Peoria artists open their doors for First Fridays.

To enjoy a diverse range of unique works by local artists, look no further than your own backyard. With seven studios open to the public, the First Friday Studio Tour is the perfect opportunity for artists and art lovers to mingle amidst oil paintings, hand-crafted furniture, glass sculptures, ceramics and everything in between.

The monthly event is the brainchild of eight local artists, whose collaboration led to the formation of the Central Illinois Artists Organization (CIAO). “As we were developing the First Friday event, we thought we should probably form an organization,” explained Tracey Frugoli, oil painter and CIAO co-founder. “So, CIAO actually came out of wanting to do the First Friday event.”

James Pearce, another original member of CIAO, highlights the new organization’s goals for First Fridays. “We wanted to make the public aware of where we’re at and what we do and to promote art education,” he said. “People are curious about the process behind artists’ work. We want to make people aware that there are very, very good artists in the area.” Frugoli adds that it is important to have an established event that the public can look forward to each month.

Above all, the artists promise that visitors will have a great time as they come through. Some studios offer wine and snacks, others offer demonstrations, and still others will have DJs and musicians to keep the atmosphere lively. Artists welcome questions about their work or about the artistic process in general. “We are trying to evolve the whole thing and constantly do something different,” adds Pearce. And if you find yourself falling in love with a particular piece, you can rest easy; it is probably available for purchase.

With the recent additions of the Contemporary Art Center and Underground Press Studio, First Fridays has expanded since the first event, which was held in April. It now includes seven locations and nearly three dozen different artists. And to top it off, it’s free to attend! a&s


FIRST FRIDAYS takes place from 5 to 9pm on the first Friday of each month through November at the following locations:

  1. The Mill: 1101 SW Washington St.
  2. Peoria Art Guild: 203 Harrison St.
  3. Murray Center For The Arts: 100 Walnut St.
  4. Contemporary Art Center Of Peoria: 305 SW Water St.
  5. The Cornerstone Building: 321 Ne Madison Ave.
  6. Toraason Glass: 506 Evans St.
  7. Underground Press Studio: 207 Voris St.