NIU School of Art and Design students are working to make downtown DeKalb a destination for arts lovers. The “Downtown Initiative” is a year-long art experience that will culminate with a grand May festival called Artigras.
A Sept. 4 open house at the NIU Gallery 215 on Fourth Street brought out a crowd of art lovers, including local notables: Mayor John Rey and his wife, Marge; NIU First Lady Dana Stover; the merchants who are supporting NIU artists by offering their work for sale (Lauren Woods of Cracker Jax, Christie Carter of Carter’s Cottage, Despy Bales of Sozo Market); and many more.
Approximately 100 students, NIU faculty and local DeKalb friends enjoyed the evening together.
Special thanks to artist-curators Whitney Bandel, Jeremy Foy, Agnes Ma and Danielle Wagner. Artists are Bandel, Gemaine Brown, Allison Corr, Danielle Dobies, Foy, Samantha Haring, Jennifer Knobloch, Ma, Allen Moore, Trevor Murrey, Leyla Puskar, Tiana Solomon, Wagner and Ian Welch.
The special highlight of the evening was the mingling of guests with the artists who were there to discuss their works.
Mayor Rey summed up the evening saying he had never enjoyed so much energy in one show.
If you missed this open house, look for more art expos that will be popping up around town – culminating with Artigras in the spring – and get downtown to support your local merchants and the NIU artists whose works they are representing.
Mary Quinlan-McGrath is acting director of the NIU School of Art and Design and a professor of art history.