Why do all the great artists live in big cities? Trick question. They don’t. The reality is creativity exists globally in humans regardless of location. From high-ceiling, red-bricked warehouses to garage studios to small spaces in homes, artists in central Illinois are busy doing what they do best. Creating. The major difference is we hear about the “big” artists and their million dollar works, while great “little” local artists don’t get much press.
We know this because we were honored to curate the CIAO & Friends Invitational at the Peoria Riverfront Museum and corresponding Vernissage Exhibit at the Prairie Center of the Arts in 2012. From those two exhibits, an ArtsPartners book titled Art Lives in Central Illinois was produced through a generous donation by Sharon and John Amdall. It revealed a depth and breadth of local talent heretofore unknown.
Art Lives in Central Illinois is a tantalizing look into the lives of our artists. In their own words, the artists provide a look into the creative process and, at the same time, teach us a little of why art matters to them. As a body of work, their compiled answers give insight in the universal theme of the human need to create.
All the artists in Art Lives in Central Illinois have in common a passion for creating. Even if they were denied a paintbrush, a lump of clay, a welding torch, or any other artistic tool, they would still find a way to be innovative and creative. Art is more than what hangs on the wall; it is a way of life. Art is an inner force that has grabbed hold of them and they have no choice but to create. The artists in this book share the same thought: The act of creation takes them to a place of wonder and euphoria where time stands still. Their works feed their spirit and nourish their soul. They desire to be artists until the day they die.
Just a little over three years later, most of the artists in the book are still living, working, and creating in central Illinois. Many are flourishing with recognition from both local and national interests. Here are just a few: (With apologies to all those not listed.)
- James Pearce, a fine furniture builder who was named best new artist at the Philadelphia Museum Craft Show
- Carrie Pearce, an oil painter who has been honored as an Art Renewal Center Living Artist
- Preston Jackson, a sculptor who was named Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, the highest honor given to individuals in the state
- Cathie Crawford, a printmaker who received the New York City Society of American Graphic Artists Centennial National Exhibition Purchase Award.
- Fisher Stolz, a sculptor whose work has been exhibited at Navy Pier, O’Hare, and Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey
- Michael Mayo, whose independent film Out of the Heart is released on iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay and others
- Jaci Willis, a sculptor with commissioned work in Chicago, Indiana, and Florida
- Greg DePauw, whose work has been sold to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City
- James Jenkins, a painter with work in Art Miami and Art Toronto
The expertise and talent of local artists is undeniable. Consider supporting local artistry wherever it’s found. The price tag might be bigger in big cities, but the value in local art is priceless.
If you want a copy of Arts in Central Illinois, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a local artist, please email us with updates about your exhibits and awards.