Yvonne Boose

Arts and Culture Reporter

Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.

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Shopping carts are normally used to carry food and other store items, but one Aurora food pantry pushed its carts in a different direction for Hunger Action Month and another is highlighting local restaurants.

The Next Picture Show

A uniquely Midwestern art exhibit found a way to crown its winners despite the pandemic. 

The 16th annual Farms & Barns exhibit features 82 artists’ original works celebrating country life.  Some include photography, wood carving and mixed media. This year, the art show honored eight local and regional artists.

Michael Glenn, the executive director of The Next Picture Show in Dixon, said the process for awarding the artists is different due to the pandemic. 

photo provided by Paula Morhardt.

Welcome to Poetically Yours, where you'll hear the voices of Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This week features Paula Morhardt. Her poem is called, "Forever Goes On."

Forever Goes On

Just when I think I am coming to a good resolution,

I find something of yours.

Today it was a shirt that hadn’t yet been washed,

and it smelled like you.

The wave came crashing down,

and I fell to the floor,

Yvonne Boose

A Rockford youth summer apprenticeship program has ended and the fruits of the participants’ labor are ready to be revealed.   

SPARK! -- or -- Significant Public Art Apprenticeships in Rockford began back in July. One of the projects includes works that were done at the Nicholas Conservatory.   

Among the themes are social justice artwork and digital journalism skill-building.  An animation video that highlights youth interviews of community participants sharing what Black Lives Matter means to them will be on display.

Yvonne Boose

A Rockford music group performed in an unusual place on Sunday.

The Music Academy in Rockford held pop-up performances on the Sinnissippi bike path near the Nicholas Conservatory & Garden-Eclipse Lagoon Teahouse and SwedishAmerican Hospital Riverfront YMCA Pavilion. The performances were originally scheduled for Saturday Sept. 12 but moved to the 13th due to weather. 

http://www.gizzae.com/pictures/

Summer is closing out. This means the time to see outdoor concerts is ending as well. A reggae musician is performing his last 2020 American show in Woodstock.  

Brian Rock’s musician name is Rocket. He’s the lead singer and bass player for the award-winning band Gizzae. Rock said Saturday’s audience should expect a high energy show.

“We spread the message of love and peace and hope and faith,” he said. “That’s really what our music is all about. And we’re looking forward to putting on a really good performance.”

Susan Shubert

Welcome to Poetically Yours, where you'll hear the voices of Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This week features Susan Schubert. Her poem is called, "9/11."

9/11 (Nine Eleven)

The time is drawing near

It has been almost 20 years.

I remember it distinctly

A call from my sister

“Turn on your TV,

We are being attacked.”

One tower, in flames

Minutes later, collapsing

Down to the ground.

Another plane hit the next tower

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A northern Illinois artist is partnering with a women’s voter organization to ensure that people are casting their ballots for the 2020 Election -- especially younger people.  

Yvonne Boose

A northern Illinois arts organization is now better equipped to help other art institutions.  

The Rockford Area Arts Council has received two COVID relief grants. One was an 81Thrive Award from the community impact team, which includes the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, the Kjellstrom Family Foundation, the Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence (NICNE), Transform Rockford, United Way of Rock River Valley, and the Workforce Connection. The RAAC also received a grant from the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund.

Mary McNamara Bernsten is the executive director of the Arts Council. She said these grants are vital for the health of the organization. 

“It's imperative that we got that because it will not only allow us to then survive in 2021,” she explained, “but we may be able to thrive and be a true resource for the artists’ community.” 

Photo provided by Darius Jackson.

Welcome to Poetically Yours, where you'll hear the voices of Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This week features Darius Jackson of FourPoets, OneMic. It's called "I'm Ashamed."

I’m Ashamed

I’m ashamed.

I said I’m ashamed,

Because just last week

This white kid asked me

Why is Black people always mad?

He said, why is Black people always angry?

He said, I understand your ancestry history, but

https://mchenrycountyhistory.org/adopt-an-artwork

When you think of adoption, you may think of something that you keep with you. But this isn’t always the case. A northern Illinois historical society is allowing people to adopt artwork that will stay at the society's museum.

“Adopt an Artwork” is a project by the McHenry County Historical Society and Museum. It’s doing this program in preparation for an art show that takes place in May of next year. The show is called “Art of the Past: Discovering History through McHenry County Artists.” 

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Black Lives Matter signs and paintings are being vandalized across the country. And it’s happening here in northern Illinois.

Sometime over the weekend a long banner with the words Black Lives Matter was splattered with white paint at the Rockford Unitarian Universalist Church.

The banner has been restored, after a church crew cleaned the paint off Monday afternoon.

Rev. Matthew Johnson, the senior minister of the church, said he saw the damage when he came to church on Sunday. 

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The Aurora City Council recently approved a special sign district that has been under review for the past month. This came after controversy arose over the painting of a proposed mural. 

Some local artists and other residents took to social media to express their disappointment in the process for assigning the artist for the mural.

The work, featuring the word “Aurora” in capital, brightly-colored block letters, is to be located on a wall of Tortas Guadalajara located at 5 S. Lake street. This restaurant is on the western edge of the city’s downtown.

Yvonne Boose

A northern Illinois art festival took place Saturday despite the pandemic, but the setting wasn’t as intimate as in previous years.

Rockford Symphony Orchestra.

Phase 4 of the “Restore Illinois” plan allows outdoor concerts to take place as long as the audience doesn’t exceed 20% of the normal venue capacity. That could still be a lot more than the number allowed indoors. So, most bands have opted to have outdoor concerts this summer. A Rockford music organization is following this same tune. 

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra is having its first concert since March. Proceeds from the concerts will support the musicians of the orchestra. Most of them haven't worked since the pandemic started. 

Photo provided by Rhonda Parsons.

Welcome to Poetically Yours, where you'll hear the voices of Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This week features Rhonda Parsons. It's called, "Dew on the Rose."

Dew on the Rose

How can we thrive, how can we flower?

if we don’t bathe in the sunlight and drink the water

that turns the City of the Heart into a veritable rose garden?

We’re rocky soil

trees for fire

It’s not supposed to be that way

Photo provided by Mark Spates Smith

Some say Blacks use their faith as therapy. About 50% more whites received mental health care than Blacks in 2018, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey. A few Black professionals share their thoughts on this. 

Mark Spates Smith is the pastor of Spates Temple in Elgin. He said therapy is a taboo subject in the Black church.  

Provided by Rodrigo Ceballos.

A Black Lives Matter mural on Alpine Dam, in Rockford was recently painted over by the city. It was done as part of renovations to the dam in Aldeen Park. The artist of the mural shared his thoughts on the subject. 

Provided by Jason Judd

A northern Illinois art museum is thanking its patrons for their generous donations. It’s doing this by having an art exhibition.

Jason Judd is the executive director of the Freeport Art Museum. He said the museum just finished an incredible fundraising season.  

“We raised over $30,000. And what better way to kind of thank those donors and those people that support us, to put on view some of the wildest, biggest, most, maybe adventurous pieces that we have in the collection," he suggested. 

Judd said the show is going to be a blockbuster.  

Picture provided by FourPoets OneMic

Welcome to Poetically Yours, where you'll hear the voices of Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This week features Leaux of FourPoets, OneMic. It's called "Today."

Today

Provided by Chantel Charis

A DeKalb musician is partnering with a local social justice group to put on an evening of music.

Violin vigils have taken place across the country to honor Elijah McClain. McClain, 23, was a Black man who died last year, after an encounter with the Aurora, Colorado police.

Violinist Chantel Charis said a Chicago vigil sparked the interest in doing something locally in DeKalb.   

Yvonne Boose

Some children dream of being police officers. A northern Illinois park district took some youth through a simulation.

Fake gun shots rang during the Rockford Park district’s annual youth police academy last week. This year’s program was funded by an Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority grant. 

Yvonne Boose

A longstanding Rockford arts center is having a moving sale this week. Until recently, Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center used three locations: the Emerson building, First Presbyterian Church and Starr Center.

The center has decided to condense all operations to the Starr Center. Last year, the Emerson House was put up for sale. An offer was recently made. Mendelssohn is now looking to sell the First Presbyterian Church building, which it had used for concerts and office space. 

Yvonne Boose

The Winnebago County Fair was canceled due to COVID-19. This included the County Fair's Queen pageant. Instead, an ambassador was appointed Tuesday evening.  

Joie Vittetow volunteered at the Rockford Park District’s Youth Police Academy this week. This is one of many events that she will attend during her time as ambassador.

“And this weekend, I’m hoping to go the Burpee Museum event for ‘Girls in Science.’ Where they’re going to be demonstrating insects and stuff,” she shares. “Other than that, I’ll be definitely doing parades if they’re not canceled.” 

Provided by Karen Fullett-Christensen

Welcome to Poetically Yours, where you'll hear the voices of Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This week, features Aurora's Poet Laureate, Karen Fullett-Christensen. Her poems include, "No Longer Virgins" and "We Are All in Chains."

No Longer Virgins

We have bitten the apple

we have pulled back the curtain

we are no longer virgins

so, what do we do?

Once the forest is breached

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Most performance stages across the country are empty due to COVID-19. But this doesn’t mean playwrights have to stop writing. A northern Illinois theater is giving these artists a medium to showcase their work.  

The Kane Repertory Theatre in St. Charles started a project in May called the New Play Lab.  

Provided by Christopher Sims

Welcome to Poetically Yours, where you'll hear the voices of Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This week features  Christopher Sims of Rockford. This poem is called, "Minneapolis Is Burning."

Minneapolis Is Burning

Minneapolis is burning.

For justice, we Black

people are yearning.

The hate here in the US,

we're confronting,

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Some people use their creativity to express how they feel about the world around them. Two northern Illinois musicians are doing just that.

Aurora hip-hop artist Brandy Gilliam, also known as K.I.K. and rock musician Shawnzie Gade are making a timely album. They are asking other local artists to take part. Gilliam explained the vision.

Yvonne Boose

The pandemic is still here but some people seem a little more comfortable with socializing. A monthly gathering in Aurora took place Friday after being totally virtual since April.  

A smaller than usual crowd showed up in downtown Aurora for First Fridays. People wore masks and greeted each other with fist bumps and elbow taps.  

Artist - Barbara Lundeen

“Restore Illinois” Phase 4 plan is giving people the opportunity to enjoy their pastimes. A northern Illinois art center is answering the call by continuing one of its annual exhibits.

This is the third year for the Absolutely Abstract Art Exhibition at the Next Picture Show community fine arts center in Dixon.

Michael Glenn is the executive director of the center. He said there are all sorts of media on display. One includes alcohol ink, which he calls a throwback. 

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