Artists and Authors

Long Grove resident Barbara English showcases her paintings in her "Back Seat Gallery," the original inspiration for the event.

Long Grove resident Barbara English showcases her paintings in her “Back Seat Gallery,” the original inspiration for the event.

If you are looking for something fun to do in Long Grove on Saturday, September 17th, I have a good suggestion. The Long Grove Artists Guild (part of the Arts & Music Council) is sponsoring an “Artists and Authors” event on Towner Green, to showcase our homegrown talent.  The idea first got started last year with an informal “Back Seat Gallery & Trunk Show” and has been expanded this year to include local authors, who will be present to sign copies of their books and meet with the public.

The inspiration for this event can be credited to Long Grove artist & author, Barbara English. She stopped by the home of Artist Guild Founder Georgia Cawley after an art class one afternoon, to share her recent paintings. With the framed pieces propped up in the back seat of her car, Georgia teased her about her “back seat gallery,” and the idea was born.

This year, several artists will have their cars parked along Towner Green, with a variety of art in all mediums available to admire and purchase out of backseats and open trunks. The event is a gathering of artist friends, invited by Artist Guild members, to share art with each other and with the public. Stop by downtown Long Grove for a look!

Music on Towner Green

Enjoying an Arts & Music Council concert on Towner Green with one of the founders and guiding forces of the group, Tobin Fraley.

Enjoying an Arts & Music Council concert on Towner Green with one of the founders and guiding forces of the group, Tobin Fraley.

A tradition that I love in Long Grove is our free concerts on summer Sunday afternoons, planned and supported by the Arts & Music Council. The six-concert series is halfway through the 2016 season, but there are still three more opportunities to bask in the summer warmth on Towner Green while enjoying incredible music. This Sunday, August 7th features gypsy-jazz music by Alfonso Ponticelli & Swing Gitan, followed by bluegrass band Special Consensus on August 21st and wrapping up the season with Sons of the Never Wrong on August 28th. Bring your family and friends, lawn chair or blanket, and favorite beverage or even dinner to savor along with the beautiful music. The concerts start at 4:00 and did I mention that they are free?

For the past 11 years our volunteer Long Grove Arts & Music Council members have worked hard to provide this high-quality entertainment for our community, and I for one am grateful. I have so many pleasant memories of concerts in the park over the years and this coming weekend will be one more to remember. To read more about this group and the history of the concerts see my blog post Summer Concert Series Kickoff. 

Arts and Music Council board members Georgia Cawley (left) and Rachel Perkal accept donations at a recent concert.

Arts and Music Council board members Georgia Cawley (left) and Rachel Perkal accept donations at a recent concert.

Colorful Bridges Express Pride and Love

Starting at the American flag and moving right: Cindy Brown, Marie Roth, Rachel Perkal, Carolyn Denaro, Angie Underwood.

Starting at the American flag and moving right: Cindy Brown, Marie Roth, Rachel Perkal, Carolyn Denaro, Angie Underwood.

Many residents and merchants are proud of our Village, and have been showing their love for Long Grove by creating decorative mini bridges. In the past month, these little works of art have been slowly appearing in our historic downtown crossroads. I’m impressed by the efforts and artistic talent on display, and for the vibrant designs and rainbow of colors our merchants and residents have used to liven up the community for the summer.

One of my favorite bridges is pictured above. I love it for the especially fitting message of peace, hope, and respect. Regardless of ideology, politics, race, religion, creed, color, or whom we choose to love in this world, “All Lives Matter Here.” Bravo to Rachel Perkal and her staff at Epilogue, a lovely store here in Long Grove that features beautiful and unique works of art. It is one of my go-to spots when needing a special and memorable gift. Resident and artist Marie Roth was featured in a show this weekend of her one-of a kind American flags, created from reclaimed barn wood.

Art has a healing power, and love for one another is what truly matters.

Shall We Dance?

Greeting one of our newest business owners in the historic downtown, Jesse DeSoto of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio.

Greeting one of our newest business owners in the historic downtown, Jesse DeSoto of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio.

In the year 1900, Long Grove’s first dance hall was built. Housed on a site next to what is now Kildeer Countryside School (and now serves as a parking lot for the old Zimmer Hotel building), this community building was erected at a cost of $2,500. Residents came together to help finance the construction of this social gathering spot, at a cost of $10 per share. According to local lore, dances were held upstairs on the weekends and refreshments were served downstairs, with a separate room to check coats and horse blankets in the winter. Known as Union Hall, dances continued to be held here into the 1940’s, after which it was sold to a turkey hatchery, then a manufacturing company that produced decorative wooden ducks. Years of accumulated sawdust and wood shavings helped fuel a spectacular fire in 1951 that burned the old Union Hall to the ground. Ironically, the fire department was located just down the street but the firefighters were away that evening attending a dance in a nearby town!

One century later, Long Grove’s popularity as a fun place to dance is about to come alive once again. I have recently had the opportunity to meet local resident Jesse DeSoto, a former “Pro” from Season 3 of the popular television show “Dancing With The Stars.” Jesse is in the process of purchasing the former Red Oaks property, and is currently working to relocate his Fred Astaire Dance Studio from Buffalo Grove to our historic downtown. In business for over the past 11 years, this franchise has been consistently ranked as one of the top Fred Astaire Dance Studios in the United States. The former big “barn” on the property is slated to be renovated and reconstructed into a Grand Ballroom, to be used for day to day lessons as well as accommodating social dance events. Future plans for the additional buildings on the site include possible retail and restaurant tenants. Jesse and some of his students recently appeared on ABC Channel 7 to help promote Chocolate Fest this past May. Click here to view a short clip of this.

I know that I speak for so many of the residents and merchants in Long Grove who are excited to welcome Jesse and his new business to our historic downtown. It is a great fit for our community, and truly a kick to see history repeating itself with a popular dance hall coming back to town. This time though, I say we skip the special cloak room for the horse blankets and opt for a disco ball instead!

Summer Concert Series Kickoff

The 2015 Long Grove Sunday Concert Series Opened on July 5th

The 2015 Long Grove Sunday Concert Series Opened on July 5th

The Long Grove Arts and Music Council marks its 10th Anniversary this year. For the past decade, our Village has been the lucky recipient of free Sunday afternoon concerts held for all to enjoy in our historic downtown. From their humble beginnings in the summer of 2006, the volunteers who make up the Arts & Music Council have grown the organization into a 501(c)3 not-for-profit which relies exclusively on donations from members of the community. The summer music series has expanded to feature eight concerts in July and August, featuring a diverse array of quality artistic talent in styles such as Bluegrass, Folk, Classical, Harmonica, and Blues. The first concerts were held at the gazebo in Buffalo Creek Park, and when the need for more space became apparent they moved over to Towner Green. When Sunset Pavilion was built in 2011 the concerts moved again to Fountain Square, and this year the venue has returned back to the lovely Towner Green. An added bonus this year is the new wine bar, “UnWined” just opened in the Victorian house at the end of Towner Green. Residents and visitors can bring a picnic and enjoy a glass of wine or other favorite beverage while soaking in the sights and sounds of a summer concert in the open air. It’s like a mini Ravinia-style experience in our own downtown!

These hometown concerts are one of the things that I have grown to love best about summer in Long Grove. The music is top-notch, the weather is almost always pleasant, and it is supremely relaxing to be downtown among friends and neighbors. This Sunday I was reminded again how fortunate we are in our community to have individuals who work year after year, to create this kind of cultural enrichment for us all. This is truly a community effort, as it takes financial support from merchants, the Lions Club, the Village, and generous residents for this concert series to happen. It was a beautiful day for the kickoff event, and Grammy Award winning harmonica player Howard Levy did not disappoint. You have seven more opportunities this summer for a slice of bliss, free of charge, Sundays at 4:00 in Towner Green. Don’t miss out!

Arts & Music Council Board Members (L to R) Jane Primack, Carolyn Denaro and Walter Roth help sell friendship bread at the concert.

Arts & Music Council Board Members (L to R) Jane Primack, Carolyn Denaro and Walter Roth help sell friendship bread at the concert.

 

Old Glory in Barnwood

Artist Marie Roth poses with Aaron and I on Flag Day, 2014.

Artist Marie Roth poses with Aaron and I on Flag Day, 2014.

In honor of Flag Day this past weekend, and Father’s Day this coming weekend, I thought it would be fitting to post the story behind this picture. It was taken on June 14, 2014, and Father’s Day fell on the following day. Local artist Marie Roth had given a program in downtown Long Grove’s Fountain Square, entitled “Old Glory in Barnwood.” Among her many artistic endeavors, Marie crafts replicas of historical American flags out of wood recycled from old barns, many of them right here in Lake County. After her presentation, members of the Long Grove Historical Society gave tours of our restored 1850’s farmhouse, and walking tours of the historic downtown. That explains my husband Aaron’s unusual costume in the photo above. Marie is a member of our local Art Guild, which is a part of the Long Grove Arts and Music Council. At the time, the Art Guild had a gallery space and many of Marie’s flags were on display. We were so taken with her art that we were motivated to purchase the flag shown above for my Dad, Bill Killian, as his Father’s Day gift last year. He loved it, and it is now hanging in his home office, where he enjoys seeing it every day. So for those of you interested in American history, here are a few facts about this flag:

This 21 star flag of the United States became the official flag on July 4, 1819, recognizing the admission of Illinois to the union on December 3, 1818. It was with the admission of Illinois that Congress declared that a new national flag would be unfurled for the first time on the July 4th following the admission of each new state. This flag is painted on flooring from a barn built on Molidor Road in Grant Township, Lake County, Illinois circa 1867. In the German style of barns, it was built to house dairy herds on the first floor. The second floor of the barn was accessed by a dirt ramp, and was where the family lived and worked and where supplies were kept.