacks, battle axes and air guitars, Viking war-maidens bedecked by gilded pinions, and veined marble busts bearing the grave countenances of ancestral Gods who once ruled righteous stuff like lightning. The chunks that don’t flow directly into your ears land in your beard, where they remain, entangled, although you bang your head furiously to shake them out. Reggie’s Rock Club, 2109 S. State St. November 25. Wednesday, 8pm. $12. 17+. (Brandon Hopkins)


Close Encounters
Featuring work by eight artists from New Zealand and Chicago, “Close Encounters” addresses the continuity of tradition in the midst of multicultural exchange. The show is a response to events that occurred at the Field Museum in 2008 surrounding the use of a nineteenth-century Maori marae (meeting house), when the tribe whose ancestors carved the structure requested that it be used as a place of meeting and discussion instead of as a simple exhibition piece. The artists brought together for “Close Encounters” examined that request through their artwork. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Through January 24. Monday-Thursday, 9am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)324-5520. (Sarah Pickering)

This show displays the work of several book and paper artists, including Melissa Jay Craig, JE Baker, Shayna Cohen, Suzi Cozzens, Marnie Galloway, Amanda Meeks, Maria Jose Prenafeta, and Sarah Vogel. Although formally connected by their medium, these artists’ works explore everything from fairy tales to human relationships. Their goals and processes are just as diverse. While Craig’s and Galloway’s work frequently employ humor as a strategy, Cohen’s projects involve audience participation. All of the artists are women, and the show implicitly harbors questions of gender and identity, as well as beauty and perception. Vespine, 1907 S. Halsted St. Through November 28. Monday-Thursday, by appointment; Friday, 5-8pm; Saturday, noon-5pm. (Sarah Pickering)

Don’t Get Too Comfortable
The dark whimsy and ethereal, nightmarish quality of painter Beth Bojarski’s and sculptor Mark Winter’s works make “Don’t Get Too Comfortable” a fitting title for the couple’s first joint show in Chicago. The exhibition opens at the Logsdon Gallery this Friday, November 13, as a part of Pilsen’s monthly Second Friday gallery crawl. Both artists depict pastel cartoonish figures with overgrown heads and disturbing expressions, which are simultaneously beautiful and off-putting, similar to the animated films of Tim Burton. The bright colors and flat, childish figures draw the viewer into a world that is both innocent and terrifying. Perhaps “Don’t Get Too Comfortable” hopes to demonstrate this abstract form of communication: to convey thoughts, concepts, and emotions that may be disturbing and strange, and that lie beneath the ordinary realm of expression. Logsdon Gallery. 1909 S. Halsted St. Through December 5. Saturday, noon-5pm, or by appointment. (312)666-8966. (Katherine Koster)

Steve Sherrell Solo Exhibition
Steve Sherrell is a Chicago-based artist whose process incorporates computers and new technology. He conceives much of his work on a digital interface and incorporates old techniques like painting, as well as elements of collage. He attributes a recent interest in digital photography to developments in the technology, but makes a distinction, especially with regard to his paintings, between art and mere mimesis. 33 Collective Gallery, Zhou B. Art Center, Suite 101, 1029 W. 35th St. Through December 12. Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm; Saturday, noon-5pm. (708)837-4534. (Sarah Pickering)

Everything is Accessible: An iPhone Photo Exhibition
All of the images in this exhibition were taken by iPhones. Against critics of the “culture of convenience,” this show proposes that the aesthetics of the iPhone may be more valid than previously thought. It does this not only by featuring iPhone photos by established professional photographers, but also by soliciting audience participation: a photo booth allows people to shoot their own uploadable pictures. The show argues for a less intimidating art scene that uses technology like camera phones to reinstate playfulness in art. Studio 101 Gallery, Suite 101, 1932 S. Halsted St. Hours by appointment only. (312)624-8291. (Sarah Pickering)

Juvenile Development: A New Generation of Photographers
This exhibition features the work of Chicago teens who have been apprenticed to professional photographers. Photographs on display include those from a project called “Uncommon Chicago,” which challenged the students to produce uncommon images from the downtown cityscape. Another project that dealt with cultural symbols required students to combine words and found objects in an abstracted self-portrait. The talent and breadth of the work presented is sure to impress, given the age of the artists. Chicago Arts District Exhibitions, 1915 S. Halsted St. Hours by appointment only. (Sarah Pickering)

This group show features the video work of 18 artists from around the world presenting their view of Shanghai. Each artist spent time in China, observing and absorbing the culture firsthand. The pace at which the city is growing and changing makes it a suitable subject for this particular medium; all videos will be on display in HPAC’s Black Box Gallery. Some pieces choose to contrast older notions of a “mystical orient” with more modern representations of globalization. Very much an exhibit of our generation, this show celebrates the growth of this global city, while simultaneously questioning its sustainability. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Through December 13. Monday-Thursday, 10am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)324-5520. (Sarah Pickering)

Polonia and Other Fables
Allan Sekula’s “Polonia and Other Fables” is an endeavor in documentary photography aimed at exposing the “social impact of global economics” in Chicago, according to the curatorial statement. His images focus mainly on Chicago’s labor community and large Polish immigrant population. The exhibition is complemented by samples of Sekula’s writings, which are as essential to his art as his photographic pursuits. As is characteristic of Sekula’s work, the exhibition is critical of the medium of photography while being decidedly photojournalistic. For this story, at least, Sekula can rely on his images to do the telling. Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis Ave. Through December 13. Tuesday-Friday, 10am-5pm; Saturday-Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)702-8670. (Leah Reisman)

The cities and small towns of the Midwest have never been a part of the mainstream art world, last breaking through with the unsentimental, deceptively folksy murals of Thomas Hart Benton. The Smart’s “Heartland” presents contemporary art from this geographic center and cultural periphery, featuring videos, photography, drawings, and site-specific installations made by artists from Kansas City to Detroit. Some works reference the expected imagery of the Midwest, whether real or stereotyped, such as Greely Myatt’s installation of a lawnmower with plant roots, while others treat less-localized personal and societal issues with a refreshing lack of New York-style narcissism. Originally shown at a museum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, to explain the culture of a people who elected Obama, this examination of familiar territory may yield surprises. Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. Through January 17. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 10am-4pm; Thursday 10am-8pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11am-5pm. (773)702-0200. (Helenmary Sheridan)

Sites to Behold: Travels in Eighteenth-Century Rome
The legacy of Rome’s golden era as the marquee destination of the Grand Tour is now the focus of a new exhibit at the Smart Museum, “Sites to Behold: Travels in Eighteenth-Century Rome.” With its myriad styles of architecture, the city was attractive to artists who were inspired both by the ruins of classical antiquity and by baroque culture. Rome also presented them with a lucrative commercial opportunity via the influx of wealthy, souvenir-seeking tourists. Mementos from the Tour held prestige back home, and those who could not afford to cart off ancient statues contented themselves with prints and paintings of city views, or vedute. “Sites to Behold” addresses a variety of cultural aspects of eighteenth century Rome, revealing how the work of these artists served to cement Rome’s significance as a serious artistic and cultural center. Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. Through January 17. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 10am-4pm; Thursday 10am-8pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11am-5pm. (773)702-0200. (Elizabeth Joyce)

Joanne Trestrail: Piecework
Joanne Trestrail, an alumna of the Hyde Park Art Center’s ceramics classes, brings to the gallery a unique take on form. From a distance her pieces look like rocks, but upon closer inspection, they turn out to be crescendoing multilayered works. These are not stones to dismiss easily. Trestrail’s focus on the fundamental building blocks creates pieces that grow organically, recalling the stratigraphical storytelling of geology. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Through January 17. Monday-Thursday, 9am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)324-5520. (Tizziana Baldenebro)

Susan Aurinko curates an exhibit of works by Barbara Crane, who has had over 75 solo exhibitions internationally. A graduate of the IIT Institute of Design, she utilizes the same techniques she developed there over 40 years ago. According to a 2002 interview, her work is a quest to “eradicate previous habits of seeing and thinking.” The resulting abstractions appear simple, but often speak to a complex interaction between form and content. Kemper Room Art Gallery, Paul V. Galvin Library, Illinois Institute of Technology, 35 W. 33rd St. Through February 1. Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm; Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. Free. (312)567-5293. (Sarah Pickering)

The Hyde Park Art Center’s faculty displays a selection of their artwork that deals thematically with the process of memory. The exhibition uses a variety of media, including painting, photography, video, installations, and performance art, in an attempt to express personal experience in retrospect. Fact and fiction collide in these projects, all of which contain multiple layers and histories. An emphasis on process gives a constructive relevance to highly individualized pieces. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Through February 14. Monday-Thursday, 9am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. (773)324-5520. (Sarah Pickering)

Rastros y Crónicas: The Women of Juarez
The unsolved murders of female factory workers in Ciudad Juárez, a border city in Mexico, are the subject of this powerful and at times personal exhibition. These violent crimes against over four hundred women have been documented for the past twenty-six years. Artists in the show are all women from the United States and Mexico, and their work will be accompanied by a series of discussions and lectures. National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. Through February 14. Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. (312)738-1503. (Sarah Pickering)­