Merry & Bright...Downtown & J. R. Kortman celebrate the opening of the Holiday Season, Sat. Nov. 30

This Saturday, November 30th, celebrate the opening of the holiday season...Downtown and J. R. Kortman Center for you never have before! Merry & Bright is a Christmas Party right on State Street with music, food, shopping and the lighting of the Downtown Christmas Tree at 6pm. J.R. Kortman will be open from 10am to 9pm or later with extraordinary shopping along with special prices on selected jewelry and the new 35th Anniversary edition of the Symbol of many hand-painted Rockford Landmark collectable ornaments.
See "Symbol: Art inspired by Art" upstairs in the Kortman Gallery. We all have our own impression of Alexander Liberman's grand sculpture in Sinnissippi Park...come see how 35 of some of Rockfor'd most accomplished artists see Symbol. And to add to the festivities Tim "Santa"  Stotz will be hosting the Kortman Gallery Bar from 6pm on, just after the tree lighting. Tim will be mixing up Symbol 35's a drink created especially for this special exhibit along with other holiday cheer. It's Tim's birthday so stop by and wish him well and enjoy an evening at J. R. Kortman Center for Design and Downtown Rockford.

Rockford’s Symbol Anniversary Celebrated in Kortman Gallery Group Exhibition opening Friday, November 22

Alexander Liberman’s “Symbol” stands majestically along the banks of the Rock River in Sinnissippi Park. This year marks the 35th anniversary of this Rockford icon that has survived a somewhat tumultuous history as the city’s grandest and most controversial work of public art.
    To celebrate this milestone, the Kortman Gallery will be presenting a holiday group exhibition titled “Symbol: Art Inspired by Art” featuring more than 35 of some of Rockford’s most accomplished artists. The opening of the exhibition and celebration of Symbol’s anniversary will be Friday, November 22nd.
    Works of art in this exhibit will include painting, sculpture, jewelry, photography and mixed media.
            “The invited artists represent a variety of styles and media and feelings about Symbol,” says Jerry Kortman. “This is almost certain to be an eye dazzling and entertaining holiday show. It’s a subject matter that every Rockfordian can identify with both culturally and visually.”
     Two years ago J. R. Kortman Center for Design along with artist Ben Pettee created and started producing small 2-D metal models of Symbol as a souvenir of Rockford.
    “Each artist was given a miniature 2-D model of Symbol and asked to create a work of art inspired by this grand iconic sculpture with no restrictions on size or media,” said gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “We thought asking artists to create a piece art inspired by art would be a fascinating challenge to this amazingly creative group of people.”
    In 1978 “Symbol” was commissioned by a small group of concerned citizens along with the Rockford Arts Council who wanted to present an exciting work of public art to renew interest and pride in a fading city center. It was funded by private donations and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
    “Needless to say, it was wildly controversial,” says Slafkosky. “Six years later when the State Street mall was removed Symbol was disassembled and left to rust along the river. It was saved by culturally alert citizens with the help of the Rockford Park District and relocated to it’s current location in Sinnissippi Park.”
    Participating artists include Leslie Arbetman, Sarah Bell, Michael Bugler, Lynn Fischer Carlson, Jesus Correa, Ryan Davis, John Deill, Michelle Dorr, Sherrie Dorr, Joseph Goral, Keith Grace,Shari Grace, Joanne Gustafson, Karen Harding, Drew Helge, Jarrod Hennis, Matt Herbig, Margret Hesler Hynes, Brian Hierstein, Javier Jimenez, Lisa Jimenez, Jeremy Klonicki, Norm Knott, Britney Lindgren, R. Scott Long, Jeanne Ludeke, Sarah Reed McNamara, Valerie Olafson, Ben Pettee, Cherri Rittenhouse, Sarah Stewart, Robert Sunday, Maggie Thienemann, Kyle Wolfe, and Betsy Youngquist.
    Another exciting feature of this art event will be an original maquette of “Symbol” loaned to the Kortman Galley from the collection of Lon and Richard Behr.
    The opening reception on November 22nd, from 5:30 pm to 9:00pm for “Symbol: Art Inspired by Art” will not only be an art opening, but an anniversary party for this sensational and iconic work of public art. The Kortman Gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street.  This historic holiday exhibition, which is free and open to the public. will run through January 4th, 2014. For further information call 815/968-0123 or visit

What: “Symbol: Art Inspired by Art” a holiday group exhibition of more than 35 artists that celebrates the 35th anniversary of Alexander Liberman’s “Symbol.”
When:  Opening reception and “Symbol” anniversary party will be Friday, November 22nd from 5:30 to 9:00pm.The exhibition runs through January 4th, 2014. Gallery & Store open Monday to Saturday, 10am – 6pm and Sundays in December, from 1pm – 5pm.
Where: Kortman Gallery, upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street, Downtown Rockford
Admission: Free

November First Friday...Shop 'til 9,"Big Man" Exhibition in the Kortman Gallery, Christyn Rittenhouse's iPod playlist revealed, and Dennis Horton hosting the Bar

This First Friday is on the First of November...and it should be an exciting and fun evening in Downtown Rockford. Great shopping 'til 9 here at J. R. Kortman Center for Design....presenting authentic Day of the Dead folk art, and also, great gift ideas for this fast approaching holiday season. The Kortman Gallery Bar, featuring Dennis Horton as bar host, will be open even later for a relaxing evening with great music from Christyn Rittenhouse as we reveal her iPod playlist played through a cool Sonos sound system from Hear.More Music. "Big Man," a group exhibition of more than 30 artists who have created works of art connected by materials, stories, and relationships, that pays homage to the memory of Rockford artist Jim now through November 16th in the Kortman Gallery.

Celebrate Day of the Dead & Halloween with J. R. Kortman Center for Design

Day of the Dead is colorful, spooky, and romantic with authentic folk art from Mexico, Peru, and Guatemala. Other cultures celebrate their deceased loved ones with similar imagery manifested in cultural objects from both India and China. See an intriguing selection of artifacts from around the world that are both decorative and collectable not only for the Halloween season, but all year 'round at J. R. Kortman Center for Design.

Main Street District presents Blocktoberfest, Satuday, October 12

Five Downtown Rockford businesses are celebrating the Fall with Blocktoberfest, a 2-block party on Saturday night, October 12th, in the Main Street District in Downtown Rockford. The street festival will feature outside bars, food vendors, and popular bands to headline the State Street Stage at the epicenter of State and Main Streets in Downtown West also known as the new Main Street District.
     Chicago based Hairbangers Ball will headline, along with three Rockford bands, Cylinder 6, Bullet, and Static Signal, will also perform live during the event which starts at 4pm until Midnight. And to keep the party going, Octane’s Dan Minick will D.J. between live music sets, right on Main Street. Businesses hosting the event include District Bar & Grill, Kryptonite Bar, Kiwi Bar & Restaurant, Octane Bar & Restaurant, and J. R. Kortman Center for Design & Gallery.
    Each of these venues will “take it to the streets” with outside bars featuring “Octoberfest-style” specialty beers, distinctive drinks, and food. A new feature at Blocktoberfest will be a complimentary beer tasting station where attendees can sample the special beers being offered at each of the Main Street District outside bars.   
    “This is a great way to celebrate the last days of mild weather in the Fall and enjoy the outside on the streets of the Downtown Main Street District with great entertainment, food and drink,” says Chris Wachowiak, owner of Kryptonite and festival organizer. “All of these businesses are within a city designated festival zone, so we are able to close off the blocks around State & Main and feature ‘open container’ allowing festival goers to carry beverages on the street from venue to venue.”
    Jerry Kortman, co-owner of J. R. Kortman Center for Design, said this is the second in a series of Main Street District celebrations. “The Downtown 2-Block Party in August was such a success everyone was looking forward to another street party before the weather got too cool to enjoy the outside,” said Kortman.
    The Octoberfest celebration will go on rain or shine says Andy Rio, co-owner of District Bar & Grill. “Even though this is a street festival, it’s happening right out in front of our businesses, so if the weather doesn’t cooperate, we can easily move the party inside each of our establishments,” said Rio.
    There will be three entrances to the Main Street District during the Downtown Blocktoberfest. Attendees of the event should enter either at State and Wyman Streets, North Main and Mulberry, and South Main and Elm Streets. Parking for the this summertime street festival is available in the parking decks, surface lots, and streets around the State & Main district.
    Admission to the Downtown 2 Block Party is $10 per person at the gate.     
What: “Bloctoberfest” a Fall celebration presented by the Main Street District businesses featuring entertainment from Hairbangers Ball, Cylinder 6, Bullet, and Static
When: Saturday, October 12th, from 4pm until midnight
Where: Main Street District, 100 blocks of North & South Main Street and the 200 and 300 block of West State Street.
Admission: $10. at the gate

Life & Art of Jim Julin Honored in Kortman Gallery Exhibition

         More than thirty local artists will show works in an exceptional art exhibition that pays homage to the memory of Rockford artist Jim Julin, opening Friday, October 4th in the Kortman Gallery,. The exhibit, titled “Big Man,” presents art connected by materials, stories, and relationships each of the artist had with this inspiring and talented artist who passed away in 2012.
       According to Matt Herbig, artist and one of the organizers of the exhibit, the show started with an idea to do a collaborative piece with artist Betsy Youngquist to honor Julin, but grew into a major exhibition.   
      “We realized that so many artists who were friends of Jim and influenced by his great talent were inspired to celebrate his life through art,” said Herbig. “We decided to open the exhibition to anyone who wanted to participate and present an informal show at Jimʼs house in July. The show was such a success we hoped to have it travel to an established gallery where the general public could see this fantastic exhibit.”
    The “Big Man” show features paintings, sculptures, prints and assemblage art utilizing found objects. Most of Julinʼs work involved found materials that he skillfully turned into beautiful works of art. The “Big Chair” sculpture is public art by Julin, which stands outside in front of the Rockford Art Museum.   
 “We are thrilled to have this historic art event open in the Kortman Gallery,” said gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “We canʼt think of a finer way to celebrate Jimʼs life than through the art of some Rockfordʼs most accomplished artists...which we are able to share with the entire community through this group exhibition. Jim was not only big in stature, but had a big heart and grand artistic skill and talent.”
     Participating artists include Elisa Ahmer, Melinda Carlson, Steven Coogan, Craig Daymon, Michelle Dorr, Sherrie Dorr, Ramona Felse, Marsha Goodheart,Keith Grace, Shari Grace, Karen Harding, Susan Hasse, Bonnie Holder, Margret Hynes, Hilly Jacklin, Krista Jeanne, Joshua Jones, Chris Julin, Betsy Kaske, Pam Kehoe-Peterson, Jeremy Klonicki, Norm Knott, John Lamar, Marilyn Lamar, Scott Long, John Verl McNamara, Alison and Mark Muraski, Bill Olson, Sarah Reed-McNamara, Douglas Scherrinsky, Ray Schulz, Susan Montague Spear, Dan Whyte, Betsy Youngquist, and Jim Julin.
       The opening receptions for “Big Man,” a group exhibition inspired by the life and art of Jim Julin will be Friday, October 4th from 5:00 to 10:00pm and Saturday, October 5th from 3:00 to 9:00pm in the Kortman Gallery, upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street. The show is in conjunction with the Fall ArtScene weekend in Rockford. “Big Man” will be on display through November 16th. For further information call 815/968-0123 or visit
What: “Big Man” a group exhibition of more than 30 artists that pays homage to the life and art of Jim Julin When: Opening receptions for “Big Man” will be Friday, October 4th from 5:00 to 10:00pm and Saturday, October 5th from 3:00 to 9:00pm The exhibition runs through November 16th. Gallery & Store open Monday to Saturday, 10am – 6pm.
Where: Kortman Gallery, upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street, Downtown Rockford Admission: Free

Will Mulford presents PAVI.RANG Pop Up Shop, Friday, September 20 @ Kortman Gallery

India Inspired Pop-Up Shop @Kortman Gallery

On September 20, between 7- 9 pm, Kortman Gallery (107 N. Main Street, Rockford) will play host to the “PAVI.RANG Pop- Up Shop.” Fresh from India, PAVI.RANG will be showcasing their unique interpretations of Indian traditional patterns in their stylish collection of scarves and bags, suitable for any wardrobe. The label, newly founded by Rockford native Will Mulford, is an exploration of bustling India and the richness of its cultures; PAVI.RANG imbues within each piece a youthful energy and sense of playfulness, alongside time honored traditions of quality and craftsmanship.

Upon arrival in India two years ago, Mulford, a 2008 Auburn High School graduate, was struck by the dizzying array of fabrics, crafts, and unparalleled skills offered in the country. Living in Jaipur, India’s Pink City, Mulford, along with German partner Claudia Englert, teamed with artisans to produce a collection of geometric, hand-dyed scarves and graphic totes. Contained within each piece are the creative visions of the designers as well as the artistic and technical sensibilities of the craftspeople with whom they collaboratively work.

Kortman Gallery hosts the first ever “PAVI.RANG Pop-Up Shop” on September 20th between 7 and 9 pm. Be the first to take home flowing scarves, graphic canvas totes, hand-dyed T-shirts, and sumptuous silk saris (all prices ranging from $10 and up) The “PAVI.RANG Pop-Up” Shop will also feature a selection of Indian inspired hors d’oeuvres and an eclectic World Groove music set from Mulford’s collection. Beer, Wine, and cocktails will be served.