Art Exhibit Pic 1.jpg

Photo by Jordan Crook

Local artists Kathy Harden and Joe Monroe hold up a few of the pieces of artwork that will be featured in their new exhibit, #thehikes, at the Alley Gallery in Danville.

The Alley Gallery, 113 N. Vermilion Danville, Illinois 61832, is excited to announce a new exhibit.

#the Hikes, as the exhibit is titled, presents the work of two local artists. Joe Monroe and Kathy Harden, both of Hoopeston, Illinois will show magical paintings and collages reflecting their joint excursions of discovery in the parks in the area.

The impressions gained on their walks led them into feelings of calmness and quietude which are evident in the colorful works.

Monroe and Harden went to school together in Hoopeston, but left the city and lived their lives elsewhere before eventually finding their way back to Hoopeston in recent years.

After reconnecting through a social media group focused on artists, the two decided to pool their artistic talents and create #the Hikes.

Harden said they reconnected about six months ago and she had been encouraging him to get back into creating his art.

She said they also discovered they both loved being outdoors and took an excursion to Kickapoo one day.

They both spent the car trip down there talking about different issues they had in their lives, but found the experience of hiking through the park so relaxing that those issues didn’t seem to matter on the way home.

“All our worries seemed to melt away,” Harden said.

“We both noticed the change immediately,” Monroe said.

Serendipitously, David Nolan, curator of the Alley Gallery, contacted them about doing a show at the gallery.

Harden said they presented Nolan with the idea of a show based around their reactions to these hikes from an artist’s point of view.

From there, Harden and Monroe went on hikes to several different parks around the region and collecting leaves and incorporating them into their works through a series of different mediums to ensure they’re on their for good.

Monroe said they generally wrapped up each hike with a margarita and a good Mexican lunch.

Monroe and Harden do have different styles of artwork, but, Monroe said, they found that their styles complimented each other’s.

Harden said they based their color pallet for their work off of nature itself, pointing out that many bright colors can be found in nature, which was something she hadn’t noticed before.

Prior to these hikes, Harden said she probably would have been inclined to paint nature scenes with a more subdued color pallet, but the hikes helped broaden her sense of the wide range of colors present in nature.

Monroe picked up on this as well, Harden said, and, when they saw each other’s work, found that they had both used a lot of the same colors.

“Independently of each, we picked out the same kinds of colors,” she said.

Monroe said they worked out of Harden’s studio to compare notes after each trip, but worked on their artwork for the exhibit independently of each other, only revealing their work to the other a few days before the exhibit opened.

Monroe said he and Harden see each other’s work as something of a movement that they hope will inspire other local artists to try and get their work featured as well.

“There are other artists in this area and we’d like to get something a little more creative going in this community,” he said. “We want to take on that sort of mantle and let people know that there are pockets of creativity here that are alive and need to be simulated.”

Monroe said they want to find ways to get local artists and their works featured in public exhibits so the work can see the creativity and talent present in Hoopeston.

“We feel this is only the beginning,” he said.

Monroe and Harden are both social media savvy and mainly use their Instagram accounts to promote their work and the works of others.

Harden’s Instagram is @khardenart and Monroe’s Instagram is @joeboyart10.

Monroe has been painting and selling his work since 1985 and has traveled from Los Angeles to Paris and various other points around the world working as an artist.

Monroe said he created all of his works under the theme of “Living Out Loud” and feels that #thehikes fits in well with that theme as well as it deals with the environments we live in that we’re not really taking advantage of when it comes to nature.

Monroe credits Harden and this exhibit with getting him back into painting after a three-year break from it.

Harden, who took up art in recent years, has always had a love of the outdoors, stemming from her childhood spent hiking and a lifetime of other outdoor activities, and was fascinated by the beautiful landscapes and natural creations she found on her hikes with Monroe.

Harden said she decided to pursue a career as an artist because she developed such a love of painting and creating art.

“It’s what makes my heart sing,” she said. “It’s what I get up every day to do, even when I’m going to my other job.”

To see our extensive video interview with Harden and Monroe, visit and check out our video section.

The exhibit will be in the Gallery Nov. 10 through Dec. 27. All work will be for sale.

For other information call curator David Nolan 217.497.2286