Art & About
Literary Sanctuary …
by Beverly Opelka
Driving west on
103rd Street from Roberts Road, it was easy to cruise past my destination.
Construction vehicles were about the only indicators that something was taking
place at this address. A small sign directs drivers to a side street and, two
turns later, the imposing 3-story structure of Green Hills Library loomed before
me, yet another magnificent structure among the many area libraries that have
undergone major renovations and additions. It was a “wow” moment.
I stood in the parking lot, admiring the
architecture and its somewhat unusual setting as a centerpiece among the
neighborhood homes. At the entrance, positioned above were a number of
butterflies, sculpted ones, of course, and one of many artistic creations
already in place. Kicking up a bit of dust and ducking through plastic sheeting,
Annette Armstrong, Administrative Librarian, was more than eager to offer a
tour. As we coursed through the building, I was particularly impressed with the
many and varied adult reading spaces, in particular, one that included a
fireplace, another the screened porch (yes, the windows open): facing south, a
view of the rooftop sedum garden and, to the west, the sunsets to anticipate.
Much thought was given to entice the imagination and curiosity of the youth:
wall murals and graphics depicting scenes from familiar stories, height-friendly
shelving, book covers that face the child, and even an aquarium which children
(young and old) are eager to visit. Nemo, Dory, here? Ms. Armstrong was quick to
add that the new library “was not just about books and audio/visual materials,
but rather about creating comfortable and inviting spaces for people. We spent
one year visiting other libraries to gather all our ideas.” She attributed much
of the ambience to three artists who have added immeasurably to the effort.
Jim Brenner of Evanston works in glass and steel
and was commissioned for the butterflies that imaginatively flutter at the
entrance. Sonata Kazimieraitis, a ceramicist, had already installed one mural,
depicting spring and summer; a fall and winter mural is in the planning stages
and a tiled fireplace surround will follow. She is represented at the Lill
Street Art Gallery in Chicago. Carol Perry Melnyk of Willowbrook, will be
creating a flower mural for the porch setting. Her work is also evident at the
LaGrange Public Library. Jane Jenkins, Public Services Manager at the Library,
was responsible for researching all the thought provoking quotes and sayings
that Carol implemented artistically in numerous areas throughout. The building
project broke ground in June ’06 and completion is expected by the end of
Grand opening ceremonies are scheduled for
Saturday, April 5th at 11 AM. The public is invited. We will also travel past
impressive Wright designed homes, and see the home of Wright’s lover, Mamah
Cheney, as described in the book, Loving Frank. Local Oak Park authority and
educator, Douglas Deuchler, will share inside tales of Wright’s life as well as
stories of historic Oak Park. Lunch is included at a local favorite, Winberie’s
Restaurant, on The Avenue. The motor coach will leave from the Palos Park
Recreation Building at 9:15 AM and return at 4:15 PM Tickets are $70/PFA member
and $75/non-member. Space is limited. For reservations, mail payment to Joyce
Penney, 8006 Aberdeen Ct., Palos Heights, 60463.
What’s on Your Walls?
By Maria DeCaprio-Sunta
What’s on your walls? Has the question of where to buy fine art crossed your
mind lately? Fine art can be defined as an original, one-of-a-kind work that can
be one, two or three dimensional. The artist uses techniques or mediums that can
range from oil, pastel, watercolor, print, photography, graphite, fiber arts,
digital or mixed media. Fine art is not mass produced, however, limited edition
prints that are numbered and hand signed by the artist would qualify. In
addition, original art that is reproduced through a digital printing process
known as giclee, is also respected among art galleries.
Selecting a piece of art is a personal journey
and can be a very enjoyable process. Purchasing original art depends on your
budget, but affordable quality art can be found in prices ranging from $100 to
$3,000. Price may be determined by factors such as size, creative process,
framing, biography, experience and popularity of the artist.
When looking for art, do not be intimidated by a
gallery setting. Price lists are always available if the pieces are not
specifically labeled. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about specific pieces or
the artists. To appreciate what you are buying involves a learning process as
well as the initial feeling of “I love that piece!” Although it is not
recommended that you match the art to the decor or color scheme of your home,
many people will find that they are drawn to colors, themes, periods or
techniques that match their décor taste. What is most important when purchasing
original art, is that you love the piece.
In the southwest suburban region, there are
several resources available when looking for art. The McCord Gallery and
Cultural Center and the Robert F. DeCaprio Gallery at Moraine Valley Community
College feature monthly exhibits. One of the college’s most popular shows is the
Community Juried Show in June-August which features talented artists within a
50-mile radius. Chicago Heights offers the Union Street Gallery, a wonderful
resource that offer an eclectic collection of art. The Tall Grass Gallery in
Park Forest and White Street Frame & Gallery in Frankfort are also worthwhile
Palos Fine Arts has partnered with some local
businesses and helped create galleries within their establishments featuring
local artists’ works. These galleries not only enhance the businesses, but give
a great opportunity to artists for their work to be seen. Galleries and
businesses, such as Gourmet Coffee Shop, Great American Bagel Shoppe, the Celtic
Cottage and Scibor Upholstering & Gallery, have wonderful offerings and saleable
If you find yourself buying an unframed piece,
Fast Frame the Art House will help you bring your treasure to completion. The
new owners of the Art House utilize their knowledge and experience in interior
design and can offer advice on hanging arrangements in your home.
Remember, buying fine art is not an extravagance;
it is an investment and most importantly, an extension of you. Now, take a deep
breath and look at your walls. What do you see?
Dollie DeNovo - Charter member of Palos Fine Arts
Reprint permission from The Regional by Michael Gilbert - staff reporter
originally printing under “Dollie DeNovo contributed much to history of Palos”
Geraldine “Dollie” DeNovo, a charter member of
the Palos Fine Arts Association and a member of the Palos Park Woman’s Club for
50 years, died July 6, 2006 at home. She was 81.
Born in Ely, Minn. in 1924, Mrs. DeNovo moved to
Palos Park at age 11. She is know to most by her nickname “Dollie,” given by her
grandfather who said her blue eyes and blond hair resembled those of a doll,
Mrs. DeNovo’s daughter Kathy Williams said.
Mrs. DeNovo met her husband, Bob, at the Hobby
House, popularly called Sophie’s, which is now the Plush Horse. They were
married for 62 years and raised two children, Kathy and Bob DeNovo Jr., in Palos
During her 70 years in Palos Park, Mrs. DeNovo
was a member of many service organizations. She was an original member of the
Palos Fine Arts Association and served as the group’s membership chairperson for
several years. She was a member of the Palos Park Woman’s Club for 50 years and
spent time as the leader of the Brownie and Girl Scout troops in Palos Park.
“My mom had a great love for the Palos Park
community,” Bob DeNovo Jr. said. “She always wanted to do things that could
impact others. She was a community- minded person and the ultimate volunteer.”
Mrs. DeNovo’s volunteer efforts also extended
into the education field. She was an emeritus member of the Caritas Society at
the Joseph P. Kennedy School in Palos Park. She served on the school’s board of
directors for 25 years and co-chaired the annual fashion show with famed
designer Oleg Cassini, who designed outfits for Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1960s.
The Joseph P. Kennedy School was founded by the Kennedy family to assist
mentally challenged men.
A longtime volunteer for Palos School District
118, Mrs. DeNovo will be remembered by many for starting hot dog day in the
Palos schools. The tradition of serving hot dogs still continues today.
“I still remember her cooking hot dogs in our
kitchen and bringing them to the schools,” her son said. “Things kind of took
off from there and they still have hot dog days now.”
“When my mom started hot dog day it was at a time
when all the kids carried their lunches in brown bags,” Williams added. “It was
just something about a warm, steamed hot dog that everyone enjoyed.”
In 1989, Mrs. DeNovo compiled “The History of
Palos Park” for the village’s 75th anniversary of incorporation.
The book contained the area’s ancient geologic history, the indigenous Indian
tribes and the development of the present day town. Mrs. DeNovo reviewed earlier
village publications and spoke with many residents to create a publication that
still remains a substantial history of Palos Park today, her son said.
“The History of Palos Park” was quite a piece of
work,” her son said. “She put her heart and soul into that book. My mom was
self-educated and did not go to college, so for her to do all of that work and
research was really amazing. It was quite a labor of love. She felt if somebody
didn’t put the history of Palos Park into writing it would be lost forever. The
book was just part of her commitment to the community.”
Known for her style and sense of fashion, Mrs.
DeNovo owned and spent 12 years managing County Casuals, a women’s apparel shop
in the Palos Park Village Courtyard.
“Mom had a since of style and class that you do
not normally find,” her son said. “Her store helped save a lot of husbands who
were last minute shoppers on Dec. 24 because she knew everyone’s size and their
tastes. She was a personal shopper before they had personal shoppers.”
Mrs. DeNovo earned many awards for her tireless
volunteer work in Palos Park. In 1998, she and her husband received an award
from Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheehan’s office for their exceptional
volunteer work in the community. The Palos Fine Arts Board of Directors honored
her in 2003 for her many contributions, not only in the arts, but also for the
generosity and talent she showed the community. One of her pet projects was
“Women in Music” and the Art Train for Palos Fine Arts.
“My mom was a wonderful role model,” Williams
said. “She was a calming and graceful person and everyone knew of my mom. I’ve
had friends come up and say that my mom was a wonderful inspiration to them. It
will be very sad without her.”
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Honors Palos Fine Arts
Palos Fine Arts is being honored by the Palos Orland Branch of AAUW for its
organizational leadership in the arts and has been chosen as one of their
Educational Foundation named honorees for 2005. Each year AAUW Branches are
encouraged to recognize outstanding women and organizations in their communities
who represent community leadership. PFA is being honored for the valuable work
it has done and continues to do in establishing and maintaining an artistic
community for the Palos area. The recognition dinner was held on May 4th at
Midlothian Country Club and PFA’s Co-Presidents, Joyce Penney and Diann Pavlatos
were in attendance to
accept the honor.
Educators in the News
At Palos South School in District 118, art teacher, Linda Frigo, returned with
much enthusiasm to the classroom after a trip to Japan, awarded to her as a
Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholarship recipient. Linda attended a conference on
Peace Education, promoting that there is an important need to share the
responsibility for teaching peace to our children. Since origami cranes are a
symbol of peace and good luck in Japan, Linda Frigo initiated the 1000 crane
peace project for Palos South Middle School and the creation of the Peace Crane
Sculpture which will be unveiled later this year. Linda Frigo has received two
of the Felicia DeBow Memorial Scholarships from Palos Fine Arts. She made a
recent appearance at a Board meeting and shared with the group ikebana, the art
of Japanese flower arranging. The simple approach, focusing on one plant, one
flower, or one tree combines 3 angles for a single creation. Everyone present
took home their own custom creation. Linda also came bearing kudos for the
support she has received from Palos Fine Arts and its members. “I am a better
and more creative teacher because of you. So many more projects are possible
because my ideas will be supported by you. You’ve done so much to touch the
community.” When we ponder the added value of educators like Linda, we can
expect that our children will have been exposed to a role model of exceptional
Congratulations to Sustaining
Board Member, Dr. Phyllis Kozlowski, who will present a paper and participate in
the Oxford Round Table at the University of Oxford, to be held in July of 2006.
The title of the Round Table is “The Two Cultures: The Current Debate.” Forty
specially selected arts doctors will concur on the topic of how to increase
students’ learning in the arts and humanities in our schools. Papers presented
at the Round Table will be published in several international academic journals.
A JAPANESE JOURNEY
Linda Frigo is an art teacher at Palos South
District 118 and someone you should know. Her ambition and willingness to
share with her students are only a few of the qualities that earned her the
Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund scholarship in 2005. She was thrilled to be
one of the recipients selected to study art curriculum and Japanese
culture. Additionally, Mrs. Frigo was awarded the Felicia DeBow
Scholarship, in June 05, created by the DeBow Family and designed to go to a
deserving woman wishing to take on a special learning experience related to
Here are a few interesting facts that she shared about her trip to Japan:
All students take art, music, cooking,
sewing and shop classes starting in first grade.
Students express themselves artistically in
a uniform manner and replicate master works. Individualism is not
emphasized in their artwork.
Students work strongly in groups and find it
more challenging to achieve individually.
Students usually decide a career path to
follow when in eighth grade.
Teachers are highly respected within the
school and community.
Schools are similar to America’s in design
with PTO’s, school boards, principals, etc.
In preparation for the trip, her eighth grade students created origami
cranes which Mrs. Frigo delivered to the Sadako Peace Sculpture in Hiroshima
which was a very moving experience. She has also created a culture box for
6th, 7th and 8th graders to use,
incorporating ideas and techniques from her trip. Most recently, she has
initiated a peace sculpture project which will engage the students and
community. The metal sculpture will depict a crane with moving disks and it
will be installed in front of the new addition at Palos South.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mrs. Frigo for the Palos Heights Channel
4 cable station and the segment is currently being aired locally. Mrs.
Frigo wants to say “domo arrigato” to all who helped make this trip a
Interview by Maria De-Caprio Sunta
ART and CHAIRity
Artists communicate amid a wide network of artists sharing their latest creative
endeavors and accomplishments. This cycle can be illustrated when I had a casual
conversation with my artist friend, Margi Hafer, a couple of years ago. Margi
was artistically embellishing a chair for an auction called the Celebrity Chair
event held annually in Chicago which was founded by Mary McCall.
The concept is that celebrities autograph a piece of fabric or leather and
donate it to charity who then finds talented and willing artists to create an
exciting and unique chair around that signature. My friend encouraged me to get
involved; however, I immediately thought I would like to partner with Yvonne
Scibor Upholstery & Gallery in Palos Heights. Who knows what the two of us
could do? Yvonne has access to thousands of fabrics, trims, tassels and the
latest trends in upholstery designs. As for me, give me my paint brushes and a
theme and away I go.
In 2004, we received Stephen Sondheim, the well-known musical
composer/producer/director. Lists of musicals to his credit are Sweeney Todd, A
Little Night Music, West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to
the Forum, and Company. One of his latest shows was ³Frogs² which is based on a
Greek comedy/tragedy by Aristophanes which debuted last fall in New York. Our
mission was to promote this show plus depict Sondheim’s innate talents. After
brainstorming, Yvonne and I came up with a design which featured fabric with a
³chorus line² of dancers and I hand-painted the entire frame with colorful frogs
leaping in all directions. The focal point, of course, was the forest green
leather seat with Sondheim’s signature. At auction, the chair went for $550!
The annual event is held in December and raises funds for Chicago Abused Women
Coalition, Chicago Communities in Schools and Neighborhood Housing Services of
This year’s “celebrity” is the beautiful and sexy, Halle Barry. We do have our
work ahead of us! Yvonne and I already have the vision and will create, from an
antique frame, a beautiful chair which will be embellished with embroidered
silk, mosaic tiles, tassels, and hand-painted details. What a wonderful way
artists can contribute to a good cause and have some fun at the same time.
Maria DeCaprio Sunta – Board