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Art & About

Literary Sanctuary …
by Beverly Opelka

Driving west on 103rd Street from Roberts Road, it was easy to cruise past my destination. Construction vehicles were about the only indicators that something was taking place at this address. A small sign directs drivers to a side street and, two turns later, the imposing 3-story structure of Green Hills Library loomed before me, yet another magnificent structure among the many area libraries that have undergone major renovations and additions. It was a “wow” moment.

I stood in the parking lot, admiring the architecture and its somewhat unusual setting as a centerpiece among the neighborhood homes. At the entrance, positioned above were a number of butterflies, sculpted ones, of course, and one of many artistic creations already in place. Kicking up a bit of dust and ducking through plastic sheeting, Annette Armstrong, Administrative Librarian, was more than eager to offer a tour. As we coursed through the building, I was particularly impressed with the many and varied adult reading spaces, in particular, one that included a fireplace, another the screened porch (yes, the windows open): facing south, a view of the rooftop sedum garden and, to the west, the sunsets to anticipate. Much thought was given to entice the imagination and curiosity of the youth: wall murals and graphics depicting scenes from familiar stories, height-friendly shelving, book covers that face the child, and even an aquarium which children (young and old) are eager to visit. Nemo, Dory, here? Ms. Armstrong was quick to add that the new library “was not just about books and audio/visual materials, but rather about creating comfortable and inviting spaces for people. We spent one year visiting other libraries to gather all our ideas.” She attributed much of the ambience to three artists who have added immeasurably to the effort.

Jim Brenner of Evanston works in glass and steel and was commissioned for the butterflies that imaginatively flutter at the entrance. Sonata Kazimieraitis, a ceramicist, had already installed one mural, depicting spring and summer; a fall and winter mural is in the planning stages and a tiled fireplace surround will follow. She is represented at the Lill Street Art Gallery in Chicago. Carol Perry Melnyk of Willowbrook, will be creating a flower mural for the porch setting. Her work is also evident at the LaGrange Public Library. Jane Jenkins, Public Services Manager at the Library, was responsible for researching all the thought provoking quotes and sayings that Carol implemented artistically in numerous areas throughout. The building project broke ground in June ’06 and completion is expected by the end of February ’08.

Grand opening ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday, April 5th at 11 AM. The public is invited. We will also travel past impressive Wright designed homes, and see the home of Wright’s lover, Mamah Cheney, as described in the book, Loving Frank. Local Oak Park authority and educator, Douglas Deuchler, will share inside tales of Wright’s life as well as stories of historic Oak Park. Lunch is included at a local favorite, Winberie’s Restaurant, on The Avenue. The motor coach will leave from the Palos Park Recreation Building at 9:15 AM and return at 4:15 PM Tickets are $70/PFA member and $75/non-member. Space is limited. For reservations, mail payment to Joyce Penney, 8006 Aberdeen Ct., Palos Heights, 60463.


What’s on Your Walls?

By Maria DeCaprio-Sunta
What’s on your walls? Has the question of where to buy fine art crossed your mind lately? Fine art can be defined as an original, one-of-a-kind work that can be one, two or three dimensional. The artist uses techniques or mediums that can range from oil, pastel, watercolor, print, photography, graphite, fiber arts, digital or mixed media. Fine art is not mass produced, however, limited edition prints that are numbered and hand signed by the artist would qualify. In addition, original art that is reproduced through a digital printing process known as giclee, is also respected among art galleries.

Selecting a piece of art is a personal journey and can be a very enjoyable process. Purchasing original art depends on your budget, but affordable quality art can be found in prices ranging from $100 to $3,000. Price may be determined by factors such as size, creative process, framing, biography, experience and popularity of the artist.

When looking for art, do not be intimidated by a gallery setting. Price lists are always available if the pieces are not specifically labeled. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about specific pieces or the artists. To appreciate what you are buying involves a learning process as well as the initial feeling of “I love that piece!” Although it is not recommended that you match the art to the decor or color scheme of your home, many people will find that they are drawn to colors, themes, periods or techniques that match their décor taste. What is most important when purchasing original art, is that you love the piece.

In the southwest suburban region, there are several resources available when looking for art. The McCord Gallery and Cultural Center and the Robert F. DeCaprio Gallery at Moraine Valley Community College feature monthly exhibits. One of the college’s most popular shows is the Community Juried Show in June-August which features talented artists within a 50-mile radius. Chicago Heights offers the Union Street Gallery, a wonderful resource that offer an eclectic collection of art. The Tall Grass Gallery in Park Forest and White Street Frame & Gallery in Frankfort are also worthwhile destinations.

Palos Fine Arts has partnered with some local businesses and helped create galleries within their establishments featuring local artists’ works. These galleries not only enhance the businesses, but give a great opportunity to artists for their work to be seen. Galleries and businesses, such as Gourmet Coffee Shop, Great American Bagel Shoppe, the Celtic Cottage and Scibor Upholstering & Gallery, have wonderful offerings and saleable works.

If you find yourself buying an unframed piece, Fast Frame the Art House will help you bring your treasure to completion. The new owners of the Art House utilize their knowledge and experience in interior design and can offer advice on hanging arrangements in your home.

Remember, buying fine art is not an extravagance; it is an investment and most importantly, an extension of you. Now, take a deep breath and look at your walls. What do you see?


Dollie DeNovo - Charter member of Palos Fine Arts
Reprint permission from The Regional by Michael Gilbert - staff reporter originally printing under “Dollie DeNovo contributed much to history of Palos”

Geraldine “Dollie” DeNovo, a charter member of the Palos Fine Arts Association and a member of the Palos Park Woman’s Club for 50 years, died July 6, 2006 at home. She was 81.

Born in Ely, Minn. in 1924, Mrs. DeNovo moved to Palos Park at age 11. She is know to most by her nickname “Dollie,” given by her grandfather who said her blue eyes and blond hair resembled those of a doll, Mrs. DeNovo’s daughter Kathy Williams said.

Mrs. DeNovo met her husband, Bob, at the Hobby House, popularly called Sophie’s, which is now the Plush Horse. They were married for 62 years and raised two children, Kathy and Bob DeNovo Jr., in Palos Park.

During her 70 years in Palos Park, Mrs. DeNovo was a member of many service organizations. She was an original member of the Palos Fine Arts Association and served as the group’s membership chairperson for several years. She was a member of the Palos Park Woman’s Club for 50 years and spent time as the leader of the Brownie and Girl Scout troops in Palos Park.

“My mom had a great love for the Palos Park community,” Bob DeNovo Jr. said. “She always wanted to do things that could impact others. She was a community- minded person and the ultimate volunteer.”

Mrs. DeNovo’s volunteer efforts also extended into the education field. She was an emeritus member of the Caritas Society at the Joseph P. Kennedy School in Palos Park. She served on the school’s board of directors for 25 years and co-chaired the annual fashion show with famed designer Oleg Cassini, who designed outfits for Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1960s. The Joseph P. Kennedy School was founded by the Kennedy family to assist mentally challenged men.

A longtime volunteer for Palos School District 118, Mrs. DeNovo will be remembered by many for starting hot dog day in the Palos schools. The tradition of serving hot dogs still continues today.

“I still remember her cooking hot dogs in our kitchen and bringing them to the schools,” her son said. “Things kind of took off from there and they still have hot dog days now.”

“When my mom started hot dog day it was at a time when all the kids carried their lunches in brown bags,” Williams added. “It was just something about a warm, steamed hot dog that everyone enjoyed.”

In 1989, Mrs. DeNovo compiled “The History of Palos Park” for the village’s 75th anniversary of incorporation.
The book contained the area’s ancient geologic history, the indigenous Indian tribes and the development of the present day town. Mrs. DeNovo reviewed earlier village publications and spoke with many residents to create a publication that still remains a substantial history of Palos Park today, her son said.

“The History of Palos Park” was quite a piece of work,” her son said. “She put her heart and soul into that book. My mom was self-educated and did not go to college, so for her to do all of that work and research was really amazing. It was quite a labor of love. She felt if somebody didn’t put the history of Palos Park into writing it would be lost forever. The book was just part of her commitment to the community.”

Known for her style and sense of fashion, Mrs. DeNovo owned and spent 12 years managing County Casuals, a women’s apparel shop in the Palos Park Village Courtyard.

“Mom had a since of style and class that you do not normally find,” her son said. “Her store helped save a lot of husbands who were last minute shoppers on Dec. 24 because she knew everyone’s size and their tastes. She was a personal shopper before they had personal shoppers.”

Mrs. DeNovo earned many awards for her tireless volunteer work in Palos Park. In 1998, she and her husband received an award from Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheehan’s office for their exceptional volunteer work in the community. The Palos Fine Arts Board of Directors honored her in 2003 for her many contributions, not only in the arts, but also for the generosity and talent she showed the community. One of her pet projects was “Women in Music” and the Art Train for Palos Fine Arts.

“My mom was a wonderful role model,” Williams said. “She was a calming and graceful person and everyone knew of my mom. I’ve had friends come up and say that my mom was a wonderful inspiration to them. It will be very sad without her.”


American Association of University Women (AAUW) Honors Palos Fine Arts

Palos Fine Arts is being honored by the Palos Orland Branch of AAUW for its organizational leadership in the arts and has been chosen as one of their Educational Foundation named honorees for 2005. Each year AAUW Branches are encouraged to recognize outstanding women and organizations in their communities who represent community leadership. PFA is being honored for the valuable work it has done and continues to do in establishing and maintaining an artistic community for the Palos area. The recognition dinner was held on May 4th at Midlothian Country Club and PFA’s Co-Presidents, Joyce Penney and Diann Pavlatos were in attendance to
accept the honor.


Educators in the News

At Palos South School in District 118, art teacher, Linda Frigo, returned with much enthusiasm to the classroom after a trip to Japan, awarded to her as a Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholarship recipient. Linda attended a conference on Peace Education, promoting that there is an important need to share the responsibility for teaching peace to our children. Since origami cranes are a symbol of peace and good luck in Japan, Linda Frigo initiated the 1000 crane peace project for Palos South Middle School and the creation of the Peace Crane Sculpture which will be unveiled later this year. Linda Frigo has received two of the Felicia DeBow Memorial Scholarships from Palos Fine Arts. She made a recent appearance at a Board meeting and shared with the group ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging. The simple approach, focusing on one plant, one flower, or one tree combines 3 angles for a single creation. Everyone present took home their own custom creation. Linda also came bearing kudos for the support she has received from Palos Fine Arts and its members. “I am a better and more creative teacher because of you. So many more projects are possible because my ideas will be supported by you. You’ve done so much to touch the community.” When we ponder the added value of educators like Linda, we can expect that our children will have been exposed to a role model of exceptional caliber.

Congratulations to Sustaining Board Member, Dr. Phyllis Kozlowski, who will present a paper and participate in the Oxford Round Table at the University of Oxford, to be held in July of 2006. The title of the Round Table is “The Two Cultures: The Current Debate.” Forty specially selected arts doctors will concur on the topic of how to increase students’ learning in the arts and humanities in our schools. Papers presented at the Round Table will be published in several international academic journals.




Linda Frigo is an art teacher at Palos South District 118 and someone you should know. Her ambition and willingness to share with her students are only a few of the qualities that earned her the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund scholarship in 2005.  She was thrilled to be one of the recipients selected to study art curriculum and Japanese culture.  Additionally, Mrs. Frigo was awarded the Felicia DeBow Scholarship, in June 05, created by the DeBow Family and designed to go to a deserving woman wishing to take on a special learning experience related to the arts. 

Here are a few interesting facts that she shared about her trip to Japan:

  • All students take art, music, cooking, sewing and shop classes starting in first grade.

  • Students express themselves artistically in a uniform manner and replicate master works. Individualism is not emphasized in their artwork.

  • Students work strongly in groups and find it more challenging to achieve individually.

  • Students usually decide a career path to follow when in eighth grade.

  • Teachers are highly respected within the school and community.

  • Schools are similar to America’s in design with PTO’s, school boards, principals, etc. 

In preparation for the trip, her eighth grade students created origami cranes which Mrs. Frigo delivered to the Sadako Peace Sculpture in Hiroshima which was a very moving experience.  She has also created a culture box for 6th, 7th and 8th graders to use, incorporating ideas and techniques from her trip. Most recently, she has initiated a peace sculpture project which will engage the students and community.  The metal sculpture will depict a crane with moving disks and it will be installed in front of the new addition at Palos South.   

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mrs. Frigo for the Palos Heights Channel 4 cable station and the segment is currently being aired locally.  Mrs. Frigo wants to say “domo arrigato” to all who helped make this trip a reality.

                                                                                    Interview by Maria De-Caprio Sunta



ART and CHAIRity

Artists communicate amid a wide network of artists sharing their latest creative endeavors and accomplishments. This cycle can be illustrated when I had a casual conversation with my artist friend, Margi Hafer, a couple of years ago. Margi was artistically embellishing a chair for an auction called the Celebrity Chair event held annually in Chicago which was founded by Mary McCall. 

The concept is that celebrities autograph a piece of fabric or leather and donate it to charity who then finds talented and willing artists to create an exciting and unique chair around that signature.  My friend encouraged me to get involved; however, I immediately thought I would like to partner with Yvonne Scibor Upholstery & Gallery in Palos Heights.  Who knows what the two of us could do?  Yvonne has access to thousands of fabrics, trims, tassels and the latest trends in upholstery designs.  As for me, give me my paint brushes and a theme and away I go. 

In 2004, we received Stephen Sondheim, the well-known musical composer/producer/director.  Lists of musicals to his credit are Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Company.  One of his latest shows was ³Frogs² which is based on a Greek comedy/tragedy by Aristophanes which debuted last fall in New York.  Our mission was to promote this show plus depict Sondheim’s innate talents.  After brainstorming, Yvonne and I came up with a design which featured fabric with a ³chorus line² of dancers and I hand-painted the entire frame with colorful frogs leaping in all directions.  The focal point, of course, was the forest green leather seat with Sondheim’s signature. At auction, the chair went for $550!  The annual event is held in December and raises funds for Chicago Abused Women Coalition, Chicago Communities in Schools and Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago. 

This year’s “celebrity” is the beautiful and sexy, Halle Barry.  We do have our work ahead of us!  Yvonne and I already have the vision and will create, from an antique frame, a beautiful chair which will be embellished with embroidered silk, mosaic tiles, tassels, and hand-painted details. What a wonderful way artists can contribute to a good cause and have some fun at the same time. 

Maria DeCaprio Sunta – Board Member



 Palos Park Fine Arts Association
8901 West 123rd Street, Palos Park, IL 60464

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