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A closer look at Busey’s 1868 Collection

Painting of Busey Bank showing mirrored glass windows with people looking in the building and Jackson in the top right corner
Billy Jackson’s painting in the 1868 Collection; Photo by Dr. Ian Wang

Introduced in the fall of 2018, Busey Bank Wealth Management held its first annual art exhibition at its Urbana building’s second and third floors. The exhibition was entitled The 1868 Collection because Busey Bank was established in 1868 and this is an exhibition of artwork from the communities Busey services. According to a statement in the Busey Bank magazine, The Pillar, in its spring issue of 2019: “The art exhibit exemplifies Busey’s longstanding commitment to the community while advocating for the arts.” The inaugural show was on display for six months and was well received by customers, associates, and the community, according to the Busey magazine.

A poster of the Inaugural Exhibition of Busey Bank 1868 Collection; Photo by Dr. Ian Wang

Indeed, as a Busey Bank long time customer and a life-time art collector, after doing bank activities in the building, my attention was drawn to the art exhibition on display. I immediately noticed all artworks on display were by University of Illinois and Urbana- Champaign artists.

Ian Wang leans against a balcony railing while photographing Jackson's painting of the Busey building
Dr. Ian Wang viewing Billy Jackson’s painting in Busey Bank 1868 Collection on display; Photo by U of I Visiting Scholar Prof. Yimin Zhao

I was so excited to see many local artist’s artworks and especially one of the most well- known paintings in the exhibition by famous U of I art professor Billy Jackson. The painting is a Social Realism painting of the Busey Bank Building in Urbana. Since the building’s exterior walls are all glass, Jackson artistically depicted the bank building from its outside and though the front glass doors and walls to capture the entire spirit of Busey Bank. I remember this painting was hanging and displayed on the third-floor hallway wall. So, when you review the painting, you are physically standing inside the center of the Busey Bank building and it seems as though you are looking though the building glass walls and landed your view back to the outside building. While I was trying to figure out exactly what was the artist perspective of this painting, I suddenly noticed Jackson was sitting outside at the top right building scaffold and concentrating on his painting! The position clearly demonstrates he is the artist of this painting.

Painting of Busey Bank showing mirrored glass windows with people looking in the building and Jackson in the top right corner
Billy Jackson’s painting in the 1868 Collection; Photo by Dr. Ian Wang

I was fascinated to see how Jackson positioned himself in this painting because I knew he actually created an artist design rendering of the Busey Bank building that was selected for the actual building design.

rendering on parchment paper in pen and pencil
Billy Jackson’s design/rendering of the Busey Bank Building in Urbana; Photo courtesy of its collector Dr. Ian Wang

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual 1868 Art Exhibition had to be put on hold for a couple of years. I was excited to know this year’s annual exhibition The 1868 Collection was set to return to Busey Wealth Management Headquarters in Urbana.       

3 horizontal canvases make up a single picture of artwork. Champaign-Urbana at night, with only street lights showing the streets
Dr. Ian Wang

When asked, Kristen​ E. Bosch, Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing and Communications, told me:

“We’ve seen exponential growth with this exhibit since the beginning. This year alone, we received 125 submissions. We’ve seen several of the same artists submit over the years, but we’ve also seen growth in the number of new artists showing interest in participating. This growth could be attributed to various factors, not the least of which is Busey’s approach and commitment to a polished and professional experience. We’ve developed a reputation for supporting the local art community. We’re proud to help them promote and sell their artwork — the ultimate support. We connect the purchaser and the artist, receiving no portion of the sales, commissions, or fees.

Our exhibit has featured artists of all experience levels and pieces of a variety of mediums and styles. Over the years, we’ve featured various collections of children’s artwork from local schools and non-profit organizations. In addition to the exhibit at the downtown Urbana location, we also have art at the University location in Champaign, along with the Busey Bridge Center in Peoria. Additional sites are also being planned to expand the work throughout Busey’s footprint.

We encourage our local community to come see the exhibit to support local artists. Foot traffic is encouraged at all locations; you’re welcome to stop in and browse the collections.”

The Busey 1868 Kids exhibition features artwork from Cunningham Children’s Home and Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club, and can also be viewed in their online gallery as well at Busey’s University location.

The 1868 Collection will be available for viewing starting today, October 11th through July of next year. A digital tour will also be available on their website.

1868 Collection
201 W Main St
M to F 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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