Questions about GUIs

I am trying to use matplotlib to visually explore certain different
representation of images. I have the core functionality done. This allows to
explore one image that appears on two subplots w/ the possibility to highlight
regions on either subplot and see the corresponding one on the other.
What I have left to do is to provide some mean to select the image one wants to
explore. I tried to follow some advice given on this list, but it seems gui
dialogs (file selection in this case) don't get along well with the thread
tricks done by ipython to maintain interactivity while using matplotlib (ipython
started w/ -gthread or -pylab option). If I start ipython without options, the
dialogs do respond, but then I loose the ipython shell. Am I trying to do
something out of normal with matplotlib? I would appreciate any advice or
pointers that would allow me overcome these limitations.