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A backdrop of artists brightened the scene in Rockford

Spectators checking out art at Bennie's cleaners in Rockford.
Yvonne Boose
Spectators checking out art at Bennie's cleaners in Rockford.

Mostly local artists and some not so local creatives were at the scene for Rockford’s biannual gallery walk this past weekend.

Friday evening viewers taking part in this year’s Fall ArtScene walked with crisp winds fanning them from one venue to the next.

Beka Fritz held on to her toddler son while perusing with her husband.

She said they come every fall and there’s one thing that she and her husband look forward to.

“The yummy drinks as we get to see just new spaces or maybe spaces we hadn't been to before,” she said.

The walk was hosted by the Rockford Area Arts Council, which started ArtScene in 1987. This year’s event featured artists across 29 locations.

Chris McDermand set up shop as a solo artist in an open area of Smith and Sons vintage shop. McDermand said this is the spot she did her first art show. It’s her third year taking part in the event. She calls the experience fabulous.

Chris McDermand showing off records that she transformed into art.
Yvonne Boose
Chris McDermand showing off records that she transformed into art.

“My favorite part is talking about the art – teaching,” she explained. “And when somebody gets it, and they see what I'm trying to do, the joy and they take it home with them, that's what makes me happy.”

317 Art Collective showcased several creators. Sya Ryn is one. She’s a multi-media artist.

“Anything I can pick up, I’ll make art with it,” she added.

Ryn’s a resident at the collective. This is her second fall ArtScene. She said it’s great to see residents in the community but pointed out that a different type of comradery also emerges during this time.

“Other businesses and other artists that, you know, stop what they're doing, where they're showing, they come to the next one that comes to the next one,” Ryn said. “We're on social media, we're sharing each other's thing. And it really stood out to me that there's like a very strong knit collective community between artists.”

Sya Ryn's piece "Mind Your Uterus." She created this around the time some states overturned Roe v. Wade.
Yvonne Boose
Sya Ryn's piece "Mind Your Uterus." She created this around the time some states overturned Roe v. Wade.

Chinacat663 is a painter and printmaker. Originally from New York, she’s taken part in the art walk here in Rockford for the past 10 years. Her works were showcased at Bennie’s Cleaners.

Chinacat663 said she’s noticed an evolution in Rockford’s art community, from one ArtScene to the next.

“It reflects the changing of the culture in Rockford. And even the art itself, the style of art, the type of art has been changing throughout the years,” she said.

She noted that younger artists are taken part and to her, the event seems to become more diverse every time.

“I also noticed the foot traffic. Every year is more than the other year,” she said. “So, it's (a) really cool thing to see how things have shifted to a more robust, more thriving art community in Rockford.”

Eddaviel is an artist from the Dominican Republic. His pieces explore Latin American and Caribbean art styles and traditions. His talent expands across several art dimensions, from muralists work to creating comic books.

He showcases his works across the world. He said during one of his excursions, he met some people from Rockford.

“And I come here, did an art show and just like start(ed) to have connection with a lot of people here and have been a beautiful time,” he said.

Yvonne Boose

Eddaviel said this setup isn’t like most of the art communities he’s come across.

“One of the things I love here is like, just having different venues,” he said. “That it’s not happening in one place in specific, that this just like -- different places around the town.”

The walk concluded Saturday evening. The next ArtScene is scheduled for Spring of 2023.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
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.