A sculpture is displayed in an art gallery, with people gathered in conversation
Guests enjoy art, and meeting the artists, at C-Art. The free, family-friendly art stroll returns Sunday, April 23, all along Historic Commercial Street. (Photo: Sami Ditmars)

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After a stellar debut last September, C-Art is returning to Commercial Street for its second iteration this Sunday, April 23, with more venues, more live music and a few new twists.

The free, family-friendly art stroll and sale runs from 1-4 p.m. in the Historic C-Street district.

“We had a great turnout and we just decided to make it even bigger than it was previously,” said Heidi Herrman Bacon. She and Randy Bacon organize the event. “We added vendors, we added more music, we added a poetry reading, we added a few more businesses on the street to show artists, so for the next one I might need a little bit more help.”

Transforming the Commercial Club Building

This time around there will be 18 galleries and businesses, up from 14 last fall, displaying the works of 20 artists — the Bacons included. One of those new venues is the Commercial Club Building at 299 E. Commercial St. It is the historic building’s debut as an art gallery.

The former city flag — also called the city’s “historic flag” — still flies on Commercial Street.

“We added a hanging system in the Commercial Club Building,” Herrman Bacon said. “A lot of people haven’t been in that building for years and years from what I’ve heard, and we are opening that up to the public. We’ll have three artists featured there in a gallery-like setting, so we’re super excited about that.”

The Bacons hope that’s the first of many exciting things in the Commercial Club Building.

“That building is actually quite beautiful and Heidi had the idea that we need to start an arts incubator in that building, to make it into an arts center of sorts,” Bacon said. “We visited with the city about it and they’re awesome about it. The Commercial Club is all thumbs-up, so this is the first step to doing that, is to make it into a gallery.”

Constructed in 1910, the building is owned by the City of Springfield. Bacon said it’s in “surprisingly” good shape.

“I just wish they’d sell it to us,” he added with a laugh. “It’s in really good shape and there’s going to be more stuff done to it as we go along. But, as Heidi mentioned, a complete art hanging system has been installed on the top floor and the ground-level floor. We hope to have quite a few things, hopefully, going on in that space.”

A rock band performs on a stage
Five venues will feature live music during C-Art Sunday, April 23, from 1-4 p.m. (Photo: Sami Ditmars)

Art vendors added, music expanded

What else is new? Art vendors will be set up where the C-Street City Market operates its Thursday/Saturday farmers market, on the eastern edge of the district.

“A lot of the art vendors are the same caliber as the artists that are showing in the businesses, there’s just room for more people if I have the vendor space as well,” Herrman Bacon said. “I have 12 artists that will be housed under the awning there.”

Historic Firehouse No. 2 is now part of the fun, hosting live music. Local bands 83 Skidoo and Adamant Faith will be playing there.

“The Firehouse has got the big garage doors in it and they’ll be open and we’ll feature two bands in there,” Bacon said. “At Moon City Pub and Moth Studio there will be music. At La Habana Vieja we have a bongo player. And then there’s Ruthie’s.”

“There’s a DJ, Clever Kaiju, and he gets his influences from a lot of different places — world music,” added Herrman Bacon.

Poetry reading helps expand definition of ‘art’

A man and a woman, holding coffee cups, look at art displayed on a yellow wall
Explore 18 businesses and gallery and see the work of 20 artists at C-Art on Sunday, April 23, all along Historic Commercial Street. (Photo: Sami Ditmars)

April is National Poetry Month, so it only makes sense to add a poetry reading to C-Art. That will be hosted at Q Enoteca and emceed by former Springfield mayor Bob Stephens.

“I think that’s a really good add,” Bacon said. “I may have to just lock our doors and go over there.”

The poetry represents an expansion of the “art” in C-Art. That, too, is something the Bacons hope to expand in the future.

“Really from the get-go that was our vision, to feature all types of art — whether that be performance art or visual,” Bacon said. “And going forward I think you’re going to see more of that.

“We may incorporate dance. Heidi’s got an incredible background in fashion, and she’s a fashion designer by trade and profession, so we may have a fashion show someday, just really expanding that out and giving people an experience of what this word ‘art’ can potentially mean.”

Engage with the artists, buy their work

Guests won’t want to miss a selfie station at the Commercial Club. There will be a floral archway set up by Good Ground Floral to add to the feeling of springtime.

Most of all the Bacons hope guests will buy some art and spend some time getting to know the artists, all of whom will be on-site for C-Art.

“It’s a very engaging event,” Herrman Bacon said. “A lot of times, at certain community events, it’s hard to communicate with the artist, or sometimes the artist isn’t even there. The way (C-Art) works, people are going from venue to venue, so there’s time to get to know the artist before the next group comes in.”

Two artists stand behind a table displaying their work, visiting with two guests
All exhibiting artists will be on-site for C-Art, giving guests a chance to connect with the artists. (Photo: Sami Ditmars)

Want to go?

What: C-Art

When: Sunday, April 23, 1-4 p.m.

Where: Historic Commercial Street District

Admission: Free

For more information: Visit the C-Art Facebook event page

C-Art venues and featured artists

Blue Heron Bakery: Art by Dana Neuenschwander

C-Art Gallery at the Commercial Club Building: Art by Teresa Fry, R.T. Lindsey and Steve McGuire

The C-Street Pavillion Art Marketplace: Kathleen Day, Dan Ertel, Deby Gilley, Jennifer Hall, Wesley Horton, Andrew Mann, Katie March, Caryn McAdoo, Abby McGrath, Dawna Middleton, Marilynn Moon, Carol Scott and Liv Smith

The Coven Collective Salon and Gallery: Art by Katie Hopkins

Decades: Walking Fashion as Art display

Eurasia Coffee Company: Art by Michelle Houghton

Footbridge Trading Company: Art by Neletha Fuemmeler

Historic Firehouse No. 2: Music from 83 Skidoo, Adamant Faith

La Habana Vieja: Art by HJ Schumer; music from Alberto Luis Corona Miniet

Moon City Pub: Art by Linda Passeri and Mary Passeri; music from Ben Collins

Moth Studio: Art by Lee Ann West, West Clayworks; music from One More Dollar

Q Enoteca Wine Bar: Art by John Velo; poetry readings featuring Bob Stevens, poet and MC, and numerous other poets

Randy Bacon Gallery: Art by Randy Bacon, Heidi Herrman Bacon and Michael Stelzer

Ruthie’s: Music from Clever Kaiju

Skin Wax Ink: Art by Tyr A.

Soozeezbeez Honey BEEtique: Art by Sami Ditmars

Vecino Group: Art by John Rutkowski

VTG 315: Fashion as Art installation

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger is the Reader Engagement Editor for the Springfield Daily Citizen, and the voice of its daily newsletter SGF A.M. He covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger