Karrie Heartlein saw the opportunity to turn normal places in the Galesburg and Knox communities into transformed pieces of art.
Last week, Galesburg hosted the One State in the Arts Conference of Illinois. The conference occurring on a biennial basis in different cities across Illinois invites administrators, students and connoisseurs of art to join together and share creative pursuits and ideas on strengthening local art scenes. As Director of Government and Community Relations, Heartlein played one of many roles involved in cultivating the conference. She noted this was the first time the summit had taken place outside of a convention center.
“It brings all these people together, it gives them an opportunity to network,” Heartlein said. “This is the first time [the Arts Alliance Illinois and Illinois Arts Council Agency] have ever done a conference like this Here, they really got to experience Galesburg and the Knox campus.”
Attendees came from all over the state to go to events or lead presentations. Among the guests was Sheldon Gooch, a senior at Illinois State University majoring in Art History. Gooch works as an editor and community liaison on a website called Sight-Specific, a platform which commissions writers to attend and document local art exhibitions in Bloomington-Normal and across Central Illinois. These ideas were incorporated into a talk hosted in Alumni Hall titled, “Fake News, Real People: Community, Performance, and Interactive Journalism” He emphasized the importance of enriching art scenes by commemorating all exhibitions, no matter how small.
“[Sight-Specific doesn’t] care where these exhibitions happen: they can happen in a museum, they can happen in a studio, they can happen in someone’s apartment, and we want to make sure that there is a space given to the remembrance of that showing, to the importance of that show,” Gooch said.
Heartlein shared the sentiment that what Galesburg may lack in size, it makes up for with a vibrant art scene. Major draws as a host city included the Whitcomb Art Center and the Blick Art Materials distribution center and outlet as Galesburg is where Blick, the largest supplier of art materials in the United States, was founded. Local establishments were part of the program with events scattered across the downtown area and campus alike; venues included the Civic Art Center, the Discovery Depot Children’s Museum, the Orpheum Theatre and the Knox College campus.
“[The conference] was an opportunity for us to recognize how well we work in cooperation with each other: our campus, community, and arts organizations,” Heartlein said. “For Galesburg, that train is a wonderful artery bringing people [here] and giving us a chance to showcase all we have to offer.”
As an homage to Knox’s participation in the National Water Dance Project at Lake Storey earlier this year, Ridlon organized a performance in Alumni Hall of excerpts from the dance. The National Water Dance strives to bring attention to critical water issues within the United States, promoting the maintenance and respect of bodies of water. Each participating group receives the same dance motions to execute at the same date and time near a water source.
Students cleaned Lake Storey back in April during the first performance. Sophomore Ravie Boungou participated in the Alumni Hall rendition of the dance which took place on Tuesday as a part of her dance class. She thinks the dance brings important awareness to the environment in a more engaging way.
“I think this is how dancers work you dance, and you have a passion, so you take that passion and add dance to it,” Boungou said. “I think [the project creator was] at a beach, it was filled with trash, and they just wanted to clean it up; then they realized that’s happening everywhere.”
The works of Keith Achepohl ’56, a Knox alumnus from the who passed away earlier this year, christened the new Borzello Art Gallery in an exhibition last Tuesday. Described by Art History Department Director Gregory Gilbert as being among the more illustrious Knox alumni, Achepohl has had solo exhibitions in museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Legion of Honor museum. During his time at Knox, Achepohl completed a now obsolete “triple” major in Studio Art, History and Theatre. He went on to study with University of Iowa’s premier printing press, earning an MFA. He possessed lifelong interests in stage design, architectural imagery, and printmaking. His interests led him to study art and collect textiles all across the world. In his practice, Achepohl boasted a diverse body of work, often experimenting with numerous different styles, some of which include cubism, expressionism and classicism. Professor Gilbert conducted the talk for the memorial exhibition in the Center.
“You can see these pretty abrupt stylistic jumps [in his work], I think he had a really active mind and was always wanting to engage with different kinds of vocabularies and techniques,” Gilbert said. “He experimented with both traditional and more cutting-edge technologies I think he had a really serious knowledge of interest in the history of decorative design.”