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.

http://artsforeveryone.com/

A Rockford arts organization is accepting nominations for its annual arts awards.

Mary McNamara Bernsten is the executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council. She said, although the pandemic brought changes, there was still a lot going on. 

“And so, it's really important to talk to your peers and talk to your family," she said. "You know, ‘What do you remember about that? And what were the videos that stuck out in your head? And what were the pieces of art that impacted you during that time?’” 

Kate Kilgore

A Rockford musician released a series of children’s books.

“Thembu the South African Penguin – Tales of Possibilities” highlights a young bird living with autism spectrum disorder.  

Dorothy Paige-Turner created the three books in the series. She said the South African penguin fascinates her. 

Provided by Darius Jackson.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. This segment showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. Today's episode features Darius Jackson from FourPoets, OneMic. 

https://filmfreeway.com/NoMaliceFilmContest

A statewide film competition for young people is underway. The focus is on racial healing.

Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash

Some people share their days of old at family gatherings. An organization serving northwest Illinois counties is offering those residents a chance to document this history.

The University of Illinois Extension is offering “Share Your Life Story: A Writing Series” workshops starting this month. Sessions take place in different locations during the spring and fall. 

Karla Belzer is the family life educator with the Extension. She said documenting your own stories is not just for loved ones.

COVID-19 vaccinations for Blacks in Kane and DuPage counties are significantly lower than whites, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Tuesday Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker joined an Aurora coalition and VNA Health Care to combat this disparity.

Yvonne Boose

Governor J.B. Pritzker joined an Aurora coalition and VNA Health Care in an effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations for Blacks in Kane and DuPage counties.  

Black Vax Aurora was put in place to ensure that Blacks in the area have equal access to the vaccine.  

Pec Playhouse Theatre.

The roof of a northern Illinois theater collapsed Wednesday afternoon.

Snow and ice caused the roof to sink in at the PEC Playhouse Theatre in Pecatonica. No one was in the building at the time.

Suzanne Wiegert is the president of the board of directors at the theater. She said there wasn’t an issue with the roof before the recent snowstorms but the day before the fall, a volunteer noticed that something was brewing. He alerted everyone and the building manager went to check.   

https://docs.google.com/document/d/18MRGuv8fzF3Fn5r54r07xkFlElTnCky_DlaqAtLwxHY/edit

Black History Month is coming to a close and WNIJ wants to recognize a Rockford jazz singer and educator who some say is creating a solid legacy in the city.  

 

Dorothy Paige-Turner can be described as sort of --well-- a renaissance woman.  

In addition to singing and being a retired teacher, she writes books, poetry and plays, leads a number of youth art initiatives, speaks French and has received many awards for her work throughout the years. She was also inducted into the Rockford Fine Arts Coalition 2020 Hall of Fame.

https://unsplash.com/

Aurora’s poet laureate is making sure that poetry is in clear view in the city’s downtown.  

Karen-Fullett Christensen was at the starting line ready to take off after her appointment. But before she could get into a stride the pandemic swooped in like a whirlwind.  

“So, all the great plans that I had of things I wanted to do related to the poet laureate position really had to be put on hold with the exception of the Aurora Poet Laureate Facebook page,” she said, “and then everything that we're doing with A-Town Poetics.”  

Jennifer Rea.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. This segment showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. Today's poem is by Jennifer Rea.

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.” 

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