A call for area artists to donate original artwork for an exhibit helped fill the walls again at the Illinois State Museum in Lockport. “The People’s Show,” a non-juried exhibit, opens Friday, July 31, 2015, with a reception at 6 p.m. The exhibit comes a month after state officials pulled exhibits from all museums because of the state’s budget crisis.
July 30, 2015, 9:32 p.m.
By Alicia Fabbre Daily Southtown
Four weeks ago, John Lustig was looking at blank walls inside the Illinois State Museum in Lockport.
With Illinois in budget crisis, the exhibits were removed from the building when the state could not cover insurance for the museum.
The museum re-opens Friday night with a new exhibit dubbed “The People’s Show.” The non-juried art show, which opens with a reception at 6 p.m., features 252 works of art from 115 artists from across the state. The show will be part of Lockport’s 2015 Summer Art Series.
Of the five museums run by the state, the Lockport museum is the only one that is re-opening and has an exhibit, Lustig said.
“We’ve got a full house,” said Lustig, museum director. “We’re very excited.”
Lustig put out a call last week for artists to lend the museum pieces to put on display. By Monday afternoon — less than 30 hours after his request made local news — a sign on the museum’s front door informed artists the museum had enough artwork and could no longer accept any additional pieces for the exhibit.
Museum staff — which includes Lustig and one full-time employee — have worked throughout the week to arrange the pieces. Artwork includes portraits, abstract pieces, photography and some sculptures. One piece, by artist Julia Haw, is a work that comments on the state’s budget crisis and politicians’ readiness to cut funding for the arts. Haw’s work was on display in the museum before it was closed. Lockport Mayor Steve Streit and his 9-year-old daughter also have artwork featured in the exhibit.
Though the museum has not yet received any state funding, the City of Lockport agreed to extend its insurance to cover the museum building. It remains unclear if the museum will be given funding to continue operations. Lustig said the museum’s annual operating budget is $190,000, but the cost of utilities is not covered in that budget.
“The idea that we would take away the arts in the State of Illinois is incomprehensible to me,” said Streit’s wife, Wendy, who also chairs the Summer Art Series committee.
Lustig said he testified at hearings earlier this month about the museum budget. An Aug. 5 meeting of a state committee will continue discussions about museum funding, Lustig said.
Lustig said he plans to keep “The People’s Show” open as long as possible. He noted if state funding is restored, it would still take two to three months to set up a new display.
“The People’s Show” can be viewed at the museum, located at 201 W. 10th Street, from 6 to 9 p.m. today. The museum also will be open from 12 to 5 p.m. on Sundays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Alicia Fabbre is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.
Copyright © 2015, Daily Southtown