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There’s fine art, then there’s all the other kinds too. And St. Charles is home to much of it.
First, there’s one of the city’s signature events, the annual St. Charles Fine Art Show, coming to town Memorial Day Weekend (after a 2020 COVID hiatus). On Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30, visitors can peruse the tents along Riverside Avenue and Main Street to enjoy (and maybe even purchase) work from 90 artists, including ceramics, painting, photography, glass, and more.
Outside those tents, there’s much more art and culture to appreciate—not just the type that hang on walls. There are workshops and statutes; haute cuisine and craft cocktails; live music performances; and workshops. Aspiring craftspeople can even learn to create their own wooden signs. And with 11 hotels in St. Charles ready to accommodate, there's enough going on to make a whole weekend of it.
Here are some ways visitors can appreciate all the arts and culture St. Charles has to offer.
Sculpture in the Park
Just a short walk from downtown, along the left bank of the Fox River, you can find more art right outdoors in Mt. St. Mary’s Park. (See Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall? You’re in the right place!) A joint project of the St. Charles Park Foundation and the St. Charles Park District, the exhibit opens this month and runs through September.
A gallery in a salon/spa
A flattering, well-executed hairstyle is artful, no doubt. So, it only makes sense to embellish a hair salon with an actual art gallery. Tucked into the Mixology Salon/Spa, you’ll find the 116 Gallery (named after its address on West Main Street). On Art Show weekend, the gallery will showcase the colored pencil and graphite creations of Andria Burchett, paintings by Janice Czerwinski, photographs from Sue Braunsky, sculpture by Howard Russo, and fine woodworking by Tory Haines—all local artists (though national and international creatives appear in this space too). (And, yes, the facility does indeed offer spa services ranging from massages to facials.)
Workshops for wooden expressions
Sometimes people have a deep, inner need to express themselves in a special, unique way—but just don’t know it. Or maybe they know it but just don’t know how. Which means there are lots of would-be wooden-sign makers out there who just need a place to discover themselves. For them, St. Charles offers the Board & Brush Creative Studio. At Board & Brush workshops, participants can build on-trend, farmhouse-classic, inspirational pieces of décor with a vintage, timeless look. And for those who’d rather exercise their talents on doormats, planters, pillows, towels, and more, Board & Brush offers workshops to design there too.
Workshops for non-wooden expressions
For those who’d rather express themselves in a media outside wooden signage, the Fine Line Creative Arts Center of St. Charles offers a variety of classes, an exhibit hall, and an artisan Shop. Here there’s a place for anyone who loves making collages, drawing, painting, photography, blacksmithing, and working with glass, enamel, pottery, jewelry and much more.
Buzzwords in modern-day cocktail culture include craft, artisanal, and signature, making mixology quite the art. St. Charles makes its contribution to cocktail arts with a collection of bars and eateries that aim to refresh, delight, and entertain at the same time. The RHouse bar, for instance, has even thrown events to launch new cocktails (and the adventures continue, with concoctions like their key lime pie martini). Other venues to check out include Dawns Beach Hut, or one of the city's six breweries: Alter Brewing Co., Pollyanna Brewing Co., 93 Octane, D&G Brewing, Riverlands Brewing Company, and Broken Brix Homebrew Shop.
Presentation is everything . . . until scent and taste hijack diners’ attention. Fine dining can rouse all three senses—sight, taste, and smell, making dining quite the multidimensional art. And here, St. Charles really serves it up. Eateries like E&S Fish Company (a restaurant and a fish market), Eden Restaurants & Events, farm-to-fork Gia Mia, Shakou, La Mesa Modern Mexican, and Kimmer’s Ice Cream (Sparkle Cone, anyone?) are quite artful indeed.
Finally, the art of music will be everywhere Fine Art weekend—at the actual festival and at many private venues too. Really, these musicians will provide the soundtrack to help ease visitors back to enjoying all the world has to offer.
Visit the St. Charles Fine Art Show Memorial Day weekend, then see all the other beauty the city has to offer. Click here to learn more.