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Midwest Salute to the Arts

Midwest Salute to the Arts

by John Dorroh

When I was in middle school, I had an art teacher, Fran Land, who not only taught me art but who instilled in me an appreciation of art.

When we were studying perspective, for example, she arranged for a field trip to Birmingham, Alabama, where we set up painting stations on street corners.  As young artists, we saw first-hand what she meant by perspective, seeing how the buildings seem to get smaller as the distance between us and them increased.

Fran Land made sure that that was not the end of the project.  She sent our finished pieces to a gallery in San Francisco, where they were critiqued by artists living in the Bay Area.  Think about that and let it settle in your head.  Heavy-duty for any artist, let alone 7th and 8th-graders.  Wow!

This is similar to one of the events for young artists (see “Special features” below) that will happen at the quickly-approaching Midwest Salute to the Arts.

Dates and location…what to expect:

Please be sure to mark your calendars for the following dates: August 23, 24 and 25.  Those are the days that Everett Moody Park (529 Ruby Lane) in Fairview Heights will be ground-zero for a free and family-friendly arts fest, complete with food, drink, and live music.  Informational booths will be staffed to help educate festival-goers on a variety of subjects.

The 31st annual Midwest Salute to the Arts promises to be one of the largest displays of fine art in Illinois.  Expect to see some 100 local, regional and national artists displaying and selling their work.  Many artists return from across the nation each year because they’ve come to love the city and the people, and the juried fair and prize money certainly doesn’t hurt either (Cash prizes total $17,000).

With the changes to the layout, this year’s fair will be more compact, more engaging; everything is more easily accessible. The city has revamped the venue into a horseshoe-shaped configuration with paved sidewalks.  Newly remodeled pavilions and a green space make this venue feel comfortable and open. Part of the point of art fairs is that the artist themselves are accessible for guests, as well as their works. But perhaps there are few art fairs where the artists are so accessible as The Salute: with its low-key, family atmosphere, it’s common for artists to quickly step from their booth to go over and work on art with children in their area.

And for children, there will be an interactive children’s Creation Station, plus an art gallery for the young ones. The interactive Creation Station and Children’s Gallery will provide 5 – 13-year-olds with unique opportunities.  Workshops for kids have been designed to foster an interest and participation in art at an early age.

When young ones enter the secure area, they will choose “their own” pieces of art free from parental influence and have a chance to have a conversation with “their own artist” as they create their own take-home piece of artwork.  The children’s gallery offers plenty of opportunities to actually create art and let kids get their hands painty.

Returning family favorites, The Bubble Bus and caricatures by Randall Spriggs, will once again also grace the Children’s Area.

There will be food!!!  At least eight vendors for food and soft drinks and for adult beverages will be located in two areas, one to the north and one to the south sides of the fair.

A brief history:

How did Fairview Heights become the site of a nationally recognized outdoor art festival?  It began over 30 years ago when a former alderman, Gene Ellerbusch, took a trip to Mystic, Connecticut, which was hosting an outdoor arts festival.  He was so impressed that he brought it to the attention of the makers and shakers in Fairview Heights.

After the City Council decided that their city could replicate the Mystic festival, they appointed Mrs. Billy McLemore to spearhead a committee to study the possibilities.  The project had officially begun.

The committee visited/studied other festivals, including the Festival of the Masters in Orlando, Florida.  Their decision was reinforced to go ahead with the planning of the first arts festival in Fairview Heights.

The Midwest Salute to the Masters was established with the goal of combining the community involvement of the Mystic, Connecticut, festival with the super-high standards of the one in Orlando.  That first show took place the weekend of October 1-2,1988, and was well-received by the community and the artists who took part.  Thirty years later, the festival is, as they say, bigger and better than ever.

Speaking of art:

Some 100 juried artists will be exhibiting their work in one of the following categories:

Clay – Art objects, either functional or decorative of earthenware, porcelain, or tile, made by shaping and then firing. No machine-made or mass-produced work is permitted.

Drawing/Printmaking (Graphics) – Drawings are works on paper using pencil, crayon, ink, charcoal, pastels and a variety of other marking media. Printmaking is a transfer process of producing original art, usually in multiples.

Glass – Glass works that are functional or decorative by design and are kiln formed or crafted by glass blowing, molding or casting. Works may be etched or engraved.

Jewelry (Precious Metal) – Creating artwork through the forging, twisting and fabricating of various precious metals. All jewelry, produced from metal, glass, clay, fiber, paper, plastic or other materials which include precious metals.

Mixed Media – Works that incorporate more than one type of physical material in their production.

Painting (Oils, Acrylics, and Watercolor) – Creation of a still life, portrait, landscape, abstract, or other image on a flat surface, with oil, acrylics, or watercolor.

Photography – Process of capturing images of objects by the action of light, then printing the images, by chemical or digital means, onto a flat surface.

Sculpture – Three-dimensional works done in any medium.

Fine Craft/Wood – Any material or construction may be used;  to include fiber, hand weaving, wood, etc.  Art objects either functional or decorative or hand tooled or machine worked, turned or carved.

Also speaking of art, there will be two active art demonstration areas.  One will be on the Southeast corner of the grounds.  There you can find daily demonstrations by members of the Gateway East Artist Guild presenting a wide variety of artistic mediums and skill levels.  Also you’ll find woodcarving displays and demonstrations by members of the Midwest Woodcarvers (aka: Belleville Holzschnitzers), plying their crafts of whittling, carving, cutting, and shaping of all things wood.  Plus members of the Artisan Guild of Southern Illinois.  Members there will share their fine craftwork, heavily rooted in heritage arts and fine crafts, such as weaving, spinning, needle crafts, leather, and pottery.

The second area, the Gesso Magazine Artist Demonstration Area, will be near the Northeast corner of the grounds and near to the Gesso Stage.  Two or more artists at a time, rotating approximately every two hours each day, will display their talents in multiples of mediums – oil and acrylic painting, sculpture, graphite drawing, digital art, and even painting with wine. The common denominator of these numerous artists is that each has been featured in Gesso Magazine, in print and/or online.


People come to the Salute and have interactions that generate engagement with art, be it something you can frame or something intangible. It might be no surprise then that a big part of the Salute’s legacy is founded in its musical guests. As in previous years, there will be two sound stages: the Gesso Stage and the South Stage. And here is the back-to-back schedule:

The weekend at Moody Park will go full-blast, come rain or shine. So make plans now to attend during any or all of the three days.

Bring your blossoming artists and let them become engaged with creators who are making our planet a nicer place to live.  Perhaps a few of them will experience art like I did when Fran Land helped us to begin to appreciate the world of art around us.

Come enjoy the music, the food, and of course, the arts, which is what The Salute is all about.

See you there!

Discover more about the Midwest Salute to the Arts on their website: You can also follow them on Facebook to stay updated on all of their latest developments. Gesso Magazine will be providing ongoing Facebook posts throughout the three days.

The Midwest Salute to the Arts is a 501(c) (3) Not for Profit organization.

Paul Seibert and Mark Johnson contributed to this article.

Midwest Salute to Arts’ schedule:

Friday:  Main Gallery, 6-10pm
Saturday:  Main Gallery, 10am-8pm, Children’s Gallery, 10am-5pm
Sunday:  Main Gallery, 11am-5pm, Children’s Gallery, 11am-4pm

Friday, August 23rd

6:00-10:00pm – Rogers & Nienhaus (Gesso Stage)

Saturday, August 24th

10:00am-12:00pm – TBA (Gesso Stage)

12:00-2:00pm – Louis Michael Trio (South Stage)

2:00-4:00pm – Sweetie & the Tooth Aches (Gesso Stage)

3:30-5:00pm – Foggy Memory Boys (South Stage)

6:00-8:00pm – Janet Evra (Gesso Stage)

Sunday, August 25th

11:00am-1:00pm – Dave & Dave Show (Gesso Stage)

1:00-3:00pm – Odds Lane (South Stage)

3:00-5:00p – Mark Biehl (Gesso Stage)

Come out for a great time!

Moody Park (Longacre Park)

525 South Ruby Lane
Fairview Heights, IL 62208-2613

Current Artists:
Please contact

Please contact



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