Happy August. I know that things are getting pretty intense out there, including the weather. But happily, there is good news to share here about our local arts scene. Creatives of various stripes are reminding us of the resiliency of art by harnessing the power of technology to provide opportunities for performance, for productive discussions about racial justice, and for reinventing the in-person arts festival so that artists and makers can safely sell their work and reclaim some of the support (financial and emotional) lost to the pandemic. Yes, everything is different. But the very existence of these alternative forms of visual and performance arts experience should give us hope. Below are five opportunities to experience this technology-driven approach to the arts in our times.
Shelter in Place: A Living Room Vaudeville
Local treasures Nathan and Julie Gunn will transform your night at home into an unforgetable evening of improv and cabaret performance. This is a rare opportunity to experience their tremendous talents (operatic baritone and pianist, respectively) on a more intimate scale. Their charisma and humor make Shelter in Place the perfect tonic for the times. Hosted by the South Bend Civic Theatre’s (virtual) stage, the $19 streaming fee allows you 24-hour access and is available through August 9th.
What He Said and James Baldwin discussion with Dr. Eddie Glaude
“For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.” – Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin
Carol Inskeep, Adult Services Librarian at Urbana Free Library, aptly notes that “so many people are turning to James Baldwin’s work right now; for inspiration, understanding, and to rage or grieve.” And thanks to to the UFL, there will be two opportunities to experience Baldwin’s work and wisdom this month.
First up is What He Said, featuring actor, filmmaker and teaching artist Kevin T. Hobbs, who will read excerpts from Baldwin’s poetry, plays, fiction, and essays. The founder and executive director of D.O.S.E. (Dreams Orchestrated Simply by Effort ), which “works to make the theater community become a better mirror of our world.” Hobbs shars that “equality is at the heart and soul of everything I do.”
On August 9th, the UFL will cohost a discussion with Dr. Eddie Glaude, author of Begin Again, new book about Baldwin’s work. This “conversation about James Baldwin and his importance today,” will kick off READ: Racial Education, Activism, and Discussion, a monthly anti-racism discussion group.
Also joining the conversation are Evelyn Reynolds, Associate Professor of Sociology at Parkland College and an activist, formerly a lead organizer with the Black Lives Matter global network and founder of Black Lives Matter Champaign-Urbana, Kofi Bazzell-Smith, artist, boxer, educator, and US Japan Bridging Scholar, and Erik McDuffie, Associate Professor, African American Studies, History at University of Illinois.
Jupiter Quartet Virtual Concert Livestream
If you’ve missed seeing the Jupiter String Quartet as much as I have, you won’t want to miss this virtual concert. Featured in the concert program will be the world premier of composer Michi Wiancko’s To Unpathed Waters, Uncharted Shores, “a new commission for them by Bay Chamber Concerts with the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, alongside Beethoven’s monumental String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. The new work was commissioned in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of Bay Chamber Concerts as well as Maine’s Bicentennial, and is paired with Beethoven’s music in honor of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.”
We Got Next
We Got Next is perhaps the most exciting and important new arts and culture series of the year. This five-part series hosted by The College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois, highlights “the work and research of faculty of color relevant to race and equality. Led by Endalyn Taylor, professor in the Department of Dance and dean’s fellow for the college, each weekly session features a “live discussion of the work’s creation, impact, and relationship to the perpetual pandemic of racism, and the systematic issues brought to the forefront by George Floyd’s murder and other recent events.”.
This week’s session features Rebecca Ginsburg, Department of Landscape Architecture, Rochelle Sennet from the School of Music, and James Lee III—guest collaborator. Upcoming sessions will feature Patrick Earl Hammie, School of Art and Design (August 13th, broadcast from Krannert Art Museum) and Lisa Gaye Dixon, Department of Theatre, and Lou Turner, Department of Urban and Regional Planning (August 20th, broadcast from Krannert Center for the Performing Arts).
Stayed tuned to the series webpage for links to YouTube recordings of past sessions, inlcuding discussions with C. Kemal Nance, faculty in the Department of Dance, and School of Art + Design alumnus Tim Davis (July 23rd, broadcast from Krannert Art Museum) and faculty in School of Music Joyce McCall and School of Art + Design faculty Stacey Robinson (July 30th, broadcast from Krannert Art Museum).
Virtual Crystal Lake Art Fair
It’s hard to believe it was only a year ago that 40 North launched the Crystal Lake Art Fair. I remember seeing a lot of great work, happily chatting with artists and art lovers, and feeling highly optimistic about this addition to the summer arts calendar. Though I had feared this year’s event would be canceled due to COVID-19, I was happy to learn that a virtual incarnation was in the works. As of this writing, a list of participating artists had yet to be published. So stay tuned to the social media links below in the coming days and be sure to log on, and if you are able, shop to support our local artists and makers when they need us most.