Illinois Arts Week brings diversity

Across the entire state of Illinois, people are coming together to enjoy the importance of the arts during Illinois Arts Week, Oct. 16-22.

Every October, for National Arts and Humanities Month, there is a wide array of arts events to enjoy. Illinois Arts Week was first celebrated in 1978 when then Governor James R. Thompson and the Illinois Arts Council created the first Governor’s Awards for the Arts.

Since then, the Illinois Arts Council has requested one week per year be set aside to focus attention on the importance of the arts and how the arts enrich people’s lives. The council’s current chairman, Shirley R. Madigan, said in a news release that this year’s Illinois Arts Week is to host to an unprecedented number of arts events and activities throughout Illinois.

“The nearly 300 events taking place during that week reflects our incredible diversity,” she said in a news release.

This year during Illinois Arts Week, various performances and attractions by student groups and local artists will take place in Champaign, according to the Illinois Arts Week calendar of events.

“It’s all about the arts and building community, and most importantly, having fun and discovering the richness of our culture,” Madigan said in a news release.

On Wednesday, “A Call to Arts: Open Critique” will begin at 7 p.m. at the Cinema Gallery, 120 W. Main St. All different forms of artists are invited to go and present their work and participate in open critiques.

At the Verde Gallery, 17 E. Taylor St., the Zoo Improv Troupe Show will be performing at 8 p.m. They will be showcasing improvisational theater in both long and short forms.

Curt Tucker, the owner of Verde Gallery, said the Troupe appears every third Wednesday. They do shows similar to the TV show, “Whose Line is it Anyway?”

“It’s very complex for (the actors), but it’s very entertaining for the audience,” Tucker said. “They are a traditional improv group, and they’re very good. Some of them have performed with groups like Second City.”

John Jennings, an Illinois-based designer, illustrator, writer and art educator will be speaking about his work at the Parkland Art Gallery at Parkland College, 2400 W. Bradley Ave. from 11 a.m. until noon. Jennings’ work includes graphic design, web-based media, fine arts and illustration.

“He’s going to talk about his work and how it relates to his personal life,” said Lisa Costello, Parkland Art Gallery Director. “All of of his works that he did for this show are like comic books, so they’re really interesting.”

Costello said the gallery has received a grant from the Illinois Art Council once a year and grants helped bring in artists such as Jennings.

“Illinois Arts Week is just a great way to celebrate and showcase Illinois artists,” she said.

On Thursday, an open-mic night, entitled SPEAK caf‚, for hip hop and Black Power expression on the theme “Race, Roots, Resistance” will be held at Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Dr., from 7-9 p.m. The open mic night is student run in collaboration with the University’s African-American Studies and Research Program.