Christina Wiatrek (left) of Aurora and Theresa Byelick of Lisle sample wine inside the Art of Wine tent at the 23rd annual West End Arts Festival in La Grange. This year's festival was canceled due to the pandemic but it did lead to the conception of the La Grange Art Stroll.
Christina Wiatrek (left) of Aurora and Theresa Byelick of Lisle sample wine inside the Art of Wine tent at the 23rd annual West End Arts Festival in La Grange. This year's festival was canceled due to the pandemic but it did lead to the conception of the La Grange Art Stroll.

LA GRANGE – Five months into the coronavirus pandemic, the La Grange Business Association [LGBA], like many other organizations, has been forced to rethink the way it hosts events. 

As members of the LGBA look to prioritize their guests’ safety, they have worked to recreate some of their signature staples such as the annual West End Arts Festival, which is typically held near the historic Stone Avenue train station in downtown La Grange, pulling in locals, artists and vendors. If things went as planned, this year’s festival would’ve marked its 25th anniversary. 

While COVID-19 forced the LGBA to cancel that event, it did offer room for a new tradition, said Executive Director Nancy Cummings. Since the beginning of September, the La Grange Art Stroll has provided a list of tailor-made activities and pop-up art classes along the central business district. 

“It’s an opportunity for people to connect through art,” Cummings said. “This is the time – during this pandemic and the quarantine – that we really aren’t connecting the way we used to. This is really a chance for us to do it in a different way.” 

Among the many activities, guests can participate in a flower arrangement class at Bloom3, an in-person or virtual painting session led through Bottle & Bottega or learn about pottery at the Ceramic Art Café.

This weekend, attendees are invited to a community chalk project held near Boyce Chiropractic, 114 Calendar Ave., or watch artist Heidi Buckner paint at a pop-up art studio located at 26 S. La Grange Road. Other featured artists including Jawuane Johnson [Sept. 19] and Julie Skida/Kelly Clark [Sept. 26] are scheduled at the art studio.

As far as virtual experiences goes, Cummings said Baird & Warner, a La Grange-based real estate company, will be spearheading a social media takeover, bringing in some of their community’s favorite top chefs and restaurant owners.

Those looking for a more casual experience can take a closer look at the artwork displayed at a dozen storefront windows or hop over to the Palmer Place or The Elm for some live music and entertainment. More details about the La Grange Art Stroll and a map of downtown La Grange are now available at www.lgba.com.

“Come out, grab your face mask and stroll [safely],” Cummings said. “And, enjoy the talent right here in front of you, because it really is a great time to see that creativity.” 

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