Smile Politely

Five things in arts this month: October 2020

Happy October.  I’ll spare you the frightful wordplay about a month of tricks and treats. We’ve had enough shocks to last a while. Instead let’s focus in on the bright side. A month with two full moons and many chances to enjoy the mid-Autumn harvest of artists and makers who have continued to create despite significant challenges. Many have had to recreate either their method of creation or presentation, or in some cases both. This season’s harvest may look different, but it is rich in resilience, grit, adaptability and resonance. Enjoy. 

Artist’s Talk with Paula McCarty, Creator of Women Who Painted

Collage of five women artists' portraits from the Women Who Painted collection by artist Paula McCarty. Image from Facebook

Image from Facebook

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I saw the first few portraits of this series back in August 2019 at Parkland’s Art + Design Faculty Showcase. I was captivated. And as the series has grown, so has my interest. I interviewed artist Paula McCarty in early March 2020, right before her dual-location exhibit, access to which was cut short by the pandemic. 

This week, as McCarty presents an online artist’s talk, we get the chance to see how the series has evolved. It is a rare treat to follow along as an artist enjoys a good, long, deep dive, into her subject. This series is a testament to McCarty’s talent and tenacity, as well as to the lives and work of the women she has painted. It also represented a new way of working —trading in paintbrush for stylus—that has been proved to be transformative. And for those artists forced out of their studio spaces by the pandemic, this talk may inspire a second look at what is possible with digital technology. 

Artist’s Talk with Paula McCarty, Creator of Women Who Painted
October 6th, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Learn more, or join the onine event on Facebook


Spaced Out: a mini-masked outdoor maker market

Photo of comedian Paul Lynde in a gold space suit in front of a yellow background with event information on the right side. Image from Facebook.

Image from Facebook

One thing I’ve really missed amid the pandemic is wandering through endless weekends of arts and maker festivals. I’ve missed catching up with my favorite local artists and seeing what they’ve been creating. I’ve missed getting turned on to someone’s work for the first time right there in person. I miss the serendipity of finding just the right gift (or gift to self). Most of all I miss that feeling of seeing so much creativity coming out of our community. 

But leave it to the artists to find a way to create a spaced-out socially-distanced meeting of the makers. This one-day takeover of the Sunnycrest Tot Lot features some great talent. Crass Stitching is bound to have some smart and edgy election-season goodies. And from what I’ve seen on social media, Loren Made has been cooking up some great new hair jewelry you’ll want to check out. And who can resist any event that features Paul Lynde in a gold spacesuit on its invite. So put on a mask, head to Urbana, and help support local makers from at least six feet away. 

Spaced Out
October 10th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
508 E Sunnycrest Court, Urbana
Find out more on Facebook

Illinois Authors Exchange Community Reading: Daniel Borzutzky and Christopher Grimes

Photos of Chicago authors Daniel Borzutzky and Christopher Grimes. Photo from University of Illinois website

Photo from University of Illinois website

This book nerd is especially excited to see the University of Illinois Year of Creative Writers continue on in its Zoom format. Featured this month are two Chicago-based writers, Daniel Borzutzky and Christopher Grimes, who are both on the University of Illinois at Chicago faculty, in the English and Latin American and Latino Studies, and Program for Writers respectively. 

Borzutzky, a poet and translator, was a finalist for the 2018 International Griffin Poetry Prize with his latest book Lake MichiganThe Performance of Becoming Human won the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry. His translation of Galo Ghigliotto’s Valdivia won the 2017 National Translation Award. Grimes is the author of The Pornographers: A Novel, and Public Works: Short Fiction and a Novella.

Illinois Authors Exchange Community Reading: Daniel Borzutzky and Christopher Grimes
October 13th, 7 p.m.
Zoom event, register here

You can also catch the Campus reading on October 14th at 4:30 p.m. on Zoom. 

Art in the time of pandemic: studio art 

Cropped detail image from 2018 print Remediator by Emmy Lingscheit. Image from artist's website

Image detail of 2018 print Remediator from Emmy Lingscheit’s website

Those of in and around the arts have been having conversations, public and private, about how we have been faring during COVID-19. Its impact on personal finances and local business economies. Strategies for finding and keeping a sense of normalcy and routine. The decision to make one’s work overtly political, whether or not to engage in a dialog about the other pandemics (systemic racism,  economic and healthcare inequities). The ways the pandemic has changed the ways in which one works and the tools one works with? And this doesn’t even cover the challenge of selling one’s work amid a long-term stay-at-home order. 

This particular ponderer was excited to learn that the Center of Advanced Studies was taking on these questions with a multi-disciplinary, multi-session, free and open to the public, online dialog.  On October 19th, we’ll be treated to a conversation between Emmy Lingscheit, Associate Professor in Printmaking at Illinois, Ben Grosser, Associate Professor in New Media at Illinois, and moderator Amy L. Powell, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Krannert Art Museum. 

Art in the time of pandemic: studio art
Featuring Emmy Lingscheit, Ben Grosser, and moderator Amy L. Powell
October 19th, 4 p.m. 
Center for Advanced Studies Zoom event
Learn more, or register here

Virtual Small Press Fest

Illustration of words

Image from Facebook

After such a strong launch in 2019, featuring small press and zine vendors, demos, and a lot of happy fans, hopes were high for the arrival of the second annual Small Press Fest in April 2020. Well we all know what happened next. The good news is that six months later the fest is making a COVID-friendly comeback.

If you’re a writer, artist, or maker of zines, now’s your chance to be part of Virtual Small Press Fest 2020. Applications are due October 9th, and decisions will be announced on October 12th. Find out more here.

Virtual Small Press Fest 
October 22nd through 24th
Find out more, or join the online event on Facebook

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