Boneyard Arts Festival: Our Tips to See ALL the Art
The most celebrated arts & culture events of the year in the greater Champaign County area is upon us—the Boneyard Arts Festival takes over the community from Thursday, April 4–Sunday, April 7. While many have experienced arts festivals around the country, navigating tents sheltering artists selling their creations, the Boneyard Arts Festival, presented by 40 North, the Champaign County Arts Council, is something entirely Outside of Ordinary. If this is your first time taking part in this event, we’re here to help you learn how to “Boneyard.”
We know, Boneyard isn’t a verb…but just for fun, we’re making it one. While the Boneyard Creek gently meanders through our community, the Boneyard Arts Festival gets you INTO the community. You won’t find those recognizable white tents set up in a park for you to weave in and out of; instead, you’ll venture into venues of all kinds throughout Champaign County to discover local art.
That’s what Boneyard is all about—community.
Local artists that live and work in the area connect with venues around Champaign County to showcase their work, from pottery, paintings, photography, jewelry, fashion, music, poetry and so much more. Over 100 venues collaborate with artists that fit their vibe, so you not only discover the sheer talent this community creates, you discover new businesses and spaces where you’ve likely never been. What you ultimately leave with is an appreciation of the rich and vibrant arts & culture scene which is embraced by the residents and business community, while also discovering a new restaurant, shop, attraction or gallery.
With over 100 venues representing just as many artists, where do you even begin? Let’s break it down for you.
The festival highlights four areas of the community: University of Illinois campus, Champaign, Urbana, and the communities outside C-U metro. Take advantage of the Boneyard Arts Festival website, where you can search by artists, venues, city, medium, demos and workshops, and many other categories. Maps are also available online and at venues including the Champaign County Welcome Center!
Thursday starts us off with a tour of venues on the campus where the diversity of its students is on full display. For the first time, the Native American House at the University of Illinois featuring work from different tribal nations, including the Ojibwe, Navajo, Shoshone-Bannock, and Cheyenne. Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, celebrating their 50thAnniversary next weekend, will have a dynamic collaborative dance, music and fashion performance in the afternoon before hosting their Krannert Uncorked in the evening. Businesses on campus take part too, like the new Happy Jack Hat featuring local artists Elzie Sexton, Lydia Puddicombe and Barry Callahan. Recent Restaurant Week participant, The Channing Murray Foundation | Red Herring, will highlight dance performances as well as exhibiting mixed media from Marc-Anthony Macon and macaramé from Megan Rushing.
Once we hit the weekend, and University of Illinois Mom’s join us for Mom's Weekend, we see venues across Champaign-Urbana open their doors for receptions, performances, workshops and demonstrations.
Start your afternoon at Dixon Graphics, who is giving away free t-shirts with the Boneyard Signature Image for the first 50 guests!
On Friday evening, work your way through downtown Champaign where shops and restaurants —Bossa Nova Café, Christopher & Co., Collective Pour, Cream & Flutter, Dandelion Vintage, Exile on Main, Jane Addams Bookstore, Maize Mexican Grill, Pizzeria Antica, Pour Brothers, Quality Beer, Skins n Tins, and both the Art Theater and the Virginia Theatre— will showcase artists and feature pop-up performances. Collections of artists will have shows at pop-up spaces, such as the RIDE presented by 74 Customs focusing on bike and motorcycle themed art, the Artists of the Lincoln Building, where you can find the signature artist, Bob Chapman, and a three separate shows housed at the former Rogards Building—HER Fine Art Exhibit, The COLOR Show, and Miscellany.
Dozens of incredible locations throughout Champaign will offer something unique to explore: woodworking demonstrations at CU Woodshop Supply; paper-making at Fresh Press; wine and food tastings at Grovestone alongside artwork from Carol Farnum; ART MOMS at the Ivy House; and a special exhibit and reception at Lodgic Everyday Community, who commissioned nine local artists when they opened in 2018 to create a vibrant, local co-working space in Champaign.
On the other side of Wright Street, Urbana has nearly 50 venues to explore! Families will want to head outdoors to the Boneyard Creek Crossing for performances and activities with music, magic and more. While along the Boneyard, check out 25 O’Clock Brewing Company with art from Peg Shaw, Jo Birdwell, and Ann Coddington. Also in the area is Broadway Food Hall with a Polyvinyl Record pop-up, Analog, a brand new wine bar, and CU Adventures in Time & Space with a live mural painting.
Make your way down Main St. and stop in beloved galleries, Cinema Gallery and Gilbert Gallery for special shows, and see a stunning show from Patrick Earl Hammie and Lauren Ashley Howard at the Cohen Building. More downtown businesses (Beads N Botanicals, Blackbird, Bohemia, C4A, Cafeteria & Co./Sipyard, [co][lab], Enchantment Alley, Parasol Records, See You CD & Vinyl, The Iron Post, The Urbana Free Library, and the Independent Media Center) and stops at Lincoln Square Mall (Art Coop, Inc., Common Ground Food Co-op, Connections, International Galleries, the Market IN the Square, and The IDEA Store) allow you to explore so much talent in just a few blocks.
Finish your weekend in the communities that surround C-U. Head to Mahomet where six venues will feature local art—Darwyn Boston State Farm, Mahomet Public Library, make and take artwork at Museum of the Grand Prairie, Winderson’s Creations, Yellow & Co. featuring photography from Jason Lindsey, and YoYo’s Frozen Yogurt.
Our choices are virtually endless as you seek to discover new art and engage in the thriving arts and culture scene in the greater Champaign County area. The Boneyard Arts Festival truly encapsulates the Outside of Ordinary!