Art, design converge in Kortman Gallery holiday group exhibition

“Monkey Man,” by Lynn Fischer Carlson
“Monkey Man,” by Lynn Fischer Carlson

• Group exhibition, which features works by more than 40 artists, opens Nov. 21

Staff Report

The merger of the imaginative worlds of art and design challenges artists to create original and expressive works of art in an innovative holiday group exhibition opening Friday, Nov. 21, in Rockford’s Kortman Gallery.

Art+Design: Converging Creativity” presents multi-media works by more than 40 Rockford artists invited to be inspired by five inventive, unembellished functional objects designed to be enhanced by someone else.

Our store has always featured products with an emphasis on good design, and the gallery has consistently shown fantastic art by local artists,” said Doc Slafkosky, co-owner of J.R. Kortman Center for Design and the Kortman Gallery. “We thought we would merge the creative works of both artists and designers into one stimulating and invigorating exhibition for this holiday season.”

The artists were invited to choose among a “paper” watch, a stuffed toy monkey, a “house” candle holder, a cardboard radio, or a wooden robot puzzle figure, and transform these designer products into works of art.

Ceramic artist and art professor at Rock Valley College Lynn Fischer Carlson chose the toy monkey designed by SUCK UK of London.

The designer provided me with an whimsical form that gave me a foundation to tell my own artistic story using the materials and techniques I normally create with,” said Fisher Carlson. “This was not only challenging, but great fun!”

Artist David Menard, who chose the robot puzzle figure called Cubebot designed by David Weeks Studio of New York City, said this exhibit has given him the opportunity to break some rules.

The world of design is more restrictive than art,” said Menard, art professor at Rockford University. “There are no rules in art, which is a distinctive difference between these two creative disciplines. But what’s most exciting is being a part of the community of artists that are exhibiting in this show.”

Participating artists include Jeremy Klonicki, Sarah Bell, Michelle Dorr, John Deill, Kyle Wolfe, Brian Hierstein, Joanne Gustafson, Matt Herbig, Corey Hagberg, Sarah Danielle Stewart, Una Ryan, Jesus Correa, Paul Pinzarrone, Drew Helge, Norm Knott, Becky Pelley, Margret Hesler-Hynes, Shari Grace, Keith Grace, Javier Jimenez, Lisa Jimenez, Maggie Thienemann, R Scott Long, Betsy Youngquist, Joe Goral, Jennifer Mullins, Lynn Fischer Carlson, Dave Menard, Molly Carter, Pam Kehoe-Peterson, Sarah Reed-McNamara, Valerie Olafson, Craig Olafson, Karen Harding, Cherri Rittenhouse, Jarrod Hennis, Britney Lindgren, Steve Pitkin, Michael Bugler, Leslie Arbetman and Matt Vincent.

To celebrate this exhibition, the holiday windows at J.R. Kortman Center for Design will be created by ingenious concept artists Dan Gildea and Mari Rocha Gildea using the five designer objects featured in the gallery exhibit, along with other store products.

The opening reception for “Art+Design: Converging Creativity,” a holiday group exhibition of works by more than 40 artists, will be from 5:30 to 10 p.m., Friday, Nov. 21. The exhibit will run through Jan. 3, 2015.

The Kortman Gallery is upstairs at J.R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 N. Main St., downtown Rockford. For more information, call (815) 968-0123 or visit

From the Nov. 19-25, 2014, issue

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