Jury & Judge Process


Fine Art Fair Artist Selection

Each year, over hundreds of artists from around the world submit their proposal of images and summary of work to be juried into the Peoria Fine Art Fair - one of the top fine art fairs in the country. To select the final body of artists to be showcased, a panel of professionals with varying backgrounds in art education, history, collecting and aesthetics is gathered to score each artist’s work.

Jurors for the 2019 Fine Art Fair-


Erin Buczynski

Erin Buczynski is the Director of Galleries, Exhibitions and Collections at Bradley University in Peoria, IL and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Art and Design. Prior to joining Bradley University, she served as Program Director at Prairie Center of the Arts. She received her Master of Fine Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology, Bachelor of Fine Arts from Alfred University, and additionally studied at Lorenzo de' Medici, The Art Institute of Florence, Italy. Buczynski is a member of the class of 2012 Peoria 40 leaders under 40 and an active mixed media artist.


Merrell Hickey

Merrell Hickey- Peoria Il.

I received my Bachelor's of Science in interior architecture from SIU in Carbondale, Il and later went on to study fine art at ISU in Bloomington. After fifteen years in architecture firms however, I needed to escape the confines of a desk. Several years at a Peoria bead store awarded the opportunity to learn materials including glass, metals and pmc. Over time my own work evolved into bead embroidery. I create small, hand stitched, tapestries that can take up to two months to complete. I am inspired and passionate about pure color, textures, and the use of unusual objects in my pieces. I was a Peoria Art Pop billboard winner and 2017 Peoria Fine Art Fair guest artist. I am thrilled to see all this Incredible art!
Merrell has been involved with Peoria Art Guild's Fine Art Fair and held a studio art the Studios on Sheridan for several years. She currently works from her home studio.


Mary Jo Papich

When people hear my name they think of my work in music education, specifically jazz, as I built a reputation in that area here with my work at Woodruff, Roosevelt and as District 150 Coordinator of Fine Arts and founder of Jazz AllStars. At a national level I founded the Jazz Education Network 10 years ago which is now in over 20 countries and all the states.

However, when I moved up to the northshore I was administrator over outstanding visual arts programs where I learned so very much! I served Highland Park on the mayor appointed Cultural Arts Commission and Public Art Advisory committee. I served several terms on The Art Center Highland Park board of directors assisting in special events including the Festival of Fine Arts Fair. I was an avid attendee every weekend of the summer at the many art shows! I juried several art shows including the Amdur production of Festival of Fine Arts.

Also, was first recipient of the Art Center’s Art Inspiration Award and was honored by the community for arts leadership.

I have served on the National Endowment for the Arts grant review panel in Washington, D.C. and locally I serve on the Arts Partners board which I helped envision in the 90’s (working currently on Ignite Peoria) and also on the Peoria Players 100th season committee.

I truly want to be known as a lifelong strong arts advocate.



Steph Van Doren

Peoria artist Steph Van Doren earned her BFA from Drake University in Des Moines, IA and her MFA from Bradley University. She played a role in creation of the burgeoning art movement in Des Moines and was a founding member of several artist groups in the community. After several years, she began to look to the future and other challenges. This led her to Peoria. Upon completing her Masters at Bradley, in 2009, she opened a studio in the Warehouse District downtown and continues to create art here in Peoria. She has been involved with CIAO and other Peoria-based artist groups.


Ken Hoffman

Ken Larson started out in college as a music major, but was soon seduced by the art department. He received his B.A. In art from the University of Minnesota, Duluth in 1974 His major concentration was in clay, first as a functional potter and then clay as a sculptural medium.

Ken and his wife and partner Pat started backpacking in 1987 and have found inspiration in rocky desolate places. Ken's work has been influenced by vast landscapes, little pebbles and weather sculpted boulders.

They have been selling their art through galleries and at art fairs since 1975.

After each juror reviews all of the artists and their work, the artists with the top scores in each medium are then invited to participate in the Fine Art Fair.


Fine Art Fair Awards Selection

On the Saturday of each Peoria Fine Art Fair, two special judges review all of the artists’ works in person. They score everyone and determine a select group of artists to be granted $ 6,000 in cash awards. Merits distributed are:

  • 1 Best of Show - $3,000

  • 3 Awards of Excellence - $1,000

All award winners receive an invitation to return to the upcoming Peoria Fine Art Fair.

This year's Fine Art Fair will be the Peoria Art Guild's 57th annual fair!

The 2019 On-Site Judges


Duffy Armstrong Farrell

Duffy Armstrong Farrell is an artist with extensive experience as an arts administrator and arts advocate. She has a BFA from Bradley University and studied printmaking, drawing and photography. While a student, she worked at the Peoria Art Guild and Muir Omnigraphics doing commercial silk screening. She taught art both at the Guild and at Lakeview Museum, (the predecessor to the Peoria Riverfront Museum) where she became Curator of Education and later the Public Relations Director. Her history with the Peoria Art Guild began in 1969. During the 1980s she served on the Guild’s Board and chaired the Fine Art Fair in 1983 and 1984. In 1990, as a full-time Director of the Guild, she helped build its membership and enjoyed creating special exhibits for local artists alongside the traditional gallery exhibitions and sales/rental gallery artwork. She was involved in the Guild’s first attempt at bringing the Fine Art Fair to downtown Peoria, but the successful move to its current location didn’t occur until several years later. In 1992 she began her professional career in development with the College of Communications and Fine Arts at Bradley, raising funds for the art, theater, music and communications programs and facilities. In 1996 she helped found the Friends of Art in order to establish Cradle Oak Press, the art department master print program. John Chamberlain, Philip Pearlstein, Hollis Sigler, Carol Wax, Wayne Kimball, Warrington Colescott, Susan Sensemann, Leonard Baskin, Robert Natkin and other renowned artists worked with Oscar Gillespie and the Friends in intimate gatherings to share their work, ideas and to help the Friends develop as fine art collectors.

Duffy served as a juror and educational curator for Sculpture Walk Peoria for 2015, 2016 and 2017. In past years she juried the Guild’s Fine Art Fair, the Galesburg Fine Art Fair, the 34th Annual Beloit Vicinity Art Show and the Central Illinois Scholastic Art Exhibits. She served on the Executive Committee and as a Board member of Arts Alliance Illinois from 2006 to 2017 and brought the advocacy organization’s One State conference to Peoria during her tenure.

Recently retired, she has returned to making art. Presently her work can be seen at Exhibit A Gallery in Peoria Heights and as an exhibiting member of CIAO (Central Illinois Arts Organization).


Bob Doucette

Bob Doucette’s whimsical and highly saturated paintings come from the world of dreams. Sometimes bordering on surreal, his imagery is a product of a decade of theater work, puppetry and twenty-five years in the world of animation. As an animation director he was responsible for many well known animated children’s programs for PBS including, Chloe’s Closet, Dive Olly Dive and Clifford’s Puppy Days. He started in animation at Warner Bros. and was involved with many classics like Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs. His independently animated films won him many prestigious awards and honors and his MFA thesis film Pink Triangle, the first animated film to depict the persecution of homosexuals by the Nazis, is in the permanent collection at the New York Public Library.

As a doll maker Bob has been in galleries since the early 90s. His Ben Franklin doll, created for the White House Christmas tree in 1999, is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian. Many of his dolls are in the private collection of Demi Moore and have been featured in books, magazines articles and TV programs.

Bob earned a BFA at Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA at CalARTS and studied both illustration and animation. He was born in Waterville Maine and at present lives in Peoria with his husband Tom and his two cats Ginger and BooBoo.

Art Enthusiasts: Be sure to return Sunday morning, to see which artists have made top honors. Enjoy a Sunday stroll along the Riverfront and see if your favorite artist has won a ribbon!