Smile Politely

Five things in arts this month: April 2022

If you’re suffering from the post-Boneyard blues, here’s some good news. The month of April is full of opportunities for fans of the visual and the performing arts. From the School of Art + Design’s MFA candidate show to The Neverland to Ebertfest, these five experiences focus on re-envisioning. Whether you check out the future of art and design as presented by Illinois graduate students or experience a much a needed reimaging of a problematic classic, or see some of your favorite films as they were meant to be seen, in a grand theatre in the company of fellow film lovers, the April arts calendar is sure to open your eyes and your mind to new possibilities. 

Art + Design MFA show at Krannert Art Museum 

Nathan Grimes, people pleaser, 2021. Mixed media painting on found substrate with armature. © Nathan Grimes. Photo from the KAM website.

Nathan Grimes, people pleaser, 2021. Mixed media painting on found substrate with armature. © Nathan Grimes. Photo from the KAM website. 

The annual School of Art + Design MFA exhibition is more than a chance to see how these grad students have spent their time. It is an opportunity to engage with emerging voices, compelling messages, and challenges to existing ways of creating art. If there was ever a reason to cross the visual arts town/gown divide, this is it. Explore work in a variety of disciplines including painting, sculpture, industrial design, and design for responsible innovation. And before you plan your trip to Krannert Art Museum, get a sneak peek of what’s in store on the MFA candidates portfolio pages.

Art + Design MFA Show
April 2nd-23rd
Krannert Art Museum
500 E Peabody
Museum hours: T-Sa, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Th 10 a.m.-8 p.m. during the semester. 

And speaking of KAM, don’t miss the Bea Nettles artist talk at 5:30 p.m. on April 8th, or curator Maureen Warren’s talk about the Sacred/Supernatural exhibition at 4 p.m. on April 14th.

The Neverland

Abstract sepia toned image suggesting both a face and a spirit.

Image from the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Facebook page.

Examination of one’s childhood memories of Neverland and Peter Pan can cut like a double-edged sword. We wax nostalgic for the adventure and innocent wonder, while we confront the problematic portrayals of indigenous people. While many writers and directors would eschew this old classic for a more modern one, guest director Madeline Sayet, who is the executive director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program and a recipient of the White House Champion of Change Award, chose instead to engage the original text and reimagine it, and its characters, in a way that centers her Mohegan culture and its struggle against erasure.  The Neverland “will offer a new take on a classic story that strives to increase knowledge and understanding around Indigenous performance.” 

Sayet’s The Neverland will be presented in workshop format, as a work still in process. This opportunity to watch the emergence of a production by a significant director is a rare one. What you see on the night of your chosen performance will differ from those before it and those that will follow. Get your tickets and become part of The Neverland’s emerging story. Stay tuned to this space for my interview with Madeline Sayet. 

The Neverland
April 7th-16th
Krannert Center for Performing Arts
Colwell Playhouse
500 S Goodwin
Get ticket information here.
Contains mild violence. Recommended for all ages.


Still shot from Nightmare Alley with actor waling through a brightly colored circus-like tunnel.

Photo from the Ebertfest website.

This month, Ebertfest is back to its full strength with full-seating in-person viewing and a visit from Nightmare Alley director Guillermo del Toro. With a wide range of films which includes classics like The 39 Steps, indie gems like Ghost World, and Oscar winning documentary Summer of Soul. Word on the street is that tickets are selling fast, so make your plans sooner rather than later. Enjoy one of the experiences we’ve missed most during the pandemic—being a part of audience of film lovers as you enjoy a film in its optimal audio/visual presentation. Get the full schedule here

April 20th-23rd
Virginia Theatre
203 W Park
Get ticket information here
Also availble on livestream.


Sepia toned photo of a sweating bottle of beer.

Photo from the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts website

Faculty director Latrelle Bright leads this production of Lynn Nottage’s  2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning “story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets, and laughs while working together on the factory floor. But when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in a heart-wrenching fight to stay afloat.” Stay tuned to this space for Amy Penne’s upcoming review. 

April 15th-23rd
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Studio Theatre
500 S Goodwin
Get ticket information here.
Contains adult content.

Urbana Museum of Photography (UMoP)

Black and white close up of newspaper delivery person riding a bike carrying a messenger bag with the name Champaign-Urbana Courier.

Photo courtesy of the Urbana Museum of Photography.

The local gem that the Urbana Museum of Photography (or UMoP) is leaning hard into its place within The Courier’s history. In collaboration with The Urbana Free Library, “UMoP will present a collection of silver gelatin prints made in their darkroom made from preserved negatives made by The Courier staff photographers who created those negatives in that very same darkroom. Take a new look Urbana-Champaign history, and, as UMoP notes, join them in honoring “the photographers that created these photographs in decades past.”

Old News: “The Archives”
April 23rd-June 25th
Opening event: April 23rd, 5-9 p.m.
Urbana Museum of Photography
113 N Race St, Ste B

Top photo courtesy of the Urbana Museum of Photography.

Arts Editor

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