Rick Stone and Melanie McCullough of the Black Ensemble Theater
Food and creativity—including photos from Lee Mingwei’s The Dining Project,
above—are on the table at Smart Museum of Art.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 2.15.12 through Tue 2.21.12:


museums Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art
Smart Museum of Art’s latest exhibition—a group show featuring works and performances by more than 30 artists—embodies the timeless bond between impassioned creativity and good eats. Highlights include Michael Rakowitz’s roving Enemy Kitchen food truck, staffed by chefs from Chicago’s Iraqi community. Theaster Gates also hosts a dinner-party series at Dorchester Projects, his HQ/art center in Grand Crossing, with live performances and a menu from the chef Michael Kornick and the soul-food expert Erika Dudley. What happens in the kitchen is only the beginning.
GO: 2/16–6/10. Free. Smart Museum of Art, U of C, 5550 S Greenwood. smartmuseum.uchicago.edu.

ALSO THIS WEEK: The Field Museum gives more than 20 of the rarely seen mummies from its vault a show of their own 2/17–4/22.


talks/theatre Who’s In The Game?: Race and Sports, Then and Now
Minnie Miñoso—a.k.a. Mr. White Sox, who in 1951 became the first black player on the team’s roster—joins in a public discussion on the relationship of race and pro sports. The talk precedes the closing-night performance of Lookingglass Theatre’s Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting, a play about Jackie Robinson’s historic rise to the big leagues.
GO: 2/19 at 4:30. Free ($20–$68 for theatre tickets). Lookingglass Theatre Company, 821 N Michigan. lookingglasstheatre.org


exhibits Loop Value: The How Much Does It Cost? Shop
So you got that toaster oven on sale for less than the price of a cheap lunch. But how much will you—or your neighborhood or the environment—really pay for it? Chicago Architecture Foundation’s latest exhibit, designed to mimic a store, takes a long-term look at how mundane purchases can add up to more than their sticker prices—and how they may borrow from a city’s economic and natural reserves.
GO: 2/17–12/31. Free. Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S Michigan. architecture.org.


talks Hennessy Youngman
Art theory plus hip-hop equals “Art Thoughtz,” a series of YouTube videos starring Youngman as an earnest, explicative-dropping everydude whose questions about the art world are as heavy as his gold chains. Is this guy for real or just a figment of the Internet? See for yourself.
GO: 2/21 at 6. Free for Illinois residents. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org.


film The Film That Changed My Life: Harlan County USA
Steve James’s documentary, Hoop Dreams, is a movie that shows “what the movies are for”—according to Roger Ebert, for one. On Sunday, the director and Kartemquin Films cofounder attends the screening of a flick that made him want to make movies: Harlan County USA, the 1977 Oscar-winner that captures the real and bloody battle between a coal company and its miners. The showing is one of a series inspired by “The Film That Changed My Life,” a book by Chicago-based author Robert K. Elder (who conducts a Q & A with James). Stick around for a bonus screening at 5 of The Interrupters, James’s critically lauded collaboration with journalist Alex Kotlowitz.
GO: 2/19 at 1:30. $10 in advance; $12 at the door. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport. musicboxtheatre.com.


Martha Bayne
Martha Bayne

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: Martha Bayne, founder of Soup & Bread, a series of Wednesday-night suppers at The Hideout. Volunteer chefs—including rockers, writers, and other local notables—dish out steaming bowls of liquid sustenance, and the money collected goes to hunger relief charities. Bayne, recently back from a West Coast tour of her Soup & Bread Cookbook, joins WBEZ’s Steve Edwards and DePaul sociologist Greg Scott onstage at The Hideout 2/17 for the fourth-anniversary installment of The Interview Show.

On Friday, I’ll be one of the guests for The Interview Show. It’s set up like the Tonight Show, with a couch and a desk. The host, Mark Bazer, is a writer and journalist. I’ve talked to him before, but I’ve never met the other guests. After the show, I’ll be working—I’ve been bartending at The Hideout since 2008.

On Saturday, I may see the movie, Pina at AMC River East 21. It’s about Pina Bausch, an avant-garde German dancer and choreographer. Then that evening, I’m working as house manager at [Victory Gardens Biograph Theater] for Theater Oobleck, a company I’m a member of. They’re playing The Hunchback Variations Opera by [Mickle Maher and] Mark Messing, who’s an amazing genius. The show is very absurdist and weird. It’s a panel discussion between Ludwig van Beethoven and Quasimodo. Both are deaf, but they set out to create a noise used as a stage direction in Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard. Apparently it’s this impossible sound effect that has baffled theatre people since the play was first produced [in 1904]. The opera is a hilarious meditation on artistic creation and failure. Later Saturday, if I have time, I want to try Lao Hunan [in Chinatown]. It’s a new restaurant that’s supposed to be Mao-themed. Everyone I know has been there, and I’ve heard it’s great—and really spicy. I like spicy food, and I’m always looking for late-night food.

Then on Sunday, I’m working at The Hideout again. If I have time, I might go to the second annual Chili-Synth Cook-Off at The Empty Bottle, which will have chili made by electronic synthesizer aficionados. It’s not really my scene musically. I go more as a fan of chili, but I’m charmed by the way it’s presented.

—As told to Quinn Ford