Smile Politely

New Boneyard venue spotlight: BAM!

As the 20th Boneyard Arts Festival approaches, Smile Politely is spotlighting artists and venues who are participating for the first time, as well as artists who are debuting work in a new medium.

Recently, I had the chance to talk with Anna Gutsch of NORDEN Design, Pipapo, and the Little Red Hut, about her new Boneyard Arts Festival venue, Boneyard Arts Market, or BÄM! Her dedication to the C-U creative community and her excitement about this new venture not only exemplify the energy surrounding this year’s festival, they illustrate the resilience and ingenuity responsible for the survival and growth of our arts scene. 

Smile Politely: Tell us about BÄM!. Where will it be located? What kind of space is it? What inspired it?

Anna Gutsch: BÄM! is a brand new, exciting event – the first ever Boneyard Arts Market. We wanted to do our part to help to celebrate the Arts in CU and we believe with BÄM! we have an amazing opportunity to do so. This addition happens during an extra special year of the Boneyard Arts Festival—it’s 20th year celebration.

BÄM! is going to be located at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana. We are very grateful to the support of the owner and team of Lincoln Square Mall who have also supported our events (Mistletoe market) in the past. We appreciate the opportunity to be able to work with an existing business community within the mall as well. Within the Lincoln Square Mall we are to be found between the Art Coop and Common Ground Food Coop—who both are event partners. The Common Ground is a long standing partner in our event—we naturally seem to thrive and grow together so occupying this space made sense. All in all, it’s a pretty exciting process to design the experience for everyone—vendor or visitor—after all it is dreaming up a fun event for our community.

SP: What has the preparation process been like?

Gutsch: Planning the layout of the event itself is part of organizing the market. We strive to create a welcoming and interesting experience for the visitors of the market by thoughtfully placing our vendors but also making sure we are meeting their requirements in light and electricity at the same time. Of course we are also planning an Art Cafe this year so that requires special planning in terms of customer experience also.

SP: What are you most excited for BYAF visitors to experience?

Gutsch: As the event organizer I can say: Experiencing the Arts. Connecting with Artists and Artisans alike. In Champaign-Urbana, we are living in a vibrant arts community—creativity thrives here because artists and art lovers have been able to build a connection with and for each other. People understand how art and well made goods are improving their everyday life quality. This unique environment creates joyful and meaningful experiences.

As a participating Artist I look forward to hearing all kinds of “ooohs” and “aaaahhs” and “cuuuute squeals.” With my work I strive to pick people up during some moment of their every day—and let them say to themselves “you got this” and give themselves a smirk in the mirror. Color is in my opinion the most powerful tool to boost someone’s confidence and self love. Those are the kind of meaningful connections and experiences I talked about earlier— personally I cannot wait to create them with the visitors at the Boneyard Arts Market and I know that is true for every single other Artist or Artisan who is participating in BÄM! We all can’t wait to meet you.

SP: How many artists will be showing this year?

Gutsch: This year we are proud to say we have 28 amazing participants. Some come from as far as Chicago. We find that an amazing compliment and are fully embracing that. Of those 28, four are sponsored student participants. Johann and I (NORDEN) are both U of I alumni. We want to support young creatives and provide them with the opportunity to sell their goods and get feedback from the community on their art. This year we have 1 graduate student and three high school students who participate without charge and can show their skills to the public.

SP: How do you choose which work to show?

Gutsch: It’s a complex evaluation process between originality, quality, quantity, event vision and audience. It is a tricky process to evaluate people’s work – it is important for us to know that nobody assumes that their work isn’t good enough for the market—they might simply not be selected because we don’t think we can provide the audience for a specific artist.

SP: Anything else you want to add?

Gutsch: We would like to welcome everyone who reads this to BÄM! Boneyard Arts Market on Saturday April 2nd from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana. We appreciate your interest and support for our arts community and invite you to discover a new, fun experience at Boneyard Arts Festival 2022.

Find out more about BÄM! on their website or on their social media channels (@boneyardartsmarket on Facebook and Instagram).

Top photo from the Boneyard Arts Market Facebook page.

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