Rockford watercolor artist Sarah Bell creates wearable paintings for Kortman Gallery Exhibition…opening Feb. 2nd

Sarah Bell has been a creative force in the art world in the Rockford area since the early 1970’s. She was not only an art educator with the Rockford Public Schools, but also has shown her elegant watercolor paintings in exhibitions throughout the region.
On Friday, February 2nd, Bell will present an exhibition of her new paintings titled “Silk Scenes” opening in the Kortman Gallery. However, these paintings are not her characteristic watercolors on paper, but created with colorful dyes on silk, culminating in captivating images on scarves.
“Even though my scarves are suitable for framing,” says Bell, “I really like to see them as wearable paintings on silk fabrics that are flowing and interactive.”
Since her background is watercolor, creating images on fabric was a straightforward transformation in technique for Bell.
“These paintings on silk are a natural transition for me,” said Bell.  “Applying silk dye to fabric does the same as wet paper, the dyes spread across the surface in the same manner. I begin with white fabric, draw lines using a liquid resist called gutta. The liquid dries and then acts as dams to hold the color in specific places.”
The result is amazing imagery on a one of a kind scarf that is not only an exciting fashion accessory, but a remarkable work of art.
“We are exhibiting the scarves on the gallery walls as we would traditional paintings,” says Kortman Gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “However, they are unmounted and unframed, allowing the viewer a chance to have not only a visual experience, but tactile interaction with the silk fabrics. Sarah created them with the idea that they are works of art that would be worn.”
“Silk Scenes” featuring paintings on silk by Sarah Bell opening reception is Friday, February 2nd from, 5:30 to 9pm upstairs in the Kortman Gallery, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. Her exhibit will run through April 13th. J.R. Kortman Center for Design and Kortman Gallery are open Tuesday through Friday, 11am to 6pm and Saturdays, 11am to 5pm. 

The opening event and gallery are free and open to the public. For more information visit phone 815-968-0123. 

J.R. Kortman open 7 days a week in Decmber until Christmas: Mo-Fr 11-6, Sa 11-5, Su 1-5


Two Downtown Rockford historic buildings which will going under transformative renovation have bee selected as this years new ornaments added to the Rockford Landmark Ornament collection at J.R. Kortman Cents for Design at 107 North Main Street.
    The Iconic Building (formerly the Rockford News Tower) and the Times Theater are now part this of unique collection of hand painted ornaments that have been created for J.R. Kortman of local landmarks since 1997.
    “Both the Iconic Building and the Times Theater have exciting proposed plans to be reenergised into venues that will be great entertainment and cultural assets to our Downtown that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike,” said Doc Slafkosky, co-owner at J.R. Kortman.  ‘We thought this was a perfect time to recognize these two Art Deco inspired landmarks.”
    Other recent additions to the Landmark Collection include the Elks Lodge, the Embassy Suites Hotel, Coronado Theatre and the Rockford Armory. All are on Main Street and are official Registered National Landmark.
    Alexander Liberman’s “Symbol” sculpture in Sinnissippi Park along the river is by far the best selling ornament of all other buildings and places that have been made into ornaments since we started commissioning them back in 1997, said Slafkosky.  “It really has become Rockford’s definitive landmark!”
    Rockford Landmark Ornament Collection also includes the Prairie Street Brewhouse, East and West High Schools, St. Anthony Church, two views of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House, a special edition of Memorial Hall, the Beattie Park Gazebo, the Faust Landmark Building, the “Y” Log Lodge, Burpee Natural History Museum, Anderson Gardens, and Midway Theater Building.
       In addition to the Swedish Historical Society’s Erlander Home, other historic houses in the collection include the  “Limestone Mansion,” home to the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, and the “Cobblestone House,” located at 2127 Broadway, one of Rockford’s oldest houses.    
    All the Landmark ornament images are individually hand-painted on the inside of a glass sphere, utilizing an ancient Chinese technique originally applied to “snuff” bottles. Each collectable ornament is a miniature work of art.

25 Rockford artists celebrate Symbol’s 45th anniversary in Kortman Gallery “red” holiday exhibit

The late Alexander Liberman was well renowned in the world of art and design. Besides being  art director for Vogue Magazine, he was an accomplished artists in his own right, creating both paintings and sculptures that are now in collections in places around the world. And one of those places is Rockford!
His iconic “Symbol” sculpture is celebrating its 45th anniversary as a major piece of public art. It had a controversial start when it was placed on the east end of the State Street mall, dedicated in 1978 by Liberman, himself. Although, controversy still haunts the piece, most Rockfordians have developed an acceptance, and many, even an affection for this grand work of art.
In many of his works, Liberman used the color red…a specific red he created known as Liberman Red…which is the authentic color of “Symbol.” 
To celebrate the sculpture’s 45th anniversary, the Kortman Gallery has invited 25 Rockford artists to create a piece of art utilizing Liberman Red in their work. The exhibition which opens Friday, November 17th in the Kortman Gallery is appropriately titled, “Liberman Red.”
“I was intrigued about the theme of the show that is just about a color,” said John Deill, one of the featured artists in the exhibition. “Color can be both  captivating and controversial, since everyone perceives colors differently. For instance, some people see “Symbol” as red, while others see it as more orange. However, there is no right or wrong when it comes to perception.”
It is this relative and personal perception of color that was the inspiration behind the theme of the exhibition according to Doc Slafkosky, gallery director.
“Rather than have the exhibit specifically about Symbol, we thought we would not limit the subject matter to an object, but more of a concept…and the color red is in itself engaging, if not exciting,” said Slafkosky. “And Liberman used the color boldly, and often in his art. And he did have a specific formula for his ‘red’.”
“We thought it would interesting to let each artist create a piece of work that presents their interpretation of what Liberman Red looks like, with no restrictions on the imagery,” said Slafkosky. “Consequently the artists did not have to include images of “Symbol” in their art work, just the color, Liberman Red. The result is a fascinating exhibition that confirms the amazing creativity and vision that each of these remarkable artists brings to this must see show!”
Participating artists include: Stephen Warde Anderson, Molly Carter, John Deill, Michelle Dorr, Drew Eurek, Fatherless, Laura Gomel , Brian Hierstein, Margret Hynes, Javier Jimenez, Lisa Jimenez, Carrie Johnson, Jeremy Klonicki, Norm Knott, R. Scott Long, Jenny Mathews, Nancie King Mertz, Valerie Olafson, Rebecca Downing Pelley, Nick Cashmere, Joe Tallman, Carmen Turner, Alison Weust, Brett Whitacre, and Kyle Wolfe. 
The opening reception for “Liberman Red” featuring works by 25 Rockford artists is Friday, November 17th from 5:30 to 9pm upstairs in the Kortman Gallery, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. This special holiday group exhibition exhibit will run through January 13th, 2024. J.R. Kortman Center for Design & Kortman Gallery are open Tuesday through Friday, 11am to 6pm and Saturdays, 11am to 5pm. The opening event and gallery are free and open to the public. For more information visit www.jrkortman.com or phone 815-968-0123.








Emerging Rockford artist Dysen White exhibits expressive, urban art paintings in Kortman Gallery: Opening October 6-7


    Urban or Independent Art has spontaneous, expressive, and sometimes chaotic imagery heavily influenced by street art and graffiti. Dysen White, a young and emerging artist, paints with these same sensibilities adding his personal vision and experiences to his art.
    The results are captivating, exciting, and colorful works of art.
    White’s paintings are featured in a premier exhibition titled, “Odyssey: The Teen” which opens Friday, October 6th, Fall ArtScene, in the Kortman Gallery Downtown Rockford.
    “Artist and art educator Kyle Wolfe introduced us to Dysen’s work which immediately impressed us with its highly expressive, stimulating imagery that is both honest and energizing,” said Kortman Gallery director. “Dysen could be characterized as a naive artist, however his deliberate, yet spontaneous approach to his imagery gives his work an urbane vibe that I’m sure will mature as he continues to learn and grow as an artist.”
    Kyle Wolfe who is Dysen’s teacher at Roosevelt High School, has also become his mentor.
     “I teach digital art, but have also worked in traditional art forms,” says Kyle.  “Dysen’s artistic prowess with painting is self taught. He seems to have a compulsion for painting that is remarkable. He is a prolific artist, always creating and evolving which is refreshing to see in a person his age.”
    “Odyssey: The Teen” featuring paintings by Dysen White opening receptions are Friday, October 6th, 5:00 to 9pm and Saturday, October 7th, 3:00 to 9pm (Fall ArtScene) upstairs in the Kortman Gallery, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. His exhibit will run through November 11th. J.R. Kortman Center for Design and Kortman Gallery are open Tuesday through Friday, 11am to 6pm and Saturdays, 11am to 5pm.
    The opening event and gallery are free and open to the public. For more information visit www.jrkortman.com or phone 815-968-0123.

Rockford artist Braydon Letsinger exhibits compelling portrait paintings in Kortman Gallery...opening June 30th! Exhibition runs thru September 30th

Originally pursuing a career path in criminal justice, Rockford artist Braydon Letsinger’s plans changed when he felt called to formally use and pursue his gifts of art-making. As a Studio Arts major, he has created an intriguing body of works that are featured in an exhibition with an equally intriguing title. Letsinger’s “Staring at Strangers: becoming acquainted with humanity through portraiture” opens Friday, June 30th in the Kortman Gallery.
    HIs compelling paintings combine traditional, realistic portraiture with geometric, abstract patterns in conjunction with contemporary materials like holographic film, fluorescent paint, and aluminum panels.
    “All of my work focuses on what I consider to be the most interesting, but most confusing subject – people and their inner workings,” said Letsinger. “For me, portraiture has been a way to break down barriers to more deeply understand others around me, and to begin to connect my viewers with these painted ‘strangers’ who are more similar to them than they realize.”
    Letsinger approached the Kortman Gallery more than a year ago with a portfolio of his work says gallery director, Doc Slafkosky. “The caliber of Braydon’s work showed that he was a serious, and most certainly, talented, aspiring artist,” said Slafkosky. “His unique combination of traditional realist painting with modern, colorful imagery is approachable, while still honoring the painting tradition and keeping his work relevant and fresh.”
    The majority of Letsinger’s somber-faced subjects were fellow students and faculty from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where he completed his arts degree. His captivating work utilizes the combination of classic realistic portraits of these “strangers” with abstract, geometric elements to speak into the character of his subjects and humanity as a whole.
    “Staring at Strangers” featuring paintings by Braydon Letsinger opening reception is Friday, June 30th from 5:30 to 9pm upstairs in the Kortman Gallery, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. His exhibit will run through September 30th. J.R. Kortman Center for Design & Kortman Gallery are open Tuesday through Friday, 11am to 6pm and Saturdays, 11am to 5pm. The opening event and gallery are free and open to the public. For more information phone 815-968-0123.