Randy Bacon and Heidi Herrman Bacon are launching C-Art, an effort to garner more exposure for local artists of all kinds on Commercial Street in Springfield. Photographed in their studio/gallery space and on Commercial Street. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

The black banners with the colorful eye inside a C have sparked plenty of questions and interest along Commercial Street. Randy Bacon and Heidi Herrman Bacon hope the event those banners promote will spark a rebirth of sorts in the historic district.

The couple will present the first-ever C-Art event Sept. 18 from 1-4 p.m. Guests are invited to stroll the sidewalks at the free, family-friendly event and check out the 14 galleries and businesses that are displaying the works of 20 local artists.

“It’s an art event that will expand Springfield as an arts destination,” Herrman Bacon said. “This street hasn’t seen anything like this before.”

And it’s more than just an art event. Live music is planned for both ends of the street, with The Shandies playing at White River Brewing Company and the Feedback School of Music at the Footbridge Plaza.

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“One of the reasons we came (to Commercial Street from downtown) was for this exact thing,” Bacon said. “To start something like this, to bring community together and to really spotlight the incredible talent we have in our backyard.”

Inspired by Asheville

Randy Bacon and Heidi Herrman Bacon are launching C-Art, an effort to garner more exposure for local artists of all kinds on Commercial Street in Springfield. Photographed in their studio/gallery space and on Commercial Street. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Inspiration came to Bacon and Herrman Bacon from a trip to Asheville, North Carolina. The town, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, has a vibrant arts community.

“We were just blown away by the artists’ community and the area they’re in,” Herrman Bacon said. “We see (C-Art) as the starting point of that. We feel like Commerical Street, Moon City, this whole area could be inundated by artists and we could have a beautiful collaboration of artists and, really, turn this into a place to visit.”

The potential, Bacon believes, is there.

“It wasn’t that long ago that the areas they have that art (in Asheville) were totally dilapidated,” he said. “But Asheville is hopping and one of the biggest reasons, besides the mountains, is the art.

“I love Springfield. She’s from Kansas City and she’s moved here and now she’s really starting to see that this city has a lot of potential. And I think one way to tap into that potential is through the arts.”

C-Art to be a seasonal event

Photographed in the Randy Bacon studio/gallery space and on Commercial Street. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

The duo wants to turn C-Art into a seasonal event, held two-to-four times a year. That schedule, they believe, will help keep the event from growing stale.

“We want to make sure that every time we do it it’s a high-class event,” Herrman Bacon said. “We don’t want it to happen so often that it’s sort of thrown together or always the same artists. We want it to be very diverse and keep giving the artists, musicians and performance artists the ability to be seen.”

Commercial Street, it seems, is hungry for an event like this. Bacon was excited not only about the businesses that have volunteered to help, but also other organizations in the neighborhood.

“(People) have been very receptive,” he said. “They’re excited because they’ve always wanted to do this. Then Commercial Club and the (Community Improvement District) jumped aboard and said they wanted to support it. So we’re getting this love that really makes it a lot easier. It makes it so we’re fighting some battles, but we’re not fighting nearly as many as we would be without their support.”

A big vision, with energy to grow

It helps that the event is designed with the whole district in mind. Herrman Bacon said the Sunday date was picked intentionally.

“What we really want to do is highlight the businesses on C-Street as well — and not just the ones that are hosting artists,” she said. “So many retail shops here on Commercial Street aren’t open on Sundays, but they’re going to be open for this event, which is great. Saturdays down here are crazy. You can’t find a parking space. That’s why we chose Sundays because we want it to have its own special draw.”

The organizers said they’re looking to create a stable of artists that eventually stretches across the state for C-Art. Any artists wanting to participate in the next event can email Herrman Bacon at c-art@historiccstreet.com for more information.

“We’ve got a big vision,” Bacon said. “It’s exciting. We want to create something here that has this organic energy that keeps growing and growing.”

C-Art participating businesses and artists

Randy Bacon and Heidi Herrman Studio & Gallery — Randy Bacon, Heidi Herrman and John Rutkowski

Big Momma’s — Victoria Henderson

Q Enoteca — Rashod Taylor

Eurasia — Kate Baird

Historic Firehouse — Kathleen Day

Skin Wax Ink — J.M. Warren and Annie Campbell

The Coven — Debra McCamish

The Glo Center — Mariah Howard

Light Box — Michelle Houghton and Belinda Jensen Wood

Footbridge Trading Company — Neletha Fuemmeler and Ramona Pieron

MosiacaRose — Lura Faye Cotton and “Make It & Take It,” an interactive, hands-on mosaic experience.

NForm — R.T. Lindsey

Vecino Group and Do Good Lawn — Micheal Stelzer

303 East Commercial — Linda Passeri and Mary Passeri

Venues and Musicians

White River Brewery — The Shandies

Footbridge Plaza — Feedback School of Music

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger 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