The 2nd Annual garArt Walk features 25-30 artists displaying their work inside 10 Forest Park garages. Unlike traditional exhibits, there is no fee for the artists and no cost to the patrons. Last year’s event was very well attended, drawing 125 art lovers to the alleys of Forest Park. Apart from the paintings, many were drawn by the wine and food provided by the hosts.
The walk takes place this Saturday, Aug. 29, from 6 to 9 p.m.
The tour is the brainchild of local artist, Amy Turilli. She got the idea during her 10-year residence in California.
“There was a high concentration of artists in the community,” she recalled. “It was like an artist colony. So they had bi-annual studio tours.” When Turilli moved to Forest Park, she saw such a tour would not be practical. Her studio at 1000 Marengo is located in the attic.
“Logistically, the garage works better.”
Turilli reached out to artists on Craigslist. “We had three garages and 12 artists,” that first year, she recalled, plus an unexpected contribution by a passerby. Turilli was busy hanging pieces in her garage, when she noticed a car kept circling the block. “An older man stopped at the garage. He said he was an artist, too and had his art in his car.” The man took out several intricate abstracts to be displayed on Turilli’s garage walls.
“It made my whole night that he wasn’t sitting home watching TV,” she said.
Despite the popularity of the tour, Turilli thought it might be a one-time event. But there was big demand for another exhibit.
“In December,” she said, “I got emails asking when we were going to do it again. I started reaching out and 10 garage owners signed up — OK, 9½. One is a parking pad.” The garages are clustered across the village.
For example, there is the cluster on the south side, featuring 1000 and 1002 Marengo, plus 1001 Elgin and 1001½ Elgin. Ralph and Andrea DiFebo are also south-siders, throwing open the doors of their spacious garage at 1110 Thomas. “It’s a party in our garage,” Ralph declared, “that happens to have art inside. GarArt increases our sense of community. It’s a community effort to increase the awareness of the talent in town.” Andrea likes the down-home feel of the event, attracting art lovers who might be intimidated by gallery galas. “It’s not hoity-toity. It has mass appeal.”
Another cluster of garages can be found just south of Madison: 7718, 7720 and 7724 Monroe Street. “GarArt brings business to Madison Street,” Turilli observed. “After 9 p.m., people like to keep the party going at places like Exit Strategy.” The remaining two galleries are also not far from the business district.
“Chuck at 233 Elgin is hosting his brother-in-law’s work,” she noted. “He’s a Chicago artist.” Patrons can also visit the works on display at 505 Ferdinand.
GarArt provides a shot in the arm for local artists. They display brief biographies beside their pieces, pass out fliers and Turilli provides links to their websites at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Turilli herself specializes in oil paintings. “I do still-life and abstracts,” she said, and the occasional portrait. She was visiting a friend in New Zealand, whose mother passed away during her month-long stay. To add to her grief, her pet sheep, Teddy Bear, died in a freak accident. To comfort her friend, Turilli painted a portrait of the sheep with adorable eyes.
Visitors to her garage at 1000 Marengo won’t see this painting, but there will be many others displayed on her grandfather’s hand-carved cabinets. As Riverside resident Ed Buck, observed, “You can’t have an artist without people to appreciate their work.”