Smile Politely

Five things in arts this month: June 2021

Welcome to June. This month as we pass from spring into summer, C-U arts offerings begin to transition from online to in-person. Starting off with the Lyric Theatre at Illinois’ filmed production of The Turn of the Screw, and ending with the long-awaited return of Boneyard Arts Festival, likely to be a hybrid virtual and in-person experience, here are five things to do in arts that you won’t want to miss. 

The Turn of the Screw

Photo of backdrop of eerie Victorian mansion at night. Photo by Darrell Hoemann

Photo by Darrell Hoemann,

The writers of the Smile Politely arts section have been (pardon the pun) setting the stage for this production for a while now. (Check out Tom Zhang’s perspective as a lighting director and Kathleen McGowan’s interview with Julie Gunn). And now, at long last, the production is live. 

“Based on Henry James’ novel of the same name, The Turn of the Screw is a classic ghost story that touches on contemporary issues, including the loss of innocence amidst situations of anarchy.”  

“Set around the 1840’s at a large country estate in England,” The Turn of the Screw “is one of Britten’s most musically interesting works. His use of a 12-note theme with variations connects the opera’s prologue and two acts of 16 scenes.” This production features the members of the  School of Music’s Illinois Modern Ensemble under the direction of conductor Michael Tilley.

The Turn of the Screw
Presented by the Lyric Theatre at Illinois
June 1st through 15th, online only
Tickets $35/household, $10/student. 
Get more information here.

Modernist Strategies: Highlights from the WPA

Paul Kelpe, Man and Machines (Abstraction #5), 1934, oil, ©Paul Kelpe. Image from Krannert Art Museum website.

Paul Kelpe, Man and Machines (Abstraction #5), 1934, oil, ©Paul Kelpe. Image from Krannert Art Museum website.

This exciting new exhibition resonates with the late-pandemic state of the artists. Highlighting the works of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which “sponsored the Federal Art Project, which employed as many as 10,000 artists during the Great Depression. In exchange for a modest weekly wage, artists produced paintings, sculptures, prints, and other works to be distributed to federal buildings and other public institutions” from 1935 to 1943. 

While many of the “works produced under the WPA portrayed scenes of everyday life—images of urban and rural landscapes, leisure activities, and industrial growth—as well as depictions conveying the grief, anxiety, and hardship brought on by economic inequity and other social injustices, typically rendered in realist, representational styles,” artists of this movement also “explored these themes through modernist visual strategies, including abstraction, expressive color, compressed or flattened space, and a reduction of detail. Artists used these strategies to visually communicate the heightened psychological tension and anguish experienced by many during this time.”

Curated by Kathryn Koca Polite, Assistant Curator, Modernist Strategies: Highlights from the WPA will be “featured as a newly installed exhibition space in Summer-Fall 2021, then will transition a Collection Gallery where works from the WPA will be exhibited with periodic rotations.”

Modernist Strategies: Highlights from the WPA
June 5th through December 23rd
Krannert Art Museum
500 E Peabody Drive, Champaign
Reserve your visit time here

Girls Rock Fest! Open Mic & Art Show

Line drawing of guitar with the words girls rock C-U. Image from the Girls Rock C-U website.

Image from Girls Rock C-U website.

If you’re looking for an afternoon of high-energy, multi-disciplinary magic, look no further than Girls Rock C-U’s first open mic and art show.  This event will celebrate the talents of girls, transgender, and gender non-conforming youth, ages 8 through 18. 

Stop by and support these young artists and an important cause. (All proceeds from these event will be donated to the New American Welcome Center and Pandemic Relief Fund.) Masks will be required when not in your seat. Dress for an outdoor show. 

Girls Rock Fest! Open Mic & Art Show
June 12th, 1 to 4 p.m.
Rose Bowl Tavern
106 N Race Street, #1, Urbana, free

Around the Block III: Artists From Our Neighborhood

Mosaic image of multiple works from last year's Around the Block. Image from the Giertz Gallery at Parkland website.

Image from the Giertz Gallery at Parkland website.

When you think of Giertz Gallery, you may think of student and faculty exhibitions and gallery talks from a range of significant artists across the country. But the annual Around the Block exhibit is a celebration of local talent. 

Showcased on the Giertz Gallery social media sites, the show will “feature the work of regional artists from Champaign County and surrounding areas.” An online catalog of the show will also be available. 

Here’s a timeline of what to expect during its eight-week run. 

June 14th: Artist showcase opens online. Catalog available online

June 17th: Reception 6 p.m.; opening remarks by Tom Ramage. Register for the virtual reception here.                     

Artist talks (artists TBA) will take place on June 30th, July 14th, July 28th, and August 4th.

Around the Block III: Artists From Our Neighborhood
June 14th through August 14th
Online, available for viewing on
the Giertz Gallery exhibit page and the 40 North website.

Boneyard Arts Festival 2021

Boneyard Arts Festival poster featuring crop of Greg Stallmeyer's

Image from the Boneyard Arts Festival Facebook page.

It’s happening. After a 2020 pandemic-style virtual festival, Boneyard Arts Festival is making a comeback this month in what I anticipate will be a hybrid in-person and remote experience with COVID protocols in place. As of this writing, I don’t yet have a lot of details about what this will look l do know. Whatever this year’s BYAF looks like, it will need our support. Champaign County artists and makers were hit hard by the pandemic shutdowns. BYAF is a lot more than a long weekend of art browsing. As Executive Director Kelly White points out on the 40 North website, BYAF “stimulates cultural, economic, social and educational growth by providing an opportunity for people of every age, background and interest to participate.” In terms of dollars and cents, it demonstrates “the value of collaboration among individuals, organizations and businesses,” and demonstrates “the effectiveness of utilizing art to increase foot traffic in and around participating venues, as well as to enhance the environment in public and private spaces.” 

Stay tuned to the arts section for more details on Boneyard Arts Festival 2021. And find a way, however you can, to amplify the message and support the artists of BYAF 2021.

Boneyard Arts Festival 2021
June 18th through 20th
Various locations throughout Champaign County and online

Editor’s note: Shortly after publication this morning, Smile Politely learned that the Boneyard Arts Festvial submission deadline has been extended to June 4th. 

Top image from the Girls Rock! C-U website.

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