Art in Libertyville
By: Ellen Williams
Visual art has always been a natural part of my life. My mother is a graphic designer, my grandmother an art teacher, my great grandmother and aunt a painter, and my great aunt a college art professor. So naturally I am often seen hanging out around some artworks. Sometimes casually instagramming them, duh, I AM a young person with an iphone.
So it came as a huge shock after high school and college that the only place in town I could see hung, original artworks was my own home. Granted, there are some small galleries around town that privileged, upper class; Chico’s wearing women opened with their husband’s money. But there was nothing that frequently shone a light on lesser known local artists. Because let’s face it, those are my favorite. They love what they do and don’t feel the pressure or need to be so obscure that you can’t understand their point of view and why they insist on serving PBR at their black tie openings. But alas, in December of 2011 I started working at the David Adler Music and Arts Center and had the chance to work with and view real, local art. Score.
I started at the center as a part time office assistant working on the annual gala and art festival. It was around this time that the best program director around, Amy Williams, my mother, proposed bringing art exhibitions to the building. It made a lot of sense considering The Adler Center has an element that is very intriguing to any art enthusiast. It’s the historic home of David Adler. A house where you can view art as it would look in its natural habitat. Pretty cool for local artists, especially artists who like to instagram as much as I do. Get used to it; I’m way too obsessed with instagram. What’s my username?! Oh sure! It’s @imellenwilliams. You’re welcome.
The first artist I worked with was Robert Klunk. Bob’s exhibition, “Retrospective of Etchings” showcased his vast talent for his favored medium, copper etchings and watercolor. Bob’s work was magical and delicate and exceedingly detailed from his conceptual sketches and handmade paper to the final matting and salvaging of frames. Those frames really got my heart racing, who doesn’t love someone who recycles? He drew inspiration from his many travels and love for architectural history, which made it fitting to exhibit at the David Adler Center, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The attendance at the opening lead us to one of Libertyville’s greatest kept secrets. We’ve got a bunch of people who are craving access to art. And have yet to experience Instagram.
After Bob’s show we decided to strive to be a face and advocate for visual art in the community. This led us to being head sponsors of Fine Arts Month in Libertyville. Fine arts month meant getting together local Libertyville artists to display in a group exhibition at the David Adler Music and Arts Center. We enlisted the help of artist and resident Beth McKenna and Lake Forrest College Gallery Curator and Art History professor Beckie Goldberg. Beth and Beckie are fabulous. They encourage and actively participate in making art accessible to the community and have insane amounts of knowledge and talent to offer our artists, and myself. They took all of the art provided by the invited Libertyville artists and curated a beautiful exhibit for our town to enjoy and be proud of. Watching the two collaborate instantly made me want to be a part of the curating process.
Following Fine Arts Month we began a series of solo exhibitions, each show being co curated by the artist and myself. This gave me direct contact with each artist, all distinctly different to work with. The experience of speaking with and curating shows with artists 1. Got me excited to instagram the crap out of their shows and 2. Made me appreciate art at a local level. We immediately began offering these exhibitions to artists we knew and had relationships with to get the word out. Artists, Jeanne Sapienza, Stephanie Toral, Leisa Corbett, Susan Russell, etc.
With around ten exhibitions under our belt we developed an information packet and agreement on our website that any artist of any age or background can submit. I am honored to work for an organization that believes in making a difference for local artists and for the community’s residents. Art in Libertyville can often be hard to come by after high school, but because of the David Adler Music and Arts Center and local artists, you can now find something new every month.
These exhibits are something extremely worthwhile. The community is better for them and so am I. Do yourself a favor and try something new. Support art at any level and just get out of your house. I know it’s pretty tough to drag yourself away from the latest episode of Homeland. And girls, stop watching Say Yes to the Dress and telling yourself that it’s enough!
Try it out. I swear you’ll get a least 10 likes on instagram.