Metro-East News

Art on the Square kicks off in downtown Belleville

Day 1 of Art on the Square in downtown Belleville

Downtown Belleville plays host to the annual art show and sale.
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Downtown Belleville plays host to the annual art show and sale.

The threat of rain and storms didn’t keep people away from the 16th annual Art on the Square on Friday.

Crowds of people swarmed the square to see what artists brought to the festival this year. Families pushed antsy kids in strollers, couples held hands as they strolled through the tents and old friends caught up over beer and festival food.

Jim and Bonnie Rhea said they try to make it to the festival every year. Even when they moved away because of their jobs, they tried to plan a weekend trip back to Belleville so they could attend.

“We love this event, mainly because of the quality of the art and the variety offered,” Bonnie Rhea said.

The atmosphere, too, is a selling point for them. It’s something special, Jim Rhea said, and the festival makes him feel like he’s a part of something bigger.

And he’s not exaggerating. For the past six out of 10 years, Art on the Square has been ranked No. 1 in the country by Art Fair SourceBook for sales reported by artists.

That’s what keeps artists Katie and Chris Robleski coming back to the event. Now on their third year selling at Art on the Square, the partners know they can count on having good sales in Belleville.

“It’s the best show in the nation for a reason,” Katie Robleski said. “They take care of their artists.”

The amount of community support around the festival isn’t something the pair sees in other cities. Belleville is unique like that, they said.

“We love how the whole city rallies around (Art on the Square),” Katie Robleski said. “You don’t see this at a lot of shows.”

They even got the opportunity to teach kids about their work as a part of the festival. Before the show started, the two went to an elementary school to teach the students about their art. Their work is made up of vibrantly colored photos, all taken at night under a full moon. They use long exposure shots and shine colored flashlights around the houses or cars they’re shooting.

It’s all natural, Katie Robleski said. There’s no Photoshop or computer work done to the images.

The Robleskis’ work represented just a fraction of the almost 100 artists that set up in the square to sell their art for the weekend. Tents lined the streets, showing no evidence of any damage from early morning storms.

Only five tents were damaged in the heavy winds, said Patty Gregory, Art on The Square’s executive director. But with the help of Belleville firefighters and festival volunteers, the damage was cleaned up quickly.

The 16th annual Art on the Square will be in the Public Square in downtown Belleville on Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21.

SATURDAY, MAY 20

Art on the Square is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

▪ 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Artist demonstrations by the Gateway East Artists, featuring Lendy Middendorf (glass beads), Billy Dame (oil painting) and Linda Rawson (watercolor).

▪ 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Children’s Art Garden

Make and take projects: decorate an apron, paint a flower, make talking sticks and pet rocks, and spin art.

Hands on painting and coloring: Blank mural for kids to help paint, color a cookie you can eat, and paint patriotic flags.

Group project: Add handwritten message on recycled wood chip to a grizzly bear outline, to be displayed at the Saint Louis Zoo.

▪ 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. — Jennifer Bertrand, winner of HGTV’s “Design Star,” will present home design ideas. Questions from the audience taken after the presentation on West Main Street.

▪ 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — The Dixie All Stars on the Main Stage

▪ 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Anita Rosamond at the Wine Court

▪ 1 to 1:45 p.m. — Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra on the Main Stage

▪ 1 to 4 p.m. — Artist demonstrations by the Gateway East Artists, featuring Kathy Gomric (pencil drawing), Pat Toenjes (clay monoprinting) and Ramah Alberts (acrylic painting).

▪ 2 to 4:45 p.m. — Beabout Jazz at the Wine Court

▪ 2:15 to 3 p.m. — Metro East Community Chorale on the Main Stage

▪ 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. — Granite City Swing Band on the Main Stage

▪ 4 to 8 p.m. — Artist demonstrations by the Gateway East Artists, featuring Greg Luttrell (leather arts), Susan Kunz (drawing) and Janet Moreiko-Gagen (jewelry).

▪ 5:15 to 8 p.m. — John Farrar Trio at the Wine Court

▪ 6 to 8 p.m — Roscoe Beano Band on the Main Stage

SUNDAY, MAY 21

Art on the Square is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

▪ 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Artist demonstrations by the Gateway East Artists, featuring Michael Anderson (ink drawing), Joyce Wells, (drawing) and Suzanne Lowry (copper sculpture).

▪ Noon to 4 p.m. — Children’s Art Garden

Make and take projects: decorate an apron, paint a flower, make talking sticks and pet rocks, and spin art.

Hands on painting and coloring: Blank mural for kids to help paint, color a cookie you can eat, and paint patriotic flags.

Group project: Add handwritten message on recycled wood chip to a grizzly bear outline, to be displayed at the Saint Louis Zoo.

▪ 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Soul Shake on the Main Stage

▪ 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. — Don James Quartet at the Wine Court

▪ Noon and 2 p.m. — Jennifer Bertrand, winner of HGTV’s “Design Star,” will present home design ideas. Questions from the audience taken after the presentation on West Main Street.

▪ 2 to 3 p.m. — High School Art Exhibition Awards on the Main Stage

▪ 2 to 5 p.m. — Artist demonstrations by the Gateway East Artists, featuring Kathy Hardin (scratchboard), Michelle Walz (pastels), and Borah Horrell (watercolor).

▪ 2:15 to 5 p.m. — The Convertibles

▪ 3 to 5 p.m. — Fanfare on the Main Stage

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