Artist Manabu Yamanaka spent years voluntarily caring for aging people in his home country of Japan, where elders aren't likely to spend their final years in nursing homes. He found the old women beautiful -- like "the last flicker of a candle" -- and his nude portraits of them are a healthy antidote to the United States' obsession with youth. An exhibit of Yamanaka's portraits, along with Buzz Spector's work incorporating books as a sculptural and conceptual medium, opens today at 5:30 and continues through December 15 at the UMKC Gallery of Art at the corner of 51st and Holmes. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; for more information, call 816-235-1502.
Another visitor who'll have wisdom to impart is Khamtrul Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist scholar from Dharamsala, India, who is said to be "the only living lama outside of Tibet who holds direct and unbroken empowerments, transmissions, and teachings of the fifth Dalai Lama's complete works." His Eminence gives a public talk on "Keeping an Open Heart in Everyday Life," hosted by the Tibetan-American Friendship Society, the Jamtse Tsokpa Foundation, and the Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery tonight at 7:30 at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th Street. Tickets are $10; for information, call 816-578-4408.
It takes a certain caliber of band to impress the cynics at The Onion, but The Figgs moved one such sarcastic scribe to rave about how this trio has "never scored the appropriate amount of accolades." Perhaps Sucking In Stereo, The Figgs' ninth release, will send some of these overdue kudos rolling the band's way. Blending pure pop melodies with early garage-rock danger and such fun touches as tambourines and Mellotrons, The Figgs served a stint on Capitol Records as part of the great mid-'90s sign-a-thon and upped their credibility by releasing the live album The Last Rock 'N' Roll Tour with cult hero Graham Parker in 1997. However, that tour was far from the last for this prolific band, whose latest road trip brings it to The Hurricane, 4048 Broadway. For more information, call 816-753-0884.
In 1986, She's Gotta Have It introduced us to the work of Spike Lee, who would go on to tell stories much more controversial than that of Nola Darling's simultaneous sexual relationships with three different men (and no, we're not talking about the furor raised by his use of a talking dog in last year's Summer of Sam). A 2 p.m. screening of the movie as part of the Kemper Museum's Sunday Cinema Series -- today's installment is on "Different Angels: When Directors Act and Actors Direct" (Lee played Mars Blackmon) -- should help us remember whether Nola always does the right thing. The Kemper is located at 4420 Warwick Boulevard; for information, call 816-753-5784.
The Chouteaus -- French-Canadian fur traders -- and their employees were the first Europeans to settle the area that would become Kansas City. That's probably only one of many reasons Mayor Kay Barnes is scheduled to proclaim this National French Week in Kansas City. And Rockhurst University celebrates the occasion with a lecture by Gretchen Green, assistant professor of history, who will talk about "Kansas City History's Best Kept Secret: The French in the 1700s and 1800s" at 4 p.m. in Room 250 of Massman Hall. For information, call 816-501-4510. (For where to eat afterward, see this week's Mouthing Off column, page 50.)
There's an especially important jam session tonight at the Mutual Musicians Foundation, 1823 Highland. For the fourth installment in the Tradin' 4s series, Missouri Governor's Humanities Award recipient Ahmad Alaadeen moderates a 6:30 discussion in which drummer Terry Hughes, sax players and composers Ben Kynard and Eddie Saunders, and trumpeter and composer Elmer Price talk about their involvement in the development of Kansas City jazz; the discussion will be recorded as part of an oral history on Kansas City's jazz legacy. At 7:30, Alaadeen & Group 21 take over the stage, with Tyrone Clark on bass, Christopher Clarke on piano, and Michael Warren on drums, and an open jam follows at 8:30. The music- and history-making is all free; for information, call 913-831-4396.
The truth always comes out -- and Sergeant Rusty James of the Lenexa Police Department knows it. Tonight at 7 he'll talk about how. James discusses lie-detection techniques both ancient and modern -- especially those notoriously unreliable polygraph tests -- as part of the Sisters in Crime Speakers Series at Borders Books, 9108 Metcalf in Overland Park. For information, call 913-642-3642. Unfortunately, James' presentation comes a day too late to help us discern what all of those politicians have really been saying for the past few months.