Local festival brings art and business together


Local children partake in outdoor activities offered at the Boneyard Arts Festival in downtown Champaign. This year’s festival will be held Thursday-Sunday, and more than 100 venues will be hosting local artists’ work and activities for visitors to enjoy.

By Megan Bradley, Staff Writer

People who attend art festivals may be used to walking up and down street blocks and looking at art housed in white tents. One local art festival happening this weekend brings a unique twist to the traditional art festival.

The Boneyard Arts Festival is from Thursday-Sunday and takes place in over 100 venues. Stores, restaurants, salons and other spaces will be hosting one or more artists for people to see their artwork and to interact with the artists.

The art festival is hosted by 40 North, the Champaign County Arts Council.

“These spaces all get transformed by art for the weekend, so when people go out and explore, they not only discover new artists and performers, but they also discover new venues,” said Kelly White, the executive director of 40 North.

People will have the opportunity to see many kinds of 2-D or 3-D art at the festival, White said. Along with the traditional artwork, there will also be experimental opportunities for people to experience art and artists, such as blacksmiths doing demonstrations.

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One of the first things 40 North does in preparation for the festival is choose a signature image. This year’s image was created by Lisa Kesler and is titled “Happiness 2.”

“It’s an exciting honor. My painting is representing all of the artists in the community, and I hope it gives the public an idea of the variety of art that will be on view over the weekend,” Kesler wrote in an email.

Kesler’s piece was chosen by a jury which included the previous signature artist and will be featured on all marketing materials for the arts festival. It will also be displayed in 40 North.

The artist and the venue together will often decide which pieces will be displayed at which venue. Certain venues are looking for a specific type of artwork, and some are open to hosting any piece.

Dana Overman’s pieces will be hosted at Grovestone and TK Salon as well as part of a photography exhibition.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing community through the number of artists’ receptions I’m having at the venues displaying my art,” Overman said. “Sharing my work in the place that I live… I think this will be especially rewarding.”

The Boneyard Arts Festival typically takes place over the University’s Moms Weekend so students have a unique opportunity to view art around town with their moms.

Artists and venues can build relationships that benefit each of them as well as the community.

“It is up to each artist to decide how and where they would like to display their work,” Kesler wrote. “This results in lots of creative exhibits of visual art and interesting performances of music and other kinds of performing arts.”

White said having an art show throughout the county is beneficial for the community and for people who go to the shows because having people viewing art in local businesses enables them to feel more comfortable.

“It’s in places that are very approachable and places that you feel very comfortable in,” White said. “I think it makes it a more inclusive experience to see the art.”

Businesses that are hosting art will be marked with a flag so everyone will know they are participating in the festival, and each business participating will have the festival map.

The Boneyard Arts Festival is a great opportunity for artists, vendors and members of the community to experience art together.

“By having a community-based arts festival, we are building bridges, connecting people, strengthening relationships and developing a community rich in the understanding and acceptance of each other,” Overman said.

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