By Randy Pierce
Four individuals from Collinsville are among the participants in the Midwest Salute to the Arts scheduled to take place the weekend of August 25, 26 and 27 at Moody Park in Fairview Heights.
One of them is John Locus, a professional photographer with a business located at 214 East Main Street in Collinsville. Having been an exhibitor who both enters the competition for cash prizes and offers his work for sale to the public, Locus has been part of the Fairview Heights art fair for over 10 years.
Locus’ art consists of a broad range of photographs including portraits, creative scenes, children, landscapes and much more. He has been involved in this endeavor professionally since beginning in 1975 and was joined by his wife Marsha 10 years later.
Having been contracted to take student photos for Collinsville High School, Locus frequently breaks away from his local business to participate in festivals such as the one coming up in Fairview Heights. In May of this year, he shared his work at the Old Capitol Art Fair in Springfield, Illinois and in late June, Locus entered the Midsummer Arts Faire in Quincy, Illinois.
Participating in the glass category at this year’s Midwest Salute to the Arts, Tony and Christy Bodnar of Collinsville have been creating pieces using this material since 2008. From their private studio, the couple began their artistic journey fusing glass to create decorative pieces then it evolved into torch-working to make jewelry and blown glass.
The Bodnars make a concerted effort to recycle as much glass as possible, estimating that about 60 percent of what they use includes that which is repurposed as bottles, platters and other items rather than being discarded as scrap. They’ve even used the lenses from traffic signals no longer in use to craft specially-designed works of art.
In 2022 at the Midwest Salute to the Arts in Fairview Heights, Mr. and Mrs. Bodnar earned recognition for winning the best of category in glass. Also last year, in October, their work won them a blue ribbon at an art fair held in Highland. They have additionally shown and sold their work at similar events in Quincy and Edwardsville among others.
A perennial favorite at the Midwest Salute in terms of attracting the attention of children, Jason Randall Spriggs of Collinsville will be there again this year, sharing his talents in creating caricature-type illustrations of youngsters who willing sit as models for him and incorporating the suggestions they make into his final product.
Also an accomplished author, Spriggs, 46, has been spending much of the last 10 years working on a project he calls “Cartoons for Kids.”
“I love the creativity and the imagination of the kids I draw for,” Spriggs commented. “They always challenge me in ways that are unexpected. To see their faces light up as they watch their ideas come to life brings me joy.”
The 2023 Midwest Salute to the Arts will start on Friday evening, August 25, at 6 p.m. and conclude at 10 p.m. then continue the following day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday, August 27, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is held at Moody Park which is at the intersection of South Ruby Lane and Longacre Drive in Fairview Heights, a short distance west of Illinois Route 159.
There is no admission charge to enter the art fair which will highlight the works of participants from the local area and throughout North America in ten media categories including clay, painting, fine craft, drawing/printmaking (graphics), jewelry/precious metals, sculpture, mixed media, photography, glass and wood.
Additional components of the event will include a children’s gallery where kids can purchase, at a very low price, donated pieces from participating artists, a “creation station” for youngsters to experience art interactively, live entertainment plus food and drink.