"Even if you have only a remote interest in art you are welcome at 218 W. Front Street, Wheaton" said Tony Eastwood, a member and past president of the DuPage Art League, which recently moved to its new wheel-chair accessible home in Wheaton.
"We've effectively doubled our classroom space," he said. "Now we have two classrooms and plenty of room for all sorts of activities."
Wayne Atkinson, a member of the DuPage Art League almost since its inception in the 1950s and one of the teachers, said, "It's never too soon to start learning art. I had always been interested in art but didn't get serious until I was almost forty years old. When I mentioned to a neighbor, who happened to be a commercial artist that I wished I could paint, he told me, `Well, don't just talk about it, do it.' I've been painting ever since."
Today Atkinson teaches eight classes.
"I love teaching art. My biggest enjoyment is the rapport that develops with my students...and the opportunity to learn from them," said Atkinson.
That sense of excitement in being able to share a passion for art pervades the League. Art lovers who join this group are an active bunch. Many, but not all of the members are accomplished artists A roster of 300 members includes individuals 17-years-of-age or older, organizations and businesses interested in supporting the arts. Not only do members pay dues, but they actively participate in myriad activities sponsored by the League, volunteering time and talent to promote the fine arts.
The DuPage Art League was incorporated in 1959 as a not-for-profit organization "to promote art consciousness and provide a meeting place for painting sessions and kindred arts." IRS granted 501(c) (3) status to the League as an institution 'organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes" shortly thereafter.
Both children and adults attend art classes here to learn both basics and advanced techniques from practicing artists. Classes are scheduled Monday through Saturday. Frequently special workshops are scheduled. One example of a particularly popular program is a day-long workshop on painting your own Christmas cards that has been offered during the holidays.
"You don't have to be a member to participate in the many varied activities here," said Rebecca Moore. "The League is a place where parents can bring their children...a place where both youngsters and adults can be gently exposed to the arts. It doesn't require an all-day jaunt to the city."
Exhibits, scheduled throughout the year, give members a forum in which they can showcase their work. Based on themes, these exhibits are open to anyone who works in the fine arts. Non-members are charged a nominal fee.
"Artists typically bring their work to the League on Wednesday and Thursday, it's hung in the gallery on Friday. Then a judge comes in on Saturday morning, a different judge handles each exhibit. After the judging, around 1pm, he or she critiques the work, awards prizes and is available to answer questions. This allows artists and observers to learn the more intricate aspects of quality art and competition," said Frances Reinert,a member of the League for five years.
At 7:30 pm each third Wednesday of
the month, artist members gather for a meeting and a special program. These
meetings are open to the public and are free. Members frequently offer
presentations at these meetings.
Busy as they are, the artists prepare well in advance for the League's annual Holiday Artistry, a gift gallery that features original and unique gifts at affordable prices. The Holiday Artistry show is held the end of November and through December. During that time the League is opened extended hours for the convenience of holiday shoppers.
But, you don't need to wait for the holidays to stop in or to find delightful originally-crafted gift items. The League's Collectors Corner offers a large selection of modestly priced gifts and fine craft items year round.
Frances Reinert said, "The DuPage Art League offers so many activities and resources for people interested in the arts, that it's sometimes mind-boggling. Even after five years, I'm still discovering new opportunities for enrichment. I recommend that everyone who enjoys art stop in and get acquainted. I also suggest that members get actively involved right away, that's the best way to learn how the Art League can help expand your interests."
The Art League is open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and from 9 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. Browsers and informal groups are welcome. There is no admission fee.