SUGAR GROVE – Gallery 125, located in the Sugar Grove Public Library, officially opened in September. This full gallery space is home to a collection of pieces from more than a dozen artists. It includes 38 hanging pieces – photography, oil and pastel works, and large murals – along with sculptures and handcrafts.
The artists who contributed artwork for the gallery collection include Desiree Franklin, who also works with the ArtBar at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora; Soterios Gardiakos, who contributed metal works and a sculpture; Leo Zarko, an author and artist; Amanda Meyer, who contributed haunting photography and design; and Rae Ann Hoehn, a muralist.
Sugar Grove Public Library Director Shannon Halikias said she hopes residents and community members will visit the gallery exhibit and enjoy the art from all of the artists who contributed their work.
“I love the sense of artistic community it helps create," Halikias said. “We had over 100 artists and patrons visit for the opening and several pieces sold to community members. This is the first space for art to be publicly displayed in Sugar Grove, and it is filling a cultural gap. We hope patrons and artists will continue to exhibit in the coming year and enjoy the opportunity to network, and enjoy the ambiance of the library.”
Before entering the gallery, one can find a binder full of artists’ memoirs and biographies. The artists have stories of how they started creating their artwork and why they chose to create their handcrafts, paintings and other various works of art.
Maxine Gardner, an artist featured at the exhibit, started creating artwork in her adult life after she completed a class in mosaics. Gardner became passionate about creating mosaics for her home and garden. She has a studio where she creates mosaics and it includes several thousand recycled items to be broken or covered. Currently, Gardner has three art photography doors resembling paintings on display.
Her studio gained enough popularity to be included in a HGTV segment, “Our Place.” Gardner’s feature focused on her creation of mosaic gazing balls made out of recycled bowling balls, covered and decorated with iridescent stained glass.
“Every time the show aired, I had so many requests for instructions on wood, clay, metal and bowling balls,” Gardner said. “That led to creating workshops teaching others to develop their creativity through mosaics.”
One of Gardner’s most valued experiences was volunteering in a homeless shelter where she helped people create their own art by working with broken pieces of dishes and glass.
“The broken pieces of dishes and glass [were] used to create art and uplifted their spirits and altered their perceptions of self,” Gardner said.
Photographer and self-portrait artist Amanda Meyer has art portraits on display at Gallery 125 titled: “Metamorphosis,” “Truth never remains buried,” "You can not hide from yourself,” “New soul awaken,” “Ensnared by fate no lies escape” and “What dreams may come, carried her away.” More of Meyer’s work can be viewed on her website, amandameyer.com.
Meyer said she hopes that when people view her photography they will feel a sense of community especially if they are having feelings of anxiety, despair or fear. Meyer’s career as a self-portrait artist began when she realized she was unsure of how to direct people into a pose she wanted to create. Since then, Meyer has created raw and emotional self-portrait images after perfecting her desired poses.
“I want people to look at what I create and know they are not alone,” Meyer said. “I want to inspire others to share what they feel. Even if someone doesn't like an image I’ve created they still are feeling something and that is my goal. I want people to find comfort in creating strange images because I think we all have another side to ourselves that’s a little weird. I've decided to embrace that side of myself in order to show the world how I feel because I can not always put into words what I feel.”