ARTscene: ‘The biggest we’ve ever had’

This year’s ARTscene three weeks ago, was a high point in the year as local artists and art lovers came together to appreciate each other. Although every year this tour of galleries and venues has an impressive turnout, the 30 spaces involved made the event all the bigger. Susan Williams of the Rockford Area Arts Council said, “It was definitely the biggest ARTscene we’ve ever had, although I don’t have attendance figures.” I don’t think Williams needs figures, because I only visited three galleries, not including the downtown Public Art Exhibit, and each one had a terrific turnout. Medicine Man (which exhibited Beyond Gen-X) was absolutely crowded, and I couldn’t even get myself in the door (but I did catch a glimpse of Javier Jimenez’s stuff, which looked great, and what I think was some of Dawn Smolinski’s work). I also dropped by Studio 451 that Friday evening which is slightly handicapped by its non-downtown location, but there was a steady stream of visitors walking through the warehouse checking out John Lamar’s copper works and the Tattoos Optional exhibit at Russ Blahnik’s place next door. The surprising aspect was the age group—predominantly people in their early 20s and up who were genuinely interested in the art. Apparently the spaces I didn’t visit were also well-attended. I checked out NAT’s production of Noises Off, and across the way there were people pouring out of J.R. Kortman Center for Design. Octane was completely packed both evenings with Jim Ferris’s pop art, and Jim Julin’s display at Paragon, Pop Goes the Sculpture had a crowd too. Underground Art Gallery, 2110 11th St., only pulled in about 30 people, according to disappointed owner Roni Golan. To me, 30 people at a Rockford art gallery is good stuff. Getting anyone to drive to that area of 11th Street from the far east side to look at visual art is like pulling teeth, and if you can get 30, then you’re doing something right. Another feature that helped bring more people out was the outdoor music hosted by Kryptonite. On my way back from work Friday night, I saw Nez playing on the patio with an unusually large numbers of people standing around for that early part of the evening. Having the entertainment outside helped visitors appreciate the Public Art Exhibit in the Downtown Mall, which will be up until Oct. 31.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!