Smile Politely

Art so good, they can’t even title the event

On Friday, February 27th, the organization known as 40 North is hosting its annual fundraiser from 7:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, located at 346 N. Neil St. in Downtown Champaign.

Instead of following the usual “gala” model for this event (as they have in the past and as many benefits do), the Champiagn County Arts Council decided to continue last year’s late-night, night-life twist on the fundraiser, appropriate for its setting in lively Downtown — and its Andy Warhol Factory theme.

“The Orpheum Theatre was the venue last year, and it was amazing,” said 40 North Executive Director Kelly White. “We are so excited to have it there once again this year. With the Andy Warhol Factory theme, it has been a blast to come up with ways to create a new atmosphere and transform the space.”

This event generates the funds that make the council’s other annual events — like the Boneyard Arts Festival, Friday Night Live, the Eric Show, MTD ART, Sky Gallery and ACE (Art, Culture and Education) Awards — possible.

“This… impacts every single aspect of the organization,” White said. “Without the support from this event, we would not be able to have the staff and general operating income that it takes to administer all of our programs as well as our website and general arts advocacy initiatives for the local arts community. Buying tickets to the event, bidding on an auction item, purchasing a custom t-shirt, participating in the wine and craft beer raffle — every bit helps and goes toward supporting the arts of this community.”

A donut hole and cocktail bar with be provided by Michael’s Catering of Champaign. There will be a Wine & Custom Brew Raffle Wall at which patrons can try their hands. Guests can even customize screen-printed T-shirts, courtesy of Weiskamp Screen Printing. Live dance and vocal performances, along with a DJ, will be present for some good listening or dancing — your choice. These, however, are some extras to what the fundraiser — and 40 North — is all about: cultivating creativity in the Champaign area.

Many of the features may sound familiar to past fundraiser attendees. They have now become staples to this “reinvented” event.

“We will have an interactive post-it note mural, which is a great way for the whole crowd to be involved in creating a collaborative piece throughout the night,” White said.

Champaign, especially Downtown, is a haven of artsy, creative, and boutique-y shops. The area has been very good at encouraging creativity and art with events like the Made Fest and other efforts that 40 North fosters in the arts community. The council seeks to continue, or rather enhance, the patronage of local artists and their works. Great, one-of-a-kind work is encouraged and celebrated by this community, even if it seems like the community is not always willing to pay for this unique and local fine art. (See Sam Logan’s Cindy Sampson Profile.)

At Untitled, local artists will have customized pieces for sale that guests are encouraged to purchase and take home with them. A local art wall, consisting of 6” x 6” panels transformed by select local artists, will be on display and for sale at the auction — $100 per panel: $50 for the organization and $50 to the artist.

A piece that may be of particular interest to many is local artist Langston Allston’s mural, which he did for the Jane Addams Bookshop after two of its front windows were broken — the first on November 27 and the second on December 27. Allston’s mural was displayed at the front of Jane Addams in early January. Now that the shop’s windows have been replaced, Allston’s mural, to the community’s delight, will be up for auction at tonight’s event.

“We were approached by Don Elmore, the owner of Jane Addams and one of our past board chairs, about auctioning off the piece at the event,” White said. “He was so impressed with Langston and the mural that he wanted to find a way for it to live on. We will auction it off at the event and split the proceeds with Langston.”

This is perhaps a continuation of Allston’s legacy, as he painted a large canvas on stage throughout last year’s Untitled.

“We were discussing it recently, and he will probably continue to work on that same piece during the Boneyard Arts Festival this year. He has been using more of a complex layering technique recently and is excited to continue to re-work the piece from last year,” said White.

Untitled tickets are available at the door for $45 per person or $80 per couple. They are also available online — $40 per person and $70 per couple. The ticket prices have dramatically gone down in last year’s successful effort to make the event more accessible to the community. Dropping the general ticket cost from $88 to $40 per person “created a whole new atmosphere that combined the spirit of fundraising with an overall celebration of the arts,” White said.

Still have questions? Contact 40 North by phone at (217)351-9841 or at its office at 106 S. Neil St. To spread the word and share support for 40 North and the Untitled fundraiser, include #factory40 in any related posts.

As it says on Langston Allston’s mural: “What, after all, has sustained the human race on this earth, despite all the tragic failings of mankind, if not faith in new possibilities and the courage to advocate them.”

Photo credits: Kelly White (top photo) and Lawrence McGown (others).

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