AURORA – A project that began nearly two years ago to bring attention to the importance, beauty and moods of the Fox River has resulted in 73 original oil paintings that will be exhibited from Sept. 20 to Dec. 14 at the Schingoethe Center at Aurora University, 1315 Prairie St., Aurora, officials announced in a news release.
An opening reception for “A Fox River Testimony” will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. followed by a lecture at 6:45 p.m. on “The Paradoxical Landscape Frame” presented by Joel Sheesley, the artist, in the Tapper Recital Hall.
Reservations are necessary for the artist lecture and can be made at auartsandideas.com or by calling 630-844-4924.
Sheesley, of Wheaton, partnered with The Conservation Foundation for Art of the Fox as part of its Fox River Initiative, a program to help connect residents with the river and engage them to become environmentally conscious through local projects, the release stated.
As artist-in-residence, Sheesley set up his easel at various points along the river in all kinds of weather at different times of the day to showcase the beauty of the natural areas and human communities along its shores.
What began as a project to produce 50 to 60 oil paintings, ended with 73 for the exhibition.
“I ended up with 73 paintings because I really couldn’t see a place to stop,” Sheesley stated in the release. “I like that number because it has a kind of indeterminate feel — as if in mid-stream.”
The project has taken Sheesley along an 80-mile stretch from Dundee to Ottawa.
The Fox River headwaters begin near Waukesha, Wis. before entering Illinois at the Chain O’Lakes in McHenry County, flowing through Kane and Kendall counties before meeting up with the Illinois River near Ottawa in LaSalle County, according to the release.
Sheesley’s travels included canoeing to some locations, hiking trails and off the path with his French easel and paint box across his back, and even camping overnight to capture the light from the sunset and sunrise on the river surface.
Following the meandering river, Sheesley found himself in diverse habitats of wetlands, agricultural, glacially formed lakes, sandstone bluffs and densely populated urban areas.
The paintings are available for purchase, ranging from $575 for an 11-by-14-inch canvas, up to $2,175 for an 18-by-36-inch canvas. High quality giclée prints of 16 selections from the exhibit will be available at a reduced cost, according to the release.
Sheesley,an emeritus professor of art at Wheaton College, chronicled his field experiences along with photos of the paintings in a 160-page coffee table book entitled “A Fox River Testimony,” which will be available for purchase at the exhibit for $49.95.
For more information about TheConservation Foundation, visit theconservationfoundation.org.