Smile Politely

Five things in arts: August 2023

a collage of 40 square images featuring art from last year's Crystal Lake Art Fair
40 North on Facebook

After last week’s heatwave, it may be hard to believe, but the end of summer is near. The pools are closing soon, kids go back to school in a few weeks, and campus and fall events are about to be in full swing. Before the chaos of the start of the school year, take some time to appreciate some of the final summer events happening in the arts this month. This month’s features include an art fair, a theatre production that mixes a children’s classic toy with a brutal Shakespearian play, a local filmmaker’s horror creation at the Virginia, and some opportunities for you to hone your own artistic skills.

Cindy Sampson's booth at Crystal Lake Art Fair. A large painting of a woman with a turquoise sky behind her and wearing a witches hat is front and center. on the right side are smaller framed paintings
Debra Domal

Crystal Lake Art Fair

The Crystal Lake Art Fair is back this weekend. The Art Fair is hosted by 40 North 88 West and the Urbana Park District. More than 40 regional and local artists will be at the event with their items for sale, including paintings, textiles, ceramic, photography, jewelry, glass, and more. The event is family-friendly with a kids’ make and take project, and food trucks will also be available onsite. Whether you are there to pick up some new art or just become more acquainted with the local art scene, It’s sure to be a great time for the whole family. You can read about last year’s fair here.

Crystal Lake Art Fair
Crystal Lake Park
206 W Park
Aug 5th
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free, but you can buy things

My Little Titus Andronicus  

A few months ago, I received an email or saw somewhere online quite late at night that there would be a production here in town called My Little Titus Andronicus, which combined the children’s toy My Little Pony with one of Shakespeare’s most brutal plays, Titus Andronicus. Within a week, I had convinced myself this was a fever dream — there is no way this is real, right? I found the email, and sure enough — it’s real, and I cannot wait. The description really says it all, so I will include it in its entirety for your enjoyment:

At last, the sparkly pep of My Little Pony meets the violent tragedy of Titus Andronicus. It’s Princess Millennia’s birthday, and Early Evening Glimmer is determined to put on a play. Unfortunately, Shakespeare’s classic is less about believing in yourself and more about the folly of ambition in a polluted world filled with moral ambiguity. Will the ponies put on the play with more musical numbers or bloodshed? Friendship is magic and all nobility is savagery in this delightfully irreverent romp.

The play is being staged by Twin City Theatre Company. Please note, this production is not for children.

My Little Titus Andronicus
University Laboratory High School North Attic Theatre
1212 W Springfield
Aug 4-6 + 11-13
Th- Sa 7 p.m.
Su 2 p.m.

behind the scenes of Final Summer. Actors sit outside at night looking off in the distance; a camera man and director are visible holding up a clapper
Photo by Della Perrone; image courtesy of John Isberg

Final Summer at The Virginia Theatre

Final Summer (2022), a horror film by Champaign-Urbana filmmaker John Isberg, is showing at the Virginia Theatre this month. The film is an indie-slasher inspired by 80s classics including Friday the 13th. Final Summer follows a group of summer camp counselors as they fight for their lives against a masked killer. It stars Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) actor Thom Matthews.

Final Summer
The Virginia Theatre
203 W Park Ave
Aug 10th
7 p.m.

An outside shot of Champaign Public Library. There is a blue sky with clouds; the large brown building with many windows. Huge letters in the grass spell out Library
Champaign Public Library

Hone your writing skills

Champaign Public Library is hosting two creative writing workshops this month. On August 16th, author and editor Ekta Garb will be leading “Solving Your Story Problems.” The workshop will be a brainstorming session designed for authors who have already begun working on a story but need help with where to go next. On August 30th, author Molly MacRae will host “Host to Write a Novel.” This workshop is designed to help walk prospective authors through the novel-writing process, from idea to fruition.

Writer’s Workshops
Champaign Public Library
200 W Green St
Aug 16th + 30th
7 p.m.

rows of paint line shelves
The Pottery Place on Facebook

Paint some pottery

A few weeks ago, my mom had a free day and decided to take my six-year-old to The Pottery Place in Champaign. It’s one of those places I’ve been meaning to check out forever, but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. They both had the best time. If you aren’t already familiar, you select a piece of pottery from their collection which range from $8-$40 (my mom painted a mug, and my daughter a cat figurine, but there are plenty of options), you paint your selected piece using their supplied paint and tools, leave your painted item there so they can fire it for you, and then you pick it up a few days later.

Appointments are not required, but if you are taking a large group, it’s helpful to reserve a table ahead of time. In addition to the cost of the pottery, you pay a studio fee: $7 for adults, $5 for children, and $10 for a parent/child combo.

The Pottery Place
1808 Round Bard Rd #C
Su 12 to 5 p.m.
Tu-Th 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sa 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Prices vary

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