RAM Talks Art: Shop downtown ArtScene venues Oct. 5-6

Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

First, the bad news: The 59th Greenwich Village Art Fair and the Rockford Artists’ Fair marked the end of this year’s art fair season, so if you missed them, you’ll have to wait until next year to check out great art under the sun.

The good news: You’ve still got a chance to find some great buys this fall, including work by many of the same local artists who participated in those art fairs, as well as a host of other artists, albeit not quite under the sun.

The extended opportunity comes Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5-6, courtesy of the Rockford Area Arts Council, in the form of Fall ArtScene 2007, with galleries, local businesses and other organizations playing host venue for local artists (see related article, “Fall ArtScene at 37 locations Oct. 5-6,” pages D20-D21, for more details). And while there are 37 different locations around the city, it comes as no surprise that the strongest concentration of art is once again downtown, just down the street from Rockford Art Museum (RAM).

In fact, RAM is the perfect starting point for your ArtScene evening, with work by photojournalist Abbie Reese on display in the Art Annex. Taken during a volunteer stint aboard a hospital ship in Sierra Leone, the work in “Abbie Reese: Faces of West Africa” offers a documentary take on photography.

Head just north on Main Street, then make your way over to Church Street, and you’ll find the aptly-named Church Street Gallery (835 N. Church St.), with “Realism or Not,” a diverse show with work in oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, mixed media, sculpture, and hand-painted silk by eight different artists, including studio art instructor Christy Andres.

Driving south to the Main Street Pedestrian Mall, the next stop is at the Art Co-op @ The Village Gallery and The King’s Table (308 W. State St.), with the “Biggest Show in Town Take II.” Featuring one of the larger exhibition spaces in this year’s Fall ArtScene and a multitude of artists on hand, this show won’t disappoint with its variety. In the same building, Krypto Music Lounge (308 W. State St.) hosts “Women in Art X3,” featuring abstract and impressionist work, and “A Few Realists,” which offers a modern take on the traditional realist style of painting.

On the north side of the mall, there are two more ArtScene locations, both of which feature art on a more regular basis. Rockford glass artist Nathan Shaver’s work will be on display at Kortman Gallery at J.R. Kortman Center for Design (107 N. Main St.) in a show titled “Pathways.” Named for Shaver’s exploration of line and form, the exhibition will feature both sculpture and hand-blown vessels in glass, as well as a series of drawings. Across the mall, Octane InterLounge (124 N. Main St.) features a less traditional form of art in “Saturated Threads,” organized by RAM’s Visual Interest group, with T-shirts designed by 15 local artists on display.

Next up, as you cross Mulberry Street, you’ll find “Free Expression in Today’s World” at Memorial Hall (211 N. Main St.), which offers works in various media from a large number of artists, including several from The Plein Air Group, and spans two floors within the building.

Across the river, you’ll see “Those That Teach Can!” at Gary W. Anderson & Associates (333 E. State St.), displaying work from five artists—and art educators, as you can guess from the title—working in a variety of media. Visit the newly-opened Prairie Soul Studios (400 E. State St., third floor) for the “Prairie Soul Studios Opening,” and you’ll be one of the first to see the photography by Tom Ciciura and Dustin Waller and watercolor by Betsy Branca.

Continuing east, Kuma’s Asian Bistro (420 E. State St.) offers unique and creative photographs of various sites and objects in Rockford taken by Sherry Pritz in “Pictures of Rockford,” and MedicineMan Design Studios (510 E. State St.) features “Yin/Yang II,” with local photography on the first floor and both functional and non-functional artwork by Bret Whitacre upstairs.

Looping around to North First Street, you’ll find “Lofty Renderings” at Bennie’s Cleaners (126 N. First St.), with a large gallery space on the second floor that debuted earlier this year at Spring ArtScene. This time around, there will once again be a large number of artists exhibited here, including Norm Knott with bejeweled creations and Karen Gines with acrylic paintings.

With all your new art purchases under your arm, finish the evening by heading back up Main Street to RAM’s Funderburg Gallery, where you can take advantage of the free admission and extended gallery hours (5-9 p.m.) to check out “Glimpse: The Arnold Gilbert Photography Collection” on its final weekend. Now, having completed the Fall ArtScene circuit, you can look forward to next year’s summer art fair season.

Rockford Art Museum Communications Coordinator Dave Dixon can be reached at ddixon@rockfordartmuseum.org.

from the Oct. 3, 2007, issue

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