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Artists hope to leave imprint on Joliet arts scene

Refusing to let the Joliet arts scene lose another artist, Sue Regis is looking to make her mark in the community.

For now, she continues to create artwork out of her studio nestled in the city’s downtown.

As part of a way to bolster the arts scene in Joliet, Regis is teaming up with a group of artists to form the non-profit organization Art Movement Inc., whose initiative is to foster interest in arts among community youth, as well as promote a sense of community among working artists.

Regis acknowledged that some of her friends who are artists have left Joliet over the years in search of an arts scene and said there is a great need for an organization of this type.

“There’s so many artists here,” she said. “More are just going to start coming out of the woodwork.”

Regis has tinkered with the idea of starting the group as early as last year. She and other artists ramped up their discussions in December 2017 by holding their first meeting.

“I knew that I wanted to get this going,” Regis said.

Since that time, the group has continued to meet. It is open to anyone who is interested in art.

Art Movement Inc. wants to hold future programs and community events.

On July 21, the group is planning to host its first event dubbed, “In the Making: A Collaboration of Art and Music”. It will be open, free of charge, to artists of all mediums, and they are encouraged to participate and showcase their work. The event, which will be held in the fountain plaza across the street from the Rialto Square Theatre, will include kids activities from 1-3 p.m. and five performances by Joliet musicians from 3-9 p.m.

Regis said it is powerful the way members of the group all come together because they love art.

“All of us artists, here, have a story on how art helped us, if it’s getting through areas of our lives that were troubling or whatever it is,” Regis said. “That’s what art does.”

In February, the group was approached by Quinn Adamowski, vice president of the Joliet Area Historical Museum Board of Directors, in hopes of seeking local artists who may be interested in getting involved in the community.

Several artists linked to the group started working on a project, spearheaded by the City of Joliet and the Joliet Area Historical Museum, putting items found in the Old Joliet Prison to new use. The two entities wanted to find different ways to involve the community.

Regis and other artists were given the go-ahead to explore burnt buildings of the Old Joliet Prison to find materials in which they can create artwork.

The project has stirred some excitement in the Joliet arts scene, much to the delight of Art Movement Inc.’s mission, the group said.

“Everyone’s pretty excited about it,” said David Wheeler, a Joliet artist who is involved in the prison project. “A lot of them couldn’t wait to get in and get started.”

Rubin Calderon, another Joliet artist who is part of the prison project, agreed.

“My preferred medium is acrylic, so literally, I can turn anything into a canvas,” he said. “There’s so much stuff in there that we can use. I’m excited.”

Calderon is originally from Joliet, moved to Bolingbrook and later returned to his hometown to set up a studio. He said he is happy to be part of the arts scene in Joliet.

Calderon has spent time exploring the prison grounds for materials to put to use.

“Doing that, I’m taking some of the ashes and I’m using it as charcoal to make sketches,” he said. “I’m doing a sketch of the actual prison with the ashes and coal that I found.”

Wheeler said he has mainly eyed wood as a medium and that he is open to finding different materials found on the prison grounds to include in his artwork.

Over the course of several weekends, artists involved in the prison project and Art Movement, Inc. found a plethora of materials, some included in artwork, some still to be determined if it’s to be put to new use.

“The stuff we found was just amazing,” Regis said. “I don’t think anyone realized the stuff we were going to find.”

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