A collaborative event to recognize women artists and their persevering entrepreneurial spirit…

Really, when you think about it, all artists are entrepreneurs: envisioning and producing new work, developing a network of mentors and supporters, figuring out how to show their work and bring attention to it, and then selling it.

This fall, we are recognizing those women artist-entrepreneurs in a Citywide Celebration of Women Artists, a collaboration of 17 community art galleries, each featuring unique exhibitions of works by and about contemporary and historic women artists from our community and around the country.

Local writers and actors are also part of the celebration. You’ve seen them on stage, read their books and heard them lecture. During special, hour-long events in late October, we’ve asked several of them to tell us about the moment they knew they wanted to write or act, and about the women who mentored them and those they most admire. They’ll also read a passage from a favorite writing, or sing or read a part they enjoy performing.

Another event on November 5th will take on the topic of “Arts Mean Business” at the Junior League of Peoria’s Ballance-Herschel House. The conversation will be led by ArtsPartners Director Suzette Boulais and will include four women involved in different aspects of art in Peoria.

We wanted high school students to be involved with the celebration as well, and invited them to use their creativity to portray a woman who is significant in their lives. Their works will be shown on two websites and digitally at the Peoria Heights Library and Prairie Center of the Arts. In addition, the Peoria Public Library will host a reception for the student-artists in October.

In Morton and Dunlap
Two women-run galleries participating in the Celebration of Women Artists opened just last year in Morton and Dunlap.

Oil painter Rose Hubbard believes Jefferson Street in Morton has the potential to be the town’s retail hot spot. That’s why she opened her studio and gallery in a 100-year-old brick bungalow, a space she’d been eyeing for some time. The kitchen is her painting studio, the living and dining rooms are gallery spaces, and there are bedrooms in the back that would make fine studios. The Jefferson Street Studio and Gallery’s celebration exhibition reveals the hidden talents of four Morton women who succeed in multiple arenas, including art.

Lizabeth Pearce, also a painter, opened Pearce Gallery in a renovated post office building in Dunlap, a half-block from Her Majesty’s English Tea Room and Knit 4 Together Yarn Co., and an easy bike ride from the Rock Island Trail. There, she teaches art, hosts exhibits and sells artwork. For the celebration, she will show Tracey Frugoli’s photographs and paintings, followed by “Private Garden,” a group exhibition that explores real and imagined spaces, as well as interpretations of rural and urban landscapes.

In Downtown Peoria
At the Contemporary Art Center on Water Street, Chicago artist Christine Rojek will provide a display of drawings, models and photographs to recount how she creates commissioned sculptures. Later, the works of Susan Carson, who makes music-inspired paintings; Linda Verkler, whose paintings on linen challenge viewer perceptions; Carol Quell’s richly layered mixed media works; and Jacqueline Willis’ sculpture will also be on view.

On the main floor of the same building, the Fiber Universe will host works by Prairie Fiber Arts Guild members in a show called Imagine…Fiber as Art. The Guild’s opening reception on October 15th is a Wearable Art Runway Style Show that will be held on the second floor of the CAC gallery.

Sculpture and paintings by Peoria artists Nita Sunderland and Adelaide Cooley, as well as works by modernist artists Kathe Kollwitz and painter/printmaker Ellen Lanyon, among others, will be part of the Peoria Riverfront Museum’s showing of recent acquisitions.

In one gallery at the Peoria Art Guild, photographer Barbara Hoffman will display Stick Figures, a series of black-and-white images that she discovered when she placed decaying sticks discarded from an earlier project on white boards. Another gallery will contain a site-specific installation by Milwaukee artist Ashley Morgan, whose haunting works consider the nature of change.

The Peoria Women’s Club has furnished its 120-year-old building at the corner of Madison and Fayette with paintings, ceramics and furniture donated by its members over the years. Its collection reflects the members’ interest in promoting and preserving Peoria’s cultural history. Among the artifacts and artwork in the Peoria Historical Society’s exhibit at the Peoria Public Library’s Main Library gallery is a silk, velvet and sateen quilt decoratively stitched together. Flags from the city bicycle club and sketched Kate Greenway storybook characters are woven into the 1882 bedcover.

Studio 825 on SW Adams Street provides studio space to metal sculptors, jewelry makers, ceramicists and painters. For the celebration, three resident artists will show their work in an exhibit entitled Women Who Inspire Us.

At the Prairie Center of the Arts on SW Washington, the Central Illinois Artists Organization (CIAO) will exhibit members’ works in a show titled Sparks* CIAO Closes the Gap. The theme of the exhibit is to acknowledge women who influence the artists’ creative work.

On Sheridan Road
Near the corner of Sheridan and Nebraska, Gallery Romain will feature works by members of Chicago’s Sapphire and Crystals, a collective of innovative African-American artists. Local fiber artist Trish Williams will curate and participate in the exhibition.

Nearby, Studios on Sheridan celebrates its six women resident artists with an exhibit of their works in the gallery of this renovated 1930s warehouse in the Renaissance Park neighborhood at Main and Sheridan. In addition, exhibitor Jessica Ball will offer celebration-themed, art-making events for women and couples in her studio, the Art Garage.

In Bradley University’s Heuser Gallery, paintings by acclaimed mid-century Chicago artist Eleanor Coen will be on display. Her work will be the subject of one of the presentations at the early Midwest Women Artists Symposium, to be held at the university on November 8th. Bradley’s Hartman Gallery will also show women-made artworks from the university’s collection.

In North Peoria
Three galleries on the north side will hold special receptions on Friday, October 25th. “It’s a short drive between our galleries,” says Cheryl Dean, owner of Picture This Gallery in Peoria Heights. “We invite visitors to see all three.” Her gallery will offer works by nine artists in a variety of mediums, from bookmaking and sculpture to pastel, colored pencil and photography.

Exhibit A Gallery in Junction City will display 20 paintings by local artists prepared in the manner of an artist who has influenced them throughout their careers. Meanwhile, at the Peoria Heights Library on Glen Avenue, the 53-year-old Illinois Art League will celebrate the talent and skills of its women artists of the past and present.

Additional information about the Citywide Celebration of Women Artists galleries and events is available at facebook.com/Citywide.Celebration.Of.Women.Artists. Visit the websites and Facebook pages of the individual galleries to learn more about upcoming exhibits, gallery walks and other activities. iBi

Image pictured:Soul Serenade IIby Trish Williams. African wax printed cottons, artist-dyed cotton, cotton fabrics, glass beads. On display at Gallery Romain, 1919 N. Sheridan Road, October 15 – November 15, 2013.