From April 6-9, 40 North/88 West will present the Boneyard Arts Festival, a four-day event that turns Champaign County’s theaters, cafes, businesses, galleries and museums into lively spaces of art appreciation. The festival, which began as a 13-venue gallery walk in Downtown Champaign, is now in its 15th year with over 80 venues and several hundred local artists throughout the county. Boneyard provides opportunities for artists at all levels of expertise to display their work and illuminates the impact of the arts on local businesses.
According to 40 North executive director Kelly White, Boneyard is special because, “…unlike other traditional festivals where tents are lined up in a specific blocked off area, the Boneyard transforms the entire community into a giant celebration of the arts for one special weekend.” The festival features everything from live demonstrations, to musical performances, to art sales, to open studio tours. White, who works with local art all year long, profoundly enjoys watching the collaborations come to life. “Whether artist with artist, or organization with artists, or property owner with arts collective – it’s wonderful to see the mutual support and passion for creativity.”
Last year marked the launch of the first Boneyard website. According to White, they have “been able to continue to tweak it this year and make it closer to a fully comprehensive resource for all things Boneyard.” The 2017 website is fully searchable, fully indexed, and includes a useful quick guide as well as an instagram feed that tracks the #boneyard2017 hashtag. All of the events can be a little overwhelming at first, but as White says, “ya just gotta take a deep breath and dig in.” Smile Politely writers Sarah Keim and Marika Christofides have done some digging, and present their own day-by-day guide to the festivities this weekend.
Thursday, April 6th
Thursday boasts a number of events on campus at the University of Illinois. Some start before Boneyard begins (like the Artist Alley at the McKinley Foundation featuring Constance Sarantos) and some continue beyond Boneyard (like the Asian American Cultural Center’s “AAPI Strong: Standing United”). Along with MUGS Music Graduate Students) at Krannert Uncorked from 5 to 7 p.m., there is the UIUC Graduate South Studios open house (7 to 9 p.m.) and the University YMCA’s “Landscapes: Inherited, Revised, and Restored“ opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m.
Thursday is a good night to view art with a social cause. The Women’s Resources Center on campus will display Project Candle, a collection of photographs from UIUC undergraduate student Bridget Hayes featuring the anonymous stories of sexual violence survivors. At the Cohen Center for Jewish Life on campus, you can see the art of Creative Soles on display from 11am to 9pm. Creative Soles is a relatively new initiative that provides a workplace where artists with disabilities can design artwork for a pair of canvas shoes. A large percentage of the profit from sale of the shoes will go to the artist who created them. – MC
Friday, April 7th
As part of their pledge drive, local community radio station WEFT will be holding an opening reception for “Chorus.” The show will highlight artworks made on vintage sheet musics with any available media to the artist. The reception is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with local singer-songwriter Kevin Elliott providing some ambiance. If you miss the reception, “Chorus” will remain on view at 113 North Market Street in Downtown Champaign on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Otherwise, I want to clone myself so I can go to the Revelry Market at First Fridays in Urbana and visit all of the other galleries opening in Champaign. If you’d rather stay focused on one really great thing, you may want stick to the Krannert Art Museum’s opening gala and silent auction for the 25th Annual Paintings and Petals exhibition (6:30 to 9 p.m.). – SK
There are a lot of opportunities to buy things on Friday night! This year the festival overlaps with Imbibe Urbana’s First Friday event, so I think I’ll make a night of it on the West side of town. First, I’ll stop by the Revelry Market inside the Cohen building, at 136 W. Main, which will feature 19 artisan vendors from 5-9 on Friday and 11-3 on Saturday. I know that one of my favorite CU artists/crafters, Katina von Beaverhausen of Crass Stitching, will be there (she gets a lot of love in these pages!) Her pieces make me laugh, and I’m always excited to see what’s new at her booth. Since it’s Friday, I might even treat myself to a fancy cocktail from Lumen.
If I don’t get completely distracted by the fire performances that are part of the Main Street Carnival from 6-10, I hope to pop by C-U Adventures to see the work of Barry Abrams. I admired his 1960s space propaganda-inspired prints at the CUDO pro-show last fall. His satisfyingly geometric designs are reminiscent of old school science charts, which I find really interesting. Last but not least, I want to get my first pick of wares on offer from the talented folks at the CU Potter’s club, where there will be a sale and reception from 6-9, in addition to Saturday’s throwing demonstrations at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3pm. The club’s 45 or so members consider themselves hobbyists, and their handful of yearly sales are a great source of beautiful handmade ceramics at affordable prices. — MC
Saturday, April 8th
My first stop for Saturday will be the CU Woodshop Supply and School of Woodworking (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) for a wooden bowl turning demonstration and to see all of the artists there. Then I will make my way back into town to stop at the 40 Point One gallery for “Me, Myself, and I: Creating Identity” (noon to 4 p.m.). After seeing the juried exhibition, I’ll meander over to Pizzeria Antica, Cream and Flutter, and Fleurish to see the works of artists Mary Torri, Mew3, and Kris Fisher. Around 3 p.m. I’ll mosey on over to the Knitting Circle at the Champaign Public Library with Stephen West and I’ll stick around for the performance with the knit works by musicians and dancers from CoLab. And if I’m still on my feet after all of that, I’ll end my day with a trip down the yellow brick road at the Virginia Theatre with Champaign Park District Dance Arts interpreting L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz through Contemporary, Irish, and Tap dance at 7 p.m. – SK
Saturday is a good day to take in some gallery shows at a leisurely pace. Jim Foster will be on site at the I.D.E.A Store to talk about his creative reuse “critters,” oblong rock collection, and photographs (on display at the FOUND.RE gallery). I couldn’t find much information about Foster besides a group show called “Other Traditions” at the Giertz gallery in 1999 that describes the critters as a result of Foster’s passion for paleontology, but I am intrigued. The I.D.E.A store will also have their creative reuse fair from 4-7 on Friday and 10-4 on Saturday. According to Kelly White The Boys Club (a pop-up space in the empty brick building at 312 N Walnut in Champaign), will have “a killer show including video installation, large-scale gelatin photographs, and sound sculpture,” which sounds quite interesting. You can also stop by the Lincoln Building studios from 5 to 9pm on Friday and 1 to 5pm on Saturday.
The 13th Annual Festival of quilts, featuring 100+ quilts, will take place at the Cunningham Children’s Home (1301 N. Cunningham Avenue) on both Friday and Saturday. Deborah Fell will give two talks about her beautiful art quilts, from 2-3pm on both Friday and Saturday, sharing “stories of hope that inspire her work.” I didn’t know about Fell prior to Sam Logan’s SP article highlighting her work at the Craft League of Champaign-Urbana’s annual craft fair, but now I am itching to see her quilts up close. They look so inspiring and evocative! — MC
Sunday, April 9th
Since Boneyard is about supporting artists in Champaign County, I’ll be hitting the road to go make some studio visits. Hua Nian Art Studio in Urbana (1 to 5 p.m.), Broken Oak Gallery and Studio in White Heath (10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), and Smithouse in Seymour (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) are all open to the public on Sunday. Smithhouse is the home/studio of Lynn Smith, an exceptional avian artist. Kelly White describes the studio as “an art studio meets a hypothetical set from the Royal Tenenbaums.” Broken Oak is a gallery that will be showcasing the works of Judith Baker-Barrows and Lyn Barrows. Hua Nian will be showcasing her paintings and other artworks at her studio as well. – SK
The Art Theater is where all of the action is on Sunday night. For Boneyard, the art theater will exhibit collages, paintings, and works on paper by Lainey Waugh as well as a series of Instax wide portraits by Champaign’s own horror director Jessie Seitz. A reception will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 on Sunday night, followed by a one time screening of Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present, a documentary about the avant-garde video artist, experimental filmmaker, musician and teacher, at 7:30. Tony Conrad is notable for many accomplishments, including pioneering structural film and drone music, but the one that caught my attention was indirectly providing The Velvet Underground with their name. When Lou Reed and John Cale moved into Conrad’s old apartment in NYC they discovered a book with that title and decided to co-opt it for their band. — MC
These daily highlights represent what caught the eyes of two Smile Politely Arts writers, but these are just a very small fraction of what’s on offer all weekend long. There will be free printed booklets at most of the Boneyard Venues, and with wi-fi almost everywhere, you can check the Boneyard website or quickguide online for installations, artist names, venue locations, and event times while you’re out & about.
[Editor’s note — an earlier edition of this article incorrectly reported the date of the Paintings & Petals reception — the correct date of Friday, April 7th, is now reflected]