More Than a Pretty Picture

Behind the beauty of artwork is a world of innovation and complex problem solving. Fiber artists know which type of fiber can be shaped into their creation, photographers understand the properties of light, glass artists are skilled at melting high-quality sand into beautiful creations and sculptors know how to take an idea and transform it into metal or set it free from stone. Art is innovation in action and thanks to some dedicated people, we can see exciting works for free in the collections of Sculpture Walk Peoria and ArtPop.

“We need public art because it is available to everyone. While there is also a place for art in museums and galleries, public art brightens our lives every day we see it,” said Sharon Amdall, one of the organizers of Sculpture Walk Peoria.

Sculpture Walk Peoria (SWP) is enjoying its second year with 16 new sculptures on display in the Warehouse District beginning June 4. The pieces are placed along Washington Street as well as outside Dozer Park and the Peoria Riverfront Museum. The first year of SWP was a success with thousands of people enjoying the public art display, and four of the sculptures were sold.

“Sculpture Walk Peoria celebrates the transformation of the Warehouse District. It draws people in to see the sculptures, and they can see for themselves the dramatic changes happening in this part of Peoria. The mission of SWP is to enhance the appreciation for the arts in our community by demonstrating how art enhances our world and, in this case, helps to stimulate economic development by bringing people to the Peoria Warehouse District,” said Amdall.

Besides offering an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, SWP can be a resource for teaching children how an idea becomes reality and how a concept can be visualized.

One such example is the sculpture “Quarks VII.” Sculptor Guy J. Bellaver writes that this piece is “an interpretation of high energy physics and the collision of subatomic particles.” His piece was inspired by the work at the particle physics lab Fermilab. Using steel and fiberglass, Bellaver transforms the mysteries of matter, energy, space, and time into a sculpture you can walk up to and touch.

ArtPop Peoria is an innovative way to showcase innovation, like the intimate look Rick Melby gives us of handblown glass. ArtPop Peoria, sponsored by Adams Outdoor and ArtsPartners, takes billboards customarily used for advertising and displays the work of local artists. This national program originated in Charlotte, N.C., and is enjoying its second year in Central Illinois. Wendy Hickey, national founder of ArtPop, says, “ArtPop is important as it exposes the entire community to art and the local artists where they reside and work.”

The five 2016 winners’ art will be on billboards starting in mid-June. You can find their locations at artspartners.net. Click on the ArtPop link.

ArtPop is important to local artists because it gives them the chance to share their work with thousands of commuters every day. The billboards, though, are more than pretty pictures. They are a great way for kids to see adults putting their “money where their mouth is.” If we value innovation, then we need to see examples of it being rewarded. Thanks to Adams Outdoor and ArtsPartners, ArtPop Peoria does that in a big, 48-foot way.

PHOTO BY CRAIG STOCKS Fiber artist Dana Baldwin’s “Dreams Unwind” turns one of her up-cycled coats into an image that resembles a Midwestern field. “Dreams Unwind” is one of the five ArtPop images that will be featured on billboards in central Illinois.

PHOTO BY CRAIG STOCKS
Fiber artist Dana Baldwin’s “Dreams Unwind” turns one of her up-cycled coats into an image that resembles a Midwestern field. “Dreams Unwind” is one of the five ArtPop images that will be featured on billboards in central Illinois.

Doug and Eileen Leunig



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