Joanna Szymanska's art will be part of the Madison Street Art Walk, a collaboration between the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and the Forest Park Arts Alliance. | Photo provided

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The Madison Street Art Stroll, August 22-29, may provide evidence that business people can be as creative as artists.

Here’s how the Stroll will work: 23 local artists will have their art displayed in the windows of eight commercial storefronts on Madison Street, some of which are currently empty.  The event is free for those who want to simply enjoy, as it were, “window shopping” the work of artists from Forest Park and the surrounding suburbs.

For those who are interested in purchasing art, however, there will be two ways to do it.  One is to begin the process of buying a raffle ticket online at https://forestparkstrong.com/madisonstreetart, print out the receipt, and exchange the receipt for tickets at Centuries and Sleuths, 7419 Madison; Empowering Gardens, 7730 Madison; or O’Sullivan’s Public House, 7244 Madison.

1 ticket for $5

5 tickets for $20

15 tickets for $50

5 free tickets with a purchase of a Forest Park Chamber Residential Membership

5 free tickets with a purchase of a Forest Park Art Alliance Membership

As prizes for the raffle, Nadeau’s Ice Sculptures is donating a certificate for one of their sculptures, and each of the 23 artists is donating a piece of their work all of which will be displayed in the window of Centuries and Sleuths Book Store where you can check them all out.  Then at each of the eight businesses displaying the art there will be a box for each artist in which you can deposit your ticket.

The second way to purchase art is to copy down the contact information which will be posted next to each artist’s work and contact them directly.

The Art Stroll is the result of a cooperative effort between the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce which will receive half the money raised in the raffle and the Forest Park Art Alliance which will deposit its share in their mural art fund.

Here’s how the Art Stroll originated.  Lin Beribak, a member of the Arts Alliance and an artist herself, was just about to send letters to the Garage Gallery contributors notifying them that the 10 year old event would be cancelled this year because of COVID-19 when she was contacted by Bridget Lane, a member of the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee.

Lane floated the idea of an art walk, and the two received the go ahead from their organizations and worked together to make the event happen with the support of many members of their two organizations.

“By having the art displayed in storefronts,” Beribak said, “visitors could safely take in the art without endangering the artist or themselves. Bridget reached out to the landlords and real estate agents holding open stores, as well as Healy’s Westside, which is temporarily closed during the pandemic. Those owners/agents have been extremely gracious about the use of their space. 

“Many artists responded with interest in displaying, because we didn’t want to lose the momentum we have built with the annual gallery events but were in agreement that we shouldn’t take chances on safety issues.”

The sponsors of the Art Stroll include Forest Park Schools D91, caffe DeLuca, A.L.M.A. Arts Language Music Alliance, and Nadeau’s Ice Sculptures Inc.

The donors of the eight gallery locations are David King and Associates, Inland Real Estate, Avenue One Realty Group, Healy’s Westside and Loft Yoga Studios.

The local artists displaying their work in the stroll are all for the creative alternative event.  For example, Chuck Michalak said, “This event and Garage Galleries are great ways to involve the artists and the village in the person to person experience of art enjoyment and appreciation. The local exposure for artists in our community is another bonus.”

Rosana Sanchez put another spin on the benefit of exposure.  “We just moved to Forest Park a little over two years ago and I love that the town is so small and collaborative.  Sharing art with people I don’t know helps me get to know them, and them me.”

Michalak, looking to the future, said that he hopes the Art Stroll is not just a one and done event.  “I am looking forward to the first of many Art Walks and many more Garage Gallery Exhibits to come.  Both these events should continue as well as other community participation art events such as public murals throughout the village.”