Photo courtesy of - The Grafton Art Gallery will officially open on Saturday, May 25, 2024, complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, giveaways and lots of art to inspire and enjoy.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, community members can check out the new gallery located at 301 E. Main Street in Grafton. Admission is free, and art from professional artists, students and veterans will be featured. Gene Smith, who opened the gallery with his wife Donna, explained that the goal is to share art with the community while providing a space for veterans to tell their stories.

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“I don’t want to do this to make a dollar. I’m doing this to make a difference,” Smith said.

Photography, paintings, sculptures and more are included at the gallery. The youngest artist is 13, and many of the artists have traveled from around the world to share their work in Grafton.

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The gallery will have a special emphasis on showcasing the work of veterans, including art by Grafton Mayor Mike Morrow and Smith himself. As a town, Grafton has the highest percentage of veterans per capita in the state of Illinois, at 17 percent.

Jackie Duty, who helped organize the grand opening event, noted that the work is powerful for many people. She said it’s inspiring to have a new place in Grafton to share this art.

“It’s international art with a local flair, and highlighting veterans and local artists and student artists and giving them the opportunity to showcase their work,” she said. “Art is the language that everybody speaks. It breaks down barriers and it gives everyone an opportunity to come and have some incredible conversations about what each piece means to them. It’s just such a cool thing to be a part of.”

Saturday’s grand opening event will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Visitors can also enjoy giveaways and enter for the chance to win several tickets, gift certificates, an iPad and more. The Smiths and Duty hope the Grafton Art Gallery will inspire more art in the Riverbend community.

For more information about the Grafton Art Gallery, visit their official website at

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