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"Crazy Quilt"

Through Fri., Nov. 17. Design Center at Philadelphia University, Goldie Paley House, 4200 Henry Ave. 215.951.2860. www.philau.edu/designcenter

Virgil Marti is in love with the '70s--an era of shag carpets, macrame and DIY marijuana growing. The local master printer, teacher and installation artist makes beautiful, lovingly crafted homages to the era daring to combine high art, elegant design and kitsch. Marti's installation "Crazy Quilt" at Paley Design Center is three rooms of such fun. There's the flocked wallpaper, black lights and hippie candle room; the rococo lighting room with an antler chandelier and 3-D wall decor combining mini-lights with repeat patterns of cast plaster skulls, bones and flowers. And there's the room with the artist's collections of R.W. Berries figurines, hook rugs and other memorabilia of a time when cynicism and irony hadn't yet strangled the culture. Marti's art-making is both Court of Louis XIV and Spencer Gifts at Halloween. And his useful objects (wallpaper, candles, lights)--like the fondly remembered objects of his '70s youth--are romantically sentimental, innocent and decadent. Marti's work, imbued with playfulness and a sense of awe, is a celebration--like Warhol's Campbell's soup can--of life's simple pleasures. And like Warhol, Marti dares you to divorce high and low, kitsch and serious. It's all one here, and it's all good. (Roberta Fallon)

>> DJ

Philadelphia Laptop Battle 6

Fri., Oct. 20, 9pm. $7. Tritone, 1508 South St. 215.545.0475. www.phillylaptopbattle.com

Last century the best DJs used Technics turntables and carried crates of records. Today most of those same jocks (who swore they'd never give up on vinyl) are now--through the science of file sharing and the magic of laptop computers--digital DJs. This week 10 Philadelphia disc jockeys do battle without actual discs, instead armed to the teeth with compressed files. These 21st century post-jays will showcase their hottest mixes and dance tracks till only one remains. The victor then faces off against the legendary Vytear (of the Philly band Black Unicorn), the winner of a July battle, for the chance to represent Philadelphia this December at the Laptop Battle Worldwide Championships in Seattle. (Raymond Tyler)


Kathy Change Memorial

Sun., Oct. 22, 2pm. Free. Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St. 215.573.3234. www.foundationarts.org

Seeking to raise awareness about her desire to jump-start a nonviolent revolution, performance activist Kathy Change set herself ablaze in front of the peace sculpture on Penn's campus on Oct. 22, 1996. It was a shocking final statement from a woman whose whimsical protests were often punctuated by the waving of homemade flags and eccentric dances. For nearly 20 years Change was regularly seen around Penn and the Art Museum spreading her message of political reform which envisioned America reborn under a system of democratic self-government--a dream she ultimately gave her life for. In writings she left behind, she describes her self-immolation as a means to "spark a discussion about how we can peacefully transform our world." In the aftermath of her suicide Anita King and Bob Harris assisted in forming the Friends of Change to ensure their confidant's ideologies live on. For this weekend's 10th anniversary memorial they've organized an event featuring speeches by local artists and activists--including Lamont Steptoe and Toshi Makihara--as well as a screening of Change's performance footage that further examines her vision of a utopia in which action has replaced apathy. (Chris Cummins)


Free Night of Theater

Various dates and times. Free. Various venues. www.theatrealliance.org

Tickets in Philly are far cheaper than on Broadway, even so an evening of Philly theater can easily run $20 to $40. Now's your chance to catch a performance without spending a single dime. Part of Center City Arts & Culture Fest--an event offering free admission to nearly 50 museums, galleries and various performing arts programs--the Theatre Communications Group's second annual Free Night of Theater involves a total of 25,000 complimentary theater tickets to date with roughly 400 participating theaters nationwide, including many in the Philly area. Some have sold out, but free tickets still remain for the Wed., Oct. 25 performance of Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens' brilliant musical adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel Ragtime at Temple University. If you prefer Halloween-style entertainment, the Delaware Theatre Company has comp tickets available for the Fri., Oct. 20 performance of Jeffrey Hatcher's frightening adaptation of Henry James' ghost tale Turn of the Screw. Many of the shows have free tickets to a particular performance, but if that's too restrictive, call Bristol Riverside Theatre, which is offering complimentary tickets to performances of Mark Brown's The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge from Nov. 14 through Dec. 10. Comps are limited to two per person. (J. Cooper Robb)

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