Smile Politely

Five things to do in arts: August 2019

Here we are in August.  Can you believe it? Luckily, there are plenty of things happening in our local arts scene to help ease the transition from summer vacay to start of school year. From local theatre to live poetry, here’s to finding your last blast of summer fun.


The Last Five Years

If KT Burke’s recent preview didn’t spark your interest, stay tuned for Jarrod’s upcoming review.  For this reviewer, The Last Five Years hits a rare sweet spot in musical theatre. If the larger-than-life-nature of large scale musicals isn’t your thing, this two-person musical dialogue will surprise you in its honesty and intimacy. Plus, its a perfect fit for a theatre like The Station Theatre. If you want dive deep into your pre-theatre prep, watch the Anna Kendrick movie version so you can wax philosophical on the differences between screen and stage. 

The Last Five Years
The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre
223 N Broadway Ave, Urbana
August 1st through 17th
Get ticket information here
Photo by Jesse Folks 

Pens to Lens 2019 Gala

We here at Smile Politely have long been fans of this groundbreaking event.  (See our coverage of the 2018 Pens to Lens Gala). Pens to Lens brings together young screenwriters and the local filmmakers who bring their words into life. The result is in a full-on gala with legit red carpet and paparazzi. For those of us not involved in the local movie-making on the daily, this is an opportunity to discover how much talent our town boasts.  Animators, voice actors, set designers, costume designers, etc. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy the display of fab movie posters created by some of CU’s most talented graphic designers and illustrators. In other words, this is a must-not-miss event. 

Pens to Lens 2019 Gala
The Virginia Theatre
203 W Park Ave, Champaign
August 10th, 2 to 5 p.m.
Get tickets here
Photo from Pens to Lens website


Poets at the Post with Will Reger

We first got to know Will Reger in my recent interview with the new Urbana Poet Laureate. And since then, Reger’s been busy meeting folks at local community events, hosting a listening session to get a beat on what local writers, readers, and poets would like to see him focus on in his new capacity.  But this week, you’ll get to see him in his natural habitat, at the mic reading his poems live. Kudos to the Poets at the Post and Reger for this collab, which will not only showcase Reger’s poetry, but, perhaps more importantly, shine a brigher light on this long-standing, talented group and their reading series. 

Poets at the Post with Will Reger
Iron Post
120 S Race St, Urbana
August 12th, 7 to 9 p.m.


Linoleum + Ink 


When I visited Lisa Kesler’s studio earlier this spring, she had just finished working with this group of Urbana art students, teaching them the analog joys of lino block cutting and printmaking. Since then, the students work, along with pieces by Kesler herself, have graced the walls of the Urbana City Building as par tof the Artist of the Corridor series.  This week marks the capstone of Kesler’s local arts grant-supported artist residency. This week, we get to hear from the young artists themselves at a closing reception and panel discussion.  I can’t wait to hear what these kids learned and experienced in their time working with a local treasure like Kesler.  This is arts education at its best. Bringing passionate artists into the schools to share their knowledge, cultivate inspiration, and support emerging young talent.  Now this is something to show up for. 

Linoleum + Ink
Print work by Urbana High School students
Closing Reception + Student Panel
The Urbana Free Library
210 W Green St, Urbana
August 15th, noon to 1 p.m.
Photo from Facebook event page  


Parkland College Art, Design Faculty Exhibition 2019

(Melinda McIntosh, Silly Goose Side Porch, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, 2019)

As an art student, one is either highly curious about one’s instructors own work, or completely unconcerned about it. Most instructors would probably prefer the latter scenario, as they tend to wait until the end of the semester to share their own work to avoid influencing susceptible students. Well, this month Parkland students and community art-lovers alike will see just how talented Parkland’s Art + Design faculty is, both inside the classroom and in their own studios.  This annual showcase features sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, video, photography, metals, ceramics, and graphic design. Exhibiting faculty members include Chris Berti, Shawn Fairchild, Stacey Gross, Bryan Heaton, Paula McCarty, Melinda McIntosh, Laura O’Donnell, Denise Seif, Peggy Shaw, Sheila Schneider, Joan Stolz,

Parkland College Art, Design Faculty Exhibition 2019
Giertz Gallery
2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign
August 19th through September 21st
Artist Reception: August 22nd, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Get gallery hours here
Photo courtesy of Giertz Gallery

Extra credit assignments: 

See the Writers and Their Tools exhibit before it closes on August 28th
See the Explorations in Abstracts exhibit before it closes on August 24th
Missed the inaugural Crystal Lake Art Fair? Take some time to these amazing artists work on line and see where they’re showing next.

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