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Art on the Square continually is ranked the nation’s best juried art show for a reason. Not only does it unite artists from all different mediums and locations across the globe, it achieves what few can: It unites the community while creating a welcoming atmosphere where patrons can connect with artists.

“Have you ever noticed how, when you go to a gallery or museum, you start whispering?” Patty Gregory, executive director of Art on the Square, asks. “Some people may feel a little intimidated [at venues like that], but at art shows in a city venue or on the street, people feel comfortable.” Local, national and global talents are on hand, thrilled to converse with passersby as they take in the beauty of each unique piece.

The show makes art accessible – and even more so with the option to obtain Art Cash year-round. “If you are gifted $200 in Art Cash and you see a piece at the show that costs $400, to some people, it may now seem like it only costs $200. That’s the beauty of Art Cash,” Gregory explains. “We have a wide range of price points because we are a community show. We want people to come out, bring family and friends, and enjoy themselves!”

With a huge showing of artists, both from the area and from around the world, many mediums are represented. (Find a full listing online.) “The highlight of everything, of course, is the artist – and we have artists coming from all over,” Gregory shares. “Estella Fransbergen from Pimento, Florida, was born in South Africa. She studied there, as well as in Italy and America. She’s in galleries in Florence, Italy, and the Daytona Museum of Art. She started in pottery but considers herself a sculptress now. [Fransbergen] starts with the torso of a woman’s body because she believes that is the soul. She then adds skirts. What’s really interesting is how she incorporates metals, and precious and semiprecious stones, like Swarovski crystals, into the dresses. Thousands and thousands of strands of silver, stones and beads. It’s ethereal. It’s an expression of the human form – that is the beauty of her work.”

From city sculpture tours and artists demonstrations to the design stage and student involvement, there is much to enjoy. “Some people, after meeting at the fair, have reunions [each year],” Gregory says. “It’s like visiting old friends. This really is the kind of show for everyone. We’re really looking forward to another wonderful year.”

Art on the Square, P.O. Box 23561, Belleville, Illinois, 618-233-6769 or 800-677-9255 (visitor information), 618-444-3802 (general information),

LN's special content writer has a love for all things beautiful, from people trying to change the world for the better to fashion and beauty to picturesque places found around the globe.