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COVID & the Arts: Virtual Beaux Arts

Beaux Arts Fair
a past Beaux Arts Fair in Davenport

For the first time in its 67-year history, the Beaux Arts Fair will be held virtually.

Because of Covid-19, the spring art fair on May 9th and 10th will not be held outside in Davenport, but will feature 114 artists, from the Quad-Cities and nationwide, online at beauxartsfair.com. Shoppers can visit the “Meet the Artists” page, where they can peruse and purchase directly from vendors.

Beaux Arts organizer Vicki Rocker, of East Moline, says it will support artists who are hurting in the current, crippled economy.

“Because of the virus, we had to cancel the show. And because artists are hit just as hard as everyone else during this - the galleries have closed, art fairs are not going on. So we thought it would be a nice way to let them maybe reach the public and go on with the art fair.”

The website didn’t have direct sales in the past, but will go straight to artists’ sites. Rocker said they held out as long as they could to keep the outdoor fair, which typically is outside the Figge Art Museum.

“The Beaux Arts Fair, especially the spring fair Mother’s Day weekend, has become a real tradition for mothers and daughters and grandmothers, to come to the fair and shop. We thought maybe we’d keep that going.”

Last year, because of historic spring flooding, the fair was moved to the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, which featured 135 booths. At the Figge, they typically have a maximum of 125. Usually, the spring fair raises $15,000 to $20,000 for the Figge’s programs and exhibits.

Online this year, Rocker expects fewer people will buy something. 

“But it still gives the artists something to look forward to. It’s been pretty bleak for some of these people, and it gives them a chance.”

She says about a quarter of participating artists are local, and the works are juried every year. 

“We have a lot of amazing artists here in the Quad-Cities. And every time we jury I am so impressed with the artists that we get. If we had twice the space we could do twice the artists - it's unbelievable."

Rocker said she doesn’t know of any other art fairs holding similar sales online. Those artists who have a flower by their name on the site will have special offers. From jewelry, pottery and stained glass to fine furniture, sculpture, and painting, she believes there'll be  something for everyone.

Formerly the arts and entertainment reporter for The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and Quad-City Times, Jonathan Turner now writes freelance for WVIK and QuadCities.com. He has experience writing for daily newspapers for 32 years and has expertise across a wide range of subject areas, including government, politics, education, the arts, economic development, historic preservation, business, and tourism. He loves writing about music and the arts, as well as a multitude of other topics including features on interesting people, places, and organizations. He has a passion for accompanying musicals, singers, choirs, and instrumentalists. He even wrote his own musical based on The Book of Job, which premiered at Playcrafters in 2010. He wrote a 175-page history book about downtown Davenport, which was published by The History Press in 2016. Turner was honored in 2009 to be among 24 arts journalists nationwide to take part in a 10-day fellowship offered by the National Endowment for the Arts in New York City on classical music and opera, based at Columbia University’s journalism school.
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