“Celebrating the creative spirit of artists, artisans, and craftsman who inspire, elevate, and enrich…” These words, on the back cover of a new art book, “Collection,” by Doc Slafkosky and Jerry Kortman, express the motivation behind this colorful, “cocktail table” edition.The new book is a visual journal of fine art and artifacts from Rockford and beyond. It will be introduced this ArtScene weekend, April 21st & 22nd in the Kortman Gallery. This multi media exhibition will feature art posters from works by Rockford artists in the collection, plus a vibrant video presentation of scenes from the original 1990’s Art Zone TV series.
Works by Maggie Thienemann, Betsy Youngquist, John Libowski, Cherri Rittenhouse, Jim Julin, Jacob Polhill, Robin McCauley, Lisa Jimenez, and Brian Hierstein are some of the featured images in the art poster exhibit.
“Jerry and I have always thought we should document our art collection,” said Doc Slafkosky, the book’s coauthor and director of the Kortman Gallery. “We have hundreds of works of art by Rockford artists that we’ve been collecting for more than 50 years that not many people have had a chance to see.”
“During covid, we spent a great deal of time at home which provided an opportunity to capture our collection in photographs,” Slafkosky continues. “We started to realize our collection represented a sort of history of art in the Rockford area…illustrating how the visual arts evolved in the community over the years.”
Jerry Kortman started collecting in the 1960’s and the collection grew substantially after he and Slafkosky opened J.R. Kortman Center for Design and the Kortman Gallery in 1986.
“Rockford has so many amazing artists now, and in the past,” said Kortman. “This book and exhibition of art images, along with Art Zone videos should be quite an educational and entertaining experience. It is truly a retrospective look at the arts in Rockford covering more than a half-century.”
The Art Zone was a TV series, co-produced by Doug Connell and Kevin Cronin of Engine Studios. The show aired weekly on Rockford Cablevision from 1991-99, covering the arts, artists, and art events that took place in Rockford. Nearly 40 episodes were produced which included interviews with artists and performers, capturing on location, art openings, RSO events, New American Theater, Rockford Dance Company, Rockford Art Museum and more.
The original episodes have been remastered and are now available on You Tube.
“The collection of Art Zone shows is a rare, and amazing, look into a decade where the arts really began to blossom in Rockford,” says Connell, producer and technical director.
“The 1990’s was the last decade of the 20th Century and there was was so much optimism and enthusiasm in the Rockford arts community…and this TV series really captures that excitement,” said Holli Connell of Engine Studios.“Collection,” book launch, poster exhibition, and Art Zone reboot opens in the Kortman Gallery on Friday, April 21st, 5 to 9pmand Saturday, 11am to 6pm, Spring ArtScene weekend. 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 June 17th, 2023. For more information call 815-968-0123