Locals find their roots in Midwest art

By James Bartley

Local artists are getting to their roots in an exhibit downtown.

Midwest Roots, a group art exhibition by dekalbgallery.com artists, opened at The Art Box, 308 E. Lincoln Highway, Friday. It is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays until Jan. 6. The exhibit features artwork and books created by DeKalb area artists.

Daniel Grych, the owner of The Art Box and creator of the DeKalb Gallery, set up the exhibit and has some of his figure drawing and photography on display.

“This specific exhibit is Midwest Roots because DeKalb is a center for people to come to, and they create roots when they’re here,” Grych said. “DeKalb is a small cosmopolitan community. People come here from all over the world, and we all have something in common because we’re all here. You create roots wherever you are, even if it’s only for a short period of time. So DeKalb will be a part of you no matter where you are, no matter how old you are.”

The exhibit features the surreal artwork of Renie Adams, a DeKalb resident and former NIU art-fiber professor. Adams believes the exhibit showcases a variety of artwork and skill.

“The exhibit isn’t really a theme exhibit because there are all different kinds of work here,” Adams said. “The only thing that does join us together is that we all come from this area.

“The exhibit contains a lot of work by artists who were teachers at NIU and lots of works by other artists not affiliated with the university, and it represents a lot of different degrees of training and education.”

Adams’ children’s book, “Catato and Friends,” a story about imagination and animals humorously mixed with vegetables, is also part of the exhibit. Adams said books share an equally important place with the artwork in the exhibit.

“Both art and writing have the same spirit of the imagination,” Adams said. “It’s just a little different form and a little bit of a different purpose because I am trying to make an educational contribution as well as having parents and children have fun together reading my book.”

Linda Thornton Peterson, a former NIU Chance counselor, has colorful landscape paintings on display. Most of her artwork focuses on nature, and she said she loves creating art showing the Midwest because of its unique colors.

“The color is unbelievable here,” Thornton Peterson said. “It’s beautiful. I love the fields and the changing seasons. The colors are unreal.”

Another artist whose work is featured in the exhibit is James Rousonelos, a NIU alumnus and DeKalb resident. Rousonelos’ artwork has been in galleries throughout the United States and is in private and corporate collections worldwide. He believes some of the greatest art comes from the Midwest.

“I think that there are a lot of good Midwestern artists that a lot of people don’t know about,” Rousonelos said. “Midwestern artists are some of the best in the world.”