Now in its 143rd year, the Peoria Art Guild is excited to leave behind a year in which they had to drastically alter their programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a mission to “bring art to the community and the community to art,” the Peoria Art Guild offers classes to students young and old—including the most underserved members of the community.
“I think people are ready to get back into the groove,” says Shannon Cox, executive director. “We’re finding that people want to get out, and our classes are filling up!”
The Guild’s public offerings range from a popular pottery course to letter pressing, macrame and much more. In addition to the Mentor Apprentice Program (MAP), which takes place with area students every Saturday morning, they are now offering community arts programs, thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Central Illinois. “We’re working with eight organizations,” Cox notes. “The newest one is the East Bluff Community Center, which we’re really excited about.”
And their galleries are once again open to the public, with a lineup of impressive exhibits coming this spring. In April, they will showcase the colorful textile artwork of Hattie Lee along with paintings from JoAnne Richardson. The following month will feature artwork from Guild members. “It’s been a hard year,” Cox observes, “so we’re excited that maybe they have made some really creative stuff!”
She is also hopeful the Guild will be able to hold an in-person Fine Art Fair this fall, which drew pre-pandemic crowds of up to 10,000 and ranked as one of the top art fairs in the nation. “I think our arts scene is strong,” Cox notes with a smile, “and we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”