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40 North is offering the chance to have your artwork on Blind Pig beer bottles.

40 North has partnered up with Blind Pig Brewery to give a local artist the opportunity to have their work displayed on new beer bottles. 

In addition, the winner will receive a $50 Blind Pig gift card, a case of bottles featuring their work, recognition in event promotions, and of course their work and name featured about 6600 bottles of beer.

Read on to learn more about eligibility and how to submit your work:


Established and emerging artists are welcome to apply
Original artwork must fit appropriately within the format outlined below
Existing artwork is suitable and preferred
Details of existing artwork are also permitted due to format restrictions
No additional text or logos are required - please submit image only
Artwork must not contain any nudity
All genres, styles, and media will be considered


-jpeg format
-Each artist may submit up to 3 images
-Please name each file as follows “lastname_firstname_01.jpg” - i.e. “smith_jane_01.jpg”
-Images should be 306 pixels wide x 270 pixels high (300 dpi)
-Please complete the online application form and send digital images to

Winners will be chosen by the end of February. The Pig Daze Artist Ale will be specially released at the First Annual "Pig Daze" celebration in June. 

Applications are due by February 19th, and can be submitted here.


This weekend: Blithe Spirit at Urbana High School

This weekend, Urbana High School will be presenting their winter play, Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward, offering a “comical, ironic look at love for Valentine’s.” This 1941 comedy is about a novelist hosting a dinner party and the chaos the ensues when one of his guests conducts a séance,  bringing the ghost of his first wife into the mix—with his second wife present. As director Sara Jones wrote in her Director’s Note, “Though this play is intended to be not only funny, but often quite silly, its heart is about relationships. It explores both how cruel and and wonderful it is to love someone, and how far we’re willing to go to get what we  think we want from them.” Featuring a cast of seven students, supported by a crew of 20, this thoughtful comedy will be running through the weekend.

Here are the details: 

Blithe Spirit will be performed at 7:00 pm Wednesday through Saturday (February 14 ­– 17) and at 2:30 pm on Sunday (February 18). All performances will be in the Urbana High School Cobb Auditorium, 1002 S. Race Street. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults, and are available at the box office, which opens 30 minutes prior to each performance.

And the poster: 


The Independent Media Center is hosting two events with musician Diane Patterson

The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center and Common Ground Co-op are hosting two events in February featuring musician Diane Patterson. She brings her guitar, ukelele, and vocal talents to a community concert Friday, February 21st from 8-10 p.m., with opening performances by Charlie Ford and Kenna Mae Music, and there will be refreshments!

On Saturday the 22nd, she is joined by Sheba Love for a #metoo support activation circle. It's described as a "sacred circle gathering in response to #metoo and the culture around this." This event takes place from 12-3 p.m., and Common Ground will provide tea and refreshments. Here is a more in-depth description from the Facebook event:

Calling all mystics, misfits, and misgendered, and anyone else who wants to come.

Sheba Love and Diane Patterson are calling an activation circle in Urbana. Diane and Sheba come from Ashland, Oregon with a river in their hearts and a message of healing for the masses. This sacred circle gathering is in response to #metoo and the culture around this. Please come as your highest selves, sharing old stories, creating solutions, as we reweave these strands of our past towards healing and action! These gatherings are happening all around the world as we reshape the paradigm!️ Let us together seek solutions and create a better world going forward. We can no longer give into the feelings of shame or remain silent.

Let us remove the systemic fibers that have kept us bound in our fear. We encourage massive compassion for each other as we speak out and seek ways to triage this grief of planetary imbalance. We encourage more dialogue and less shame, keeping watchful eyes in community, naming names.

For many years we have spoke of the Rise Of The Divine Female and here they come in their myriad of expression dancing along the vast gender spectrum. The equality we seek means hearing from people who are from all paths. The future isn't female, it is queer, encompassing all bodies, all experiences, while valuing each person as their own autonomous entity with differences from ourselves. It is in out differences we can learn and evolve.
Again we say, gather your circles. Listen, and reorganize. We all deserve love and attention as we hone our hearts into the greatness of our power. This circle is for all people. Survivors and those who have done harm who are seeking reconciliation. It is a new day, and it is time for healing and for doing better as we move forward in a turbulent sea. WE MUST RESIST!


C-U’s Edible Book Festival is April 7th

C-U's 13th Annual Edible Book Festival will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m on Saturday, April 7th at Common Ground Food Co-op. 

It's the second time the event will be at Common Ground, which is a good fit for families who may want to bring thier kiddos. The Edible Book Festival is always a good time — there are plenty of puns to be had. 

You can register to participate with your own creation, or browse our previous coverage here, here, and here

Photo by Jessica Hammie


Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble broke down the white patriarchy in one fell swoop

If only it were that easy. For now, we'll just have to appreciate the victories when they come on a platter, served by those who dished it out with which to begin. 

To wit: 

Former UIUC professor Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble just released what appears to be one of the most important research based books about the nature of racism and prejudice in the modern era.

You'll note that I stated that it appears to be one, and that is because I haven't read it. As such, I wouldn't pretend to know either way, outside of what the early reviews are stating, and because of this sad, yet amusing reminder of a tale too often told.

I'll not rehash the whole thing here. Gizmodo did a fine job of that yesterday, which is why we are giving it some local ink. 

Needless to say, this one made me literally SMDH and then also chuckle, just thinking of the way she must have cocked her head as she read the initial tweet. The ensuing engagement is all too familiar these days. That it involves someone who made such a big impact during her time here, well, that's called "News" where Smile Politely is concerned. 

Normally, I'd say something about how Safiya should go on being her badass self, but she already knows that, and doesn't need to hear it from the likes of me, that is for damn sure. I'm part of the problem. But at least I can recognize it. 

Image courtesy Flickr / Personal Democracy


2018 Boneyard Arts Festival Signature Image announced

40 North announced that Happiness 2 by Lisa Kesler will be the Signature Image for the 2018 Boneyard Arts Festival. Chosen from over 100 submissions and selected by local artists, Happiness 2 will be featured on “all festival registration materials, posters, postcard, billboards, print and online advertising as well as on the cover of the Boneyard Arts Festival quick guide.”

Here's the full image:


Here more from full press release about Kesler, including a quote and some of her background:

"I prefer to paint abstractly so that I can concentrate on the colors and shapes and textures in my painting. I often use areas of repeating patterns to create a sense of rhythm and energy. Happiness 2 is a painting from one of my new series. I created it by combining two of my favorite mediums - acrylic painting and linoleum block printing. I printed geometric designs from blocks of linoleum that I carved. Then I applied the printed designs to the surface of my painting as part of the overall composition."

Lisa Kesler is a painter and printmaker who works from her studio in Tolono. She studied painting at the U of I and received her MFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She works in a variety of media including acrylic painting, encaustic painting, linoleum block printmaking, and letterpress printing. Her style and methods have been influenced by the places she's lived: the Midwest, the desert Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest coast. She finds inspiration and ideas all around her, especially in vintage illustrations in magazines and books, textiles, and the decorative arts.

Images from 40 North website. 


The CSA Fair is March 2nd at Lincoln Square Mall

This year's CSA Fair will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on March 2nd at Lincoln Square Mall/Common Ground Food Co-op. The event is sponsored by The Land Connection, Common Ground, and Urbana's Market at the Square/City of Urbana, and will take place during Imbibe Urbana's First Fridays.

The fair is an opportunity for you to meet local farmers and sign up for community supported agriculture (CSA). CSA options include produce, of course, but also meat, cheese, and flowers. 

Last year my CSA produce offered some of the best bites I had in 2017. If you're around during the late spring and into early fall, a weekly CSA is an easy way to incorporate more local fruits and veggies into your diet. 

For an idea of what to expect, check out our guides to CSA 2017 and CSA 2016. Additional inforomation about the March 2nd event is available on Facebook


Silvercreek has a wine dinner set for March 15th

Silvercreek is offering up another wine dinner next month, this time featuring selections from Kenefick Ranch in Napa Valley, CA. I've had the pleasure of participating in a few of these in the past, and they certainly make for a lovely evening of good food and good wine. With five courses and five wine pairings, it's definitely worth the splurg for a fancy date night or gathering of friends in the greenhouse. You can contact (217) 328-3402 for reservations.