The clothes-minded don a historical perspective this Saturday, February 7, when the Phoenix Art Museum hosts a daylong symposium addressing "Nineteenth-Century American Life: Clothing, Technology and Innovation." Offered in conjunction with two current exhibitions -- "American Beauty: Painting and Sculpture From the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1770-1920" and "Beauty and Style in Nineteenth-Century American Fashion" -- the event has attracted experts from across the country. Smithsonian Institution curator Claudia Kidwell discusses "Changing Fashion Silhouettes, Technology and Society"; Kristina Haugland, associate costume curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, uncovers "Revealing Garments: A Brief History of Nineteenth-Century Underwear"; Yale professor Jane Greenwood addresses "Creating Nineteenth-Century Dress for Contemporary Broadway Theatre Productions"; and the Phoenix Art Museum's own fashion design curator, Dennita Sewell, speaks on "Beauty and Style in Nineteenth-Century American Fashion." The symposium is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested. Call 602-257-1880. -- Jill Koch
Take a tour of a historic neighborhood
Ready to renounce the Peeping Tom tactics and make your "private investigations" legit? Where there's a Willo, there's a way. Take advantage of the open-doors policy at the 16th annual Willo Historic Home Tour and Street Fair, this Sunday, February 8. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., trolley cars shuttle participants to various stops in the 'hood, which stretches from Thomas to McDowell between First and Seventh avenues. While showcasing 16 Tudor, Spanish Revival, Bungalow and Ranch-style homes dating back to the 1920s, the house party spills into the streets, attracting hundreds of downtown artists, home improvement professionals, car clubs and food vendors. For tickets, $10 ($9 with a canned food donation), stop by the park at Third Avenue and Holly; see www.willohistoricdistrict.com for presale ticket info. -- Jill Koch
Quench your sweet tooth in Glendale
Loco for cocoa? Glendale's got the goods. This weekend's Glendale Chocolate Affaire takes chocolate outside the box -- and into downtown Glendale's Murphy Park, at 58th and Glendale avenues. From Friday, February 6, through Sunday, February 8, the fest celebrates chocolate (truly worthy of praise and adoration) and romance (overrated).
For the sweethearts: horse-drawn-carriage rides and wine tasting. For the sweet tooth: three dozen chocolate vendors and tours of the Cerreta Candy Company. While romance novelists sign books and conduct free writing workshops, and strolling Shakespearean actors perform famous love scenes, we'll be with the kids, clamoring to climb the gigantic chocolate rock. Admission and parking are free. Call 623-930-2299 for info. -- Jill Koch
Gitlin discusses how art weathers a media storm
"Art in our society is received as a minor entertainment," says Todd Gitlin, journalist, author and Columbia University professor. Gitlin, who organized the first national demonstration against the Vietnam War, teaches sociology and journalism, writes books (his most recent is Letters to a Young Activist) and frequently appears on TV and radio to discuss culture and politics. This week, Arizona State University hosts him for a discussion of "Art Making in an Age of Uncertainty," part of its Forkosh Hirshman Art and Society lecture series. The lecture focuses on the burden our society's nonstop media blitz puts on artists, and how they can avoid being just another blip themselves. "I think there's a public that is sometimes titillated by edu-tainment, the melding of educational missions with entertainment," Gitlin says, "and there's another public that's aware that the art world has become super-conducive to postmodern, conceptual, shocking work which makes no sense to them, either aesthetically or morally. This sort of condescension is not good for art, in my view. It turns art into crowd-pleasing."
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Enjoy two opportunities to hear Gitlin's insights, starting Sunday, February 8, with an 11 a.m. brunch at Scottsdale's Grayhawk Golf Club. The event includes three international artists -- Cuban painter Pedro Alvarez, UC-Santa Barbara professor Lawrence Gipe and New York installation artist Jeanne Silverthorne -- responding to Gitlin's observations. Reservations are required, and tickets are $25. Then at 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 9, Gitlin gives a free lecture in Katzin Hall, located in the ASU Music Building on the main campus in Tempe. Call 480-965-2787 for more information. -- Gina Cavallo Collins
'Punk Drunk Love
Gibson milks Recognition
The debate will continue forever: Who really invented cyberpunk? The genre itself is easy to describe: Take any post-1960 science-fiction theme and dress it up, or rather down, in punk drag and attitude, and -- voilà! -- cyberpunk. Considering the success of the Matrix movies, it's a wonder there isn't a cyberpunk channel on cable by now. Most people agree that the single most influential cyberpunk source is William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer. Gibson is now an elder statesman in a genre that has saturated popular culture, even while he disparages his place within it (see the documentary No Maps for These Territories, which runs on the IFC channel now and then).
Meet Gibson and have him sign copies of his recent novel, Pattern Recognition, at Barnes & Noble, 21001 North Desert Ridge, at 7 p.m. Monday, February 9. Call 480-538-8520 for details. -- Henry Cabot Beck