View of WCI Arts Center during Exhibition

When our esteemed Gallery Director, Dean Rockwell, set up the upcoming exhibition of Three Kinswomen, we at the WCI Arts Center were thrilled to have Macomb natives Cathmar, Beckie and Meg Prange exhibiting their work in our amazing space. Since the initial planning of this exhibition, the ever talented Prange family has enlarged the exhibitors to include Amy and her daughter, Anna. The expansion of artists displaying their work also modulated the name change. What was initially Three Kinswomen expanded to Four Kinswomen and with addition of Anna, to Kinswomen. This is one of WCI Arts Center’s most anticipated exhibitions. Here, in Cathmar’s own words, is an explanation of Kinswomen’s evolution:

In 2001 the Kinswomen began when painter Cathmar Prange and her daughters, the fabric artist Meg Prange and the poet A.O. Spencer, collaborated to produce an exhibit they called the Three Kinswomen. They had already been sharing their creative endeavors since the daughters’ childhood. Suddenly, similarities in their work became obvious to Cathmar and Meg. When Amy noticed that her poetry would add a literary element to the duo, they allowed themselves to be inspired by one another’s work. This resulted in displays organized as triplets, art pieces that shared subject or some aesthetic aspect. During the next two years they exhibited as the Three Kinswomen in midwestern communities. The eldest daughter Beckie Prange, a woodcut printer, joined briefly to create the Four Kinswomen. After a hiatus of nearly ten years, Meg was invited to exhibit in Greenfield, Iowa. Because her inventory would not adequately fill the available space, she suggested that her mother might be interested in joining her. A Two Kinswomen exhibit evolved in 2012.

Now Beckie and Amy join them again to exhibit as the Four Kinswomen in their home town of Macomb, Illinois, at the West Central Illinois Arts Center on the square, October 25 through November 23, 2013. This time, visitors are invited to draw their own conclusions as to the similarities between their works.

We hope that our supporters of the arts will join us in welcoming the exhibiting members of the Prange family for our opening reception on October 25 from 6:30-8pm. Thank you for your continued support!



Minutes from Annual Meeting-2013

As discussed during our Annual Meeting, the WCI Arts Center is in the process of re-vamping our website. As the site stands now there is nowhere for us to publish the minutes from our annual meeting, so I’m posting them here for our members to have access. In the future there will be a member sign-in area where all of this information will be on hand. Thank you for sticking by the WCI Arts Center while we improve our online access!

West Central Illinois Arts Center
Annual Meeting – August 24, 2013

Board members present: Dan Lewis, Peggy West, Kate Mattsey, Rich Egger, Curtis Bisbee, Kymberly Miller, Sue Scott, Linda Lee Blaine, Nancy Crossman.

Interim President Dan Lewis called the meeting to order shortly after 6:30 pm. He asked board members to introduce themselves as they gave reports.

Peggy West presented the gallery report on behalf of Gallery Director Dean Rockwell. 10 exhibits were displayed during the past year and plans are underway for 2014. The gallery hours were expanded during the past year, and different agreements were created for gifts, loans, and consignments,

Kate Mattsey gave the communication director’s report and said she would like to upgrade the website.

Rich Egger gave the recording secretary’s report. Member Anne Vick asked if minutes were available from last year’s annual meeting. Lewis said none were available this evening but we will try to find a record of them.

Curtis Bisbee gave an update on the sign across the front of the building. He’s still hoping to do the project but needs to find someone who can provide him with scaffolding.

Kymberly Miller gave the treasurer’s report and handed out the profit/loss statement. She said rentals have been a huge source of revenue and memberships are also important. The architectural report was a large expense.

Sue Scott said she helps with communications.

Linda Lee Blaine gave the fundraising report. She said a raffle was held last fall and she will keep trying to increase membership. She just learned the WCIAC will receive a $1,000 grant from the Illinois Arts Council to help with operating expenses. She said an art scavenger hunt will soon be held.

Member Missy Lescher suggested the idea of an event related to fiber arts; she said the owner of Hooked on U would be willing to participate. Blaine said she liked the idea of collaborating with a business. Member Gil Belles said artist Joyce Lopez might also be willing to do something related to fiber arts. Belles also said he will be leading a Learning Is Forever (LIFE) class on a tour of sculptures; the tour is called “Art Around Us.”

Nancy Crossman gave the program coordinator’s report. She said she has created a list of everything that has happened at the arts center from August 2012 to present; she will eventually put together a list to cover all five years of WCIAC events in this building.

Crossman also gave the experience works supervisor’s report. She praised the work being done by Marilyn Cox. Cox’s presence in the building has allowed the WCIAC to be open daily. Cox was given a round of applause by the members.

Dan Lewis conducted the board elections. He said the terms of Blaine and Miller had expired. Membership agreed to retain them by acclimation.

Lewis accepted nominations for other board vacancies. Jim West nominated Dave Dorsett, who accepted. Linda Lee Blaine nominated Heather McMeekan, who accepted. Motion to accept Dorsett and McMeekan by acclimation (Sue Zendt, Patti Jones). All approved.

Member Anne Vick said she would like to contribute food for receptions and asked to be contacted for this purpose.

Vick asked about the profit/loss data; she said it was a year old. Miller explained the sheet she handed out includes figures for the past two years for comparison’s sake.

Member Jim West asked about the money market transfer; Miller explained that money pays the taxes on the building.

Vick said she wanted to make sure we have her correct e-mail address.

Member Sue Zendt said she finds the website difficult to read and said it’s not always informative. Mattsey said she has heard similar concerns from others and said the website will be the focus of discussion during the next board meeting; Mattsey expects serious changes to the website in the next month.

Crossman told members they should let the board know if there is something they think the board should spend a meeting focusing on.

Blaine asked members to contribute articles/items for the website.  Zendt said the problem with the website is not just content – it’s the appearance. She said the lettering is too small, making it difficult to read.

Member Patti Jones asked about gift shop sales listed in the treasurer’s report; the “gift shop” is basically the basket of cards for sale in the arts center. Peggy West said the board is looking for input on how it might set up a gift shop. Mattsey said there has been talk about creating an on-line gift shop.

Lescher asked about plans for the building’s second and third floors. Lewis said the plan right now is to have artist studios on the second floor, and have a reception area and performance space on the third floor. Peggy West pointed out the WCIAC will be required to install an elevator as the upper floors are renovated.

Motion to adjourn (Anne Vick, Jim West). Motion approved without dissent.

BCre8ive Arts Crew launch at WCIAC

West Central Illinois Arts Center invites area young people ages 13-18 to become part of the BCre8ive Arts Crew. Participants will have opportunities to share art experiences with peers, to develop collaborative art projects in the community, and to meet and work with artists around the region.

The first meeting of the BCre8ive Arts Crew will be Sunday, March 24th at 5:00pm at the WCI Arts Center, 25 East Side Square. Working as a team, the Crew will create a sculpture using nontraditional supplies and techniques. They will also begin planning future projects which may include creating a mural in the Arts Center, creating art for Earthfest, and creating artwork for the Community Gardens.

BCre8ive Arts Crew is a pilot project of WCIAC’s developing BCre8ive youth art education program. There is no cost to participants. For more information, please contact Chris Busker at

Shop Locally

How will you be supporting your local economy and local artists this holiday season? WCI Arts Center is holding its annual Art Martket two Saturdays in December, don’t miss out!

Shop locally at WCI Arts Center
Flyer for your WCI Arts Center 2012 Art Market.

This weekend Macomb is having its Dicken’s on the Square celebration and we’re handing out flyers to garner more interest for our upcoming art market. The vendors are going to have hand made art: jewelry, painting, prints, glass art – including glass hand made ornaments, ceramics and more! Prices for these unique hand made items start as low as $5. We will also be having the Fall Raffle drawing during the Art Market on December 15th at 3 pm.







Calling all Artists!

There are only 45 days until Christmas! In an effort to aid our community in buying locally WCIAC provides an annual Art Market at our building on the square. This year our Art Market dates are December 8 and December 15 from 10am-4pm. The winners for our Fall Raffle will also be drawn during the Art Market on December 15th. If you are or know a local artist that is interested in selling their work please spread the word!

Calling all artists

Photo Narrative Award Winners 2012

Congratulations to the winners of the juried Photo Narrative of West Central Illinois. Results were announced Friday, October 19 at the opening reception held at the WCI Arts Center.

The judge for this exhibit was regionally renowned, Fort Madison Photographer, Jerry Granaman. He described the selection process as “very difficult” given the talent displayed by exhibiting artists. Here are his top three choices:

Tim Schroll and Deborah Lutz
Photo Narratives 2012
Best in Show
Tim Schroll


John Hemingway
Photo Narratives 2012
Honorable Mention
Sue Marx
Photo Narratives 2012
Honorable Mention
Sue Marx

(Photos all courtesy of Deborah Lutz)

Congratulations to our winners and all of the artists displaying their work in Photo Narratives of West Central Illinois 2012. This exhibit will be running through November 24th at the WCI Arts Center.

What are Prints?

Our fifth and final post in a series of five on Printmaking.

“Prints, Prints, and more Prints” at the WCI Arts Center ended yesterday, I hope everyone was able to see it!

For the last two weeks we’ve discussed the four main types of traditional printmaking and how each technique influences the appearance of the final print. The four types are relief, intaglio, planography, and stencil or serigraphy.

Relief printmaking is the oldest of the four and is created from a raised surface. A simple example might be a rubber stamp on an ink pad pressed on a piece of paper. The matrix, traditionally made from wood or linoleum, is created by cutting away unwanted sections to reveal the image to be printed. The completed print is then a mirror image of the original woodcut.

Intaglio is a printmaking process in which the image is cut into the surface of the printing matrix, typically smooth thin pieces of metal made of copper or zinc. The print is made by pushing ink into the lines of the design. The surface is then wiped clean so only the areas to be printed, the grooves, have ink. A dampened piece of paper is placed on the matrix and, using pressure, the paper is forced into the grooves to transfer the image.

The images made with the methods of relief and intaglio are made under pressure, an amount of force is needed to create the images. Planography, commonly called lithography, is printmaking on a flat surface and needs no pressure. This printing method is derived from the natural revulsion between grease and water. Grease attracts grease and repels water while water attracts water and repels grease. Each color desired will need its own stone or plate. Modern day offset lithography, or offset printing, accounts for more than 40% of all published, packaged and printed material.

The last type of printmaking we discussed was stencil, also known as screen printing, silk printing or serigraphy. A screen printing stencil is a sheet of mesh stretched over a frame. The mesh has been treated with an emulsion that creates a resist for the ink where the artist does not want the ink to be printed. The image to be printed is “burned through” the emulsion with a specialized light and ink is forced through the opening onto the surface to be printed, traditionally paper. This method is quite versatile and allows for almost anything to be screen printed.

Printmaking is an amazing art form that has evolved through the ages. I enjoyed doing a little research and learning more about the various techniques. I hope the readers of this Blog learned something as well. The WCI Arts Center has excellent examples of lithography by local artist, Peggy West, and screen printing by the WIU emeritus professor of art and local artist, Sam Parker, in our Fall Raffle. Tickets can be purchased to win either or both of these images at one for $5 or five tickets for $20. Stop by and get yours today!

The next exhibit at the WCI Arts Center opens this Friday, October 19. “Photo Narratives” will have a public opening reception on that evening at 6:30pm. Hope to see you all there!

What are Prints?

Our fourth post in a series of five on Printmaking.

“Prints, Prints, and more Prints” is currently running at the WCI Arts Center until October 13th.

Serigraphy, more commonly known as silkscreening or screen printing, has been around in a crude but recognizable fashion since 2500 B.C. It is a form of stenciling utilizing three main ingredients: the screen, the squeegee, and the ink. The most interesting of these is the evolution of the screen.

The screen, usually woven mesh, carries the desired image and has been made from various materials throughout history. The Chinese used human hair across the frame as the screen and created the stencil by applying leaves as the resist for the ink. The Japanese adopted the practice using woven silk and various lacquers to create the stencil. Today the screen is commonly made of polyester woven into a fine mesh. Modern artists have access to specialty screens depending on the desired effect, ranging from nylon to stainless steel.

The techniques for creating the stencil on the screen has changed greatly since it’s advent. A trio of printers, Roy Beck, Charles Peter and Edward Owens, started experimenting with photo-reactive chemical processes in early 1910, introducing photo-imaged stencils to the craft. A photo-reactive emulsion is spread onto the screen and then allowed to dry in a dark room. Once the emulsion is dry, the “exposure unit” burns away the unwanted emulsion leaving the printed area clean on the screen.

The substrate is then placed under the prepared screen. Ink is placed on the back end of the screen frame and then a squeegee is used to press the ink forward through the screen, leaving the image inked on the substrate. The printed surface is then removed to allow the ink to dry. If the artist desires to make a multi-color image, much like in lithography, a new screen for each color must be processed.

In screen printing the substrate isn’t printed under pressure like other printmaking techniques, lending itself to printing on just about any surface. In the 1930’s the National Serigraphic Society was formed to separate the artisans from the more common industrial uses of the art. Screen printing was brought to the forefront of popular art in 1962 with the well known multi-image piece of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol.

Screen printing today is used in many different industries on many different printing surface, from the ubiquitous t-shirts, to balloons, to decals or stickers. Artists today have a wide array of substrates at their disposal to communicate their artistic vision.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a round up!

What are Prints?

Our third post in a series of five on Printmaking.

“Prints, Prints, and more Prints” is currently running at the WCI Arts Center until October 13th.

Having already discussed relief and intaglio in previous posts let’s learn about another printmaking technique called planographic.

Planographic printing is a means of printing from a flat surface rather than a raised (relief) or incised (intaglio) surface. Lithography and offset lithography are the most common planographic processes.

The earliest method of lithography, discovered in 1798 by Alois Senefelder, used a block of limestone drawn on with a grease crayon/pencil. The stone, or matrix, is fixed, wet with water, and then inked for printing. Lithography is based on the natural revulsion between oil and water, in other words, the ink only sticks where the stone has grease and does not stick to the areas that are merely wet. Stones used in this method of printmaking are very stable, meaning they degrade very slowly, this results in an almost unlimited number of prints that can be created. In fine art, lithographers will typically make a limited edition, sign the work, and then destroy the stone. There are other more modern methods of lithography, but this original process remains mostly unchanged today.

The next step in the evolution of lithography was transfer lithography. The artist would create his/her image on paper, being an easier surface to draw on than was the limestone, and then transfer the image to the stone. The process for printing once the transfer was complete would continue in the traditional way. As a result of the paper being used its texture also became part of the final print.

Early lithographs were done monochromatically, however towards the late 19th century artisans began experimenting with color lithography or oleographs. The quality of these prints were typically poor. The artist needed multiple stones to create multi color images; each stone providing a different color. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a master of this multi-block color style and many of his contemporaries followed his example.

While the artists of the day were figuring out how to make multi-color pieces with traditional stone, commercial publishers were busy figuring out how to make multiple prints for the masses. Offset lithography, known today as offset printing, was patented by John Strather of England in 1853. His offset press was steam driven and used automatic rollers to moisten the ink and stone while a revolving cylinder pressed the paper to the stone leaving the impression. Unless the images were to be hand painted each color still needed its own stone. There is record of one print using as many as 30 stones to complete.

The premise of offset printing remains the same today: the inked image is printed on a rubber roller, which then transfers, or offsets, the image to paper. Commercial printing has been modernized with the use of rubber rollers and the invention of photographic processes. These new processes, coupled with the use of the halftone screen, allows photographic images to be placed onto the matrix which is now a thin photosensitive sheet of metal. Just as before with the stone, printers still need a different plate for each color, however as printing processes progressed so did ink processes. Only four metal plates are needed for the printing of full color images using the colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) one plate per color and a halftone of the images on each plate will create a full color effect.

Today offset lithography accounts for more than 40% of all published, packaged and printed material. We’ve come a long way from the stone and grease pencils of the 1800’s!

Seriography is the topic of our next discussion with our last post being a summary of all the techniques and I’ll introduce a digital printmaking processes to finish out our printmaking posts!