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The Mix: George Gerdes tribute at City Winery and more cool things to do in Chicago Feb. 18-24

There’s much to check out online and in person in Chicago in the week ahead.

Enrique Mazzola | Jean-Baptiste Millot Photo
Lyric Opera’s music director designate Enrique Mazzola hosts “Sole e Amore” (Sun and Love), streaming Feb. 21.
Jean-Baptiste Millot Photo

From Italy with love

The Lyric Opera channels the sounds of Italy with a virtual recital, “Sole e Amore (Sun and Love),” which showcases beautiful, lesser-known gems by Italian opera composers. Curated and hosted by Lyric’s music director designate Enrique Mazzola, the concert features songs by Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini and Mascagni performed by the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble: sopranos Maria Novella Malfatti and Denis Vélez; mezzo-sopranos Katherine Beck, Katherine DeYoung and Kathleen Felty; tenors Martin Luther Clark and Lunga Eric Hallam; baritones Leroy Davis and Ricardo José Rivera; bass-baritone David Weigel and bass Anthony Reed. The free concert streams at 6 p.m. Feb. 21. Visit lyricopera.org.

Saluting a friend

Loudon Wainwright III
Loudon Wainwright III is hosting a tribute to the late George Gerdes, with a lineup of performers that includes Suzanne Vega, Terre Roche, Steve Forbert, Wesley Stace, Dave Hill, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer.
Ross Halfin

In the streamed concert, “The Great Unknown,” Loudon Wainwright III pays tribute to his best friend, the singer-songwriter and accomplished character actor George Gerdes, who died on New Year’s Day. Gerdes, who released two albums in the seventies (“Obituary” and “Son of Obituary”), could be called the most influential folkie that nobody ever heard of. Wainwright considers Gerdes “one of the funniest and most moving singer-songwriters out there, and my most crucial influence.” Performing will be friends and admirers of Gerdes, including Suzanne Vega, Terre Roche, Steve Forbert, Wesley Stace, Dave Hill, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. The tribute streams via City Winery at 6 p.m. Feb. 23. Tickets: $20. Visit citywinery.com/chicago.

Celebrating Black heroes

A painting of photographer Dominique Shepherd by artist Brandon Breaux is featured in “28 Days of Greatness.”
A painting of photographer Dominique Shepherd by artist Brandon Breaux is featured in “28 Days of Greatness.”

During Black History Month in collaboration with the Rebuild Foundation, Chicago artist Brandon Breaux’s portrait series “28 Days of Greatness” celebrates the Black artists, activists and educators who have inspired and supported him. Each day, Breaux unveils a new portrait on his Instagram page while also exhibiting a physical counterpart outside of the Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island. Among the portraits are photographer Dominique Shepherd, writer Travon Free, educator Dr. Charity Clay, artist Janice Bond and activist DeRay Mckesson. Visit instagram.com/bbreaux or facebook.com/rebuildfoundation. NOTE: Due to recent inclement weather, the outside exhibition will be available beginning Feb. 26 and continuing through March.

To be Latino

Brian Quijada in “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?”
Brian Quijada in “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?”
Bitter Jester Studios

In writer-actor Brian Quijada’s autobiographical solo show “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?,” the title question is asked by a Latino boy during a third-grade lesson on the civil rights movement and Rosa Parks. In a show filled with Latin rhythms, rap, hip-hop and spoken work, Quijada examines what it means to be Latino through the eyes of a child, turned teenager, turned adult. Presented by Victory Gardens Theater and Rochester, New York’s, Geva Theatre Center, the show, directed by Chay Yew, streams Feb. 22-March 7. Tickets: $30. Visit victorygardens.org or gevatheatre.org.

Mars or bust

This NASA handout illustration shows NASAs Perseverance’s seven primary instruments that involve international partners, for acquiring information about Martian geology, atmosphere, environmental conditions and potential signs of life (biosignatures).
This NASA handout illustration shows Perseverance’s seven primary instruments that involve international partners, for acquiring information about Martian geology, atmosphere, environmental conditions and potential signs of life (biosignatures).
Getty

Mars exploration is all the rage right now and there’s a lot to learn about the Red Planet with the help of the new NASA rover Perseverance, which is the follow-up to the now-defunct Curiosity rover. The Adler Planetarium celebrates the rover’s Feb. 18 landing on the planet with a series of free virtual events beginning with a livestreamed landing party (1-3 p.m. Feb. 18) which highlights past achievements in Mars exploration and features interviews with two Jet Propulsion Lab experts associated with the Perseverance. Among the other offerings is the online exhibition “A Martian Sensation: Maps, Delusion and the Mars Canals.” For more information, visit adlerplanetarium.org.

Empowering artists

Leon Garland The Blacksmith 1943Oil on canvas Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum, 1943.16/910.13, FAP/WPA Allocation
Leon Garland “The Blacksmith” 1943, oil on canvas. Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum, 1943.

The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, in partnership with the Illinois State Museum, presents “Work, People, Art,” an exhibit featuring 38 paintings, prints and photographs made under the Federal Art Project, which employed artists during the Great Depression. Culled from the Illinois State Museum’s permanent collection, the exhibit showcases the range of realistic, abstract and expressive styles in which these artists portrayed the hopes and hardships of American life during this time. Included are works by Max Kahn, Leon Garland, Aline Fruhauf and Nathan Lerner. The exhibit runs from Feb. 20-May 16 at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W. Chicago. Timed tickets: $5. Visit uima-chicago.org.

Virtual stage

“Primer for an Impossible Conversation” features David Neumann, Marcella Murray and Tei Blow. Image composite by Tei Blow
“Primer for an Impossible Conversation” features David Neumann, Marcella Murray and Tei Blow.
Composite image by Tei Blow

The inaugural presentation of Cabinet of Curiosity’s new radio-play department Phonophobia is an adaptation of Redmoon Theater’s 2005 stage production of “The Cabinet,” which is an adaptation of the classic horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” Streams Feb. 21-March 20. Tickets: $15. Visit cocechicago.com/radio/thecabinet. … “Primer for an Impossible Conversation,” a new virtual work by David Neumann, Marcella Murray and Tei Blow, uses conversation to explore the distances between people talking about race. Streams at 6 p.m. Feb. 23. Tickets: pay-what-you-can. Visit mcachicago.org. … Definition Theatre presents “Amplify, A New Play Commission,” which features scenes from eight semi-finalist plays from Amplify, its program developed to empower and uplift underrepresented theater artists. Streams at 7 p.m. Feb. 24-25. Tickets: pay-what-you-can. Visit definitiontheatre.org.

Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.