The 43rd visual art fair in the valley opens its doors on Friday

Artwork by various local artists cover the gallery walls at Launchpad in Carbondale for the 43rd annual Valley Visual Art Fair.
Chelsea Freelance / Freelance position

When the R2 gallery opens on Friday morning, its walls will be lined with works by 60 local artists for the 43rd Valley Visual Art Show.

As Carbondale Arts ushers in the new year, it does so by acknowledging the local art scene as it has done nearly every year since 1980, from paintings to textiles to marble sculptures.

“It’s a show that represents talent and creativity, the creative vibe of the Valley,” said Kellyn Wardell, Carbondale Arts’ operations and development manager. “The only thing I notice this year is a lot of bright colors. The artists’ work must be created recently, so it speaks to how people feel.

The work submitted by local cartoonist Larry Day is called “Autumn Trail”. It is an oil painting on an 8 inch by 18 inch panel, featuring a trail in his native Illinois. After making three or four other canvases during a field study, he is captivated by the lighting of the tall grass of a meadow, brings out his paints and his canvas one last time and completes the work.

Larry Day’s entry to the Valley’s 43rd Annual Visual Art Fair, “Autumn Trail”
Larry Day/Courtesy Photo

Day has featured work in Valley Visual four times, he estimates. Each year he is struck by Carbondale’s commitment to the arts.

“What the art show does is tell the community that we’re serious, we take art seriously with a lot of respect,” Day said.

A celebratory reception was scheduled for the first day of the show, but was postponed to the first Friday in February in light of the current spike in COVID-19 cases.

In order to better respond to the pandemic, a virtual tour of the exhibition will be available online. Viewers can browse the gallery and its rooms much like an apartment or house on a real estate website. The works will be available for purchase online and in person.

Visitors to the exhibition will also be invited to participate in the “People’s Choice Award” by voting for their favorite piece from the exhibition.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The February 4 artists’ reception is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m.

Masks are required in Launchpad at all times.

The show runs until February 25.

“It’s interesting to see some of the same players and how good they still are,” Day said. “There’s such variety that it really helps you feel like everyone matters in his work. Whatever degree they paint, whatever they do, it’s good to see the variety in the talent ladder. … It kind of mimics the drive here to make art.

Journalist Rich Allen can be reached at 970-384-9131 or