Jo Daviess offers art, amusements

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If you’re an art lover and are looking for an eye-pleasing weekend jaunt, try a trip to Galena. The historic town perched on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River has attracted a growing art colony that inhabits the city and the surrounding rolling countryside.

Galena itself has more than 20 businesses marketing original artwork and some feature artists creating new works as you watch. Additional sources of art and artists’ studios can be found in the nearby towns of Elizabeth, Stockton, Woodbine and Warren.

An experienced artist may be available to help an aspiring painter create his or her own nostalgic work of art under the tutelage of the senior painter. For those who plan to spend more time in the area, there are classes in oil painting, pottery, tilemaking, rosemaling, tatting, weaving and sculpting. Such instruction is available at the Galena Art Center and the Hawk Valley School of Arts.

The Galena Artist’s Guild boasts more than 100 members and is growing. It is larger than many like urban groups. The notoriety of Jo Daviess County artists reaches far beyond their local area. Their works are recognized nationally and internationally. One such artist is Archie Liberman, whose work has appeared in Look, Life, Time, London Illustrated and other prominent publications. Galena’s Harold Martin was featured on the cover of American Artist magazine when he won the “Emerging Artist Award.”

A well-known artist, Carl Johnson, originally from Chicago, relocated to Galena in 1970 after he first saw the area. He continues to find inspiration in the vistas of the old city after 32 years of painting there.

Nationally known artist Jan Ketza-Harris found Galena rejuvenating after years of living in suburban Chicago and showing her artwork from New York to California.

Even if art is only a secondary interest, you will find the streets of Galena, with their 19th-century architecture, offer great visual appeal. There are historic buildings, such as the U.S. Grant home, to inspect, and quaint shops and eating places as well as posh resorts.

The area also offers a wealth of places to stay, including several bed and breakfast operations. Street performers, such as the Main Street Players Theatre Company, and Galena Festival of the Performing Arts musicians, entertain visitors year round.

The city grew up around the lead mines that were numerous there, and today is a magnet for tourists, offering some of the most scenic countryside to be found in this part of the country. More information is available at the Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau:

From the April 19-25, 2006, issue

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