Smile Politely

Five things in arts: September 2023

The stock pavilion is empty with light shining onto the arena floor. A dancer, barely visible, warms up near the railings.
Fred Zwicky

Fall is around the corner, campus is bustling, and school is back in session. Although there were a number of great events over the summer (my favorites included Art Around the Block and My Little Titus Andronicus), September brings back university events, new theatre seasons, and so many other arts events I struggled to stick to only five. This month’s features include an outdoor art show, literary events at PYGMALION, the first play of the theatre season, a new exhibit at Krannert Art Museum, and the next installment by Smile Politely’s Artist of the Decade. Read on for all the details.

Three paintings by Sara Jahn of skulls with red accents and black backgrounds hang against a black wall
Paintings by Sara Jahn; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo

West Side Arts

This is the second year for West Side Arts, an outdoor art fair at West Side Park hosted by 40 North and the Champaign Park District. The juried art festival will showcase art by regional artists, including Gregory Stallmeyer (mixed media), Darin Doty (painting), Fraya Replinger (photography), Roberto Sabas (drawing + illustration), Steve Smith (woodworking), Carly Morrison (ceramics), Sara Jahn (painting), and more. The event will also have activities for children, so it’s sure to a be a great way to spend a Saturday with the whole family.

West Side Arts
West Side Park
400 W University Ave
Sept 16
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free, but you can buy things

Elizabeth Acevedo stands behind a podium with a microphone. She has curly brown hair and is wearing a black t shirt and maroon jacket
Scott Wells

Lit events at PYGMALION

September in Champaign-Urbana means PYGMALION. Even though the main draw is the music, the festival truly has something for everyone. For those who lean more towards the literary side of things, there are a bunch of events happening that you can check out. Friday’s events are mostly at Analog Wine Library, with Saturday featuring events at Analog and the Urbana Free Library. There will be readings by authors, a “Human Library,” and readings by the Creative Writing Program at U of I. If you are more into visual arts, the free and open-air art market Made Fest will be going on Friday night and Saturday afternoon and evening at Rose Bowl Tavern. Starting next week, I will be featuring interviews with some of the authors and artists who will be participating so keep an eye out for that!

Lit events at PYGMALION
Locations + Times vary
Sept 21­–23

A group of actors during a rehearsal for the Inseparables. They are dressed casually in a mostly bare room.
The Station Theatre on Facebook

The Inseparables

It’s a new theatre season, and The Station Theatre is starting off with the play The Inseparables, written by TJ Young and directed by Mikel Matthews, Jr. The comedic Inseparables is a play within a play: it centers on a small theatre company that is rehearsing an original adaptation of The Three Musketeers. The behind the scenes look at local theater promises to feature both puppets and pool noodles. If you are interested in learning more about the local theatre scene here in C-U, check out my recent articles with Station Theatre Producing Artistic Director Jaclyn Loewenstein, costume designer Vivian Krishnan, and Scenic Artist Christina Rainwater.

The Inseparables
The Station Theatre
223 N Broadway Ave
Sept 14-24
Th-Sa 7:30 p.m.
Su 2 p.m.

patrons stand in Krannert Art Museum looking at the Marie Watt exhibit. One of her pieces is visible on the side. It is a large fabric piece in green-yellow with concentric circles.
Krannert Art Museum on Facebook

Storywork: The Prints of Marie Watt

There’s a new exhibit at Krannert Art Museum showcasing the works of visual artist Marie Watt. Watt’s printmaking work is on display as part of the traveling exhibition, with works on display including those made by Watt as a graduate student at Yale as well as more recent pieces. The exhibition “explores themes of storytelling, community building, environmental stewardship and social justice.”

Storywork: The Prints of Marie Watt
Krannert Art Museum
500 E Peabody
On view until Dec 2
Tu–Sa 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Th open until 8 p.m. when classes are in session

The floor of the empty Stock Pavilion. There is an empty boat on the floor.
Deke Weaver

The Unreliable Bestiary: Cetacean

There is so much to say about The Unreliable Bestiary: Cetacean that it deserves its own article (I’m not exaggerating, the likely to be very lengthy article is forthcoming in the next few weeks). If you aren’t already familiar, The Unreliable Bestiary is a life-long project by artist, actor, and performer Deke Weaver in which he creates a performance for every letter of the alphabet that represents a threatened animal or habitat. The performances so far include Monkey, Bear, Tiger, Elephant, and Wolf. In Smile Politely’s Artist of the Decade feature, Jess Hammie wrote “Deke Weaver’s Unreliable Bestiary performances are clever, moving, humorous, and devastating. They are transformational: You are not the same person at the end of the performances as you were at the beginning, unless you’re dead inside.”

Cetacean, the next installment, is happening at the end of this month at the Stock Pavillion. There will be five performances total, with no tickets necessary. Weaver did tell me that the show runs more than two hours and the seats are not particularly comfortable, so bring a cushion.

The Stock Pavilion
1402 W Pennsylvania Ave
Sept 28 to Oct 2
7:30 p.m.
Free (yes, really)

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