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Maple & Main - Meet the Artists for the Curated Art Gallery Wall

I am thrilled that my company, Michelle Gentile Interiors, LLC has been selected to curate the new art gallery wall in the lobby of @MapleandMain at 1010 Maple Ave in Downers Grove. Collecting Artwork has always been a passion of mine and I am truly inspired by the artists' abilities to create. I have enjoyed this selection process immensely and I am looking forward to the installation this coming week. The management of Maple and Main wants the building to be an integral part of the community and has specifically asked for the artwork to be produced by local artists either from Downers Grove or that have a strong tie to the town.

I decided it was best to start from the artist I know, like @Melissakucia who has been a good friend for several years, since our sons went to (El Sierra) grade school together. I've been a huge fan of her abstract paintings and even an owner of one. I thought she'd be the perfect artist to build the concept around. I chose two of her pieces that work well with the color scheme and palette of the building. Her paintings have set the stage for the other artists to perform on.

The next on my list was my best friend from elementary school. Andrea and I have know each other since 1st grade when we attended Lester School. Her and her husband, Anthony own A & A Studios and build custom photo booths. Anthony has always been an artist and wanted a chance to showcase his creative abilities. His process includes working with vintage negatives in the darkroom. His combination pieces represent a time before technology with industrial settings and elegantly placed facial features. He adds a twist of surprise to his work and keeps his audience wanting more. Anthony's artwork inspired me to go the the Downer Grove Historical Society and research images that I could provide to the artist to bring the history of Downers Grove back into the building.

Cynthia Dybsky and I had the opportunity to meet at the Downers Grove Fine Arts Fair. This was the Cynthia's first show and her pieces sold like hotcakes. I am honored to have her "Classic Pears" hanging in our hallway at home. Cynthia has an amazing eye for detail. Each brush stroke is soft and messy yet well thought out and energetic. Her artwork has a playfulness from the settings and elements she chooses to paint. She lives in Denburn Woods, a beautifully wooded neighborhood in DG where she finds inspiration for her paintings. MGI commissioned Cynthia to paint a photograph scene of Maple Ave from a time when men used horse drawn buggies to brick pave the road. We also selected a photograph of Main street in the 1930's. She used all sepia tones but highlighted the featured with a beautiful shade of aqua blue.

Another artist I had the pleasure meeting at the Downers Grove Fine Arts Fair was Brian P.Horan and his company My Eye on the World. What caught my attention was the simplicity of his photographs and the way he uses color to enhance the images.

I found two perfect photographs to add to the collection. The tenants will fall in love with his positivity and creativeness to capture The Tivoli Theater, a well known landmark in Downers Grove.

Krista Varsbergs lives in Downers Grove, and paints images from memory of local landmarks. One of the mediums she uses is charcoal with a little bit of ink and oil pastel, on birch veneer. What is so amazing is that it looks like paper, but you can see the exposed wood grain in the background of the painting. What resonates is that the places she paints are familiar, it’s striking to see how your own impression of a place might be similar to hers. We had the opportunity to look at images she created of Blackwell Forest Preserve, Fullersburg Woods, and Maple Grove, to name a few. She uses a lot of black in her landscapes, with greens and occasional reds. We chose the landscape of Blackwell Forest Persevere because of the vibrant colors and the way she etched out the veneer with a router. It adds a nice texture that I have never seen before.

After reviewing all of the pieces I felt like the collection was missing something. My original thought was to use an image of Pierce Downer himself but all of the images I researched from the @DownersGroveHistoricalSociety seemed to dark in nature. I wanted to keep the subject matter light and refreshing. I know if I lived there I would want to be inspired by the collection of artwork. My assistant Claire H. had mentioned Nancy Gelband because her artwork was hanging at the Smokey Tomato. As soon as I saw Nancy's work I knew she'd be the one to sketch the photo of Wells Blodgett in his Union Officer uniform from 1860. The most striking feature of the photograph is Well's eyes and she makes it feel like he's looking right at you.

After the art was selected I needed to find someone to handle the framing. I found Four Star Framing on Ogden Ave. Spencer is unbelievable at his task! He was able to pick the frames within minutes and knew what framing would highlight the natural beauty of the pieces. He also completed the framing in less time that he had initially stated. Huge KUDDOS to Spencer!

#melissakucia #anthonyvizzari #kristavarsbergs #cynthiadybsky #nancygelband

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