Art at Wilder Park and Elmhurst Art Museum mark 25 years of history

Two important milestones are complete in Art in Wilder Park’s return this weekend to Elmhurst.

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the free-to-the-public art festival returns for its 25th time. And since Art in Wilder Park predates the adjacent Elmhurst Art Museum at 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave., that institution’s 25th anniversary now aligns with the neighboring art festival.

“As long as the weather cooperates, the festival is likely to attract large crowds,” said John McKinnon, executive director of the Elmhurst Art Museum, which co-sponsors Art in Wilder Park with Elmhurst-based RGL Marking for the Arts.

Over 125 art exhibitors are lined up, along with food vendors, bands, and plenty of hands-on family activities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Elmhurst Art Museum will also host free exhibitions over the weekend.

A veteran of several Art in Wilder Park fairs, Northfield artist Kathleen Gaffey of Brim and Dash Millenary is grateful to be back.

“It’s one of my favorite shows,” Gaffey said. “I’ve done it during rain storms, and people are still coming out – the community is so supportive.”

Villa Park artist Benjamin Calvert III, who last exhibited at Art in Wilder Park in 2019, is also keen to return. Calvert specializes in woodblock printing and has taught printmaking at the Elmhurst Art Museum since 2017.


“When people come to visit my tent, I am constantly engaged in educating people about this art form,” Calvert said, noting that past visitors were more familiar with linoleum block printing. “Wooden blocks are an older art form, and being an educator at the museum makes that a bit more interesting.”

Gaffey also makes a point of educating visitors about millennial art while selling his custom hat designs. She is actively working on designing a hat as a great icebreaker so she can talk about her technique.

“It’s very laborious and people are intrigued,” Gaffey said. “It brings people into your booth.”

McKinnon also hopes visitors to Art in Wilder Park will go inside the Elmhurst Art Museum – particularly to see the current “Houses of Tomorrow” exhibition and the McCormick House designed by Mies van der Rohe which was moved to Wilder Park.

“The McCormick House has been saved and has been part of the museum since the doors opened,” McKinnon said of the 1952 Modernist house, one of only two homes by Mies van der Rohe in the United States open to the public. audience. “Many members of the community came together, and it took a long time to raise all the necessary funds to acquire the property, to sort out all the details of putting this incredible building on campus.”

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Reggie S. Williams