Festival asserts art’s importance to county

John McCrea, lead singer of the band Cake, gestures to the crowd while performing Sheep go to Heaven at Assembly Hall on Wednesday night. Cake came to the University of Illinois as the headline band for the Virgin College Mega Tour. Online Poster

John McCrea, lead singer of the band Cake, gestures to the crowd while performing “Sheep go to Heaven” at Assembly Hall on Wednesday night. Cake came to the University of Illinois as the headline band for the Virgin College Mega Tour. Online Poster

By Phil Collins

The third annual Boneyard Arts Festival filled Champaign County with visual art and musical performances on Mom’s day weekend.

Most of the festival, which started two years ago as a gallery walk, was centered in Urbana-Champaign. It was put on by the 40 North/88 West organization, which focuses on arts, culture and entertainment within the county.

“It’s a way for us to promote the great breadth and depth of art in our community,” said Jennifer Armstrong, executive director of 40 North/88 West.

The festival displayed visual art in several locations including cafes, retail stores, restaurants and a fraternity.

Alpha Rho Chi, a campus fraternity, displayed professor James Warfield’s artwork on the exterior of their house in conjunction with their mom’s day event, which brought 30 families to the house.

“We wanted to get involved with the Boneyard Arts Festival to try to get our organization more involved with the community,” said Chris Enck, worthy architect of Alpha Rho Chi.

The main event was the cabaret, which took place Friday and Saturday night at The Busey Center in Urbana. Featuring four different bands each night, the cabaret featured jazz, progressive rock and electronic music along with visual art projected on every wall and live video mixing. Each band set up in a different area so there were no pauses between sets. At one point, all the bands played together from different sides of the room.

“The late night cabaret was successful in that it combined local artists with New York City-based projection artist Missy Galore, and together they created an environment that left people inspired,” said Jason Finkelman, curator of the cabaret. “Your senses were being overloaded by image and sound”.

The participating bands were Electronic Atmospheres, Ear Doctor, Chad Dunn’s Shaking a Stick trio, Water Between Continents, Late Night Spontaneous Combustion Unit, and The Apollo Project.

“We wanted to bring together local musicians and visual artists and put them together in a unique way,” Finkelman said.

The two day event drew nearly 1,000 people. 370 attended Friday night, 117 to see the paintings and light installations on Saturday afternoon, and over 450 on Saturday night.

“One of the other successful things of the night, as far as audience is concerned, was the wide range of ages in attendance,” Finkelman said.

“It was just an event that does not happen here,” Armstrong said. “Everyone that was there was just raving about it,” Armstrong said.

Also part of the festival was The Local Cookout on the Saturday night at the Canopy Club, featuring nine local rock bands including Headlights, The Living Blue, Lorenzo Goetz, The Beauty Shop, and The Pitch. The festival also featured musicians performing in areas all around the county, showcasing Latin, jazz, African drumming, Irish, and Cajun music.

Performances featuring poetry and the spoken word also took place at locations in Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, and Mahomet. Several businesses in these areas, including Caf‚ Luna and Caf‚ Paradiso, hosted these performances.

“It was a way for artists to show their stuff and for businesses to attract people in,” Armstrong said.