Metro-East News

Art on the Square gears up to take back its No. 1 ranking

Kids talk about Art on the Square

Children talk about their favorite type of art and what they enjoy about Belleville's annual art festival.
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Children talk about their favorite type of art and what they enjoy about Belleville's annual art festival.

Art on the Square patrons spent more than $900,000 buying art during last spring’s show but these purchases were not enough for the downtown Belleville festival to keep its No. 1 ranking in the country.

The Belleville show earned the No. 3 spot in the latest rankings based on artists’ sales reported to Art Fair SourceBook for art fairs in 2017.

Art on the Square had been ranked No. 1 in the previous list and earned the top spot six times between 2006 and 2017.

“Of course we always want to be up there at the top but we were very pleased that we have the third highest sales in the nation,” said Patty Gregory, executive director of Art on the Square.

Gregory noted that thunderstorms in the St. Louis metro area on the first two days of last year’s show caused fewer people to go to the show and buy art. Before the show began, some booths were blown down in a storm and residents in Missouri lost power during the weekend. Also, she said the festivals that finished ahead of Belleville in sales had longer hours. She said the La Quinta Arts Festival in La Quinta, Calif., and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver took the first and second places in the sales rankings.

Greg Lawler, editor and publisher of Art Fair SourceBook, has previously said that Belleville’s good sales history helps attract artists to apply to show.

Lawler also has praised the Art Cash program, in which Art on the Square patrons pre-commit to buying art before they even see it at the show.

Art on the Square poster.jpg
Jon Smith of Clearwater, Fla., produced the poster for last year’s Art on the Square festival in downtown Belleville. He is a plein air artist and his medium is oil and acrylic. Smith participated in the 2008 Art on the Square and will be showing his work at this year’s festival. Provided

New this year

The 17th annual Art on the Square festival will be May 18-20 on the Public Square in downtown Belleville and will feature the works of 105 artists from abroad and from around the country.

And since the wedding between Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is on Saturday, May 19, the theme of this year’s show will be “The Royal Affair at Art on the Square.” The festival’s starting time on Saturday will be changed from the traditional time so art patrons can watch televised coverage of the wedding and then go to the art show.

The fair will start at 11 a.m. on May 19 while the royal wedding is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. Central time.

Artists’ booths will remain open until 9 p.m. May 19, which is one hour later than in previous years on Saturday.

Gregory said she previously had been thinking about moving the Saturday start time to 11 a.m. from 10 a.m. because families often have to attend other activities such as soccer games on Saturday morning and they can’t get to the art fair until later in the day.

Also on Saturday, May 19, the hours for the wine court will be extended to 10 p.m.

This will be a chance for artists to meet with Art on the Square visitors after the booths close, Gregory said.

“This is a great opportunity for people that are at the show to stay and meet personally with some of the artists in not a selling situation but in a more casual relaxed situation where they can really talk to the artist about themselves and learn about the artist and where they come from.”

Art on the Square in downtown Belleville

5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, May 18

11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 19

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 20

Admission is free. Get more info at artonthesquare.com or on the show’s Facebook page.

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