Art on the Square Poster Art
Each year, an artist is selected to execute an original artwork that typically features the beautiful fountain and the activities at the fair. For the 21st show, Chris and Katie Robleski, photographers, were selected to put their artistic spin on traditional photographs to showcase this year’s artwork for the poster.
Working under the professional name of The Flashnites, the Robleski’s tour the US looking for that perfect opportunity. “With a love of both road trips and Americana, we found a way to create art in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, for people who simply want something different to hang on their walls. We travel all over the country to find these unique places. Kinda like paint on a white canvas, we use colored strobes and flashlights on a black one. No need for computer trickery here! We also don’t really give a big whoop about camera nerdery. Long exposure photography is simply the tool to capture this work. The REAL art happens beyond the camera, and the REAL story is told as we literally shed light on these magical places that have long since been forgotten.”
This year’s poster was a new challenge for the Robleski’s. Since the downtown area has so much ambient light at night, instead of using longer exposures times they created the image using 5 second exposures shots merged together in Photoshop. They point out that this is not their usual way to create their images as no computer manipulation is done on their photography. They shot about 160 of the short exposures and then selected 25 or so to make the picture come together.
This year’s poster is no exception to their quality work. The Robleski’s love the time they have spent in Belleville and have developed lasting friendships with people in our community.
2002 – Gary Karasek – The year 2002 marked the first year for Art on the Square in Belleville. Executive Director and Founding Director Patty Gregory asked Karasek to prepare an illustration depicting the new art fair on the Belleville square. The aerial view generated became the committee’s guidance for locating the tents along the four streets with the Veteran’s Memorial Fountain as the centerpiece for all to enjoy. With that, the tradition continues, with each annual artwork recognizing the fountain as an integral subject of their works.
2003 – Gary Karasek – A closeup of the fountain in an evening setting, with deepening blue and pink sky and the same colors reflected in the landmark water feature. A young girl on the rim of the fountain pool shows joy and playfulness along with other youngsters attending the activities of the fair. Saturday evening’s extended hours was implemented in part due to the influence of this poster.
2004 – Gary Karasek – Depicts patrons strolling along Main Street in a light spring rain. Artwork, flowers, umbrellas and people splash color and excitement throughout the event. The focal point, the Memorial Fountain, reflects nature’s beauty as the rain comes to an end. The subject is not an invitation for a dreary day; instead, it signifies the dedication of the artists and the art lovers as they brave the natural elements for a grand showing. Rain or shine, Art on the Square surrounding the beautiful Belleville fountain creates a wonderful venue for the annual event. This is Gary Karasek’s third in a series of posters.
2005 – Michel Ditlove – A panoramic view of the art fair’s unique venue, capturing the fountain, patrons converging on artist booths and adults and children strolling along taking in the food courts and entertainment. Ditlove photographed the scene in black and white and then printed it on watercolor paper. The picture was then painted with watercolors, which created the unique effect.
2006 – Ed Karasek – Local artist’s watercolor depiction of the activities around the fountain during the show. The view looking east, captures the modern and historic facades along East Main Street.
2008 – Marilynne Bradley – Capturing the feel of a fairgoer walking in the midst of the Art on the Square crowd. Her watercolor reflects architectural structures competing with the crowds of outdoor activity. This interplay of figures with the scene makes the composition come to life. Her use of color, contrast and composition are key elements to all of her paintings.
2009 – Michael Anderson – Local artist’s “Patriotism” depicts an aerial view of art filled tents around the Veterans Memorial Fountain with its four red, white and blue flags of America. The composition includes nearly one hundred individual figures based on a computer-generated model of the Art on the Square event he created specifically for the painting.
2010 – Ed Karasek – The street scene depicts early Saturday morning patrons looking into tents and enjoying the artwork, as the fountain’s misty flow crowns the fair’s activities. In honor of Ed’s long career as a regional artist and supporter of Art on the Square, the painting that he executed in 2002 was featured as the poster. The Ed & Helen Karasek Memorial Award is given every year to an Illinois or Missouri artist. Ed Karasek 1909 – 2009. Helen Karasek 1915 – 2014.
2011 – Gordon France – Illinois artist’s watercolor depiction of children enjoying the spray from the fountain as a breeze makes this possible. Artist booths are hidden in the background.
2012 – Roger Popwell – Belleville photographer captured the night time view of the fountain’s color changes looking south down Illinois Street. Popwell volunteered his photography services for Art on the Square, Fair Saint Louis, Celebrate Saint Louis, Alta Foundation and Southwestern Illinois College.
2013 – Mark Hurd – St. Louis digital artist uses computer graphics to create abstractly with a heavy contrast of light and dark saturated color. Celebrating the fountain during dusk in the downtown setting, the artist is drawn to bright vivid colors and contrasts them with moodier, dusky atmospheres
2014 – Don Nedobeck – Nedobeck can be described as an artist, storyteller and musician. According to one source, talking with him is like “sitting in your most comfortable worn-out chair with a fat, furry feline nestled upon your chest.” This “connection” can immediately be sensed in his work. The artist celebrates the Belleville 200 Anniversary in this year’s poster with his typical whimsy.
2015 – Nancy Beard – Local watercolor artist is a light and shadows person. She utilizes images such as landscapes, but for her “the subject is not the subject… The subject is light and shadows”, depicted in the show goers approaching the fountain at dusk.
2016 – Yorum Gal – According to the artist, the show “is all the heart”. The spirit. The love which the people of this town pour into its art show. The team of volunteers that keep putting their souls, time and endless effort into it are the nucleus of this phenomenal achievement.” He feels the poster reflects that Belleville is on-going living proof that love, spirit and vision can achieve anything and everything one can imagine.
2017 – Susan Rogers – Life-long Belleville resident Rogers titled her piece “Reflections at Dusk”, focusing on the Veterans Memorial Fountain in the evening with its water changing colors and its constant motion. A common theme in her work is water that triggers a physiological reset and allows to quiet the noise and worry that life can bring.
2018 – Jon Smith – Smith’s painting people as the subject of his work is depicted in this view of a young lady enjoying a sunny, spring afternoon at Art on the Square with the Fountain in view behind her.
2021 – Virginia Fergus – “My paintings are daydreams that take on a life of their own.” The artist hopes the light, energy, and pride in community she experienced in Belleville comes through in the painting, which she entitled “Anticipation!”
2022- Gary Karasek
The oil painting’s vantage point is looking straight down at the landmark Veteran’s Memorial Fountain and the Belleville Square. The art style is semi-abstract, using intense colors and light, which defines the geometric building shapes, linear cross streets, nature and water elements and hints of the artists’ tents and people celebrating the well attended event and nationally recognized art gathering.