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Out & About

Fairest of them all

This year’s St. Charles Fine Art Show set to be the best yet

Kane County Magazine


ineteen years ago, the St. Charles Fine Art Show welcomed 35 exhibitors to its inaugural event. The 2017 incarnation has received commitments from 114 artists (at press time), including those from the West Coast and Florida.

“It’s the biggest we’ve ever been and the biggest we probably can ever be in that location,” says Sue McDowell, who chairs the volunteer organizational committee for the Downtown St. Charles Partnership, which presents the show. “We’ve just had a great response.”

The show is set for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 27, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 28, along Riverside Avenue in downtown St. Charles. It will feature work from artists working in such media as watercolor, oil, sculpture, photography, jewelry, ceramics, fiber, wood and glass. Each artist is juried, meaning he or she is selected by a committee after submitting slides showcasing his or her work.

McDowell, who works as co-owner and CFO of St. Charles-based McDowell Remodeling by day, embraces her role in helping to make each show a memorable experience for art lovers and buyers. 

“I always say that I love art; I love downtown St. Charles … and I love organizing things – so it all works,” McDowell says.

Jenna Sawicki, executive director of Downtown St. Charles Partnership, attests to the event’s fluidity under McDowell.

“She is a wealth of information and really the whole reason why we continue to have such a successful show year after year,” Sawicki wrote in an email.

A longtime St. Charles resident who moved to the Fox Valley with her family during high school, McDowell considers her hometown a treasure. To her, the reasons the festival flourishes in St. Charles are elementary.

“Of course, we just have a beautiful town and a great community, and a lot of wonderful architecture and that,” McDowell says. “The Downtown St. Charles Partnership and the volunteers – our committee – we treat the artists really well, and it’s kind of a mutual admiration thing. In the long run, the reason artists continue to come back to an art show is because they sell art, you know. That’s their livelihood, and as much as they love a place, they do do these shows every weekend, and they have to choose the shows that they think are going to support them the best.”

What’s more, the event helps boost exposure to St. Charles, as well. The show is centrally located and focuses solely upon its available art; food booths are not part of the set-up.

As with a sculpture or painting, it’s by design.

“We’re visible from Main Street and from the other side of the river, but we’re kind of tightly located in that area,” McDowell says. “So, people can come to the show; they can walk across the bridge; they can wander over to a restaurant or some of the stores over on First Street or the coffee shop or whatever.”

If you go
St. Charles
Fine Art Show

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 27, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 28

Where: downtown St. Charles


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