Smile Politely

Five things in arts: February 2024

A portrait of artist Skeena Reece, a First Nations woman wearing a red robe with fur lining, and a headdress with feathers. She has yellow and black makeup across her forehead and eyes.
Skeena Reece / Spurlock Museum

February, the shortest month of the year, has an incredible amount on offer in our twin cities with regard to the arts. Even with an extra day in this leap year, there’s hardly enough time to take in all the visual art, theater, and interesting lectures. This list could have easily been ten events long, so know that if these five things don’t interest you, there are plenty more that might (just search our Weekender and our arts tag, and check out some of Louise’s suggestions in this month’s Get your culture here). 

Check out a performance by Skeena Reece, a Tsimshian/Gitksan and Cree artist 

Skeena Reece is a Tsimshian/Gitksan and Cree artist from British Columbia, Canada. Her work is multidisciplinary and multi-media, and includes (as the title of her visit suggests) performance and installation. Her performance will begin at 5:30 p.m., with a reception to follow. Don’t miss this opportunity to engage with something new and different, something a little mysterious, as there isn’t much in the way of a description beyond the title of the performance. 

Skeena Reece: Access Granted Is it a performance? An installation? A presentation? Come find out…
Spurlock Museum
600 S Gregory St
Th Feb 8th, 5:30 p.m.

Learn about cartooning with Keith Knight

Cartoonist Keith Knight returns to the U of I campus for an exhibition at the University YMCA and for the Friday Forum series. Knight is the cartoonist behind The K Chronicles and inspiration for Hulu’s series Woke. He was on campus in 2022 as part of the programming around Fake News and Lying Pictures: Political News in the Dutch Republic. His work is super smart, funny, and subversive. Enjoy lunch from Y Thai and this presentation from one of this generation’s greatest cartoonists. 

Cartooning Can Save the World! A comic strip slideshow by Keith Knight
University YMCA
1001 S Wright St
Exhibition opening reception: Th Feb 8th, 5 to 7 p.m.; on view through February
Friday Forum: F Feb 9th, noon

Beige and black graphic announcement for A Midsummer Night's Dream presented by the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company. Diagonally from the lower left to the upper right are a series of circles / half moons with drawings of different characters from the Shakespeare play, with text across the image declaring show information.
Champaign Urbana Theatre Company

Watch some Shakespeare 

Champaign Urbana Theatre Company is presenting the Shakespearean comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Station Theatre for eight performances this month. CUTC will transport you to a forest of love and shenanigans, where you can sit back and enjoy other people’s dramatic romantic entanglements. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a classic for a reason.  

Champaign Urbana Theatre Company presents: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Station Theatre
223 N Broadway
Feb 8-18

People crowd in the interior of Gallery Art Bar. has low tables on the right and bar seating on the left. Pendant lights are in shades of pink, purple, yellow, and green.
Gallery Art Bar


Darker than Blue, the collective of DJs and artists Chris Kinson, Manuella Lusambo, Stacey Robinson, Kamau Grantham, and Joe Blanks, have a standing Saturday night date with Gallery Art Bar. Once a month through May they will spin house, disco, and world beats late into the night. All dancers and music enthusiasts are welcome. 

Darker than Blue 
Gallery Art Bar
119 W Main St
Sa Feb 17th, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Free (but support Gallery)

A crowd of people at the Orpheum Theatre to celebrate 2016's Untitled, a fundraiser for 40 North. There is a screen with a projection that says 40 North. Some people are wearing colorful glasses.
Sam Logan

Attend a fun party that supports the arts in C-U

40 North’s annual fundraiser is celebrating ten years, and this year’s theme is a mashup of all of the themes of the past nine years (Rave, Warhol, Superhero, Punk, Sci Fi, John Hughes, Fairytale, Game Night, the Beatles). This year’s celebration will include catering and complimentary cocktails from Michael’s, custom-printed t-shirts, artwork for sale, candle-making, caricatures, and an escape room experience, among all sorts of other things. All proceeds support 40 North’s robust programming throughout the year. 

Untitled X 
Orpheum Theatre
346 N Neil
F Feb 23rd, 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.
$55 or $100 for two tickets


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