Boneyard Arts Festival opens in CU, more in-person arts events to come

URBANA – The Boneyard Arts Festival returned for an in-person presentation of the work of local artists at over 50 venues in Champaign Urbana and surrounding areas this weekend.

The work of artist Gaye Grant is exhibited in Bohemia in Urbana. Bohemia is one of 52 venues in the Champaign Urbana region showcasing local artwork for the festival, ranging from museums and shops to bars. Owen Henderson

Before the pandemic, art exhibitions would be shown in more than 100 venues across the county in April, but after a virtual showcase in 2020, organizers decided to postpone it to keep the festival alive, so they landed from the June 18 to 20.

“I just wanted to have a Boneyard this year, in one form or another,” says Kelly Nowlin, executive director of the Champaign County Arts Council.

She says the COVID-19 pandemic really made her understand why she loved the local arts community and why she loved her job.

“It was a huge challenge because a lot of what I do is bringing people together to celebrate art or celebrate music and come together to connect with each other. And so, it also made me realize what part of my job I love the most: it’s the people.

Artists Megan Neese and Krystal Sokolis both say they are grateful that the festival is in person this year as well.

This is the second year that Sokolis has shown his work to Boneyard. She is a leather goods maker, known to some clients and other artists as “The Fungi Lady” for some of her work creating large mushrooms and cacti from the remains of her other work.

She says she enjoys engaging with clients of Champaign Urbana because “it’s a very artistic city” and “everyone is very supportive”.

Krystal Sokolis’ exhibition shows leather bags, cacti and her iconic mushrooms. She says she uses mushrooms as subjects because they embody the spirit of sustainability she seeks by reusing leftovers from other work to craft the parts. Photo by Owen Henderson

Neese is a macrame and jewelry designer. This is the first year that she’s showing her work at the festival, but she says she’s just very happy to be doing an exhibition in person again.

“I just like to see people’s faces. It’s so nice to see people again, even if it’s half the number of people as usual.

Kinsey Fitzgerald’s “Mother and Child” statue is on display at the Spurlock Museum. The artwork was originally created for the Champaign County Arts Council’s ‘The Great ARTdoors’ initiative in 2020, where local artists were paid to create outdoor pieces that the community could enjoy during the pandemic. COVID-19. Photo by Owen Henderson

Despite the low attendance from venues this year, Nowlin is confident about the future of the festival.

“The sites that did not participate said they were going to come back in force in 2022,” Nowlin said. “This will be Boneyard’s 20th anniversary, so I really feel like it’s kind of a year of growth, where we again bring people and artists start working and reconnect. And then 2022, celebrating the 20th anniversary, we can just get it out of the park all the way. “

Nowlin says the Arts Council is preparing for more in-person events this summer and beyond, including the revival of Champaign’s Friday Night Live, an event in downtown Champaign with live music and activities. for kids, and the Crystal Lake Park Art Fair, both of which will take place in August.

She says she believes council events will increase over the coming year with Illinois reopening because people in the community missed the opportunity to come together and enjoy the art and local music.

“No one takes this stuff for granted anymore.”

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