PHOTO Facebook/Springfield Art Association
Springfield Art Association.

Art is one of the things that Springfield does, does well and does often. We are lucky to have some incredible talent amongst us and plenty of places to see their work, and spring is the time to get out and about and do just that.

Home-grown art studios and galleries are some of the best places to get a real feel of the relationship between the artists and their work, and a couple of places sprang up in Springfield over the past few years. DIM Art House, 319 Chatham Road, was born from the efforts of Springfield artists Joey Wallace, Christy Freeman Stark and Jeff Williams. They shared an idea of a studio with a salon concept with events of unique artistic expression, gallery shows, classes and a focus on community. With that in mind, they opened DIM Art House for the weekly event Friday Nights at DIM. It's a place to hang out, visit the gallery or just chill in the creative space. You can also work on your art project while collaborating with professionals. They also have Spring Art Spree Artisans Market scheduled for April 15-16. Take yourself on an artist's date and check it out.

In 2011, 13 local artists had a vision and brought The Pharmacy Gallery & Art Space (623 E. Adams St.) to life, which has continued to grow since its inception. Part of the mission of The Pharmacy is to "enrich and educate the community through innovative cultural events," and they accomplish that in part with the weekly Drawing Studio. Every Tuesday visitors can work in the medium of their choice and have an opportunity to improve their drawing skills, hand-eye coordination and analytical skills in a studio setting. The gallery is also open with new work in a range of media, including blown glass, glass mosaic, graphite, metal work, mixed media, paintings in both acrylic and oil, pastels, photography and sculpture.

The humble gem of Springfield's art scene is the community-based nonprofit Springfield Art Association (SAA). In its goal to support the visual arts, it not only offers art education classes in just about every medium, such as metals, glass, fiber arts, mixed media, printmaking and sculpture, but also classes that are appropriate for every age group and skill level.

In addition to the studios and the M. G. Nelson Gallery at 700 N. Fourth St., the art association's SAA Collective gallery is at 105 N. Fifth St. There, on April 1, you can view the creative results of Art Synergy, a creative event in which community leaders and business owners were matched up with artists to collaborate on art pieces. Also, on April 20, join the Art Association at the Fourth Street location, along with area art expert Sheri Ramsey, to discuss Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell, two of the women featured in the bestselling book, Ninth Street Women, by Mary Gabriel. An American Sign Language interpreter will be present and hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be served.

The Springfield art scene will never disappoint, and you'll find many other ways to explore and experience art in the upcoming months leading you into summer.

Exhausted Paint: The Death of van Gogh, a 70-minute, one-act play built around ideas of disorientation and struggle, often based on van Gogh's extensive collected letters, will be at the Hoogland Center for the Arts Peggy Ryder Theatre on April 14.

Set against the backdrop of our landmark Old State Capitol, the Old Capitol Art Fair is the jewel of the Midwest. For over 60 years this tradition of fine art has brought artists and shoppers from across the country coming to downtown Springfield. Mark it on your calendar for May 20-21.

"Art for the Ages" is an exhibit of art by Springfield District 186 students that celebrates Black history and includes drawings, paintings in tempera, oil and watercolor, and three-dimensional figures. The works have been wonderfully presented by the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum at 1440 Monument Ave., and will be on display through March 31.

Jamie Woodward's canvas painting exhibit, "Back Home," is at the David Bourland Gallery at 939 Durkin Drive.

"Embracing Light" features pastel paintings by Tracey Maras and ceramics by Colleen Halford, and is at the SAA Collective Gallery at 105 N. Fifth St.

An exhibit of ceramic works by Decatur-based artist Jennifer Holt, including mixed-media sculpture and installation art, revolves around concepts of time, place and memory. See "In the Shadow" at the UIS Visual Arts Gallery, HSB 201, One University Plaza.

The Illinois Prairie Pastel Society members present "Lasting Impressions" through April 1 at Edwards Place, Springfield Art Association, 700 N. Fourth St.

Visit the galleries, talk to the artists, get inspired and take some classes. Read it, discuss it, watch it, do it. Springfield is a living, breathing art community that is always opening its doors to you. All you have to do is step in.

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