PEORIA — Art will be happening in yards, porches and on a church during Terrain Biennial 2019 Oct. 1 through Nov. 17.

A unique type of art festival, Terrain Biennial is designed to spark conversations between neighbors and to bring contemporary art to people who might not otherwise see it. Homeowners partner with artists to get art out of the galleries and into neighborhoods.

Conceived by the late Chicago artist Sabina Ott, Terrain Biennial began in 2011 with monthly installations in the artist’s yard. Today the exhibition is held all over the country.

In Peoria, the artist organizations YAKU and Project 1612 are curating exhibits for the event.

“This year’s subject is ‘what is your terrain, and how does the landscape affect you?’ said Natalia Villanueva Linares, a co-founder of YAKU who is curating exhibits at 423 High Street and the nearby Hale Memorial Church.

Linares invited Chicago artist Jesse Meredith to exhibit his work at 423 High Street. “Not What You Think” is a series of yard signs, which usually direct people into some kind of action, like voting for a particular candidate.

“It’s a public re-configurable poem,” said Linares. “You will create your own dialogue with the work.”

Also at 423 High Street is a flag by Martin Monchicourt, a French artist who recently finished a residency at the Prairie Center for the Arts. The flag is a monochromatic mixture of all the colors in the U.S. flag, which ends up being a pale, vaguely purple pink.

“For every country he visits he makes a flag,” said Linares.

Color is a theme explored in some depth by the 13 local artists Linares invited to create a work for the Hale Memorial Church for Terrain Biennial. For “The Most Talkative Gesture,” Villenueva’s instructions were concise — using a simple gesture (a rectangle) show us the colors you use in your art practice.

The results are amazingly diverse, and reveal the personalities of each artist. Participating are Blair Clark, Bill Conger, Brenda Gentry, Jaci Musec, Jessica Ball, Sarah Nesbit, John Seckler, 8-HSD, Keller Anderson, Alexander Martin, Duncan Katlack, Dan Ossandon, and LRAE.

“I was eager to see what they would do,” said Linares. “They really brought it to life.”

Most of the artists had difficulty staying within the lines — they splattered, oversprayed and dripped beyond the borders. One didn’t fill the rectangles, instead finger painting squiggles of color within pencil-marked lines. Another eschewed paint in favor of colored tape, and yet another covered the board with white vinyl embossed with diamonds, an approach which delighted the curator.

“I was excited when Bill agreed to be in the exhibit because I knew he would surprise me,” said Villanueva.

Though the opening for YAKU’s exhibit was held during the October First Friday, the exhibit will be up through Nov. 17. Everyone is invited to stroll down historic High Street and around the corner to Hale Memorial Church. Recorded interviews with many of the artists, which can be heard at www.yakupeoria.org/terrain-biennial-2019, will give viewers a deeper understanding of the display.

On Oct. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. Project 1612 will hold the opening celebration for their contribution to Terrain Biennial. Projects by four artists will be displayed at 1100 N. Underhill in Peoria. They include a participatory performance and sculptures by Jam Lovell of East Peoria, a window installation by Venise Keys of Chicago, a time-based installation by John Steck Jr. of Chicago, and an intricate woven carpet in Point 1612 by Sage Dawson of St. Louis.

For Jessica Bingham, co-founder of Project 1612, Terrain Biennial is exciting because of how many people are working toward a common goal.

“It’s a collaboration between many people who never meet,” she said. “They are working on the same goal, to make Terrain Biennial successful. I love collaborating, and talking about ideas, and seeing these kind of dreams makes it into reality. Since Sabina (the founding artist) has passed recently, this is the first iteration that’s happened without her here. It’s wonderful to see so many people support her idea — this is the largest Terrain Biennial yet.”

Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or lrenken@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.