Smile Politely

How to create your own stay-at-home, virtual, local fine arts festival

April wasn’t the same for Chambana artists and art lovers without the frenzy of the four-day inspo fest that is Boneyard Arts Festival. And as we wait for its rescheduling, the kind folks at 40 North have been cooking up a “virtual boneyard” campaign to keep us sated until we can all meet again. This news, coming right on the heels of the c-u pARTners launch, got me to thinking. Just as we look to our pantries for meal inspo these days, perhaps we could look towards these virtual solutions to create a recipe for our own DIY, choose-your-own-adventure virtual local fine arts fests.  

Below you’ll find a list of ingredients, along with some suggestions for kicking it up a notch. It’s easy to feel disconnected and overwhelmed right now. But art, even as a virtual experience, rewakens our senses, rewires our brains, and transports our minds. So with that said, I hope you’ll spend some time enjoying your own virtual arts fest and find hope in the resiliency of our local arts scene. 

Ingredients

Boneyard Arts Festival artist gallery website

Boneyard Arts Festival Facebook page

c-u pARTners website

c-u pARTners Facebook page

Krannert Art Museum YouTube channel

Art Coop website*

Phone/Text/Facetime/Google Hangout or other option for making this a distant though social experience to share with your friends*

Social media account of your choice to share what you discovered*

* get ready to “kick it up a notch” by making this interactive, or better yet, to get inspired to make your own art

Directions

Image: Detail from Gregory Stallmeyer's

Image: Detail from Gregory Stallmeyer’s “Nexus,” a digital rendering of plexiglass art with geometric shapes in bright blues, purples and pinks with yellow-toned bubbles and thin, angular lines in bright white, blue, and pink. Photo by Gregory Stallmeyer.

When it comes to tackling virtual BYAF, there are three basic approaches.

Option A: Hit the page, go with gut, click on the work that speaks to you right then and there. Then consider diving deeper into the artists bio, visiting their website, social media, and perhaps even choosing something to purchase now or someday. Rinse and repeat. 

I must confess that this was the primary approach I took. Here are some of the works that drew me in last night. 

Image: Photo of painting by Kathy Micek, featuring a dark figure amongst multicolored lines and squares. Photo from Boneyard Arts Festival website

Image: Photo of painting by Kathy Micek, featuring a dark figure amongst multicolored lines and squares. Photo from Boneyard Arts Festival website

Yes. I was clearly craving color and texture. And the combination of light and dark, earthy tones filled me with hope and grounded me. The geometric shapes and lines gave me a much needed sense of order. And though the central figure stood alone, they were bolstered by and engage with the world around them. Perhaps I was projecting too much of our current crisis state onto a work created well before it began. But this reading made me feel connected and less alone. It made my fingers itch with the desire create something. More about that later. 

Next I found myself drawn to Kelly Hieronymus’ lush tufted work, a detail of which is shown below. Yes, I had been aware of this project because I follow the artist’s work. But it leaped off the page for me, again, perhaps because of its use of color and texture, and its unique organic shapes. It was playful and fun and joyful. And I definitely needed a big dose of those things. 

Image: Detail from photo of Kelly Hieronymus' tufted yarn work featuring a broad range of colors and organic shapes. Photo from Boneyard Arts Festival Facebook page.

Image: Detail from photo of Kelly Hieronymus’ tufted yarn work featuring a broad range of colors and organic shapes. Photo from Boneyard Arts Festival Facebook page.

Option B: If you’re not as impulsive as I am, you might simply start at the top and work your through alphabetically. If so, take breaks, and check back as the page is updated. 

Option C: For a more curated experience, start with the BYAF Facebook page, where you will be directed to a steady stream of images and opportunities to learn more about the artist. When I took this approach last night, I was introduced to an artist who was new to me. I was immediately struck by the color palette (some of my personal favorites) and the mix of line work and organic watercolor shapes. The work radiated energy. Another thing I was deeply craving. As I soon discovered, the artist, Gillian Marie Gabriel, is also an energy work and tarot reader. Her statement on the post couldn’t have been more perfect for this current moment. 

“I spend a lot of time thinking about the good stuff – joy and beauty – but also individual healing and how humans can come together to collectively rise above this political, ecological, and economic mess that we are in.” 

Image: Photo of abstract mixed media work by Gillian Marie Gabriel featuring blue and wine colored organic watercolor shapes and black line work. Photo from Boneyard Arts Festival Facebook page.

Image: Photo of abstract mixed media work by Gillian Marie Gabriel featuring blue and wine colored organic watercolor shapes and black line work. Photo from Boneyard Arts Festival Facebook page.

So, however you mix your BYAF, I hope you find something that need.  Something that brings you joy, comfort, inspiration, and a reminder of what we have to look forward to. 

Now, if you have the capacity to purchase some local art, consider doing some from c-u pARTners. This new mutually beneficial local business-local artist collab will help support the places and people who make this arts community all that it is. You can help make sure they are still standing when this is over. 

Image: Blue background with yellow silhouette of parts of the downtown Urbana and downtown Champaign skylines, with text about the partnership name and mission overlaid in white text. Image from c-u pARTners Facebook page

Image: Blue background with yellow silhouette of parts of the downtown Urbana and downtown Champaign skylines, with text about the partnership name and mission overlaid in white text. Image from c-u pARTners Facebook page
 

Check out their website or Facebook page for the full-list of collaborations on deck. The first collab to go live is the one between Hooey Batiks and Art Coop. Seeing the Art Coop duck surrounded by love just says it all. 

Image: Blue and white batik tee with white heart and blue duck by Hooey Batiks in support of Art Coop, Inc. Photo from c-u pARTners website.

Last night I saw this teaser for the upcoming collab between Furniture Lounge and Same Street Textiles. The bandana design fully captures the fun midcentury vibe. I can’t wait till its ready for purchase. 

Image: Photo of beige bandada with Furniture Lounge logo and midcentury modern line drawings of chairs, lamps, and other shapes in gold, red, brown, and blue created by Same Street Textiles in support of Furniture Lounge. Photo from c-u pARTners Facebook page.

Image: Photo of beige bandada with Furniture Lounge logo and midcentury modern line drawings of chairs, lamps, and other shapes in gold, red, brown, and blue created by Same Street Textiles in support of Furniture Lounge. Photo from c-u pARTners Facebook page.

Now that we’ve mixed in the healing power of art with the healing power of local philanthropy, get ready for some deeper exploration and dive into the artist lectures available on the Krannert Art Museum You Tube Channel. There’s so much to learn from these talks.  And KAM has also added some virtual yoga videos for additional moments of Zen. 

Perhaps this is the point where you’ll sign off and that’s fine. Our attention spans aren’t what they were a few weeks ago. But if you’re up for more, here are some options. 

Grab your phone or log on to Google Hangout and talk to your friends about what you saw (or  better yet, invite them to tag along). Offer them some of the strategies I’ve shared, or let them choose their own adventure. If you like to meet up for a drink or a java after an art crawl, this virtual meet-up will give you the option to bounce off ideas, interpretations, and sugestions. 

You might also want to take a snap of what you’ve watched and share it on social media to inspire others to do the same. Maybe even go that extra mile of tagging the artist or DMing them your thanks. You have no idea how much this will mean, especially now. Even if buying art is not an option for you, let our local artists know how much their work means to you. This goes a long way to buoy their spirits. 

Finally, if you find yourself inspired to create something, the owners of Art Coop are creating custom kits available for purchase on line with contactless delivery. Go ahead. Make something. Anything. Use all of what you’re feeling right now. And when you’re done, share it so you can inspire someone else. Now more than ever, we need to keep lifting each other up any way we can. 

Stay inside. Stay well. And have a fantastic arts festival journey. 

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