Prairie Street Brewhouse Celebrated in Rockford Landmark Ornament Collection

From its humble beginnings in 1847, the brewery built by Johnathan Peacock expanded into the imposing brewhouse building along Rockford’s historic industrial riverfront. After years of abandonment, Lloyd  and Diane Koch acquired the building and spearheaded the development of the the Prairie Street Brewhouse, a mixed use complex that has become a true Rockford Landmark.
The historic Prairie Street Brewhouse has been selected as J.R. Kortman Center for Design’s ornament for 2016 in the Rockford Landmark Ornament Collection. 
“When you combine its long downtown history along the Rock River with it’s contemporary use as an extremely popular gathering and event space, the Prairie Street Brewhouse is one of Rockford’s grandest landmarks,” says Doc Slafkosky, co-owner of J. R. Kortman. ‘It’s not only historic architecturally, but it has a special place in a lot people’s hearts, since the Brewhouse hosts weddings, grand parties, and other significant community events.” 
The original image for the Brewhouse ornament was a painting created by Rockford artist Jeanne Ludeke.
  “We took that image to Beijing where the artist who hand-paints each ornament was able to transpose Jeanne’s painting on the inside of a clear ornament sphere, utilizing an ancient Chinese folk art technique” said co-owner Jerry Kortman. “It’s fascinating to see how our artist communicated visually with the Chinese artist through the language of art.”
The ornament features not only an image of the Brewhouse building, but also the Prairie Street Brewhouse “peacock” logo is painted on the back.
  For more than 18 years J. R. Kortman Center for Design has been featuring hand-painted ornaments depicting Rockford landmarks sold year round at the downtown Rockford concept store and gallery.
The Brewhouse ornament is not only available at J. R. Kortman, 107 North Main Street, but can also be purchased at the Prairie Street Brewhouse, 200 Prairie Street, Downtown Rockford
Besides the Brewhouse, the Rockford Landmark Ornament Collection includes East and West High Schools, St. Anthony Church, Blackhawk Statue, “Symbol” sculpture, two views of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House, a special edition of Memorial Hall,, and the North Main Street Armory. Other ornaments available in the Landmark Collection include, the Beattie Park Gazebo, Sinnissippi Lagoon, the Faust Landmark Building, Coronado, and Midway Theater Buildings, the Woodward Governor building, and the Sinnissippi Burr Oak Tree. Over the past 15 years the “Symbol” ornament has been the best selling ornament in the collection.
“Other top sellers include four ornaments depicting different scenes of the beautiful Anderson Japanese Gardens and Nicholas Conservatory,” says Slafkosky. 
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.
For more Info contact Doc or Jerry at 968-0123.

JingleBling: A holiday Jewelry Preview Party! ....Friday, December 2nd @ J.R. Kortman Center for Design

You are invited to JingleBling!…a holiday Jewelry Preview Party, on First Friday, December 2nd, from 6 to 9pm, upstairs in the Kortman Gallery. See the latest designs, many one of a kind pieces that just arrived exclusively for J. R. Kortman from the Pearl markets of Shanghai and Beijing. Our jewelry fashion consultants will be on hand to show and model our exciting, elegant, and festive necklaces, bracelets and earrings that will be great for you to show off this holiday season. And guys, for your holiday gift buying, this is an excellent opportunity to see cool jewelry with the help of our gals who can assist you in selecting just the right piece. And best of all, the Kortman Gallery Bar will be open with bartender Dennis Horton serving up some holiday cheer! This is the way to shop!!!

P.S. At the same time you can see “The Gift Box,” a holiday group exhibition now on display in the Kortman Gallery featuring gift boxes made by 39 of some Rockford’s most accomplished artists. Purchase an artist-made gift box for your jewelry purchase and present her with an unforgettable Christmas gift that she will remember forever!…from J.R. Kortman Center for Design!

Artists Celebrate J.R. Kortman’s 30 Years with a Holiday Group Exhibition in the Kortman Gallery

In 1986, Downtown Rockford had been all but abandoned by the retail sector. However, unique architecture, an urban setting, and affordable historic spaces that were left behind, became an attraction to Jerry Kortman and Doc Slafkosky who, with a vision for the future, saw opportunity for their ambitious business concept: a contemporary design store with an upstairs cafe and art gallery.
    Today, Downtown Rockford is experiencing a renaissance while J. R. Kortman Center for Design, on November 20th, completes 30 years in business. To celebrate this milestone the Kortman Gallery is presenting a holiday group exhibition, opening Friday, November 18th, featuring art by 37 artists who have created works inspired by the gift box, in recognition of the iconic J. R. Kortman gift wrap.
    “For more than a generation, J.R. Kortman has become known for our gift wrap,” says co-owner and gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “The brown craft paper with colorful bows, each hand created by Jerry has added excitement and anticipation to whatever intriguing store purchase may be within this iconic wrap."    
    “We thought this would be a good theme for our annual holiday group art exhibit upstairs in the Kortman Gallery," says co-owner Jerry Kortman. "So we titled the exhibit ‘The Gift Box' and invited artists to make their version of a gift box, and be true to their own style and art form.”
    The result are works in in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography, and assemblage by a diverse group of Rockford artists who, over the years, have had solo exhibits in the Kortman Gallery.
    The artist featured in “The Gift Box” holiday exhibit are Stephen Warde Anderson, Leslie Arbetman, Michael Bugler, Jesus Correa, Diane Dailing, Michelle DalPra, John Deill, Michelle Dorr, Lynn Fischer-Carlson, Joseph Goral, Joanne Gustafson, Corey Hagberg, Collin Harrison, Drew Helge, Jarrod Hennis, Brian Hierstein, Margret Hesler Hynes, Javier Jimenez, Lisa Jimenez, Pam Kehoe-Peterson, Jeremy Klonicki, Norm Knott, Johnathan Kuss, Britney Lindgren, R. Scott Long, Jeanne Ludeke, David Menard, Val Olafson, Becky Pelley, Ellie Pinzarrone, Paul Pinzarrone, Sarah Reed-McNamara, Cherri Rittenhouse, Una Ryan, Sarah Danielle Stewart, Robert Sunday, Matt Vincent, Kyle Wolfe, and Betsy Youngquist.
    The opening reception for the Kortman Gallery exhibit “The Gift Box,” a holiday group exhibition will be Friday, November 18th, 5:30 to 9pm and will be on display through January 7th. Kortman Gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. The exhibition  is free and open to the public. For more information call 815-968-0123...and visit our J. R. Kortman Center for Design Facebook page.

Louis Recchia, Zoa Ace and daughter Mary exhibit exuberant works in Kortman Gallery, Oct. 7 – Nov. 12

There are lots of enthusiastic adjectives to do describe the art works of Colorado artists Louis Recchia, Zoa Ace, and Mary Recchia: Colorful, exuberant, exciting, engaging, entertaining, and accessible art. And art is all in the family with this group exhibition, titled “I’m OK So Far” presenting works by father, mother, and daughter, together for the first time in the Kortman Gallery opening Friday & Saturday, October 7th & 8th.

“Louis and Zoa have shown multiple times over the past 30 years in the Kortman Gallery,” said gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “They have created quite a following, not only here, but across the art world, with pieces in museum, corporate and private collections. They actually make their living from their art, which is quite an accomplishment!”

“Recchia and Ace will be joined by their daughter Mary who will be showing her print works, which are distinctive from her parents, however you can see the family influence in her imagery,” says Slafkosky.

Colorful themes featuring images of people, animals, pop culture, represented in mix of different media, from painting to collage to printmaking are featured in this exhibition.

“My work explores themes such as vulnerability and innocence lost, and is included in many public collections ranging from the Denver Art Museum to the Absolut Vodka corporate collection,” said Recchia. “Over the years, my paintings have been shown in many places including the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna and the Brooklyn Museum in New York.”

Zoa Ace, who grew up in Rockford, has lived in Berthoud, Colorado for over 20 years, and has been showing and selling her colorful works in the Denver area and across the art world. “My paintings have appeared in the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria, Mosko Miller Fine Art in New York City, and in the Denver Art Museum as part of a public collection,” says Ace.

“I love drawing animals of all kinds and sharing them with lovely people at affordable prices,” says daughter Mary Recchia. “My illustrations are cute. Some are kinda weird. That's the way I like it. I hope you like them, too.”

Opening receptions for the Kortman Gallery exhibit “I’m OK So Far,” a family group exhibition will be Friday, October 7th, 5:00 to 10pm and Saturday, October 8th from 3:00 to 9pm. It will be on display through November 12th. Kortman Gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. The opening reception is free and open to the public. For more information call 815-968-0123 or visit

Jeanne Ludeke’s realist paintings recall images of family history, relationships and home in Kortman Gallery Exhibition

After her mother passed away, Rockford artist Jeanne Ludeke, while sorting through her belongings, became interested in the cardboard boxes her mother had used to store and preserve things that were important to her. Moved by the imagery of the boxes and the memories they contain, Ludeke saw them as an intriguing subject matter for her exhibition of realist paintings.
    On Friday, August 12th, Ludeke will present these remarkable paintings in a Kortman Gallery exhibit titled “Flashlights & Other Stories.”
    “Jeanne’s exquisite paintings at first glance look like beautifully colored abstracts,” says Kortman Gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “But with a closer look you discover they are paintings of the actual aged cardboard boxes that held her mom’s treasured keepsakes. Most unusual, but unforgettable imagery that you just have to see!”
    “The history of what each box had once held was recorded with my mom’s script on the lids and sides of the boxes,” Ludeke said. “What she had saved and valued and how it was kept, spoke of her connection to our family and her relationship with the material world. For me, the boxes became a metaphor for the transience of home, family and the impermanence of things.”
    Ludeke began her studies in drawing, painting and art history at NIU and the University of Salzburg, Austria, and completed a Masters in drawing at NIU in 1983. She has worked as a commissioned portrait artist and also taught art for many years. Only recently she has returned to her personal work as an artist.
      The Kortman Gallery exhibit “Flashlights & Other Stories,” paintings by Jeanne Ludeke will open Friday, August 12th, 5:30 to 9pm. It will be on display through September 30th. Kortman Gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. The opening reception is free and open to the public. For more information call 815-968-0123 or visit

First Friday, July 1st @ J. R. Kortman: Blue Dot Sale!...and Great Photographs by Hans Rupert @ Kortman Gallery

Start off your holiday weekend Downtown First Friday, July 1st, with shopping at J. R. Kortman Center for Design featuring our Blue Dot Sale with 25% off on selected items. Then relax upstairs in the Kortman Gallery with a refreshing wine cocktail or ice cold beer served up by master bartender Tim Stotz while enjoying the remarkable photographs of Downtown Rockford created by Hans Rupert. You won't want to miss this great exhibit which will be on display through July 31st.

Hans Rupert Captures Downtown Architecture in a New Light in Kortman Gallery Photo Exhibit

Downtown Rockford is Hans Rupert’s front and backyard, his neighborhood, his workplace, his home. And being a commercial photographer with architectural clients, Rupert has an eye and camera on buildings. With the opportunity of seeing it 24 hours a day, season after season for three decades, the unique architecture of Downtown Rockford has naturally become the subject of Rupert’s stunning and intriguing neighborhood photographs.
    On Friday June 3rd, Hans Rupert’s captivating perspective of Downtown Rockford will be presented in “Secret Scenes: Hidden icons in a different light,” an exhibition of photographs will open in the Kortman Gallery.
    “Hans starting posting his collection of these elegant photos of Downtown on Instagram and Facebook and that caught our eye,” said Doc Slafkosky, gallerist for the Kortman Gallery. “The light, the colors, and the architectural details in his photos is breathtaking. Hans has stepped out of his commercial field and into the artistic world with these photos.”
    “I was surprised when the Kortman Gallery approached me with the idea for an exhibition,” said Rupert. “I have always thought of my photography as a commercial endeavor, and not necessarily art. But, I’m excited and pleased to share my Downtown with everyone.”
    In his exhibition title, Rupert refers to “secret scenes” which, in reality, are in plain site, says Slafkosky. “However, you see them from a personal and atmospheric perspective that Rupert was able to capture through detailed familiarity and affection for his neighborhood. Most of us don’t see Downtown in this light.”
    Since the mid 1980’s, commercial photographer Hans Rupert has not only  worked, but has lived in Downtown Rockford.  Studio space was affordable as was living space. In the late ’90’s Rupert acquired the Bliss Building on Mulberry Street where he and his wife, Amy are raising their two children. He is a graduate of Rockford University and owner of, his photography business.  
    The Kortman Gallery exhibit “Secret Scenes: Hidden icons in a different light,” photographs by Hans Rupert will open First Friday, June 3rd, 5:30 to 9pm. It will be on display through July 16th. Kortman Gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 North Main Street in Downtown Rockford. For more information call 815-968-0123.