On September 28 and 29, one of the most thriving subcultures of Central Illinois will take hold of the Peoria riverfront and the community, as the 51st Annual Fine Art Fair gets underway. Recognized as one of the premiere artistic and cultural events on the riverfront, the festival brings in over 150 national and international artists from 30 states and four countries. And this year, over 50 new artists will be making an appearance on the riverfront.
Central Illinois’ Top Fair
Hosted by the Peoria Art Guild, the Fine Art Fair features original works of art by local and global artists. This includes jewelry, paintings, printmaking, drawing, photography, glass, sculptures and much more. According to Sunshine Magazine, the wide array of artistic items, global artists and increasing attendance has ranked it as the top fair in Central Illinois, #3 in the state and #68 in the United States.
The Peoria Art Guild, a not-for-profit aimed at inspiring and educating the Peoria area, was established in 1969 after working with arts and education in the Peoria area for 90 years. This will be the Art Guild’s 51st year hosting the Fine Art Fair, bringing local and nationally recognized artists together to showcase their talents.
To support such a large event, the Peoria Art Guild depends on over 600 volunteers, 30 committee members, staff and board members, along with numerous sponsors from local businesses.
The amount of generosity needed to consistently pull off an event like this pays tribute to the support the local arts community receives from the citizens of the region. Furthermore, the community’s commitment recognizes this subculture as a vital part of the regional economy. People aren’t just coming out to see and admire the local talent; they’re purchasing the art as well! Evidence of this economic activity lies within the numerous studios and galleries throughout the Peoria area.
Peoria: A Thriving Arts Community
One of these popular locations is Studios on Sheridan, a renovated 1930’s era warehouse. The studios hold more than 20 artists at a time, with a loft style atmosphere, separate gallery spaces and a 700 square foot courtyard in the center of the building. The space is open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Contemporary Art Center of Peoria is another gallery that pays tribute to the economic impact of art in the Peoria community. Located on the second and third floors of a renovated warehouse, this 14,000 square foot facility hosts 15 working artists and displays pieces in three galleries. The cultural hub also features poetry readings, salsa and swing dance classes, yoga and live music every Friday night.
In February of 2011, the Central Illinois Artists Organization (CIAO) was formed with the sole purpose of promoting venues like Studios on Sheridan and the Contemporary Arts Center of Peoria. Eight artists formed an organization of more than 50 members and 10 venues to orchestrate an event known as First Fridays Studio Tour. The monthly experience gives the community an intimate look at local galleries, studios and organizations.
But organizations formed by artists aren’t the only businesses jumping aboard this thriving arts community. According to their website, the Peoria Riverfront Museum places “emphasis on works from Illinois and the Midwest region” in the Permanent Collection Gallery, as well as showcasing objects and works of art that are of historic or contemporary significance from around the world.
The Main Statement, a retail shop in Peoria, Ill., is taking things a step further by selling the local artwork. After recently celebrating their one-year anniversary, this funky and unique store offers shoppers locally produced gifts, accessories and most of all, art. The store has seen a great amount of support from the local community, but also from visitors who are often times surprised by the artistic talent the Peoria area has to offer.
Click HERE for the Kaci’s Places to Play video focused on The Main Statement.
ROOM is another local business supporting the arts movement by keeping everything local. This 7,000 square foot loft offers upscale meeting space with a focus on giving customers a feel for the Peoria community. A large portion of this experience is the creative and inspiring uses of local art displayed throughout the space. Every piece of art on the walls in ROOM is for sale. They’ll even help customers contact local artists if they see a piece that they can’t leave behind.
Don’t Miss Out
Head down to the Fine Art Fair this weekend for a unique look at the arts culture in Central Illinois. It’s the only event in the area that showcases most of the influential artists, both locally and nationally. The festival is sure to live up to expectations, even if you’re a newcomer to the art scene in Peoria!
For more information on the Fine Art Fair, click the links below.– Ticket Information – Artists – Volunteering
Written By: Andrew Ketterer