> ‘30 Years On’ Art Show at Sandburg Remembers Anniversary of Bradley Studio Fire

‘30 Years On’ Art Show at Sandburg Remembers Anniversary of Bradley Studio Fire

GALESBURG — They didn’t start the fire. But they’ve still been churning out art since the burning.

The latest art exhibit at Carl Sandburg College, “30 Years On: The Bradley University Studio Fire,” includes pieces from four artists whose work was destroyed in a 1993 blaze during their time as graduate students at Bradley.

The show is up through Dec. 4 in the Lonnie Eugene Stewart Art Gallery on Sandburg’s Galesburg campus, and a reception for the artists will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in the gallery, located in Building D. Both the show and reception are free and open to the public.

On March 8, 1993, a fire broke out at the Studio 1 Gallery at 735 W. Main St. in Peoria. The gallery was rented by four Bradley art professors and about a dozen BU graduate art students. Nearly all the paintings and photos in the studio were lost in the fire, which caused more than $500,000 worth of damage.

"Your entire life revolves around these things that you're making, and then, bam, it's gone," Robert Reedy, chairman of Bradley’s art department at the time, told the Peoria Journal Star in the days after the blaze. "It's like losing a member of your family. "

Sandburg assistant professor of art and gallery director Lisa Walker was among the BU students whose work was destroyed. One of Walker’s pieces for this show survived the fire. A piece by another one of the artists was being worked on in the studio the day of the fire, but they happened to take it home with them that evening.

“We were unable to contact everyone who was part of the fire, but I think we have the spirit,” Walker said. “We are hoping to show the successes we have all had as artists in the aftermath.”

Established in 2006 and named for area artist Lonnie Eugene Stewart in 2015, the Lonnie Eugene Stewart Art Gallery has hosted group faculty exhibits, juried student exhibits and the works of area professional artists. For more information, contact Walker at 309.341.5303 or ldwalker@sandburg.edu.