Urbana mayor wants to abandon $66,000 'Urbanastand'

URBANA – The mayor of Urbana has suggested dumping the controversial "Urbanastand," a $66,000 newspaper rack and artwork that had been proposed for the corner of Broadway Avenue and Elm Street at the Champaign County Courthouse.

It's Your Business: Firms in Tuscola, Monticello moving

For today's column, we will highlight a hodgepodge of business news from around East Central Illinois.

– Bee Active Toys, previously located at 204 W. Washington St. in Monticello, has reopened in the Tanger Outlet Center in Tuscola.

Getting Personal: Nobel Prize-winner Anthony J. Leggett

Explain in one sentence what it is you do.

I am a theoretical physicist; I try to understand the behavior of matter under conditions where quantum mechanics leads to counterintuitive and sometimes spectacular effects such as superconductivity and super-fluidity, and to help my students to do the same.

New exhibits to launch Krannert museum's fall season

CHAMPAIGN – Five new exhibitions will open on Thursday to kick off Krannert Art Museum's fall season. The free public opening reception will be from 5 to 7 that evening, with a cash bar.

New exhibit opens Monday at Parkland Art Gallery

CHAMPAIGN – The Parkland Art Design and Faculty Exhibition will open Monday at the Parkland Art Gallery and will remain on view through Sept. 26.

The artists' reception, hosted by the Parkland College Foundation, will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the gallery lounge. Paul Young, associate professor in graphic design, will speak at 7 p.m. Circle of Friends will perform live music and refreshments will be served. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

Studio Visit: Jillian Nickell, 25, of Champaign

Q: I read on your Web site that you grew up on a farm in central Illinois?

A: Yes, near Bondville. My parents (Bruce and Jamie Nickell) still live there.

Parkland Theatre schedules auditions for Aug. 29

CHAMPAIGN – The Parkland Theatre will have open auditions from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 29 for the first production of its 2009-2010 season, the farce "Lend Me a Tenor" by Ken Ludwig.

Director Thom Schnarre will cast four men and four women. Readings and more information may be found online at

Urbana event brings interactive element to backyard meal

URBANA – As part of a performance-art piece a few years ago at a Chicago gallery, Maggie Taylor hand-fed oranges to people, delivering them vitamin C when they most needed it, the dead of winter.

Over the years her performance art has become even more participatory. Take her last piece, which took place Saturday evening at her home in Urbana.

She called it "Big Neighborhood Supper."

Studio Visit: Rodney George Peacock, 60, of Urbana

Q: Why are you having an open studio tonight?

A: To announce that I'm making a commitment to rent Foellinger Auditorium next year to put on my 'Noontide Trilogy.' And lots of people don't know of all my work of the last 20 years.

Mansfield man turns his barn into vintage Shell station

WEBBERVILLE IN MANSFIELD – It's a trip back in time.

A Shell antique gas pump, last inspected in 1963, parks itself in front of an old Shell gas station, sharing its space with antique cars from 1933 to 1965.

The gas station – a yard barn cleverly disguised – displays old-fashioned oil cans, signs, car parts and soda bottles. A huge gas station clock hangs in the front, showing the same time day after day.

Call the phone number, 21-R-21, on the station window – it won't connect anywhere now. But it did work back in 1953.

The creator of all this, Mike Webber, found the phone number in an old Mansfield Homecoming book and painted it on the Shell station window. Webber works as a mechanic operator at Plunk Farms in Mansfield, but he plays with objects from the past.