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New basement art gallery in Downtown Champaign to open

Whoa. This is a really cool and ambitious idea coming from The Basement Gallery. There are very limited details, so we'll let the people behind the gallery tell you about it:

The space is open to visual artists looking to display their art and host a reception. The gallery can hold up to 20 pieces but can be modified depending on the artists' needs. The space has ample room for a reception and restrooms are available. As the name implies, the gallery is in a basement which provides a beautiful exposed brick backdrop for the art. Ok, Ok, but where is it? When you buy a ticket (modestly priced at $2) you get rendezvous instructions for the night of the show. Usually the artist will have set up something fun like a happy hour or scavenger hunt for the group before the show. During the activity, the artist will arrive and escort you through the oldest neighborhood in Champaign and to the gallery where you will enjoy the art, music, conversation, beer, wine, and snacks. We will be announcing our first show tomorrow afternoon so stay tuned!

Interestingly, Chris "Two Brainz" Smith is listed in the Artists' Profiles section of the site, so expect his work to be included somehow.


Auditions Saturday, May 23rd, for Station summer show

Per a Station Theatre release:


Saturday, May 23 from 2-5pm
Station Theatre
223 N. Broadway, Urbana

Director Tim O'Neal will be auditioning actors for this summer's production of a two-person show, Mary's Wedding, this Saturday, 5/23 from 2-5pm in The Station's lobby. He is looking for two actors in their 20s, a female and a male, and actors can audition with a prepared monologue or from cold readings from the script. Details of the production follow:

Show dates: JULY 2–18, 2015



Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of World War I, this love story opens on the night before Mary's wedding. Through a dream-like poetry, the play examines the endurance of love and the consequences of war.


Kamakura to close, reopen with new owners

We're a smidge late on this, as this Facebook post just came to our attention. But it appears that Kamakura will be closing at the end of the month and then reopening with new ownership sometime in July.

Kamakura has been serving the Champaign and Urbana area for 30 years! We were the first restaurant in the area and...

Posted by Jyunichi Niizuma on Friday, May 15, 2015

JSM announces the addition of Azzip Pizza to campustown

JSM has announced that a new pizza restaurant is going to open in campustown in the old Jersey Mike's location. Azzip Pizza's first Illinois location will set up shop right on Green St. and will be serving fresh pies to customers.

From the release:

CHAMPAIGN, IL— Champaign based developer, JSM, is pleased to announce it has secured a long term lease with Azzip Pizza to be located at 505 E. Green St., formally Jersey Mike’s Subs, in Champaign.

Founded in 2013 in Evansville, Indiana, Azzip Pizza is a fast casual pizzeria serving fresh, made to order personal pizzas where customers can choose their toppings while the pizza is being made. With two pizzerias in Indiana, the Champaign location will be their first location in the State of Illinois.

“Azzip Pizza is thrilled to be bringing our personal, fast, fresh, and delicious pizza into the Campustown location,” stated Brad Niemeier, owner and founder of Azzip Pizza. “We look forward to serving all University of Illinois students, faculty, staff, and Champaign residents. We will provide unique, personalized pizzas in only two and a half minutes in an interactive atmosphere.”

“JSM is very excited to be working with Azzip Pizza,” stated Jill Guth, director of commercial leasing/marketing for JSM. “Azzip Pizza is an exciting addition to Campustown and the fast casual market. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with them.”

Azzip Pizza will soon start construction and is expected to open this August. For more information on Azzip Pizza, please visit www.azzippizza.me.


Joe’s Brewery hosting bands this summer

Joe’s Brewery is searching for bands to perform each weekend in their outdoor beer garden this summer. The venue is looking to make campus a friendlier place for local musicians and will be seeking groups looking to expand their presence in the community.

Sets will typically be around two hours long and bands can contact Filip Pilatowski by email at Fpilat2@gmail.com or by phone at (708) 785-4044 or they can reach Joe’s Brewery directly at joesbrewery@gmail.com.


Krannert Center announces summer box office hours

From a Krannert Center release:

From May 23, 2015 through June 14, 2015 the Ticket Office will be closed on weekends. Krannert Center will also be closed on Monday, May 25 for Memorial Day. Normal hours will resume on June 15, 2015.

You can read more about Ticket Office information and hours here.


Espresso Royale inside Illini Union to close

The news was just posted on Espresso Royale's Facebook page. We don't have any details, other than that they'll be closing on May 26th.

So this is happening....so sad to be leaving the Illini Union after 20 years.

Posted by Espresso Royale-CU on Thursday, May 21, 2015

SP EIC Emeritus Chris Maier’s Little Salon gathering serious buzz in D.C.

As a community magazine, people come and go constantly from SP — which is kind of a positive thing about it from which to begin. People move through this community and keep things flowing. New writers, editors, and all of that, all the time. It keeps things fresh.

Editor-in-Chief Emeritus and co-Founder of SP, Chris Maier, was recently featured for the growing trend of Little Salon which has been creating some buzz in the Washington, D.C. area. Though this article was published about a month ago, it's definitely worth mentioning here.

Check out some of the information below, and go ahead and read the whole thing (linked above):

On a Tuesday night in July, in a Harvard Street NW rowhouse that looked like any other, Charlie Nilles hoisted his 35-pound bass over a sea of people chatting and drinking wine on the staircase, filling the living room and spilling into the kitchen and foyer.

Nilles gingerly set the instrument down next to Mark Evans' cello. All heads turned toward the string musicians, both members of the National Symphony Orchestra and a smaller ensemble, the LeDroit Chamber Players. They picked up their bows and glided into "Duo," a piece they'd transcribed for cello and bass. The room fell silent. The wine-drinking paused. There was no icy glow from a cell phone. The entire crowd was mesmerized by the musicians, close enough to touch, serenading them in the middle of a Columbia Heights row house.

This is the magic of Little Salon.

Conceived by fiction writer Chris Maier (below), Little Salon brings high-quality art to informal settings, with no ticket prices or exclusive invitations. Next month, the event will celebrate its first anniversary of monthly gatherings in D.C. residences.

At the July show, the "stage" between the fireplace and makeshift wine bar featured poetry, another piece by the LeDroit Chamber Players (this time, a Béla Fleck song originally composed for banjo), and short fiction.

“A lot of us arrive at genres of art with preconceptions of what that art is supposed to be, and how accessible it's supposed to be, and who it's supposed to be made for,” Maier said. “If we can challenge those things, and do it in a fun, conversational, unpretentious space...it's good for everyone.”

Good stuff, Chris!