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Swedish American Museum Offers a FREE DAY.

Enjoy free admission, complimentary coffee, and treats at the Swedish American Museum today. Check out their just opened exhibit “Sweden Through My Glasses” featuring the intimate, dream-like paintings of Swedish artist Anders Hultman. 7:30a.m. to 8p.m. 5211 N. Clark, (773) 728 8111.

Mitt Romney comes to the Windy City. Last night, Larry King, tonight Chicago. Mitt Romney is out promoting his book, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.” It’s probably safe to guess that he will also give his opinions on Health Care in his appearance as part of the McCormick Freedom Project at Chase Auditorium. Tickets, $25, includes the book. 6p.m., 10 S. Dearborn. (312) 445 5111.

If you’re looking for a bite after the program, you’re in the right spot with nearby restaurants including the Italian Village, Trattoria No. 10, Vivere, Lockwood and others.




Drummer Dana Hall and his quartet will bring alive the noon hour crowd at the Chicago Cultural Center today with their SPRING FLING program featuring Improv drumming. 12:15p.m., Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington,  Randolph Hall.   Free.  (312) 744 6630.
Get a first-hand view of the future of Chicago Theater at tonight’s panel discussion, “American Theater:  Writing for Change,” presented by the Remy Bumppo Theatre Company at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  Headed to the table for the panel discussion will be Tarell Alvin McCraney, author of Steppenwolf’s “The Brother/Sister Plays” trilogy; Kristoffer Diaz, author of Victory Grarden hit, “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”; Tanya Saracho, who adapted last year’s “The House on Mango Street” for Steppenwolf; and Jean Lee, author of The Shipment” to be performed at the MCA (March 26-28).   Jonathan Wilson, director of TimeLine’s recent production of Master Harold will moderate the panel.  Free admission, but reservations are recommended. (312) 397-4010 6p.m. to 7:30p.m.,  Museum of Contemporary Art, MCA Stage, 220 E. Chicago.

BEN AND JERRY’S:  Free Ice Cream cones today in honor of their founding day.  Noon to 8p.m.
STARBUCKS:  Free pastry with coupon available on their website.  Opening until 10:30a.m.


A Dance Preview and Bargain Meals


Enjoy a bite of culture for lunch. Hedwig Dances’ is celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a FREE preview of dances from its upcoming concert celebration that will be held at the Dance Center of Columbia College (April 1-3). Just stop by the Harold Washington Library Center today for this complimentary contemporary dance presentation. 12:15p.m., Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State Street, parking at CPS Parking 645 S. Wabash and 651 S. State.


Chicago Chef Week kicks off today with 21 of Chicago’s finest dining establishments offering three-course lunches for $20 and three-course dinners for $30. Choose from Avec, The Bristol, Duchamp, Eve, Publican, Spring, Vie and more. See the entire list and make reservations at Through March 28.



One never knows what to expect on the first day of spring in the Windy City.  Today’s snowy, windy and foggy weather calls for a special getaway.  How about a walk through prehistoric ferns beneath trickling waterfalls; stop and smell the tulips and marvel at the pinks, whites and blues of the giant Hydrangeas all inside the warmth of the historic Garfield Park Conservatory.  You can spend the entire day at the Conservatory, shop, grab a sandwich, salad and dessert at the Gift Shop, attend workshops, a plant clinic, a craft program and more.  9a.m. to 5p.m. FREE Admission and Parking (just south of the main entrance), 300 North Central Park Avenue, (312) 746 5100.

Head to Wicker Park for dinner at SPRING RESTAURANT.  The seasonal menu offers contemporary America fare with a strong Asian influence.  Among the favorite choices are a crispy pork belly, grilled duck, and a Lemon Grass and Coconut. Soup that is soooo good.  The restaurant has a full wine menu along with a creative selection of cocktails. $$$, Street parking available, but challenging, watch for neighbor only permit parking signs on side streets. 2039 W. North Avenue, (773) 395 7100. 


Line-up for the Blockbuster Henri Matisse Exhibition OPENING tomorrow at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Art Institute of Chicago has announced the world premiere of MATISSE: RADICAL INVENTION, 1913-1917 concentrating on 117 of the artist’s paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from this period.

There are two ways to enjoy this thoughtful collection of one of the 20th century’s greatest artists Henri Matisse (1869-1954). One, visitors can go to the exhibition, walk through the galleries and enjoy the beautiful art. Or, two, visitors can explore the exhibit more deeply through the wall text and audio tour. If you decide on the latter, set aside a minimum of an hour and a half.

Two important paintings in the collection, Bathers by a River (1909-10, 1913, 1916-17) and The Moroccans (1915-16) are explored in their entirety in relationship to change in this period of the artist’s life. An examination of these works reveal how Matisse began to turn down color for form. Working in a restrained range of colors allowed Matisse to focus more fully on the construction or deconstruction of the pictorial form.

Perhaps most important to this exhibition is Gallery 7 dedicated to Matisse’s work during 1916, a very difficult year for France and the artist during World War I. The art in this room features some of the most pivotal works of the artists’ career. Look closely at the surfaces of the art to get a feel for the change Matisse was creating. You’ll be able to observe surfaces thick with the trails of repeated reworking, products of the artist’s attempt to reconsider and adjust his approaches to familiar motifs. Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South Michigan, (312) 443 3600. Through June 20, 2010.

Special dated, timed tickets to Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 are NOT required.
Admission to the Art Institute includes all special exhibitions and coat check.

An audio tour of the exhibition is available. Audio tours may be pre-purchased with any ticket or purchased at the exhibition entrance, Michigan Avenue lobby, or Griffin Court. The audio tour is free to visually impaired visitors, and a typescript of the audio tour is available for the hearing- impaired.


Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 will be on view:

• Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 11:30 am–5:00 pm
• Friday: 11:30 am–8:00 pm
• Saturday and Sunday: 11:00 am–5:00 pm



BEWARE: THE GATHERING STORM is set to arrive today at the Museum of Science and Industry. After three years in preparation and just in time for the tornado season, the Museum of Science and Industry has one-upped Mother Nature by creating a 26,000 square-foot interactive exhibition, Science Storms, that recreates the worst nature has to offer from tsunamis to hurricanes and everything in-between. STARTING TODAY visitors to the new permanent exhibit can experience nature’s most brutal events in the safe confines of the Museum.  Only the brave will muster the courage to step inside the 40-foot tall twister to be surrounded by massive winds cycling around them.  Others will release their creative spirit by making their own tsunami by unleashing waves across a 30-foot wave tank.  Young and old alike can witness a high-voltage lightening storm, wage a battle of fire vs. water, make giant  rainbows and more at this awesome educational phenomena created by researchers from NASA, Harvard and the University of Chicago.

To celebrate today’s opening of Science Storms, admission the Museum will be FREE all day. Other days general admission is $15, adults, $14, seniors, and $10, children ages 3 to 11. City of Chicago residents receive a discounted price of $13, adults, $12, seniors and $9, children 3 to 11. Hours are 9:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Parking is available in the Museum’s underground garage. The entrance is located at the northwest corner of the building. 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive. 
Exhibit photo by: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago


What could be more appropriate than to sip a little vodka before watching Strawdog’s Jeff-nominated production of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. Join Strawdog in their Hugen Hall Gallery for a preshow discussion of the history and importance of vodka to the Russian Culture and Russian Literature hosted by Seth Rickard from the Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. from 7p.m. to 7:30p.m. Then stay and enjoy the show. Tickets $25, 3829 N. Broadway, (773) 528 9889.


Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration continues…

"Those who drink to forget, please pay in advance"

Top o the morning to you. Finally it’s St. Patrick’s Day—and once again Chicago is pulling out all the stops. The original St. Patrick’s celebration began in Ireland in the 1600s as a relatively quiet one-day break from Lent to honor their patron saint, Patrick, with feasting and alcohol.

It seems the holiday gets bigger each year, with the Windy City taking a back seat to no one when it comes to partying. Among the many celebrations taking place today is one of the most authentic at the IRISH HERITAGE CENTER. Two good things about this daylong party are that you don’t have to be Irish to attend and it is a real bargain at $10 a head.

If you are Irish and Catholic or just Catholic and not Irish you may want to start the day with 11:30a.m. Mass. Otherwise, you may want to wait until 1p.m. and then come for the rest of the activities that extend into the evening. There will be Irish dancing, song, food, children’s activities, and drinks.

The Center boasts a 658-seat theatre, library, museum, art gallery, authentic Irish pub, dance practice studios, meeting rooms and banquet rooms for parties. Today’s party will be held in the pub, known as The Fifth Province, where you can grab a pint and enjoy the festivities. The menu offers typical pub food including fish and chips, corned beef sandwiches and Irish sausage.
1p.m. to 11p.m. 4626 N. Knox Ave. (773) 282 7035. Free parking is available.


Over 50 years of tradition make this legendary Irish Pub on Chicago’s Gold Coast a great spot to ring in the holiday. Butch McGuire’s St. Patrick’s celebration started out with a few shamrocks and green beer in 1961 but quickly grew to a full out over-the-top spectacular with every inch of the pub covered with Irish decor. Enjoy the casual pub menu and grab a beer or a green river. 20 W. Division, (312) 337 9080.  Metered parking on Division and Dearborn, if you’re lucky.

Both the inside and outside of Fado Irish Pub will make you feel like you are in Ireland. Today’s celebration starts at 9:30a.m. and goes into the wee hours. There’s all the Irish Pub food favorites along with what many say is the best Guinness in Chicago. The drink menu also offers a selection of other Irish beers like Harp, Smithwicks and Kilkenny, proper Irish coffees, Baileys Irish cream, and a wide selection of Irish whiskeys. The live-music line up begins at 2p.m. with the Shannon Rovers (pipers) taking the stage at 7p.m. followed by Midnight Nappertandy with Celtic Rock. Cover charge $10 after 4p.m. 100 W. Grand, (312) 836 0066.



Learn the inside story of what goes on behind-the-scenes in Hollywood at tonight’s lecture and screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center.  Film professor and author Virginia Wright Wexman explores “the star system” in the 6p.m. screening of the 1937 making of A STAR IS BORN with Janet Gaynor, Fredric March and Adolphe Menjou.  This version, the first of three that were made (1937, 1954 and 1976) features more comedy than the other two, as it recounts the ill-fated romance between the young ambitious Gaynor and the much older fading star March. 6p.m.  164 N. State Street.  (312) 846 2600. Parking at InterPark Self-Park, 20 E. Randolph, $14 for nine hours.


Trattortia No. 10.
On a budget or just looking for something light…try the Bar Buffet at the Tuscan-themed Trattoria No. 10 restaurant just a little over a block away from the Film Center. They offer an excellent “all you can eat” buffet that features shrimp cocktail, antipasti, pasta, salads and more for $12 with a $6 minimum drink purchase. The restaurant also serves a full menu of contemporary Italian fare with handmade ravioli a house specialty.  The buffet special is available 5p.m. to 7:30p.m., Tuesday through Friday. 10 N. Dearborn, (312) 984 1718.

Even closer to the Film Center is Petterino’s, a Chicago original, named after the legendary and beloved Arturo Petterino, who was maitre d’ at the famed Pump Room for 35 years.  The steakhouse brings back the elegance and sophistication of that time with its dark wood décor, red leather booths and framed celebrity photos lining the walls.  The menu is straightforward offering a selection of steaks, fresh fish, pastas and a crowd favorite veal chop.  Many dishes are named after celebrities including the excellent Irv Kupcinet Chicken Chopped Salad with corn, avocado, bacon, egg, olive and blue cheese that can be ordered full-size as an entrée or as a small salad before the entrée.  150 N. Dearborn, (312) 984 1718.


A Winning Combination.

Fruits of the Vine, Fruits of Knowledge at the Book Cellar...

The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square has something for everyone. Of course, there are books, lots of books along with a friendly and knowledgeable staff that is ready with recommendations. There is great atmosphere including a window nook furnished with oversized plush chairs perfect for relaxing with a good book after a long day at the office. Even better, there is wine, gourmet sandwiches, soups and Julius Meinl specially brewed coffee—delicious! Top all that off with one of those award-winning cupcakes from Southport Grocery (try the chocolate chip) and you’re good to go or better yet stay for tonight’s ESSAY FIESTA.

Every third Monday the Book Cellar hosts this special event. This month local writers Keith Ecker and Alyson Lyon relate humorous, true-life tales by Chicago-area comedians, novelists, poets, journalists, bloggers and playwrights. Come early, if you can, and walk the unique Lincoln Square neighborhood consisting of approximately 300 local businesses including The Old Town School of Folk Music. Then settle in at the Book Cellar, check out their rotating list of reds and whites, warm up with hot cocoa or a hot caramel apple cider and laugh the evening away at the ESSAY FIESTA. 7p.m., 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Square. (773) 293 2665.



 It’s Selection Sunday and many Chicago eyes along with the rest of the nation will be watching closely.  Who will be chosen, who’s already in and who will be snubbed.  Last year North Carolina was belle of the ball.  This year she’ll be lucky to get a date to the NIT. No wonder they call it the Big Dance.

Only a few more games to watch early in the day and then the moment of truth arrives.  CBS will broadcast the selections live starting at 3p.m. If you want to share the countdown with friends, Chicago offers something for all viewing tastes from cozy neighborhood haunts to the ESPN Zone.

If you’re routing for Kansas and want to be with like-minded people Kincaide’s is the Jayhawks home away from home.  Relax with $3.50 mimosas and $.25 wings while you find out who will be joining number one seed KU.  950 W. Armitage. (773) 348 0010.

Michigan State fans head to the Gin Mill for $2 beers and multiple TV’s to cheer on their beloved Spartans. 2462 N. Lincoln Ave. (773) 549 3232.

Badger fans will feel right at home at Will’s Northwoods Inn—a little slice of Wisconsin in the middle of the Windy City.  University of Wisconsin is looking good and cheeseheads can enjoy it all on big screen TV’s while  downing free hot dogs along with their favorite brews.  3030 N. Racine, (773) 528-4400.

Durkin’s, home of the Purdue Club of Chicago, is the gathering spot for Boilmaker fans.  With Purdue a sure thing to be in the tourney, now all fans have to do is watch and wait to see where they’ll be seeded.  810 W. Diversey Pkwy. (773) 525 2515.

If  Kentucky is your team, you might have to share.  Junior’s Sports Lounge in University Village is the hangout for UIC fans but since they’re not in the race they are backing the Wildcats all the way. They will be featuring daily specials throughout all the Madness.  724 W. Maxwell St. (312) 421 2277.

If you’re a gambling man or woman, Stretch Run offers betting along with TV’s, food and drinks.  544 N. LaSalle St. (312) 644 4477.

One final spot, 10pin Bowling Lounge, will be covering all the NCAA tourney action on big screen TV’s while you bowl and enjoy munchies. 330 N. State St. (312) 644 0300.