Three Rockford artists curate erotic art exhibition in Kortman Gallery

Margret Hynes, John Lamar, and Marilynn Lamar have well established themselves in the Rockford arts community as accomplished artists. The three artists approached the Kortman Gallery with the idea of curating an exhibit featuring local artists creating works of art with an erotic theme…a subject rarely explored in the local art scene.

From that concept came “Amorous” a group exhibition opening Friday, April 22nd in the Kortman Gallery. Along with Hynes and the Lamars, other participating artists include Ruth Eversoll, Nikki Hollander, Javier Jimenez, Ron Rawhoof, and Ted Simmering.
“Since mankind began to visually communicate their thoughts, sexually charged images have been used in art, even appearing on prehistoric cave walls,” says co-curator Marilyn Lamar. “However, social constraints have always influenced what is acceptable in the visual arts over the centuries. We are still having to sometimes contend with Victorian era attitudes.”
 “We wanted to challenge artists to create works that may be out of their comforts zones,” said Hynes, co- curator. “Anything that has a sexual element can certainly be stimulating not only visually, but also intellectually, inspiring conversations on censorship, social mores, and how the arts affect our cultural attitudes.”
“We thought it was a great idea to explore the realm of erotic art with these talented artists,” says Kortman Gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “There is a definitely a distinction between what is erotic and what is pornographic. The works of art presented in this gallery exhibit are esthetically pleasing and can be viewed and enjoyed by a general audience.”
The “Amorous” exhibition will feature works in multiple media including painting, drawing, ceramics, and printmaking
Kortman Gallery opening reception for “Amorous,” a group exhibition of erotic art opens Spring ArtScene weekend, Friday,April 22nd from 5 to 9pm, and Saturday, April 23rd from 4 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 exhibit will run though June 30th. For more information call 815-968-0123.

J.R. Kortman Center for Design selects Rockford Elk’s Lodge as the 2021 addition to the Rockford Landmark Ornament Collection


 The historic downtown Elk’s Lodge #64, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been selected as the new addition to the hand-painted Rockford Landmark Ornament Collection for 2021 at J.R. Kortman Center for Design.
    The building, which stands on the corner of North Main and Jefferson Streets, was built in 1913 and designed by the successful and influential Chicago architect Lawrence. P. Buck.
    “The beautiful and endangered downtown Elk’s Club is not only a local landmark, but is is one of America’s treasures,” says Doc Slafkosky, co-owner of J. R. Kortman. “The building’s architecture is definitely  inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement that took place around the turn of the 19th to 20th century.”
    The Elk’s Club ornament image was based on a painting by Rockford artist Rebecca Downing Pelley who was inspired by a 1920’s vintage post card of the building.
    Also added this year in the Landmark collection is a new edition of Symbol sculpture by Alexander Liberman,
    “The Rockford “Symbol” 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 Jerry Kortman. “It really has become Rockford’s definitive landmark!”
        Besides the Elk’s Club and the new Symbol, other ornaments in the collection include  the Rockford Armory, which is also a National Landmark along with two different ornaments of the Coronado Performing Arts Center.
    Rockford Landmark Ornament Collection also includes the Embassy Suites Hotel, 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.

Toss pillows become souvenirs of art in Kortman Gallery holiday group exhibition opening Friday, November 19th


 Merchandising collectibles has been an integral part of the entertainment industry for decades. Iconic images appear on everything from T- shirts to lunch boxes. 
    The art world has become no exception to this concept. Images of great works of art appear on a myriad of souvenir merchandise by artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, Basquiat, Monet, and Haring, to name a few.
    Kortman Gallery takes this idea of merchandising images of fine art as an inspiration for a new exhibition called “Pillow Talk: Souvenirs of Art,” a holiday group exhibition opening Friday, November 19th. The show presents original works of art along with their images reproduced on toss pillows. Twenty-six accomplished artists from Rockford and beyond are featured in this unique exhibit.
    “A toss pillow makes a great ‘canvas’ for fairly accurately reproducing an image,” said Kortman Gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “The pillow becomes not only a unique keepsake, but a functional object that can be a cool home accent.”
    Artists were invited to submit an existing piece or create a new work for this show.
    “I usually work in ceramics,” says artist Lynn Fischer-Carlson. “The invitation inspired me to create a new abstract painting that I thought would look cool on a pillow”
    Rockford artist Drew Eurek, who creates paintings on large canvasses, submitted a piece for the exhibit. A detail of the large painting was captured and reproduced on a pillow.
    “I’m really excited to be a part of this exhibit,” said Eurek. “It’s always intriguing to see your work applied to another medium and see it with a new and different perspective.”
    “It’s always fun & interesting to see images of great artists like Picasso on mugs, calendars, plates, watches, playing cards, and yes, pillows, making fine art images widely accessible souvenirs” says Slafkosky. “So we thought it would be cool to present works of art by great local artists seen in the Kortman Gallery on pillows!”
    “Being retailers,  museum gift shops have always been of particular interest to us…the blending of art & commerce…and has even influenced our buying for our store,” said Jerry Kortman co-owner of J.R. Kortman. “So this exhibit suits our store and gallery concept perfectly.”
    Participating artists include Zoa Ace, Stephen Warde Anderson, Kelvin Candie, Lynn Fischer-Carlson, Molly Carter, Jesus Correa, John Deill, Ingrid Dohm, Drew Eurek, Brian Hierstein, Lisa Jimenez, Carrie Johnson, Etsuko Kobayashi, R. Scott Long, Jenny Mathews, Robin McCauley, Valerie Olafson, Isabella Onrubia, Rebecca Downing Pelley, Louis Recchia, Cherri Rittenhouse, JoanLee Stassi, Joe Tallman, Brett Whitacre, Kyle Wolfe, and Betsy Youngquist.
    Kortman Gallery opening reception for “Pillow Talk: Souvenirs of Art,” a holiday group exhibition is Friday, November 19th 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 exhibit will run though January 8th, 2022. For more information call 815-968-0123.

"Artistry in Eyewear" an exhibition curated by Jamar Holloway opens October 1st & 2nd in the Kortman Gallery

The realms of art & design come together when optician and eyewear aficionado Jamar Holloway curates this unique and “eye-catching” exhibition that explores how art has inspired eyewear and how eyewear design has become art. Works include a variety of media including painting, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, and optical design collections. Participants in the exhibit include artists from Rockford and Chicago: Candice Johnson, Socorro Mucino, Meryl Morris, Brian Estep, Jesus Correa, Fatherless, Scott Urban, Nick Cashmere, Kevin Johnson, Sean Archer, Tim Gunnell, and Brett Whitacre.  Kortman Gallery opening receptions for “Artistry in Eyewear,” featuring works from artists and eyewear designers, are Friday, October 1st from 5 to 9pm and Saturday, October 2nd, 4 to 9pm, ArtScene weekend.  Kortman 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 exhibit will run though November 13th. For more information call 815-968-0123 or visit

J.R. Kortman presents Point & Spark Bars at Greenwich Village Art Fair '21 @ Rockford Art Museum grounds

Hope to see you at the Greenwich Village Art Fair, Saturday, September 18th from 10am to 6pm...with after hours festivities from 6 to 9:30pm. 
See, discover, and buy great art from over 70 enjoy intriguing vendors & food trucks...and groove to cool music all day 'til 9:30pm in the Burpee amphitheater. Once again, J.R. Kortman is sponsoring Point! Bar and the all new Spark, a riverfront champagne bar...great places to meet with friends and relax. Both bars will be open 'til 8pm for After Hours Cocktail Hour. This year the fair is a one day don't miss this great end of the summer tradition since 1948 benefitting the Rockford Art Museum!

Rockford artist, muralist, musician Brett Whitacre exhibits small scale verdant works in Kortman Gallery

    From larger than life urban murals to whimsical reverse paintings, Rockford artist and musician Brett Whitacre’s career is flourishing. His feel good works have been brightening walls on buildings, galleries, and homes across the country for two decades.
    After living in Chicago as an artist and touring Europe as a drummer with the band Legendary Shack Shakers, Whitacre has returned to Rockford and the Kortman Gallery is presenting his latest small scale paintings. The show titled, “Plant-based Material” is opening Friday, July 9th.
    “During the shelter in place order, we filled our living space with an inflated amount of natural plants and imagery to bring the outdoors in,” says Whitacre. “A healthy obsession with house plants inspired a fun exploration of their form and setting in good fodder for art.”
    The result is Whitacre’s almost abstract, mater of fact modern paintings of plants!
    “The graphic nature of Brett’s verdant, simple images are at once whimsical and sophisticated,” says Kortman Gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “His bold, colorful art just makes you feel good. The paintings are no nonsense works that just fit in wherever they are!”
    Whitacre had an exhibit in the Kortman Gallery back in 2007. The show, “Hearts & Helicopters”  featured his pop images painted on window panes hung on the gallery walls and his painted suitcases displayed in the baggage claim at RFD.
    Besides this Kortman exhibition Brett’s work can soon been seen in Loves Park in a large scale mural on the side of CD Source Records (the old Park Theater Building), and on a wall in Pecatonica. Both are part of the CRE8IV urban art project spearheaded by Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s placemaking and public art efforts designed to enhance our region for both residents and visitors.
    The “Plant-based Material” exhibit will also feature small scale original work which is a sneak peak of a mural set to be painted on a State Street building in Downtown Rockford.
    And if that isn’t enough, you can hear drummer Brett Whitacre performing with the band Prairie Smoke throughout the region and beyond.
     Opening reception for “Plant-based Material,” featuring new works by Brett Whitacre  is Friday, July 9th from 5:30 to 9pm. The  Kortman 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 exhibit will run though August 31st. For more information call 815-968-0123.