Kanfer Gallery sets spring open house Thursday

CHAMPAIGN – The Larry Kanfer Photography Gallery will have a spring open house this weekend, including an opening reception for an exhibition of new photographs of familiar places in Champaign-Urbana.

The open house will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Champaign artist to open fiber-art show in Decatur

The fiber art of Champaign artist Mary McDonald will be displayed from Friday through April 28 in the Anne Lloyd Gallery of the Madden Arts Center, 125 N. Water St., Decatur.

The opening reception will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, with the artist to speak about her work at 6 p.m. Hors d'oeuvres by Bizou will be served.

CU BIg Read program to focus on 'The Maltese Falcon'

CHAMPAIGN – "The Maltese Falcon" – the book by Dashiell Hammett and not the 1941 film starring Humphrey Bogart – will be the focus of The CU Big Read, a communitywide reading program starting March 28.

The film will be featured, too, with a free screening at the Virginia Theatre at the end of April to cap the reading program.

Public, private schools collaborate to create African art

CHAMPAIGN – Thanks to a collaborative arts project between the private Next Generation School and public Westview Elementary School, students not only discovered things about themselves but also about each other.

Roughly 26 fourth- and fifth-graders from each school visited the other school, where they created lukasas, or African memory boards, and African textile pieces that eventually were revised to become banners.

Fundraiser featuring celebrity doodles planned at I Hotel

URBANA – How often can you bid on a picture of the New York City skyline drawn by Donald Trump?

Or Dave Barry's interpretation of what a "Happy Bird" may look like.

The University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic will host its annual Doodle for Wildlife fundraiser on Saturday. Doodles drawn by celebrities from Barry to William Shatner will be up for bid. The event will be at 6 p.m. at the I Hotel, 1802 South First St., C.

UI library displaying rare treasure trove of Audubon prints

As a special collections conservator for the University of Illinois Library, Laura Larkin has worked on some fascinating books and papers, most recently 19th-century political cartoons from The Irish Times.

Larkin has never been bored since she started working at the Oak Street Library Facility, a concrete bunker of a building where conservation work takes place, and noncirculating materials are stored.

Parkland's Egyptian visitor has embraced his time in town

Mohamed Othman was walking down Green Street on a Sunday evening last fall, on his way to the mosque and Islamic Center, when he heard the music.

He didn't recognize the large limestone building he was passing, so he stopped in and asked, What is this place?

It's Your Business: Champaign florist closing after 10 years

The recession has done in another local business, Upsie Daisy Florist.

The floral shop at 307 S. Locust St., C, will close after a decade in business at the end of the day Friday, said owner Deb Hummel.

Bradley University's 32nd print, drawing exhibit starts Friday

The 32nd Bradley International Print and Drawing Exhibition will take place from Friday through April 17 at three locations in Peoria.

Bradley University bills the show as the second-longest-running juried print and drawing competition in the country. Every two years, it features work by both established names and emerging talent. With thousands of dollars in prize money and purchase awards, it attracts entries from around the world.

Sing us a song: Musical based on 'Piano Man' coming to C-U

Kyle Martin never saw it coming.

One day, he's the music pastor at a church in California. The next day, he's Billy Joel.

"My voice teacher in Los Angeles had worked with the previous 'Piano Man' in 'Movin' Out.' He thought I would be really good in the role, so he asked me to send him a bio and demo, and he would send it off to a few people he knew," Martin says.

"So I sent it off, and I didn't hear anything or think about it for two years. Then all of a sudden, I got a call from a casting agency, telling me to hop on a plane and fly to New York. They said, 'We think you're a good fit for the role.' I was floored. It all happened so fast," Martin says.

That Martin has a voice, and piano style, remarkably like that of singer-songwriter Joel will be readily apparent when the "Movin' Out" tour makes a stop at 7:30 p.m. March 10 at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall.