By Linda VanderKolk, President of the Naperville Art League

Thirty-two years ago, members of the Naperville Art League invited the community to a reenactment of Georges Seurat’s painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” a painting that is part of the Art Institute of Chicago’s permanent collection.

To recreate the painting, Naperville Art League members spent months sewing costumes, gathering props, developing a riverside plan, scheduling photographers and the press, and informing the public of the event. On a warm September day in 1985, Naperville Art League members took their places by the river and the new art fair they were promoting became the talk of the town.

Riverwalk Fine Art Fair has grown and is now recognized as one of the nation’s best juried fine art fairs, attracting international artists, too. I’m so very proud of the team assembled again this year to present the 32nd annual Riverwalk Art Fair. Sept 16 and 17. We have an exceptional Director, Debbie Venezia, who has directed the event for the past 12 years. Each year, she adds new artists and activities to keep the fair fresh and interesting. This year over 130 artists have been juried into the show, assuring we have top artists and their original, fine art. The artists come from all across the nation and some are from overseas.

Debbie, of course, cannot present the art fair alone. Naperville Art League, a volunteer organization, mobilizes its members to present the fair. Set up teams, judge escorts, booth helpers, people delivering water to artists, art league information booth attendees, artist reception hosts, and more ensure the artists and guests are treated like royalty. With over 70,000 attendees expected, this also an important event for the city and its businesses.

Our sponsors, including the City of Naperville and the Naperville Park District, get just as excited about the art fair as we do. This is an opportunity to support the arts in a very visible fashion. We appreciate the support they provide and recognize them in our publications throughout the year..

This year we are adding a Naperville Art League Teacher Tent. At the west end of the fair, instructors from our organization will be demonstrating excerpts from their classes and be available to chat with potential students. Since classes are an important part of our mission, we felt this would be a way to inform the community. Naperville Art League offers classes year-round for persons of all ages and skill levels. The fall class schedule is available online at www.napervilleartleague.com.

We also have a new Executive Director, Erin Schneider, who joined our organization the end of August. She has a background in non-profit administration and is a wonderful addition to our team.

As the Riverwalk Fine Art Fair approaches, there’s a buzz in the air at the Naperville Art League. Our Fine Art Center & Gallery at 508 N. Center St. will be open during the fair with member art on display and we look forward to an increase in visitors those days. New members are welcome and can join at the Naperville Art League’s Info Booth (Booth 130) at the art fair or at our Gallery.

I hope the attendees have as much fun as we at the Naperville Art League will have at the art fair!

Cadillac of Naperville, the official vehicle of the Riverwalk Fine Art Fair, is joined by Naperville Bank & Trust as a major sponsor of the annual show. Presenting sponsor Naperville Art League appreciates all sponsors and volunteers.

For more information, visit www.napervilleartleague.com.

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