Smile Politely

Five things in arts this month: August 2022

Here in C-U, August tends to be a quiet month at both the University of Illinois and Parkland-based arts spaces. As these two campuses prepare for the upcoming semester, community arts events take center stage. From the Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Archive’s collection of Champaign County African American oral histories to Tania Arazi Coambs’s three-act play Stoplight, August 2022 offers opportunity to experience local stories. Visual art fans won’t want to miss the Crystal Lake Park Art Fair, which features over 40 artists and makers working in a wide range of formats, a retrospective of nature-based work honoring Prairie Monk, and the kick-off to the year-long celebration of the Wendell Sculpture Garden. 

Crystal Lake Park Art Fair

A selection of ceramic cups, pots, and vases, including one vase with brightly colored floweres.

Photo from the 40 North Facebook page.

The fourth annual Crystal Lake Park Art Fair promises something for everyone. Meet and support over 40 local and regional artists and makers. Sample a variety of food trucks. Let the kiddos enjoy a make and take art kits from UrVANa. And, making his Crystal Lake Art Fair debut, caricaturist Dan Wild will be on hand to capture your best art fair smile. The action will take place between the Crystal Lake Park Family Aquatic Center and the Anita Purves Nature Center. Shop from a wide range of formats including paintings, textiles, ceramics, photography, jewelry, glass, mixed media, and more. See the full list of vendors here.

Crystal Lake Park Art Fair
August 6th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Crystal Lake Park
1505 N Broadway,


Close up photo of writer/actor/director Tania Arazi Coamb taken from above with the street behind her.

Photo from Tania Arazi Coambs’s website.

There is so much to recommend this production it’s hard to know where to start. Stoplight, written and directed by the multi-talented Tania Arazi Coambs, speaks to pandemic life in both content and form. Created through “a series of Zoom workshops with Champaign-Urbana actors,” Stoplight explores “the intersections of community.”  While the primary storyline “follows the lives of fifteen-year-old twin sisters, Bri and Imani, who both suffer from asthma,” the play explores the intersections of 13 characters and their stories. .

This production contains mild profanity and some mature content. As per the Station’s website, all attendees must be fully vaccinated (or show a negative COVID test within 72 hours) and wear a mask while in the Station Theatre space. 

August 11-13, 7:30 p.m.
August 14, 3 p.m.
The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre
223 N Broadway Ave
Get ticket information here.

Exploring African American Oral Histories 

Early 20th Century black and white photo of a community of Black men in suits and Black women in dresses and hats taken against a brick building.

Photo from the Champaign Public Library Facebook page.

For this writer, the best way to experience history is through stories. No disrespect to facts and figures, there’s nothing more engaging than encountering the unfiltered memories of lived experience. Exploring African American Oral Histories offers an opportunity to experience the Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Archive’s collection of Champaign County African American oral histories. Community leaders will be on hand to discuss the collection and to help contextualize its contents. Don’t miss this significant opportunity to witness underrepresented voices and perspectives from our county’s history.  

Exploring African American Oral Histories
August 13th, 2 p.m.
Champaign Public Library
Douglass Branch
504 E Grove St

Monk in Retrospect

Black and white print of prairie plaints.

Photo from the Independent Media Center Facebook page.

David “Prairie” Monk, is known and beloved for his long-standing commitment to restoring native prairiescapes, has inspired both gardeners and artists. Monk in Retrospect will feature a collection of silkscreens, photographs and memorabilia honoring Monk. The opening reception for the month-long exhibition will feature music by The Prairie Dogs, Night Groove, Ther’Up.Y, Dorothy Martirano and All-Star Friends, and more. If you love an interdisciplinary collaboration with a message as much I do, you’ll definitely want to check this out. 

Monk in Retrospect
August 14-28
Opening reception: August 14th, 2 p.m.
Independent Media Center
202 S Broadway Ave, Ste 1
F 2 to 5 p.m.
Sa + Sun 2 to 5 p.m.  

Kick-off of Year of Celebration of Wendell Sculpture Garden 

Silver metal circular sculpture with outer rings moving in different directions installed at Meadowbrook Park.

Photo from the Urbana Park District website.

As a resident of Urbana, Meadowbrook Park is one of my favorite spots. Its winning combination of walking trails, native plants, and sculpture art offer an outdoor experience that checks all the boxes. Meditative and inspiring, time spent at the Wendell Sculpture Garden always lifts my mood. In honor of the sculpture garden’s 25th anniversary, the Urbana Park District will be kicking off a year-long celebration at the end of the month with a week-long focus on climate action. While details of the full calendar of events are still forthcoming, you’ll want to keep this on your radar. Stay tuned for updates here.

Kick-off of Year of Celebration of Wendell Sculpture Garden
August 22-28
Meadowbrook Park

Top photo from the Champaign Public Library Facebook page.

Arts Editor

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