Smile Politely

The coolest Boneyard 2016 displays

Boneyard Arts Festival is a weekend long event where artists partner with business to display their work. This year’s festival took place from Thursday April 7th until Sunday April 10th. Artist occupied spaces in Champaign, Campus, Urbana and even surrounding areas. 40 North is the primary sponsor of the event and information regarding artists and venues was hosted on their dedicated Boneyard Arts Festival website. 

Below you will find some of my favorite items from this year’s BYAF. Although this list may be extensive in some people’s eyes it certainly is not absolute. I went out Saturday afternoon in Downtown Champaign and Sunday around noon in Downtown Urbana. 

Overall my experience at BYAF was positive. In addition to enjoying the festival as a spectator I was also a participant. And so I have some comments on the good and bad from both sides of the fence. The folks at 40 North did an incredible job this year and I am so happy to have such an organization hard at work at making C-U a great art community. I list these pros and cons in hopes to create an even better BYAF next year. 


  • Free. I’ve got to say that being able to see all of this great art for free is just incredible. Some of the venues even fed me wine and cheese!
  • Interactive displays. Some of my favorite art displays were ones that I could contribute to. 
  • Dedicated website. It is good to have a dedicated space online to post about the event. I look forward to this becoming more robust. Perhaps an app someday?
  • Affordable for sale items. Show me your beautiful art, price it at $400 for the original, and then show me a post card or print I can take home for $10-$20. This makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
  • Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There is so much to see and so little time and so spreading it out, especially to Sunday, is much appreciated. 
  • Dedicated gallery spaces. Walking into a cafe or restaurant to see art is one thing but walking into a space dedicated to the art is a superior experience. 


  • Navigation. Boneyard staff should make a walking tour of the different BYAF zones (Downtown Champaign, Urbana, and campus). Take a bottle of spray paint and lay me down a walking path to each venue. Also, add a map to the website. 
  • Crafts. Arts and crafts often collide but having more crafters would be great and I’d love to spend money on local folks creating take home art.
  • Promotional materials. Speaking from an artist’s perspective, I think 40 North ought to provide posters, cards, and overall more signage for business artists to use and promote their display. The flags are great but once people get in they need something to direct them to the display. Perhaps a BYAF poster that has a blank space for artists to marker in their display name. 
  • Boneyard leaches. There were a few venues that had made zero changes to their current art display in light of BYAF. This is what I call a Boneyard leach. And it was honestly really disappointing to see the same old photographs in the same old display after traveling specifically to a venue to see Boneyard art.

I love BYAF. It really makes our community special. 40 North, artists, businesses, galleries and support staff should all be very proud of the 2016 season. I am looking forward to 2017!

Now, check out some of my favorite displays below!

CUDO members playing a board game at Sip Yard

A sweet handmade guitar

Out of control oragami


Dylan by Phil Strang

Pekara, My Community Paintings, First Graders at Stratton Middle School

Christopher’s Fine Jewlery

Works by Leif Olson

“Give me a prompt and I’ll write you a poem to take home.”

Works by CU Poetry.

This is the space that used to be a vapor shop. From talking with the gallery staff, it seemed like the owner had put some serious work into making this space gallery read and that it would be available for rent to other artist. It was well done with great lighting and well hung paintings. Plenty of space. 

It is a joy just to tour this building: The Boys Club Building.

On top of touring, There was great art, below, by Ben Cohan. 

And an awesome backroom. 

Filled with beautiful paintings, below, by Joan Stolz.

I moved down to Fleurish where I found works by Kristine Fisher. 

Including a very trendy coloring book.

Figure one busting out some interactive art. 

Middle schoolers chose Civil Rights Movement quotes and displayed them at Cream and Flutter.

I missed the display at WEFT but here is what it looks like on the inside of the studio. So many CDs!

Gallery 110 was possibly my favorite overall venue. It had everything I wanted: free, artists on site, variety of work displayed in a dedicated space, snacks, and an option to buy. The former Le Shoppe space underwent a shedding of skins and what is underneath is beautiful: original hard wood floors, white walls, bright lighting. Perfect for a gallery space. I hope it stays!

This piece is apart of a series titled “A Life Fulfilled” by Deb Sosnowski. Sosnowski remarks that this series “honors the heroic efforts of the onion bag as it serves as a vessel transporting massive quantities of onions to the human population.” At first I laughed. Then I pondered. They are really beautiful pieces. 

These clever little pieces have crass words woven all throughout them. Katina Vonbeaverhausen cleverly titles her work “Fancywork for Jerks.” Check her out on Instagram. 

My next destination was Common Grounds Food Coop. I went into their classroom looking for some sweet BYAF displays but all I found was the same display they’ve had up for a few months. Nothing had changed. It was not a good use of my Boneyard time. 

I ended my day at Cinema Gallery. The gallery was actually closed but they were setting up for an event and allowed us to walk through. Many thanks because Victor Wang’s art is beautiful.

Thank you again to all of the staff, artists and venues that make such a wonderful event possible for our community to enjoy. See you next year!

Related Articles