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Bruce Bachelde his children Clare Shane play Rock'em Sock'em Robots game display during pop-up art installatiCalling All Robots event Artspace

Bruce Bachelde, and his children, Clare and Shane, play the Rock'em Sock'em Robots game on display during the pop-up art installation Calling All Robots event at the Artspace Lofts in downtown Elgin. Photo by Erin Sauder-For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 10, 2013 6:04AM

ELGIN — Local resident Jenny Polycarpe will often make trips to Chicago to take in the various art shows.

So when she heard about one happening in her own neck of the woods, she decided to check it out.

On Saturday, she was one of many people who came to the pop-up art installation Calling All Robots, organized by John LaFleur and Dave Metzger, at the Artspace Lofts, 51. S. Spring St.

“I really enjoy art and I’m excited about this space,” Polycarpe said.

Her daughter, Amelie, 4, was also one of more than 100 preschoolers from The Centre of Elgin who helped work on robot costumes for the exhibit.

“So that was also a good excuse to come and check it out,” Polycarpe said.

The Calling All Robots event, sponsored in part by Artspace and the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, opened Friday night to coincide with the “First Friday” art initiative in downtown Elgin. It follows the March opening of Side Street Galleries just one block away. Organizers hope to see First Fridays events continue throughout the year.

The Calling All Robots event featured robot art, toys, books and other items. On display was also an original painting on loan from internationally known artist, Eric Joyner, who often features robots and doughnuts in his works.

Some robots were created just for the exhibit by artists from Elgin, the greater Chicago area and all over the country. The event also included a demonstration by Got Robot, the Elgin area high school robotics team, which will be attending the first ever world wide competition in St. Louis later this month.

To coincide with Joyner’s painting, boxes of doughnuts with sprinkles from Elgin’s own Country Donuts were there for the munching by event attendees. LaFleur and Metzger were excited to help support the downtown arts culture.

“The turnout has been phenomenal,” LaFleur said. “(At Friday’s opening) we couldn’t move, there were so many people. The enthusiasm and support has been better than I expected.”

Algonquin resident Jenny Browe-Ullery heard about the event from a friend.

“I have two boys and I thought they’d really like it,” she said. “It gets them out of the house to see something creative.”

Her son, Odin, 10, enjoyed the exhibit.

“I think all the robots are really cool,” he said. “I like all the colors and the way they’re designed.”

Pop-up exhibits are popular in cities, giving a feel for what vacant commercial spaces potentially could look like, according to organizers. A number of items will remain in the windows at Artspace to maintain that feeling until the space is leased, they said.

Friends Caleb Jaacks, 14, and Joe Martinez, 13, had fun at the event.

“I wanted to come to get out of the house,” Martinez said.

Jaacks said he’s a fan of the “Robot Combat League” television show on the Syfy network.

“Robots are cool,” he said. “I wanted to come and see what they had here.”

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