CHAMPAIGN — Six local artists will see their work on high: on the Sky Gallery billboards, a project of the 40 North 88 West Champaign County's Arts Council and Adams Outdoor Advertising.
The winning works will be unveiled during a news conference April 10 at 808 S. Neil St., C, under the Adams Outdoor Advertising digital billboard directly across from El Toro. All media and Champaign-Urbana area residents are invited.
The six artists will see their images showcased on custom 10-by-30-foot billboards around C-U. More than 95 images were submitted; five of the winners were chosen by a panel of judges: Jeff Mellander, owner-operator at Mellander Holdings; Eszter Sapi, director at Indi Go Artist Co-op; and Joan Stolz, associate professor of art at Parkland College. One winner was chosen by online public vote. They are:
— Peggy Shaw: "Hover," photography and mixed media, which will go up at U.S. 45, 200 feet north of Curtis Road.
"'Hover' is a series of deep portraits exploring both the physical and spiritual presence of a person in solitude, and the threshold between the observer and the observed. With the selective clarity of deep ice, these anonymous portraits are a membrane that absorbs the coming together of fact, imagination, and memory," said Shaw, an associate professor in photography/video at Parkland College.
— Vanessa and Doug Burgett: "The Intruder," digital photograph, to go up at 304 W. University Ave.
"Creating a billboard for the Sky Gallery was one of our 20 collaborations in 20 days for our recent Champaign Urbana Design Organization PechaKucha presentation. With the goals of playing with both scale and humor, we chose to showcase one of our photos featuring our kitten after he had found the door into our dollhouse," said the Burgetts, who are graphic designers at the University of Illinois.
— Audra Ziegel: "Roadside Vista," oil on canvas, 705 W. Marketview Drive, C.
Ziegel is a self-taught oil painter. Textured brushwork and bright colors characterizes her work which frequently reflects places she has lived or visited. "Roadside Vista" is a depiction of one such location, though Ziegel's intent is that it represents someplace where viewers can imagine themselves to be.
— Beth Darling: "Tea Party," oil on canvas, 1102 N. Cunningham Ave., U.
"I hope people driving by will be surprised and delighted by my table top tea party in the sky. For me, it's a love of the paint and the process of observation. It's my own form of performing magic as the scene takes on a life of its own. I studied drawing, painting, and print making at the Boston Museum School. I love going to my sunny studio on the top floor of the Lincoln Building in downtown Champaign. It's a world of my own where I can make art," said Darling, who lives in Urbana.
— Melissa Mitchell: "Aloft," digital photograph, U.S. 45 330 feet south of College Park Court in Champaign.
"Elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary is a recurring theme in my assemblage and collage work, and also in my photography. The digital image 'Aloft' is no exception. A simple milkweed seed pod, plucked from a vine that meanders across my backyard hedge, assumes a mystical, otherworldly presence when singled out and floated against an opaque spring sky," said Mitchell, retired arts editor for the UI News Bureau, who lives in Champaign.
— Holly Birch Smith: "American Wedding," digital photograph, 304 W. University Ave. This was chosen by an online public vote.
"Working a unique wedding in a private airport hangar, Holly Birch Smith's goal with this photo was to spotlight the bride and her father dancing together and show the scope of the beautiful reception," according to a news release from 40 North.
Smith and her husband, Aaron, live in Urbana with their son, Maximus. She owns Holly Birch Photography.
All billboard space is donated by Adams Outdoor Advertising. Production costs are provided by 40 North.