Colorful cornhole sets the latest public art exhibition for Wauconda
Wauconda's annual display to feature painted cornhole game boards
One of the longest-running public art projects in the Chicago area, Wauconda's fifth annual Art on Main exhibition, returns Friday with a new -- and extra playful -- focus.
The subjects of the latest exhibition are wooden cornhole platforms -- the tilted, beanbag-toss boards found at backyard bashes, bars and tailgate parties across the Midwest.
Fifteen pairs of boards, each sponsored and hand-painted by local groups, will be set up along Main Street all summer. The exhibition, staged by the Main Street Attraction organization, will culminate in a cornhole competition and auction in September.
That auction is expected to raise between $3,000 and $4,000 for downtown beautification projects.
Proceeds from previous Art on Main events have paid for holiday lighting, decorative banners and other aesthetic improvements.
"We really love what Art on Main brings to Main Street and the community," event volunteer Maria Weisbruch said.
Chairs came first
Launched in 2012, Art on Main featured painted wooden Adirondack chairs that summer and again in 2013. Benches were the focus in 2014 and 2015.
After four years of seats, organizers decided a more significant change was needed this summer.
The ability to have a public game tournament the night of the auction -- scheduled for Sept. 8 during a downtown farmers market -- solidified the decision to go with cornhole platforms, Weisbruch said.
The boards make the 2016 Art on Main much more interactive than its predecessors and other such exhibitions in the Chicago area. Chicago's fiberglass cows, Arlington Heights' locomotive engines and Lincolnshire's apples may have been fun to look at or photograph, but that's about all you could do with them. Not so with Wauconda's cornhole boards.
"We literally were thinking of what might be popular, useful and exciting," Weisbruch said. "Cornhole it was."
The wooden platforms were custom built by Island Lake resident and woodworking enthusiast Steve Stiller. A former Island Lake trustee, Stiller also built the benches for last year's Art on Main show.
A colorful project
Previous Art on Main entries have depicted the Blues Brothers, the Chicago Blackhawks, Wauconda High School's Bulldog mascot and Vincent Van Gogh's famed "The Starry Night," among other images.
"(It) makes Wauconda colorful and unique all summer long," Trustee Linda Starkey said.
Among the teams painting boards this summer are groups representing downtown businesses such as Bliss Wine & Gifts, Threads Boutique and Tremonte's Barber Shop. A local soccer club and the Wauconda Lions Club are painting platforms, too. Sponsorship costs each group $250.
Barrington-area resident Alayne McNulty is painting birds, cats and dogs on a pair of boards sponsored by the Wauconda Animal Hospital. She's a big supporter of the project.
"It is good to see a community like Wauconda unite to make the downtown so pleasant and an enjoyable place to live and work," she said. "Beauty is embraced and promoted."
Art on Main isn't the only public art display in the suburbs this summer.
Naperville's annual Summer Sculpture program launched in June. Organized by the Downtown Naperville Alliance, it features 18 round chairs painted in various designs. And in Highwood, 18 artists have painted park benches that will be on display in the city's Metra station through mid-July and then displayed around town. That exhibition is put on by a group called the Midwest Artist Initiative. As for Wauconda, preliminary talks about next year's exhibition already are happening.
"We plan on continuing this with new and innovative pieces each year," Weisbruch said. "I know water barrels were tossed around as an idea for next year, but you never know."