Smile Politely

A look at Boneyard Arts Festival 2023

a collage of four pieces of artwork. Top left: a three dimensional piece by Shawn Hensley depicting a raven in a storm; A painting of a black woman activist holding a portait of George Floyd by Harvester Baker; a totem pole "The Guardians of Memories" by EKAH; a vibrant floral painting by Faith Gabel hangs above a yellow velvet armchair
(l-r): Shawn Hensley; Forrester Baker, America’s Moment; EKAH, The Guardians of Memories; Faith Gabel, Spring Fever

This year’s Boneyard Arts Festival saw events taking place at more than ninety venues across Champaign County. The annual four-day arts festival is put on by 40 North and brings together local artists and businesses. The celebration of art has participants from all art forms: painters, sculptors, weavers, photographers, dancers, poets, actors, and more. Our recap is by no means comprehensive, but provides a small snapshot of some of the art we enjoyed at this year’s Boneyard. 

— Serenity Stanton Orengo, Arts Editor

A collection of miniature paintings at the art at the Tiny Art Show.
Serenity Stanton Orengo

The Tiny Art Show at The Literary 

Last week, I went to pick up a book I had ordered at The Literary and used the visit as an opportunity to take a sneak peak at the Tiny Art Show. The art was displayed across from the bar; each piece in the collection was thirty-six square inches or smaller, and fittingly, each piece was inspired by a favorite book. Despite their small size, several of the pieces packed a punch including a beautiful water lily painting inspired by the book Where the Crawdads Sing, a vibrant purple pink and yellow piece inspired by The Lorax, and an embroidered ode to the Game of Thrones book series entitled “Outside of Meereen.”

Before I left, I also had a chance to try a drink, cleverly named “A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Cocktail” (a play on the James Joyce novel A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man), which was created in honor of the Tiny Art Show and Boneyard Arts Festival. The refreshing vodka-based drink with elderflower, cucumber, lime and sparkling water, will be featured on their summer menu. (SO)

A metal sculpture of a rhinoceros by Andy White
©Andy White; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo

119 E University 

Saturday morning, I took the opportunity to stop by 119 E University, which hosted the ReGroup Art Collective. More than 90 artists occupied the 24,000 square foot space, taking up two floors, a stairwell, and the basement. I was surprised at how large of a crowd there was so early in the day, and I often had to wait a turn to get an up-close look at some of the art. 

Upon entering the space, I was greeted by what appeared to be a sculpture of a rhinoceros, one of Andy White’s creations. White, who has no formal training in metalwork or art, uses his unique metal sculptures to explore “the tensions between new and old, natural and mechanical, and alive and dead.” His Firebird, on display on the second floor, was my personal favorite of the group. Also on display was the graphite and digital painting Salmagundi by EKAH (this year’s signature image), up close fruit photography by Fraya Replinger, and a painting of a Black Lives Matter activist holding a photograph of George Floyd, painted by artist Harvester Baker

a painting of a black woman, wearing a colorful turban, with curly hair hanging out the back, a green strapless top, and a large necklace.
©Selma Prado, Beleza Africana; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo

Some of my personal favorites included the large mixed media work Beleza Africana by Selma Prado — a truly stunning piece — and the modern floral paintings by Faith Gabel. A three-dimensional piece by Shawn Hensley of a raven in a storm holding on to octopus’ tentacles also drew me over more than once. An honorable mention goes to Yuna Nagashima, grade 2, who had the truly adorable drawing, Surprise Cat, on display. (SO)

Prism Studios

After 119 E University, I stopped by Prism Studios, which was hosting its own collection of artists. By the time I had arrived early Saturday morning, more than 13 pieces had already sold. The vibe here was much quieter, and I was able to move from room to room to examine the art at my leisure. The first room featured art by Matt Wiley from their Light Witches, a “webcomic about propaganda, holograms and punching Nazis.” Wiley also had a children’s book for sale, My Cat is Depressed, that I immediately purchased and highly recommend. 

An oil on canvas painting "Slayer" depicts a young woman in a yellow dress holding a sword in her right hand an a decapitated male head in her right hand
©Friday Colter, Slayer, oil on canvas, 2023; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo

While there was some small sculptural work displayed on the walls, along with other various mediums including jewelry and bookmarks, most of the art displayed were paintings. I particularly enjoyed paintings by Anna Spencer which featured portions of nude bodies in compelling vibrant colors, Friday Colter’s Slayer, a painting featuring a woman holding a sword in one hand and a decapitated head in the other, and Leslie Kimble’s “Snowy Pine Cones.” The intimate space with its diverse and interesting displays proved to be a great way to finish out an art-filled morning. (SO)

(BÄM) Boneyard Arts Market + Art Coop Staff Show

Boneyard Arts Market vendors line the hallway in Lincoln Square Mall. There are photos and other textiles goods, as well as a few people checking out each vendor
Jessica Hammie

On Friday night, I met a friend at Lincoln Square Mall to check out the Boneyard Arts Market and the Art Coop’s staff exhibition. There was a large crowd already, only about an hour into the opening festivities. 

A display table of the textile work by High in Fiber Rugs. On the table are three large pieces meant to resemble: a hot dog, an egg, and a pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, and green peppers.
Jessica Hammie

BÄM was a fun way to check out local artists and vendors. There were several ceramics vendors (though they all offered something different), people selling prints and small works of art on paper, cupcakes, soaps, jewelry, and moss art. I’m a sucker for Crass Stitching and High in Fiber Rugs; both artists offer fun and sassy takes on traditional “women’s” crafts.  It was really nice to see such life in a space that is often quiet and empty.

Two small, framed works on paper. On the left, a circle with pinks and blues overlaid on a copper line. Below is a key and a red dot. On the right, a similar circle overlaid atop a vertical copper rectangle and a horizontal colorful rectangle. Above is a symbol and below the rectangle is a red dot.
©Debra Domal, (l) Recast Terrain: Copper/Filter; (r)Recast Terrain: Composed in Copper, mixed media, 2023; photo by Jessica Hammie

The Art Coop’s staff exhibition was a really lovely way to feature the creative output of the folks who work in the art supply store, including work by owners Hilary Pope and Anna Peters. A whole variety of media were on display: paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and fiber arts. Perhaps I’m biased, but I was drawn (no pun intended) to the work of SP’s former Arts Editor Debra Domal. Art Coop has a fantastic gallery space, and it was really fantastic to see the work of the employees, and learn more about their artistic endeavors. (JH)

A table display of the embroidery work of Crass Stitching. There are many different shaped stitchings with funny and slightly vulgar sayings.
Jessica Hammie

Gallery 112 and 114

I stopped by two galleries that filled the vacant storefronts at 112 and 114 E University, previously occupied by Mother Murphy’s and Record Swap, respectively. Each show was a group exhibit, bringing together artists utilizing various mediums.

Gallery 112 featured work from a collective of artists gathered by Champaign artist Nathan Westerman, who contributed wood slat wall art as well as a significant wood sculpture. Other contributors included Kim Curtis, Patrick Earl Hammie, Crystal Hartman, Rachel Fein-Smolinski, Kelly Hieronymus-Whiting, Elzie Sexton, and Christopher Schneberger, all local except Schneberger, who is from Chicago.

A transparent piece of silk with a black and white image of part of a face, with a thumb pulling on the eyelid of the eye. It's hanging in a window.
©Rachel Fein-Smolinski, 1927, archival pigment on silk, 1927, printed 2023; photo by Julie McClure

Fein-Smolinski’s use of archival images from medical libraries, reproduced on silk and ceramic tiles, were haunting and maybe even a little disturbing, but in that good way that makes it difficult to pull your eyes away. 

Two square panels are side by side on a white gallery wall. The have various colored dots on top of various rectangular color blocks.
©Kelly Hieronymus-Whiting, (l) Mooney No. 20 [42.04795° N, 98.15426° W] + (r) Mooney No. 22, [42.22664° N, 103.12149° W], paper and gouache on panel, 2022; photo by Julie McClure

It was a hard shift to the bright geometric designs from Hieronymus-Whiting, whose work we’ve grown accustomed to seeing throughout C-U. Her pieces, as well as those from Curtis’ landscape paintings, had an added detail of reflective paint, so patrons could use a black light flashlight to bring out those details. Hammie brought in two pieces from his Significant Other series, with striking images of a man and woman entangled in physical exchanges. It’s a series he spoke a bit about way back in 2016, when he was featured in our Workspaces column.

Walking into Gallery 114, I almost felt like I was walking onto a production set, or that I was about to be part of the installation. Bright stand lights lined the center of the space, highlighting the work along the walls. This gallery featured drawings and paintings from Joan Stolz, a video installation from Peg Shaw, a sculpture installation from Ann Coddington, and sculpture, drawing, and painting from Jo Birdwell. All of the artists, and many of those in Gallery 112, are also instructors. In this gallery I was most drawn in by the sculptural work. 

A distressed wall, painted white, has a row of painted sculptures hanging on it. In the foreground are three stand lights, pointed at the wall.
Julie McClure

Birdwell incorporates functional items — a fire hose, a chair back or arm, a hay hook — adding color, detail, and accessories that cause you to stare at each piece for a moment to remember what you are actually looking at. 

Several objects are hanging from the ceiling of a narrow hallway, in a mobile-like configuration. There is light shining on it, casting a shadow on the wall beside it.
©Ann Coddington, The Aha Moment, 2023; photo by Julie McClure

Perhaps my favorite work was Coddington’s hanging installation, tucked into a hallway and opposite a mirror, that created an immersive sort of experience. The mobile-like installation had so many unique objects, you could stand and stare at it for quite a while and still not take in all that it was giving. (JM)

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