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.

Photo provided by Jennifer Rea.

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

Photo provided by Victor Rivera.

Getting therapy doesn’t always mean you have to talk to someone. Some people use writing, reading or even exercise to heal. A Rockford artist is using a different method.  

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This is Mental Health Awareness week. This year’s events have created a lot of uncertainty across the world and most people are looking for a relief. A northern Illinois monk offers meditation as a remedy.

An acrylic artist debuted her work at Aurora’s October First Fridays -- something she never imagined would happen.

Cynthia Wood, executive director of Design 360 Network, said she had surgery over the summer and the time off inspired her to come up with a unique technique where she fuses acrylic paint designs between glass and a stretched canvas.  

Yvonne Boose

A couple of weeks ago, a derogatory word toward Black people was spray-painted on Northern Illinois University’s Center for Black Studies building. This week, the community came together to paint a different message.

In bright red, the words “Black Lives Matter” run along Castle Drive near the university. They were put there Thursday Oct. 1 during the “Art and Soul” social justice event.

Participants with masks on took turns painting the street while listening to live music performed throughout the affair. 

https://medium.com/@whitec1914

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 Charles White.

Estacious(Charles White) is a 23-year educator. He began writing over 25 years ago. His work experience encompasses managing schools and teaching a variety of subjects. His passions are poetry, short fiction, playwriting, and non-fiction. He won one of six prizes in the Rockford New Play Festival with West Side Show Room for his play “Incarcerated Christmas.” He is married with three children and a native of New Orleans.  

His poem "The African Dust Cloud" compares the cloud to the journey of African slaves.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and walking has been a big way for supporters to help raise money. COVID-19 has stopped the physical strides, but one cancer organization is stepping out in another way.  

Jodi Beasley is a senior community development manager at the American Cancer Society.

She said the Rockford community will do a pinwheel tribute garden in lieu of an annual walk.

“Where our participants can still register, raise some funds,"she explains, "but then also purchase a pinwheel in support of, in memory of or in honor of, a cancer survivor.” 

A northern Illinois community came together this weekend to help paint a mural. That’s despite a dispute over the planning process.

Artist Joshua Schultz was tasked with creating the artwork. He said he had no doubts about people showing up to help. 

“I think that the thing about Aurora and downtown Aurora and the friends of Aurora,” he said, “is that everyone really just wants things to get better and be better and have a good time making them better.” 

Schultz shared that he has absolute faith in the Aurora community.  

Provided by Margo Anderson.

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 Margo Anderson. Her poem is called, "Threat."

Threat

When did our children go from asking for help to wailing in pain?

COVID-19 postponed many northern Illinois festivals. But some organizers found ways to keep their celebrations alive.

 

This would have been the 10th year for the live Screw City Beer Festival in Rockford. This event normally attracts 2,500 to 3,000 people. Aaron Sleger is the director and cofounder of the event. He said when the pandemic hit, he thought the festival would still happen because September seemed so far away. 

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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. 

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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. 

https://www.aurora-il.org/

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

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