Inside Peoria's Prairie Center of the Arts.

PEORIA, IL - Since 2003, The Prairie Center of the Arts, PCA, has been a vibrant center for the peoria arts community and an anchor for the Warehouse District. And over the years, the facility has drawn local, as well as international, artists to use its studios and gallery spaces.

"It just seemed like there wasn't something like that in Peoria, so we decided to turn an old building into a vibrant community of artists for creativity."

Sitting on the south end of the city's warehouse district, the Prairie Center of the Arts looks like any other industrial building. Except when you notice the front looks like a Mondrian painting. Reminding us all that its a place to creat.

Like other artists in residence here, silkscreen printer Susan Czechowski gets to use the spacious studios at the PCA at no charge whatsoever.

"These are facilities that are better than places i've been to in Chicago and New York. The amount of space and the equipment here is phenomenal. Being able to work in a facility like this lets me be an artist."

"In a lot of cases, the space that we provide is the opportunity for artists to expand
what they're trying to do."  

International artist Natalia Villanueva Linares had the room here to construct colorful installations
representing handmade homes she'd seen as a child in her homeland Peru, all using hand cut rolls of wrapping paper.

"I like how the space is so generous and you have so many options.

Besides studios, the PCA has multiple galleries for changing exhibits. This collection of work all
done by former artists in residence shows the range of art inspired here, across a wide variety of media and styles.

"All their art is different and that's the amazing thing is that there's so many things you can do in the arts. It's an interesting process to see the types of art people do today. People are very skilled at their artwork, very meticulous."

Though he's not doing so, Joe Richey really could be talking about himself here. After decades of being a patron of the arts, he's now become a sculptor in his own right.

"I am geometric, that's my background has always been a love for math. So I use those math formulas to develop my artwork."

But the PCA is more than just a place to make art. It is, along with other local art groups, too,
a catalyst for cultural and economic change.

"Art has to be part of the economic plan because when we go to cities and other people go to cities you go to places that are interesting."

The Richeys say art draws people to an area. And an influx of visitors feeds new startups like shops and restaurants, which only spurs more development.

"These things are coming to Peoria and we think it's an amazing change in the last three or four years. And it's really gonna be great in the next ten."

The PCA also operates an on site community book arts and printmaking facility, offering the use of commercial presses to the public. As well as holding workshops.


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