A night of arts hopes to affect social change in Oak Park
Chicago poet Gregorio Gomez
100,000 Poets, Artists and Musicians for Change
at Unity Temple, 875 Lake St., Oak Park
7 p.m. on Sept. 22
(708) 848-6225, www.brownpapertickets.com
Part concert, part performance and part fashion show add up to a 100 percent good time.
And a good cause, as well.
“100,000 Poets, Artists and Musicians for Change,” hosted by Unity Temple in Oak Park this Saturday, is a benefit supporting four local organizations seeking social change.
“It’s going to be a unique entertainment opportunity, a celebration of art and it’s going to be fun,” said Charlie Rossiter, emcee and co-coordinator of the program. “In Oak Park, we don’t see a lot of variety show-type concepts with this many different artists at one time.”
The evening will include some big names on the Chicago performance scene, including poet Gregorio Gomez, who Rossiter describes as “emcee of Chicago’s most notorious underground poetry venue” at WEEDS, and award-winning solo performer Tekki Lomnicki, known for her monologues and as a playwright, educator and artistic director of Tellin’ Tales Theatre, a group that uses storytelling to build community.
Musicians will include African drummer Atiba Jali, who’s played with jazz legend Art Blakey and others, local folksinger Anna Stange, and Oak Park’s own charismatic young blues and roots rocker Jack Rossiter-Munley.
Don’t expect a program that’s heavy on social message. Each artist will have 15 minutes on stage to perform however he or she sees fit, Rossiter said.
“All of these people are really good,” he said. “They’ve done a lot for the community with their art.”
The performing artists and musicians will be complimented by two Chicago photographers’ exhibitions — “Landscapes & Relics,” by Henry Berry, and “Photos Without Borders,” by Michael Bracey.
In addition, a hat fashion show will offer a brief diversion. The show will feature Bracey’s female friends and relatives who also modeled hats at the Oak Park Public Library for the opening of his photo exhibit tribute to his mother, “It’s All About the Hats.”
The eclectic evening, sponsored by the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s Social Mission Committee, is an offshoot of “100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change,” an international, grassroots program that highlights artists’ ability to advance social welfare with individual events held around the world.
The Oak Park benefit will help organizations small enough for the funds to make a significant impact, including ARISE Chicago, dedicated to fighting workplace injustice; Veterans for Peace; Enlace Chicago, seeking to prevent gang violence; and the 3rd Unitarian Austin Scholarship Fund, helping Chicago high school students in the Austin neighborhood attend college.
“As Oak Parkers, we sometimes view the world as ending at Austin Boulevard. It’s important to remember these are our neighbors,” said Rich Pokorny, Rossiter’s fellow coordinator.
“The organizations chosen reflect some of the interests of our community at large,” Pokorny said, also explaining that the diversity of the organizations and the evening’s performances are intended to mirror each other.
Pokorny hopes the benefit will raise about $200,000.
“All the performers are donating their time and the church is donating its space,” he said. “Everything that comes in will go out again.”