Temporary art galleries and a focus on makers on Madison Street will put the spotlight on creativity and community as First Thursdays art strolls begin June 3.
A project between the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and the Forest Park Arts Alliance (FPAA), First Thursdays are a chance for businesses and local artists to showcase and sell their creations. The art strolls will be held on the first Thursdays of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. Events through August are planned, but Christine Barnard, the chamber’s community outreach director, said they’re hoping to continue First Thursdays throughout the year.
Coming out of COVID-19, both the chamber and the arts alliance have been looking for opportunities to bring the community together again and focus on the organizations’ individual goals, and this collaboration is a chance for all of that to happen.
Temporary art galleries will be created in the windows of stores along Madison Street, and local artists will display and sell work there. June’s artists include Kimberly Adami-Hasigawa, Bridget Lane, Kristy Fleming, Emily Pfaff and Lin Beribak.
For the June 3 event, artwork of local artists will be displayed and sold at Urban Pioneer Group (7503 Madison St.), Jayne Boutique (7500 Madison St.), Grand Appliance (7440 Madison St.) and Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore (7419 Madison St.).
A focus will also be on makers permanently located in the village’s downtown district.
Makers include both those who create their own products, such as Accents by Fred (7519 Madison St.) and Tiffany Stained Glass at 428 Desplaines Ave., and those whose creativity extends to food and drink, such as brewery and restaurant Exit Strategy (7700 Madison St.), Twisted Cookie (7401 Madison St.) and The Brown Cow (7347 Madison St.).
“Celebrating artists is something people like to do,” said Barnard. “It’s another example of positivity in the town, which we all need at this point.”
The chamber held an art stroll last year, during the pandemic, with a map of storefronts along Madison Street where local artists’ work was displayed. But in the throes of the COVID-19 shutdown, it was a socially distanced event, an outdoor art exhibit over the course of several days, and Barnard said this year’s First Thursdays will be a little different.
An important change, said Barnard, was figuring out how to allow artists to sell their work and to create opportunities for people to interact with the artist. “A lot of people told us they wanted that,” Barnard said. Because the First Thursdays art strolls will occur during a three-hour period, artists can be present during the event to talk to visitors about their art.
“Forest Park is a community of artists and makers and we invite you to join us as we celebrate and support the arts,” said Laurie Kokenes, director of the chamber, in a press release. “This ongoing family-friendly event highlights both our maker businesses on Madison as well as independent local artists.”
Music and other art forms will “pop up” throughout the First Thursdays events, said Barnard. In June, performers from the Gasse School of Music are scheduled to play, and a classical guitarist may perform as well. The chamber and arts alliance are hoping to add spoken-word artists too.
For more information, visit forestparkstrong.com or the Forest Park Arts Alliance Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/1395302483899525.