Art in Wilder Park and Elmhurst Art Museum marking 25-year milestones
Two major milestones are wrapped in the return of Art in Wilder Park this weekend in Elmhurst.
After a two-year pandemic pause, the free-to-the-public art festival is coming back for its 25th time. And since Art in Wilder Park predates the adjacent Elmhurst Art Museum at 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave., that institution's 25th anniversary now aligns with the neighboring art festival.
"As long as the weather is cooperating, the festival will likely draw a large crowd," said John McKinnon, executive director of the Elmhurst Art Museum, which co-sponsors Art in Wilder Park with Elmhurst-based RGL Marking for the Arts.
More than 125 art exhibitors are lined up, along with food vendors, bands and lots of interactive family activities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Elmhurst Art Museum will also be hosting some free exhibitions during the weekend.
As a veteran of multiple Art in Wilder Park fairs, Northfield artist Kathleen Gaffey of Brim and Dash Millenary is grateful to be back.
"It's one of my favorite shows," Gaffey said. "I've done it during rainstorms, and people still come out -- the community is that supportive."
Also keen to return is Villa Park artist Benjamin Calvert III, who last exhibited at Art in Wilder Park in 2019. Calvert specializes in woodblock printing and has taught printmaking classes at the Elmhurst Art Museum since 2017.
"When people come through to visit my tent, I'm constantly engaged in educating people on this art form," said Calvert, noting that past visitors were more familiar with linoleum block printing. "Wood blocks are an older art form, and being an educator at the museum makes this a little more worthwhile."
Gaffey also makes it a point to educate visitors about the art of millenary while selling her custom hat creations. She actively works on designing a hat as a great icebreaker so she can talk about her technique.
"It's very labor-intensive, and people are intrigued," Gaffey said. "It brings people into your booth."
McKinnon also hopes Art in Wilder Park visitors will go indoors to the Elmhurst Art Museum -- especially to see the current "Houses of Tomorrow" exhibition and the Mies van der Rohe-designed McCormick House that was relocated to Wilder Park.
"The McCormick House was saved, and it's been a part of the museum since the doors had opened," said McKinnon about the 1952 modernist home -- one of only two Mies van der Rohe homes in the U.S. open to the public. "Many community members came together, and it was a long haul to raise all the funds to get the property, to work out all the details of getting this amazing building to the campus."