In 1986, Downtown Rockford had been all but abandoned by the retail sector. However, unique architecture, an urban setting, and affordable historic spaces that were left behind became an attraction to Jerry Kortman and Doc Slafkosky who, with a vision for the future, saw opportunity for their ambitious business concept: a contemporary design store with an upstairs cafe and art gallery.
Today, Downtown Rockford is experiencing a renaissance while J. R. Kortman Center for Design, on Nov. 20, completes 30 years in business. To celebrate this milestone the Kortman Gallery is presenting a holiday group exhibition, opening Friday, November 18th, featuring art by 37 artists who have created works inspired by the gift box, in recognition of the iconic J. R. Kortman gift wrap.
“For more than a generation, J.R. Kortman has become known for our gift wrap,” says co-owner and gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “The brown craft paper with colorful bows, each hand created by Jerry has added excitement and anticipation to whatever intriguing store purchase may be within this iconic wrap.”
“We thought this would be a good theme for our annual holiday group art exhibit upstairs in the Kortman Gallery,” says co-owner Jerry Kortman. “So we titled the exhibit ‘The Gift Box’ and invited artists to make their version of a gift box, and be true to their own style and art form.”
The results are works in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography, and assemblage by a diverse group of Rockford artists who, over the years, have had solo exhibits in the Kortman Gallery.
The artist featured in “The Gift Box” holiday exhibit are Stephen Anderson, Leslie Arbetman, Michael Bugler, Jesus Correa, Diane Dailing, Michelle DalPra, John Deill, Michelle Dorr, Lynn Fischer-Carlson, Joseph Goral, Joanne Gustafson, Corey Hagberg, Collin Harrison, Drew Helge, Jarrod Hennis, Brian Hierstein, Margret Hesler Hynes, Javier Jimenez, Lisa Jimenez, Pam Kehoe-Peterson, Jeremy Klonicki, Norm Knott, Johnathan Kuss, Britney Lindgren, R. Scott Long, Jeanne Ludeke, Val Olafson, Becky Pelley, Ellie Pinzarrone, Paul Pinzarrone, Sarah Reed-McNamara, Cherri Rittenhouse, Una Ryan, Sarah Danielle Stewart, Matt Vincent, Kyle Wolfe, Robert Sunday and Betsy Youngquist.
The opening reception for the Kortman Gallery exhibit “The Gift Box,” a holiday group exhibition will be Friday, 5:30 to 9 p.m. and will be on display through Jan. 7.
Kortman Gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 N. Main St. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information call 815-968-0123 or visit jrkortman.com.