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.

https://www.poetryoutloud.org/

Two Jefferson High School students in Rockford have advanced in a virtual nationwide spoken word competition.

Raeanna Tremethick and Emma Carmona have moved on to the Poetry Out Loud virtual state competition. 

The contest showcases the talents of high school performance poets across the nation. The students present poems from established poets. 

http://www.goldenappleofrockford.com/Announcements-News/talent-announcment-monday.html

A volunteer organization that supports teachers in Winnebago and Boone counties came up with a unique way to raise money.

Jennifer Stark is executive director of the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford. She said the foundation’s teachers came up with the idea of doing a talent show. The viewing is free but those interested in voting are asked to make a donation.  

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. This segment showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. Today's poet is Bear Wolf. 

Wolf is a Shawnee Gypsy Jew social justice humanist who lost count of his tattoos somewhere around 20. This world makes no sense to him, so he makes music and poetry. His talks about a brighter tomorrow in his poem "Breath of Fresh Air, Sigh of Relief.'"

Listening to NPR today

Feels like once again

Finding my way

I have to say it's nearly miraculous

Hearing stories of inspiration and hope

https://joejencks.com/home/?page=home

Musicians across the world have had to accept performing without a live audience. One DeKalb folk musician has adapted to this and is still able to make a living doing what he loves.

Joe Jencks grew up in Rockford. He is the youngest of seven children. He said his family was always surrounded by music.  

Beloit International Film Festival.

Drive-in movie theaters were very popular several decades ago, but the pandemic has caused interest in them to rise again. A Beloit film group is taking this movie experience to the parking lot.

The Beloit International Film Festival has a 10-day virtual festival starting Feb. 19 but some films will show outside at the Ironworks campus parking area.  

Greg Gerard is the executive director of the film festival. He said the festival wants to help diminish the community’s hunger for outside entertainment.  

Connie Kuntz

National Poetry Month isn’t until April but some Rockford high school students are preparing now for an upcoming spoken word showdown. 

Poetry Out Loud is a competition that takes place for high school students across the country. This year young poets at Jefferson High School are participating.  

Photo by Northern Illinois University - Pick Museum of Anthropology.

George Floyd’s death ignited protests and conversations around race relations last year. But racial tensions have existed for many years in America. A traveling exhibition featuring racist imagery has landed at Northern Illinois University. The goal is to inspire more discussions.  

Aunt Jemima on a pancake box, board games, books and other racist items are some of the objects that can be seen in the “Hateful Things” exhibition at NIU’s Pick Museum of Anthropology.

Connie Kuntz

Welcome to this week's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week's episode features Christopher D. Sims. 

Sims is from the West Side of Rockford and first shared his poetic gifts onstage at Haskell Elementary School thanks to Dorothy Paige-Turner. 

Provided by Marcos Lara.

The pandemic has hammered the art industry’s finances. The effect was felt across the field according to a report by Americans for the Arts. But one Rockford artist couple found ways to keep each other going after their main sources of income temporarily disappeared.  

A Princeton theatre festival is celebrating love with a virtual Valentine cabaret.   

Frank Monier is the assistant artistic director of Festival 56. He stated that the theatre didn’t do much until last November and he said the group prides itself with bringing live shows to the area. 

Beloit International Film Festival.

An organization that celebrates filmmakers is kicking off its flagship event in a slightly different way this year.

The Beloit International Film Festival is celebrating its 16th season with an outside, drive-thru Reveal Party. 

This event normally takes place indoors, but the pandemic prevented that from happening. 

Greg Gerard is the executive director of the film festival. He explained what people can expect. 

Provided by Paige Monet.

Welcome to this week's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases works by northern Illinois poets. This week we share a poem by Paige Monet Wright of FourPoets, OneMic. 

Wright was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia but moved to Illinois at the age of 14. She and her older sister were raised mainly by their mother.

Wright is a sophomore at Northern Illinois University studying biological sciences. She says she wants to be a pediatrician so that she can help children stay healthy and safe. 

Illinois Department of Human Services

More than $4 million in grants have been given to state organizations to promote racial healing. And some northern Illinois groups are sharing how they’re putting those funds to use.

The Illinois Department of Human Services and The Chicago Community Trust are helping some state institutions with a Healing Illinois Grant. 

Grace Hou is the secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services.  

Joe Tallman

A Rockford resident is one of 25 finalists in a beer can design contest.

Illustrator and graphic designer Joe Tallman said he grew up looking at imagery for Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. 

“My grandpa, he had a little bar -- I want to say he had like some glassware and coasters and stuff like that,” Tallman said. “So even before I probably knew what exactly it was, I remember like seeing the logo.” 

Tallman said he normally doesn’t participate in design contests.

https://auroradowntown.org/

A recent gateway mural project in the city of Aurora sparked a lot of dialogue last year. The nonprofit organization that commissioned the mural used that experience to come up with the theme for another development.  

“Aurora Unity” is the title for an upcoming gateway mural that will be located on the near East Side of the city. The exact location will be shared at a later date. People will be able to view it as they approach downtown.    

Yvonne Boose

Some people may think of romantic love when it comes to Valentine’s Day. But a few local officials are coming together to show adoration to a group of individuals who are restricted from visiting with their nearest and dearest.   

State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) and other local officials are collecting cards for a “Valentines for Seniors” program.   

Paramount Theatre

A northern Illinois performance theater gives marginalized voices a chance to be heard with its new project.

 

The “Inception Project” presents virtual readings hosted by Aurora’s Paramount Theatre. It’s made possible with the help of a Healing Illinois grant. 

Paul-Jordan Jansen, the artistic associate for the project, said the grant helps put a spotlight on work done by artists of color.

www.unsplash.com

Pandemic living has inspired the theme for an annual statewide art contest.

The student contest is sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  

Heather Nice is the library and museum's education director. She said the theme “Art Surrounds Us” encompasses how some people are using art as a relief during COVID-19.

https://www.ywcanwil.org/

An organization with the goal to empower women and eliminate racism has added new members to its board.

Nicole Radford and Tammie Stanley are the newest board members of the YWCA Northwestern Illinois

Karen Brown, board chairperson, said all members are leaders in their fields. 

“They are all volunteers in the community. They all have a desire to give back,” she said. “And they truly have a passion for the work and the mission that the YWCA Northwestern Illinois has.” 

David Artbook Johnson

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poets from northern Illinois but this week we are crossing the Wisconsin border. 

Charles Payne was born in Michigan but currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin. As a child, he loved hearing the sound of Paul Harvey’s voice. Payne said Harvey’s innate ability to describe every intricate detail truly inspired him.

Payne’s works explore personal narrative and social commentary from his experience as a working poor Black male dying to live and living to die. 

https://www.newgenresartspace.com/drawing-as-sound

Some Rockford high school students were pushed out of their usual creative territories in efforts to design something unique.  

Yvonne Boose

Like most cities across the country, Aurora's local businesses were hit hard by the pandemic. A nonprofit group is partnering with a social space to create revenue opportunities for area vendors.  

Art and Market Aurora is a new indoor market coming to the City.  

Local Nonprofit Aurora Downtown worked with community venue Society 57, 101 S. River Street, to make this possible. 

Provided by Michael Lee Johnson.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This segment features Michael Lee Johnson.

https://www.facebook.com/BlackDoctor.org/

Vaccinations for COVID-19 are underway in Illinois, but not everyone is eager to take the shot. A recent virtual town hall meeting answered questions and tackled concerns for the Black community.

“Making It Plain: What Black America Needs to Know About COVID-19 and Vaccines” was moderated by health experts, faith leaders and several organizations. The event was hosted by the Black Coalition Against COVID-19. 

Some may ask why a conversation was needed specifically for the Black community. 

GreenRoom Improv

Comedy provides joy and healing for some people. A northern Illinois entertainment group is keeping the waves of laughter rolling by adapting to the times.   

The GreenRoom Improv has figured out a way to include its virtual audience in their shows.  

David Hunter is the director of the organization. He said it's important to connect with the public, especially during this time. 

Fermina Ponce

Welcome to this week's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week features one of Aurora's deputy poet laureates, Fermina Ponce.

https://pixabay.com/

Your education doesn’t have to stop when you graduate. The Lifelong Learning Institute at Northern Illinois University has upcoming online sessions for those who have an appetite for knowledge.

Jason Klein, the director of P-20 initiatives at NIU, said that absorbing knowledge keeps us young. 

https://www.robinleegarbermusic.com/

Many musicians lost out on live performance gigs due to COVID-19 but one northern Illinois artist found ways to keep the music playing for herself -- and others.

Under pandemic restrictions, folk and jazz musician Robinlee Garber’s paid gigs turned into non-monetary internet shows. 

Susan Schubert

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week's segment features poet Susan Schubert.

Schubert is a member of A-Town Poetics in Aurora. She is a published author with two memoirs available on Amazon. They are “The Way I Remember It: A Memoir of a Trip to Europe 1971” and “My Place of Dreams: A Love Story.”

Schubert has won accolades for her short stories and photographs.

Staff at Pine Acres Rehabilitation & Living Center

Illinois nursing home residents are restricted from having visitors because of COVID-19 but volunteers from Northern Illinois University found other ways to engage with seniors at one local center.

Dementia residents of DeKalb’s Pine Acres Rehabilitation & Living Center were used to interacting with NIU students before the pandemic. One way they did this was through the Music and Memory program.  

Pages