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.

It's Your Business: Bow Sheep has bevy of bows for kids

Attention, moms who like to gussy up their babies.

Three women from Champaign have started a company that sells handmade bows for children. Bow Sheep offers intricate bows, from standard pastel pinks to zebra-stripe designs, decorated with buttons, pearls and other embellishments.

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.

Tenor in Sugar Creek show a 'Pagliacci' professional

WATSEKA – Tenor Tonio Di Paolo has sung every male role in "Pagliacci" in opera houses from Houston to Berlin.

He knows the piece so well he didn't even take the score with him to the first rehearsal of the upcoming Sugar Creek Symphony & Song production of "Pagliacci" at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Glenn Raymond Auditorium in Watseka.

Garden Fresh: The classic taste of green tomatoes

If you have enough tomato plants that you're willing to use up some of your green tomatoes, here are some recipes you might want to try, including the classic Fried Green Tomatoes.

If you have enough tomato plants you're willing to use up some of your green tomatoes, here are some recipes you might want to try, including the classic Fried Green Tomatoes.

Tried and True: Traci Nally's raspberry Streusel Bars

"The raspberry bars are a seasonal favorite of mine," writes Traci Nally of Champaign, vice president of human resources at The News-Gazette. "I pick the raspberries from my own garden. The raspberry taste is great, and not too sweet; just right. Everyone loves them."

Nally found the recipe in Cook's Illustrated magazine, the September-October 2005 issue.