Once a month the Mississippi Valley Art Guild selects one of its own and honors them as Artist of the Month. The honoree's creations are displayed at several facilities throughout the City. We are very proud of our talented, dedicated artisans and are delighted to promote their art in our community. 


Bitzie Link

MVAG Artist of the Month for March 2022 is Bitzie Link.

Bitzie resides in Chester and is currently working in mixed media with an emphasis on acrylic and fabric collage. Exploring abstract landscapes with color, movement and texture as her focus. She continually studies different art techniques, including color mixing and how to create a sense of depth and movement on a flat surface. She uses the abstract to distance herself from perfectionism and enjoys creating in an intuitive way that lets the art help make itself. Often using her grandson’s scribbling as a jumping off point, challenging herself to keep layering until she’s created something out of it. Bitzie is a life long creator with skill in sewing, paper mache, sculpting, painting, book binding and drawing to name a few. She studied art at SWIC and loves encouraging others to make something.

MVAG Artist of the Month for February 2022 is William Lang of Chester.

Bill has been woodcarving since he was 8 years old and intarsia woodworking for more then 20 years. Also, he is a musician and songwriter who can be heard jamming at the Chester Gazebo park during the summer months.

His beautiful work consists in theme of animals/nature & can be viewed in Chester at Buena vista Bank, St Nicholas Landmark, Southern Illinois Eye care, Reids Harvest House, & the public library.


William Lang


Marla Yankey

The Mississippi Valley Art Guild is highlighting Marla Yankey as the January 2022 Artist of the Month.

Marla resides in Chester and enjoys painting peaceful nature scenes. She is also talented in restoring furniture and interior decorating.

Her art is being featured in Chester at Buena Vista Bank, Reids' Harvest House, Southern Illinois Eye care Center, Chester Public Library,

& St. Nicholas Landmark.


Rachel Nance

Rachel Nance is the MVAG artist of the month for November 2021. Rachel was born & raised in Seattle, WA area. She’s had an interest in art since Grade School. In HS in addition to her required classes, she took some electives in Animation. Rachel attended several Anime Cosplay Conventions in Washington (Seattle & Spokane) & Portland, OR which inspired her love of drawing anime characters. After graduating HS in 2017, Rachel was diagnosed with level 1, high functioning Autism. The family decided to move to Chester because Rachel’s father has many relatives here. Also, Rachel discovered the lack of funding on the state level in WA for Adults with Autism. Rachel’s current art medium of choice is digital art.


Melanie Barker

The MVAG is highlighting Melanie Barker as the October 2021 Artist of the Month.

Barker is active in the guild as a lifetime member, secretary, & responsible for advertising. She enjoys encouraging others to join or participate in the many MVAG classes/events & loves that the youth of Chester have a place to create, learn, & grow. Barker received her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from SIU Carbondale & her Master’s in Art Therapy from SIU Edwardsville. She’s been an Art Therapist at Chester Mental Health for 27 years.

Barker lives in Ava with her husband Richard & together they have two grown sons, James & Seth. She loves expressing herself through her art, cycling, & writing stories on social media. Also, she takes pleasure in painting custom art for others such as pet portraits & landscapes.