The art of the fair

See the art exhibition in the Artisans Building

The art of the fair
"Motherhood: Hanging Out the Clothes," by Al Shull, Springfield, is one of the award winners in this year's show.

Mention the Illinois State Fair, and things like corn dogs, lemon shakeups, the giant slide, concerts in the Grandstand, animal barns, dizzying rides and all types of food on a stick come to mind. But a professional art exhibition is also a stalwart of the Illinois State Fair. There has been a professional art exhibition at the Illinois State Fair since 1948, started by Springfield photographer Herbert Georg. This year’s exhibition will be on display in the Illinois Artisans Building throughout the fair. In addition to showcasing a diversity of art made by creative Illinoisans, it is a perfect place to cool off, as the Artisans Building is one of the few air-conditioned buildings on the fairgrounds.

All professional artists who reside in Illinois are eligible to be considered for this juried art show, which includes paintings, watercolor, drawing and graphics, crafts, sculpture, photography and digital imagery. Rosemary Buffington, superintendent of the exhibition, organizes the application process and selects an out-of-state juror to choose the pieces for the exhibition in each of the seven categories. Jeanette Pasin Sloan, from New Mexico, is this year’s juror. She will travel to Springfield to view the exhibition and place awards for first, second, third and honorable mentions in each category and select the Governor’s Award, Best in Show, which receives a $1,500 prize.

Pasin Sloan is a highly regarded artist, and her paintings, drawings and prints can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian American Art Museum and other prestigious art museums. Originally from Chicago, she now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her paintings have been described as “drawing on the history of the still-life format. Through an exacting working process that involves arranging objects, photographing them numerous times, and then painting detailed, photorealistic depictions of the tableaux, Pasin Sloan playfully approaches a traditional genre from a contemporary perspective.”

The Professional Art Exhibition in the Illinois Artisans Building is open to the public throughout the state fair, Aug. 9-18 from 10 a.m-7 p.m. There is also an Amateur Division for adults 18 and over and a Junior Division for grades 1-6 and 7-12. There are seven categories in each of these divisions and ribbons are awarded. So, while visiting the Illinois State Fair, take time to visit the Illinois Artisans Building and the impressive art exhibitions.  

Karen Ackerman Witter retired from the State of Illinois and is a frequent contributor to Illinois Times.