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Peoria's Fine Art Fair is Not Just for Picasso

A total of 143 artists, travelling from over 30 states, spent two days on the Peoria RiverFront a few weeks ago. For the 55th time, the Peoria Art Guild’s Fine Art Fair did not disappoint.

At least, that is what we hear- not all of us have been to all 55 combined. Not all of us are as artistic as others. Some of us may think that being around such incredibly talented and artistic people is intimidating. However, the Peoria Fine Art Fair is for everyone to enjoy, not just artists.  Take it from the president of the Peoria Art Guild himself, Bill King. “I couldn’t draw a picture,” King said. “I buy art. I love art. But, I can’t do it, which makes me even more appreciative of it.”

Here are a few main takeaways from the 2017 Fine Art Fair:

Peoria loves the artists, but the artists also love Peoria.

Each artist experiences first-hand Peoria’s big city amenities, and small town hospitality. Each out-of-town artist I spoke with mentioned how much he or she loves the event and their time in Peoria. Most artists spend a lot of time travelling to shows throughout the country. They arrive in Peoria to a welcoming Fine Art Fair Committee and an excited community.

A jeweler from Dallas noted the Peoria Fine Art Fair as one of her and her husband’s favorite shows. “We’re from the south and thought all the nice people were in the south,” she said, “that’s not true.”

Thanks Peoria, for being so great to these artists and making them love our home. Also, to the Fine Art Fair Committee who makes them feel at home while they are here. Mr. King credited Cathi Hawkinson and her team to the success of the art fair each year. “Cathi Hawkinson really made this thing happen,” King said. “Everyone on the board hustles, the committee hustles, and we work our ass off to make it happen.” 

The Peoria Area has talent.

Of the 143 artists at the fair, only about 15 were local to the Peoria Area. Eric Bell (Williamsfield) was chosen as the poster artist for the fair this year. His illustrations of dinosaurs and robots that you have seen scattered throughout Peoria are all interpretations of his experiences.

“I took an all-inclusive approach,” Bell said, “focusing in on the gender and demographic information of the Peoria Area to demonstrate that everybody can experience art, everybody can make art, and art is for everybody. It’s one of those things that brings us together rather than separates us.”

Another notable local artist was named this year's "Emerging Artist" - Noah Otten. Noah grew up in the Peoria Area and plans to explore the opportunities Peoria has to offer him before moving his art career elsewhere. Not only is he extremely talented, he is extremely passionate and hard-working.

“I discovered painting in acrylics in high school,” Otten said. “Painting blew my mind."

But before the painting process starts, Noah builds the structure frames from scratch. He buys the lumber and measures it to fit the size he wants. Then buys the canvas, stretches it, staples it, and puts primer on it. He described the process as “pretty intensive.”


Long story short... While many talented artists from all over the country flock to Peoria for this impressive event, Peorians should be doing the same. Anyone can paint part of the community mural or take a pottery lesson. As far as the Peoria Area is concerned, art is for everyone at the Fine Art Fair.

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