Penny McGuire and Summer Wagner exhibit ‘photography reimagined’ in Kortman Gallery, opening February 10th


 Rockford artists Penny McGuire and Summer Wagner capture their images through the lens of a camera. However, their creative energy goes beyond the subsequent photograph. They both reimagine their photographs and create images that offer a unique perspective that defines their art.
    The engaging images from each these photographers will be presented in the Kortman Gallery in “Photography reimagined,” an exhibition opening Friday, February 10th in the Kortman Gallery, Downtown Rockford.
    In her photographs, Penny McGuire is drawn to architecture, landscape and still life images.
    “I started experimenting with different settings on my 12 yr old Sony Cybershot to find different ways to record the images I saw”, says McGuire. “I am drawn to architecture, outdoor art and odd things as they relate to their natural environment and to each other.  Many of my photos are several different photos of the same shot in different modes.”
    Most of McGuire’s images in this show are primarily Rockford-related with a few eccentric still life’s and historic sites around the Midwest artistically enhanced to interject her expressive perspective to the photograph.
    After living in Los Angeles for ten years, the pandemic brought Summer Wagner back to Rockford, where she had spent much of her childhood.   
    Wagner’s images offer an extraordinary departure from what can be seen through the lens of a camera alone. Her photographs are ethereal fantasy of people in romantic, yet provocative settings that she visually creates.
    “My work contemplates the spiritual and psychological threads of everyday life and the blur of poetry that is our society's collective dreamscape,” writes Wagner in her artist’s statement.
    Doc Slafkosky, Kortman gallery director says these two artists were chosen because of the entirely different approaches they bring to photography.
    “Not only do Penny and Summer represent different generations, but their artistic vision also represents a different kind of photographic imagery,” said Slafkosky. They both, in some way, reimagine their photographs, but their style and subject matter are so different, that the contrast makes for an engaging and visually entertaining exhibition.”
    Meet the artists at the Kortman Gallery opening reception for “Photography reimagined,” featuring works by Penny McGuire and Summer Wagner Friday, February 10th from 5:30 to 9pm.  The gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. The exhibit is free, and open to the public. The exhibition will run though March 31, 2023. For more information call 815-968-0123 or visit

26 Artists reimagine chairs as art in Kortman Gallery holiday group exhibition opening Friday, Nov. 18th!


 Chairs have been a part of every day life since the dawn of civilization. They have evolved from not only a purely functional piece of furniture, but also a statement of design, social strata, and comfort. For centuries the chair has appeared in works of art from ancient Egyptian scroll paintings  to works by classical masters to modern day paintings and sculpture.
     Kortman Gallery has invited twenty-six artists who work in different styles and media to create works of art inspired by the chair. The exhibition titled, “Sit. Chairs as Art” opens Friday, November 18th from 5:30 to 9pm in the downtown Rockford Kortman Gallery.
    “All twenty-five of these imaginative, accomplished artists have created works that either visually depict a chair in a painting, ceramics, photography, or sculpture…and some are actually functional chairs,” said gallery director Doc Slafkosky.
    Clay artist Lynn Fischer-Carlson said she welcomes the challenge of creating a piece for a show that has a designated theme.
    “It compels you to apply your artistic skills often in different ways,” says Fischer-Carlson. “You want to participate in the theme without sacrificing your own aesthetic vision or style.”
    One of the inspirations for this exhibition was to recognize the 20th anniversary of the creation of “The Big Chair” by Rockford artist, Jim Julin who passed away in 2012.
    “Jim created the chair for a Kortman Gallery exhibit in 2002,” said Slafkosky. “He built the large scale sculpture to honor his Rockford Swedish furniture manufacturing heritage. The Big Chair was placed on the then downtown mall in front of our gallery. It was acquired by Lon and Dick Behr and donated to the Rockford Art Museum’s sculpture garden where it stands tall today on North Main Street.”    
    Participating artists include Zoa Ace, Stephen Warde Anderson, Lynn Fischer-Carlson, Molly Carter, Jesus Correa, John Deill, Michelle Dorr, Fatherless, Roni Golan, Laura Gomel, Brian Hierstein, Jane Peterson Hooker, Lisa Jimenez , Carrie Johnson, Jeremy Klonicki, Jenny Mathews, Robin McCauley, Nancie King Mertz, Valerie Olafson, Jacob Polhill, Jane Weis Proudfoot, Louis Recchia, Joe Tallman, Alison Weust, Brett Whitacre, and Kyle Wolfe.
    Meet the artists at the Kortman Gallery opening reception for “Sit. Chairs as Art,” a holiday group exhibition is  Friday, November 18th from 5:30 to 9pm.  The gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. The exhibit is free, and open to the public. The exhibition will run though January 14th, 2023. For more information call 815-968-0123.

Rockford artist Kyle Wolfe introduces his “Imaginary Friends” in multi media, interactive exhibit in Kortman Gallery...opening October 14th



 Growing up, Kyle Wolfe was always attracted to visually charged toys, video games, comics, and pop culture objects from the past. With a natural talent for art, he cultivated his artistic talent and curiosity that lead to a career not only as a multimedia visual artist, but an art educator.
    On Friday, October 14th Wolfe brings his extraordinary visual, interactive new works to the Kortman Gallery in an exhibit he calls, “Imaginary Friends.” The opening receptions, coincide with this year’s ArtSene weekend on Friday, October 14 from 5-9pm and  and Saturday, October 15, 4- 9pm.
    Wolfe’s imaginative, innovative exhibit includes painting with acrylics or oil, on recently rediscovered found objects from his past like skateboards, shoes, and even telephone. His attraction to comics, video games and the visual culture of his youth is also the inspiration for digital and print work that will also be featured in this exhibit.
    “My approach to creating has always been evolving,” says Wolfe. “I’m at point in my career where I feel the freedom to create in any way that moves me. This show has given me the opportunity to let go of control and express myself in multiple media utilizing anything that inspires me to become my canvas.”
    Since his personal relationship to the imagery of pop culture was such an important part of his early life, he relates to his newly created visual images as his “imaginary friends.” Some of his art makes references to known characters like Pac-man, Muppets characters, etc. while other creatures in his eye-popping, colorful works are pure fantasy.
    Many of his pieces will include an interactive QR code along side that will enhance and engage the viewers experience.
    “This is going to be a fun and entertaining exhibit for all ages,” said Doc Slafkosky, Kortman Gallery director. “This is not just paintings on the wall. You will have a great time exploring the imagination and creative spirit of this expressive and inspired artist.”
    This is Kyle Wolfe’s second solo exhibit in the Kortman Gallery. His first show in 2010 featured digital works called “A Thousand Words” creating images from visual fragments he created on the computer. Wolfe, a graduate of Northern Illinois University, teaches art in the Rockford Public Schools at Roosevelt High School.
    “Imaginary Friends,” new works by Kyle Wolfe opens Friday, October 14th from 5 to 9pm and Saturday, October 15th from 4 to 9pm upstairs in the Kortman Gallery, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. His exhibit will run through November 12th. J.R. Kortman Center for Design & Kortman Gallery are openTuesday to Friday, 11am to 6pm and Saturdays, 11 to 5pm. For more information visit of phone 815-968-0123