Arts and Culture | WGLT

Arts and Culture

Like many bands, the Bloomington-based quintet Old Smoke used downtime during the pandemic to write and record a new album.

After the atrocities against people of color in 2020, Chicago-based experimental sound artist Allen Moore wanted to find a way to mark the moment.

NCHS students act
NCHS Theater Program / NCHS

Theater students at Normal Community High School are eager to perform in person after so much time lost to the pandemic. The spring production (cross your fingers) will be in person, said director Kevin Vernon.

“All In The Timing” will be out of doors April 16-17 at the Connie Link Amphitheater in Normal.

Courtesy / Gamma Phi Circus

Don't lower your expectations for this year’s Gamma Phi Circus home show just because it’s virtual. 

Illinois State University

An Illinois State University faculty member has been recognized for his sci-fi screenplay about a chaotic near future that connects to many divisive issues in our present.

A new book co-edited by an Illinois State University professor showcases stories, art, and poetry by LGBTQ high schoolers. The project includes a broad spectrum of student experiences.

Courtesy / Children's Discovery Museum

It’s been more than a year since the Children’s Discovery Museum closed its doors, just weeks before it was set to hold its 16th annual Doctors in Concert benefit. 

Staff / WGLT

The Children's Discovery Museum in Uptown Normal is tentatively planning to reopen May 1, but there are a lot of moving parts for its staff to consider.

AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Monuments to Honest Abe could no longer have a home in Chicago, but the president of Lincoln College says they're always welcome in central Illinois.

Art Circle of Bloomington-Normal

Artistic inspiration can spring from many things, including very difficult questions. 

The community art show, “What’s So Good About Good Friday?” explores that question for its yearly exhibition. The show is a collaboration between of the Art Circle of Bloomington-Normal and Second Presbyterian Church. Local and regional artists delve into their Christian faith and the events surrounding Good Friday to create works for the show, now in its 12th year. 

Dan Hubbard during a live online performance from "The Toy Room" in his basement
Dan Hubbard

Family took center stage on Dan Hubbard's new five-song EP “Fall in Love Again (Quarantine Lullabies)”.

Jessica Bingham / University Galleries

The small details of everyday domestic life never escape artist Ashley Jude Jonas.

Her appreciation of delicate objects, fleeting light, and momentary reflections manifest in her latest works that are currently on view at University Galleries in Normal. 

“Not Knowing” is the first comprehensive exhibition of works by Ohio-based artist. Curated by Jessica Bingham, the show features drawings, photographs, found objects, and a variety of installation pieces.  

Most music planners in the twin cities said they remain optimistic live music will return this summer or fall but moving parts could change those plans at any time.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has many optimistic a return to something resembling “normal” is approaching. That includes a Bloomington Normal live-music scene gutted by the pandemic. Most music organizers in the Twin Cities said they are shooting for summer and fall performances. 

Exterior of a church
Staff / WGLT

This story is part of a special episode of WGLT's Sound Ideas airing March 12, marking the one-year anniversary of COVID's arrival in McLean County. Find more stories in the series.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic. President Clavin Coolidge announced he would not run for re-election. Roger Wolfe Kahn and his Orchestra were spinning on the Victrola.

And the first-ever Amateur Art Competition and Exhibition opened at the McLean County Arts Center (MCAC) in Bloomington; 94 years later, it’s still a part of the art center's calendar.  

Staff / WGLT

A new community project aims to take a snapshot of life in McLean County during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kendra Paitz / University Galleries

A Chicago-based artist ventured into the wild to gather inspiration for her latest exhibition. Plumbing the depths of lakes around the world, brainstorming with scientists and shadowing the footsteps of a renowned naturalist, she merged arts with science in an exploration of a fragile environment. 

"That Was the Year That Wasn't" album cover
Rick Valentin

Rick Valentin says dreary central Illinois winter weather is why he began writing and recording new music in January 2020. But that exercise for his solo vehicle, Thoughts Detecting Machines, evolved into an album that acted as a coping mechanism when the pandemic hit.

Bill and Taylor
Emily Bollinger / WGLT

As Taylor Mathews lit the forge in his family’s metalworking shop in rural Bloomington, just behind him was an anvil from the ’80s. The 1880s.


An Illinois Wesleyan alum’s work is up for a Golden Globe for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy). The movie “The Prom” is based off Bill Damaschke’s Broadway musical comedy of the same name.

picture of David Davis
McLean County Museum of History

Most people in Bloomington-Normal know David Davis as the campaign manager for Abe Lincoln. Most know him as the guy who had a big mansion built on the near east side of Bloomington. Most know him as a judge in the legal circuit where Lincoln rode before his rise to national prominence.

street photo
Jason Reblando

Poetry and photography meet in a new Twin City exhibition that highlights the struggles of refugees through the story of a German Jewish intellectual who, in order to escape Nazi persecution, undertook a perilous journey across the Pyrenees mountains. 

Black people too often have been associated with only crime and racial trauma in pop culture. But one film that defies the stereotypes and gives power to the Black community is “Black Panther,” which three years after its release continues to stimulate dialogue.

Performing arts students continue to overcome pandemic hurdles in a big, complicated way.

Pamala Eaton

It’s brutally cold outside. There’s a foot of snow adding to the misery. Oh, and the pandemic. Charming. 

But one local artist steadfastly has embraced an inner warmth with his new collection of works, letting his romantic side out to shine a light in the persistent darkness. 

The new EP from V8 Vast Change is "Life"
Levi Briggs photography

Dominique Stevenson is a very visible Twin City activist who uses his music to spread a message of unity and encouragement. He was on the front lines of social justice marches last summer and even founded the youth-based advocacy group Next Gen Initiative.

Basketball team photo
McLean County Museum of History

The McLean County Basketball Tournament is one of the longest running basketball tournaments in the state of Illinois.

Brett Conlin's new EP it titled "The Great Divide"
Nic Gundy Photography

Bloomington singer/songwriter Brett Conlin said a three-month isolation at home with his family last spring became the fodder for his just released acoustic EP "The Great Divide."

Datebook: A New Role For A B-N Theater Veteran

Feb 11, 2021
Rhys Lovell
Laura Kennedy / WGLT

A venerable member of the Bloomington-Normal theater community is branching out with a new role that, on its surface, seems like something brand new. But at its heart, it’s a job with core values he knows very well. 

Breanna Grow / WGLT

Constantina Navarrete grew up helping her father farm corn, beans and squash in southern Mexico.