The Daily Illini

Urbana Public Arts Program celebrates 10th anniversary with Art Expo

By Sam Schrage, Staff Writer

From illustrations to paintings to graphic designs, the fourth annual Urbana Art Expo offers a variety of artwork. Complete with 17 local exhibiting artists, live music and food, the expo is Champaign-Urbana’s premier arts showcase.

Presented by the Urbana Public Arts Program and Commission in collaboration with 40 North: Champaign County Arts Council, the expo is over two full days. It will be held at the Urbana Civic Center this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days.

The expo is free and open to the public. In addition to showcasing local artists’ work, pieces will be up for sale both days. Food trucks will be present and refreshments will be provided.

This year, the expo will feature live music and performances from DJ Silkee and the C-U Jazz Collective. DJ Silkee will be performing all day Saturday and the C-U Jazz Collective will be performing Sunday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“The expo provides a unique showcasing of the diverse work of local artists and we’re proud to celebrate not one, but two full days this year,” said Rachel Lauren Storm, public arts coordinator. “It’s more than just an exhibition — it’s an opportunity to appreciate the creative genius of our arts community.”

One of the expo’s main goals is to highlight the growing Urbana arts community. Returning and new artists will have the opportunity to showcase their full range of works and discuss their techniques and inspiration for each piece.

“The expo will give me an opportunity to learn more about being a part of the Urbana art community and how my style of artwork speaks for itself among a sea of other beautiful work,” said Sekani Reed, participating artist.

One aspect that differentiates this year’s expo from past events is the range of artwork that will be displayed. Photography, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, illustrations, prints and graphic designs are just some of the featured art forms at this year’s expo.

“There is truly something for everyone stylistically and aesthetically, from breathtaking beauty to raw deconstruction, from vibrant color to muted grace,” Storm said.

Artist Fraya Replinger’s work will highlight her photography and is inspired by her everyday life.

“My work explores the world around me, whether I am traveling or just driving home from work. The expo is a great way for local artists from all genres to come together and display their work to the community,” Replinger said.

Replinger is one of 17 artists selected to be featured at the expo. Artists are selected by a committee made up of members from the Public Arts Commission and staff from the Urbana Public Arts Program and 40 North: Champaign County Arts Council. The committee assists in jurying, planning and executing the event as well as coming up with new ideas for the expo each year.

The expo also serves as a learning experience for new artists, who are exposed to a larger arts community and arts market.

In addition to the expo, the Urbana Public Arts Program oversees grants, exhibits, arts education initiatives and local art programs like Art in the Market. Storm said marketing the expo was extremely important because she wanted to reach the community in as many ways as possible.

For artist Lynn Hawkinson Smith, the best part about showcasing her work at the expo is meeting community members and hearing their impressions of her art.

“This is my fourth Urbana Art Expo. The best part is meeting all the people that come through. My art seems to connect people to memories and images from their past. I love hearing about those memories,” Hawkinson Smith said.

Whether attendees are art connoisseurs or have little knowledge of art, the expo celebrates the Urbana community and the diverse talents within it. Art has the power to connect people and bring the community closer together.

“The City of Urbana continually strives to center the arts,” Storm said. “The expo offers artists and non-artists alike the chance to appreciate the unique talents of artists in the area and celebrate our city as a creative community.” 

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