Peoria has put a lot of effort into revitalizing its historic Warehouse District, and on Saturday much of the city’s arts community came together to write another chapter in this story of urban renewal.
We’ll have more on the ambitious Big Picture Peoria initiative later, but we couldn’t wait to share our excitement over the initiative’s second annual art festival on Saturday. It’s a good thing the event went on for most of the day, because it packed so many sights and experiences into a two-block stretch of Water Street that you needed hours to take it all in.
The organizers, Doug and Eileen Leunig, made no effort to disguise the grungy, industrial quality of the neighborhood; instead they made it key to the event’s appeal.
Some of the artwork created during the day was ephemeral, like these sidewalk chalk panels commissioned by some of the city’s leading arts and design organizations.
But some of the work will be sticking stick around for the long haul. Andre Petty painted a large mural of one of Peoria’s most famous native sons at the Sous Chef building, and it should be up for a year.
Dutch street artist Ard Doko, who’s painted in Peoria several times, came back to create this mural at the CT Gabbert building.
The community was invited to join the creative process in different ways, including this paint-by-number mural of another noted Peoria, singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg.
Kids and grownups alike enjoyed redecorating this pickup truck through a Jackson Pollock-style paint fling.
There was also a student team invitational challenge. High school and college students got together to paint four-by-eight foot panels that will later be placed in public art areas around town.
There was also some 3-D work that transformed the neighborhood in unexpected ways.
Heather Brammeier, a sculptor and installation artist who teaches at Bradley University, turned a flagpole into – you guessed it – an installation.
And of course there was art made out of reclaimed materials.
And it wasn’t just about art, either. A non-perishable collection for was taken for several area organizations.
And some local makers had a chance to showcase their products, including Lovingood’s barbecue sauce.
There was much more going on, including art demonstrations and a live iron pour, not to mention a film festival held the night before – but more on that later.