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Four ArtPop Peoria winners chosen, People’s Choice Contest now open

Date: March 17, 2017

Summary:
Vote for the fifth piece of art in ArtPop Peoria People's Choice Contest. The public can vote through April 2 on five pieces chosen by the judges.

Body:

Four ArtPop Peoria winners chosen, People’s Choice Contest now open

PEORIA — When Jessica Peterson opened her email Saturday and learned she is one of four Tri-County Area artists chosen for ArtPop Peoria 2017, she didn't believe it.

"I was shocked when I found out," said Peterson, a 31-year-old artist from Peoria. "My mom was all excited and I said, 'Wait, maybe it's not true.'"

Peterson submitted a painting of a surreal landscape with bent houses and a tornado on the horizon. It's one of a series of paintings the artist has created featuring whimsical little houses. Peterson created the painting while taking a class last fall with Preston Jackson, and the tornado was added at the last minute on a whim, said Peterson. The image was not inspired by the 2013 Washington tornado, but the judges didn't know that.

"One of the comments that they made was, 'For better or worse, tornadoes are a part of our life in central Illinois,'" said ArtPop Peoria co-chairperson Mae Gilliland Wright. "What they really liked was that the houses were bending, but not breaking. It showed strength."

The artist is delighted with the alternate interpretation.

"People can think what they want and I love that," said Peterson.

The painting is one of five that will be displayed on 14-foot by 48-foot billboards around town beginning in June. Three other artists — Timothy Griffith, Melanie Bohrer, and Merrell Hickey — were also chosen. The fifth artist will be chosen through the ArtPop Peoria People's Choice Contest. The public can vote through April 2 on five pieces chosen by the judges. See the artwork and vote at www.artspartners.net/artpop-peoria/.

This is the third year for ArtPop Peoria, a joint endeavor between ArtsPartners of Central Illinois and Adams Outdoor Advertising, and it is more popular than ever with area artists.

"We had a 30 percent increase in participation," said Wright.

Word has gotten out and spread beyond the area arts organizations, she said. That was a goal of organizers this year. They want to attract all creative individuals in the area, not just the well-known artists.

"We wanted to open it up to everyone, whether they are plugged into the arts community or not," said Wright.

They got the word out through First Friday events at the Sunbeam Building, and they also held seminars to help people prepare an entry for the contest. It's a daunting task since not everyone knows how to create the high resolution photograph needed for a billboard, but also because of the challenging format.

"Most artists don't think in that long slender format," said Wright. "We helped them understand that this is a new type of canvas that may just represent one side of your work. But the jury will just be looking at what's on the billboard."

Three dimensional artists are forced to look at their work in a completely different way, looking for interesting angles and details. Painters did some creative cropping, and fiber artists focused in close. In the end, ArtPop Peoria had 170 submissions from 70 artists living in the Tri-County Area.

Though the winning entries do not receive any monetary compensation, Wright is quick to point out that the free advertising the winners receive is worth about $15,000. Past winners have made sales and been granted commissions due to the increased exposure, she said.

"There's that instant connect — 'You are the one I saw on the billboard.'"

To see all of the chosen artwork and learn more about the artists, visit www.artspartners.net/artpop-peoria/.

Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or lrenken@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.

To see the artwork click here

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