A mild fall weekend provided the perfect backdrop for this year’s 28th annual Riverwalk Fine Art Fair, which began on Saturday in downtown Naperville.
The event will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Overall, the event is expected to draw more than 70,000 people to a show that Naperville Art League Executive Director Debbie Venezia said remains ranked among the top 100 in the country.
“That’s a significant number when you think that you could easily go to three or four shows right here in the immediate area, and then you have Chicago and the rest of the state and ultimately the whole country,” she said. “We have about 135 artists this year, which we feel is a good number.”
Venezia said that the Art League tries to maintain a 60-40 ratio of returning artists to new artists in order to keep the show fresh each year.
“There are people who look forward to coming back and seeing their old favorites each year, but we also like to have about 40 percent of people be new in order to keep things interesting,” she said. “Sometimes in the 2D and 3D mixed media categories, it’s hard to know what people are going to come up with as far as materials. Artists are very creative people.”
New this year was a children’s tent which was used to showcase programs available for kids from the Art League. The DuPage Symphony Orchestra provided a musical backdrop for the event, which included artists from around the country and even one who is based out of Israel.
“I’ve been to this show maybe six or seven times, and it’s very nice here,” said Yoram Gal, who makes his home in Israel. “I have a number of collectors here that buy my work, but I also like the show as it is well juried and the level of art is very good. Sometimes you can do very well at a show, but the level of artists around you is poor, which I don’t think is a good thing.”
Naperville had its own share of local artists at the event, including Laurie Pollpeter Eskenazi, who was showing her stoneware pottery. Eskenazi said that there was “a lot of foot traffic early on at the show” and that people typically ask a lot of great questions.
“I’ve been here at least a dozen years, and it’s a very convenient show to come to, plus you get to meet other artists from all over the country and sort of exchange ideas,” she said. “People like to come and walk through all the booths, and later after they have seen everything, they usually come back in the afternoon and begin to buy.”
Rich and Sue Nagel of West Chicago admitted that they liked the strolling “shopping” technique, but Rich noted that buyer’s impulse was still a factor.
“We like to walk around and see what’s new in the art world, but if I find something I just have to have, I’m going to buy it because sometimes you can come back and the thing’s not there,” he said.
Naperville artist Dave Claus was back again with his 3D mixed medium gourds that he and his wife paint and decorate. Claus said the couple has been producing artwork for 10 years and that this was their fourth year at the show.
“This is always a great venue and there are always buyers here,” Claus noted. “You also get great artists here as well as buyers who really know art.”
The show also attracted out-of-town visitors like Kim Tieber and her sister Jill Gouge, who said they traveled from St. Charles, Mo., to attend a wedding in the area.
“This is just a quaint and beautiful area, and the Riverwalk is wonderful,” Tieber said. “We found out this show was going on and we decided to stop and visit. We both love the town and we’d definitely like to come back.”