Meeting with visual artists presents new ideas

The Rockford Area Arts Council’s mission is to support, promote and develop the arts for everyone. The visual artists of Rockford came to the Rockford Art Museum June 2 to help me understand where our strengths and weakness are in relationship to our mission. Just more than 30 visual artists were present, an impressive number, but only a fraction of our local artists. One of the recurring themes was the need for educating the community that there is phenomenal art to be purchased by incredibly talented local artists. The Arts Council will undertake the task of putting together an artists’ directory.

The artists were very interested in an arts center with affordable gallery and studio space. There were a few locations tossed into the ring, now to find the funding for a project of this magnitude. They are very interested in a space that would be conducive to artists sharing ideas and meeting the new faces in the art scene. Speaking of ArtScene…there was much discussion about the geographical expansion from the original focus of downtown for ArtScene. Some great ideas came up about marketing the event better, making it easier for more people to attend.

On a weekly basis, artists are asked to donate artwork to a number of worthwhile organizations, which can drain artists’ resources. The recommendation was made that the Arts Council serve as the “distribution center” for donations to be made to non-profit organizations. The details of the process will be explored and implemented on behalf of the artists.

Many area businesses generously give of their wall space to promote local artists. We may produce a brochure of these locations with a description of the art and artist. Imagine local artists creating artwork to complement area businesses’ billboards, creating an aesthetic unique to our community.

Anne E. O’Keefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.

From the June 8-14, 2005, issue

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