Where to be and what to see this week: Elmhurst Art Museum “Open House: Art About Home”, Meredyth Sparks Exhibition, Chicago House “Absolut Wrapture”, Steppenwolf Theater Company “The Birthday Party”, The 25th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards, WBEZ-FM’s Winter Block Party, and the Auxiliary Board of the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
‘Open House: Art About Home’
Through April 20: As the saying goes, there’s no place like home. Whether a vessel of memories, a retreat, a fortress or a status symbol, our four walls and roof are rich with meaning. Featuring work by Don Baum, Alberto Aguilar, Gabrielle Garland and other artists, “Open House” (organized by newly appointed chief curator, Staci Boris) explores the dreams and desires expressed in this most personal of personal spaces. Admission: $5, $3 for students and seniors, free for children under 5. Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 Cottage Hill. Call (630) 834-0202 or visit Elmhurstartmuseum.org.
Meredyth Sparks exhibition
Jan. 23–May 4: Sparks made her mark on the art world with glitter and vinyl-decked collages that paired images of pop culture stars and political figures with icons of art history. For her first solo show in Chicago, dubbed “Windows and Screens,” the New York-based artist extends her cut-and-paste sensibility to everyday stuff, combining digital pictures of banal interiors and everyday objects with fabric and paint to create layered spaces that remind us all is illusion. Admission: free. The Arts Club of Chicago, 201 E. Ontario, (312) 787-3997 or visit Artsclubchicago.org.
Chicago House ‘Absolut Wrapture’
Jan. 24: The SkyDeck at Willis Tower will be utterly effervescent when Chicago House — which provides housing and supportive services for people living with HIV and AIDS — throws its always-popular winter benefit. Guests will sample a new bubbly-infused vodka from title sponsor Absolut while eyeing auction prizes including artwork and luxury travel packages from Apple Vacations, Orbitz and the Four Seasons Jackson Hole. Tickets: $99 in advance, $120 at the door. 233 S. Wacker. Call (773) 248-5200, ext. 303, or visit Chicagohouse.org.
‘The Birthday Party’
Jan. 24–April 28: A superb craftsman who was loath to fashion anything too tidy, Harold Pinter was a master of ambiguity and menace. Identity and intention are often up for grabs in his plays, and his sharp dialogue can quickly cut the best effort at conclusive interpretation. Veteran director Austin Pendleton takes his first crack at the playwright with “The Birthday Party,” featuring actors Ian Barford, Francis Guinan, Moira Harris and John Mahoney. Tickets: $20-$78. Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted. Call (312) 335-1650 or visit Steppenwolf.org.
The 25th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards
Jan. 24: Beloved sports pros past and present — and the fans who love them — converge at the Hilton Chicago for this annual salute to area athletes. This year’s honorees include Richard “Rip” Hamilton and Bob Love of the Bulls; Blackhawks veteran Eddie Olczyk; Cubs legend Ernie Banks and current second baseman Darwin Barney; Chris Sale and Frank Thomas of the White Sox; former Fire forward Frank Klopas and current team member Patrick Nyarko; and Otis Wilson and Roberto Garza of the Bears. Tickets: $400. 720 S. Michigan. Call (312) 596-4716 or visit CSNchicago.com/sportsawards25.
Winter Block Party for Chicago’s Hip-Hop Arts
Jan. 26: WBEZ-FM and Vocalo honor our city’s thriving hip-hop community with this marathon event, which runs from noon to 1 a.m. Now in its fifth year, the all-encompassing celebration features a screening of “Benji,” a documentary about former Simeon Career Academy basketball player Ben Wilson, B-Boy/B-Girl dance battles, music videos, artwork, a poetry/storytelling slam and more. Also enjoy performances from Sidewalk Chalk, rapper ADD-2, “fem-cee” Psalm One and Vocalo’s DJ collective, led by Jesse De la Pena. Admission: free during the day, evening program $15, $12 for WBEZ members and $10 for students with valid ID. Metro, 3730 N. Clark. Visit Wbez.org/events.
‘A Purple Affair for the Bear’
Jan. 26: Emceed by Miss Illinois Stacie Juris and featuring entertainment from Eric Selner & the Speculation, the Auxiliary Board of the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s annual fund-raiser helps support research, programs and outreach efforts for both patients and families. Sample food from Quay, 437 Rush and Tavernita, and sip libations from Jim Beam, Argus and Rex Goliath. General admission: $80 ($90 at the door); VIP tickets: $105 ($115 at the door). River East Art Center, 435 E. Illinois. Call (312) 214-1200 or visit Purpleaffair.eventbrite.com.
Story by Thomas Connors