Downtown arts shops celebrate first year in business

Downtown arts shops celebrate first year in business

By Shawn Robinson

By Shawn Robinson

Freelance writer

Two River District storefronts celebrated their first year on the downtown scene. Both Janicke’s Note By Note, 221 E. State Street, and the Artery, 514 E. State St., held open houses Dec. 1 to commemorate their one-year anniversary.

Doug Janicke moved his print music specialty store from its previous North Main Street location to the current one in November 2000. He said the new profile on Rockford’s main thoroughfare has contributed to a successful first year.

“It’s pretty high visibility on State Street,” Janicke said.

With completion of the Millennium Fountain, the Davis Park Founders Landing and other local businesses opening within the past few years, he said he was happy to contribute to a River District revival.

“Every town that has a riverfront uses it,” Janicke said.

Janicke’s Note By Note has moved twice due to construction. After a 13-year career at Guzzardo Music’s Belvidere location, Janicke and his wife Lorraine bought the former Erlandson’s Music Shop in 1993. The store was located on Park Avenue next to the old Jackson Piano Store. When the Coronado Theatre was refurbished, they moved the store to the Main and Auburn intersection. When roadwork began there last year, they moved again to the current River District spot.

The store is the only one in Rockford that deals primarily in sheet music.

“I just wanted to do it because I’ve always done music, and it was right up my alley,” he said.

Janicke said he didn’t think any other store in town carried the amount of print music he does. Music accessories such as guitar strings, picks, metronomes, reeds, kazoos and local music CDs make up a smaller part of the store’s inventory.

He said he was glad to see other specialty shops open downtown as well to contribute to the district’s atmosphere.

Piano and vocal instructor Jack Armstrong agreed.

“It’s great that Rockford has a music store downtown like that,” he said. “I recommend students to go there quite a bit. It’s really an enjoyable place to go into.”

Piano instructor Barb Fisher-Livingston said having a music store located in the center of town benefits students from all areas of the city.

“You can find music really well this way,” she said. “This is the only exclusive sheet music store in town, and that’s why people should come here.”

A few blocks farther up from the river, the owners and artists at the Artery also celebrated its first year downtown. “Izzy”, the owner-orchestrator of the Artery, said her business aims to be a creative outlet for the local artistic community.

Located in the former Gallery Ten, Izzy opened the Artery in December 2000 after Gallery Ten closed. The block formerly housed two art galleries and an art supply store. Now the block is a home to a hair salon, a nail salon, a graphic design company and the Artery.

“When it was the Busch Gallery, Gallery Ten and Lawson’s Art Supply Store, it was the place to go for the Rockford cultural art scene,” she said. “Last October (2000), it became available again, and I contacted artists we knew and put an ad in the paper advertising as a creativity outlet. I was bombarded with phone calls.”

Izzy said callers looked for an art venue that held art classes, offered studio space and had music and poetry readings. Since opening last winter, Izzy started a framing studio in February run by local artist and graphic designer Steve Repka. During the summer, the Artery held open stages on Sunday nights and poetry readings on each full moon.

“I’ve thought it was imperative that this town needed a gallery open for amateurs, students and professionals,” Izzy said. “Not only to see but to experience art and music and to interact under one roof.”

Beloit Artist Marek Kosiba displayed his first local show Dec. 1 at the Artery. He said coming to the Artery for a show was “written in the stars.” The Polish-born artist displays work in galleries in France, Germany, Sweden and Czechoslovakia. But Kosiba said displaying work locally is important.

“To live as an artist, it is important to show,” he said. “If you don’t show, you are not existing.”

Kosiba said both the artist and the viewer contribute to a painting’s meaning.

“A piece of art is experienced twice,” he said. “Once by the artist and once by the viewer, and both of them view the piece from different life experiences.”

Izzy said allowing local people to experience different art forms is what she aims to do at her store.

“What makes the Artery so special is that it’s not just myself,” she said. “What makes it such a neat, happening scene is the artists and patrons that create the environment.”

The Artery opens from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday with occasional Sunday hours through the holidays. Call 961-1113 for upcoming events.

Janicke’s Note By Note is open from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., except for closing on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. Call 965-0080 for special store holiday hours and upcoming events.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!