Local talent filled Rockford during the third annual ArtCapsule event in downtown Rockford, and voters picked the winners in each of three categories as well as Best in Show. Local photographer Stacy Niedzwiecki was the overall winner with her photograph earning her Best in Show. In the Photography category Paul Willis, whose work was on display at Sassy Pants Boutique, received the most votes. Winning in the category of Three-Dimensional was Lois Carpenter, whose work was on display at the Frame and Mat Shop. Best Two-Dimensional artist was Kelly Bennor, whose work was on display at Kimberly’s Boutique. “We had outstanding publicity for the event this year, with articles in The Rockford Squire in March, June and [on the front page in] August,” said Jeff Lewis, chair of the Rockford Area Arts Commission, organizers of the event. “Our website traffic reached its highest levels of the year last week, and hundreds downloaded the smartphone app. Over 1,200 people read our Facebook posts and Heart of Rockford and Ada Arts Council and shared the event with their fans. WZZM13 and a number of other local organizations and businesses also included the event on their community calendars.” Lewis offered thanks to the many volunteers who sat in the 95+ degree heat to pass out ballots, sell tickets, give directions, babysit bicycles on the White Pine Trail and make the event possible, the business venues that gave up retail selling space to make way for beautiful artwork, the restaurants who raised the funds to award the artists through their donation of Taste of Rockford food and time, the Frame & Mat Shop for hosting the afterglow, Tom Scott for the artist photographer and, belatedly, T-Square, for their 2011 material donations to enrich ArtCapsule. “A special thanks goes to Arts Commission member Jeannie Gregory for her work in organizing the event again this year. As you might imagine, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes footwork and last-minute maneuvering needed to pull off an event like this,” Lewis continued. “In addition to the dozens of hours registering artists, signing up venues, printing forms, collecting money and organizing Taste of Rockford, Jeannie became a grandmother twice the week of the event and moved her mother into a new apartment. And, to rest […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL On a recent Monday evening, “Ace was the place” to be. Pete Kruer, of Rockford Ace Hardware, was hosting his first ever “BBQ Boot Camp” and everyone who had signed on for the evening was in hog heaven! Kruer had secured the services of Rob Russell, a real Kansas City BBQ expert, who conducts BBQ seminars around the country for Ace of Hearts BBQ Specialties of Kansas City, MO. With 15 years of championship competitive BBQ experience, 20 years of catering and restaurant experience, Russell has a great way of bringing real BBQ to backyard hobbyists as well as professionals and competition cookers. Also on hand that evening was “Barbecue” Bob Nurmikko, host of Cumulus Broadcasting’s “The Grillin’ Guys” radio show heard across Michigan and locally in Grand Rapids on WJRW 1340 AM. “Barbecue” Bob acted as host and sidekick while, at times, interjecting humor by poking a little fun at the expense of his good friend Russell. The 40 participants of the sold-out evening were treated to three solid hours of BBQ grilling education in the beautiful Meijer Garden like setting of Ace’s Ray Kunst Gardens outdoor garden department. It didn’t matter how much you thought you already knew about BBQ grilling, what we learned that evening took us all to the next level. We were treated to expert tutorials covering different grill fuels – including varieties of charcoal (lump preferred), grilling techniques, smoking, creating marinades, brining, using seasonings and rubs, and the preparation of ribs and chicken. Russell also discussed and demonstrated in great depth food handling safety, as well as cooking and smoking temperatures to strive for. In short, the man was a veritable fount of backyard barbequing information. With “BBQ on the brain” Russell was definitely present to help us all become better cooks! Gordy Aulbach, the butcher from Cannonsburg’s Grist Mill, was also on hand to answer any and all questions about meat cuts and selection. Kruer had arranged for the Grist Mill to supply slabs of baby back pork ribs and yes, even beef ribs along with plump grilling chickens. During the grilling class we were afforded the opportunity to taste test everything that had been pre-prepared prior to the start of the BBQ […]
Rockford’s own much-awarded and celebrated nature photographer Stacy Niedzwiecki needs your help winning a free photo trip to Guatemala. On an online photoblog contest with over 2,000 entries, Stacy’s entry has made it to the top 25 with this photo she took at Shaner Avenue and 11 Mile of a flooded corn field. Log on at rainforestalliance.org and click on the photo contest link. Stacy’s photo appears in the “Forest” category, image #5. Perhaps the amazing community that earned Rockford bragging rights to the nation’s best farm market can work a little more magic to help Stacy on her way to a once-in-a-lifetime photo trip. Voting runs through November 30, 2011.