Category Archives: Art

Submissions OPEN for DTA Holiday Guide

Downtown Auroran Holiday Guide

We are putting out our first Holiday Guide this November. We love sleigh bells, snowball fights, and roasted chestnuts — and shopping locally for holiday gifts. No matter what you celebrate, you’ll want to pick up our Holiday Guide starting Nov. 6.

For this special issue, we will feature dozens of local artisans who sell their works locally. If you have any suggestions on items to feature in our Holiday Guide, we want to hear from you.

As always, we are looking for artwork, poetry, short stories (holiday-themed), and photography to add to the issue. Please email submissions to by Sept. 30.

Our advertising deadline is Oct. 10. Thank you for supporting Aurora’s only free arts and culture publication.

New Library Art Contest


A Dunham Fund grant that is financing the fabrication and installation of the “Dream Catcher,” an art piece for the Richard and Gina Santori Public Library of Aurora, also will provide for public artwork for the new library through an art competition.

The theme of the competition is “Art for Technology.” The Richard and Gina Santori Public Library of Aurora will be a community gathering hub with modern amenities and access to information, knowledge and ideas through a variety of avenues, methods and instruments. The library is inviting local artists to develop unique, high quality, one-of-a-kind art pieces that reflect the competition’s theme.

There will be four classifications:

  • Class 1: First through fourth grade
  • Class 2: Fifth through eighth grade
  • Class 3: Ninth through twelfth grade
  • Class 4: Beyond high school / adult

A first, second and third place winner will be chosen in each class. First-place winners will receive a $500 Visa gift card and their pieces will be displayed in the Santori Library with plaques recognizing the artists. First-place artwork will become the property of the Aurora Public Library.

Each second-place winner will receive a $250 Visa gift card and a second place ribbon. Third-place winners will receive $125 Visa cards and ribbons.

Entrants must either reside in Aurora, own taxable property in Aurora, or own a business whose address is within the corporate city limits of Aurora.

Artwork must be two-dimensional, unframed, and at least 24 by 24 inches but not more than 48 by 48 inches.

Entries may be paintings, drawings, collages, prints, computer-generated art, photographs or mixed media. Artwork must be in the original medium; scanned reproduction of a work will not be accepted.

Submissions will be accepted ONLY on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, at the Main Library. Winners will be announced during a press conference on Friday, March 6, 2015.

To access complete guidelines, please go to

Call Special Projects Librarian Bonnie Tilton Sebby, 630-264-4165 or email her at for more information.

One Paragraph Review: CATS at Paramount Theatre

"Cats" runs through Oct. 12 at Paramount Theatre in Aurora.

“Cats” runs through Oct. 12 at Paramount Theatre in Aurora.

“What does it mean, mommy?”
“I don’t know dear. Go ask T.S. Eliot.”

If you spend too much time interpreting Cats, based on Old Possom’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, then you’ve likely missed the point. Even if there is a point, and if Andrew Lloyd Webber was inscrutably conveying a message through the musical, then I’ll tell you right now that you just don’t get it. Cats is otherworldly; it’s beyond us. It’s Jellicle. And to understand Jellicle, you need to get to the Paramount now and catch Shawn Stengel’s beautifully spectacular production of Cats. You will encounter the likes of Jennyanydots, an old gumbie cat whose costume is incredibly impressive, and Mistoffelees, cleverly played by Terrance Martin. Of course, two performances stand out in Paramount’s Cats: Lauren Villegas as Grizabella and Sawyer Smith as Rum Tum Tugger. Villegas plays Grizabella so well that we don’t even bother questioning the need of a back story as to why the glamour cat was cast out of the tribe in the first place (OK. Maybe I was curious.) and her rendition of “Memory” was so deep and sorrowful that you just want to rub her belly. As far as Smith goes, he is quickly becoming an Aurora favorite. After putting depth and sass into last season’s production of RENT, Smith once again adds humor, hip thrusts, and great dance moves to the stage. As with every Paramount production under the artistic direction of Jim Corti, Cats is incredibly choreographed and from silks to bungies to two acrobatic cats, the show brings non-stop excitement with every musical number. Cats introduces us all to the magical world of cockroach training and midnight dances, and we get a primer on the principal feline characters that make up the fantastical world of the Jellicles. It’s weird, but you’ll love it.

Cats is now showing at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Ill. through Oct. 12. Call (630) 896-6666 for tickets. Cats is rated G for all audiences.

Get on Down to Alley Art

frankencutie don picton

It’s not everyday that something made in Aurora ends up on the Conan O’Brien show. So when Don Picton’s girlfriend, Joanna Goss, heard that his handcrafted, blue plastic Frankencutie was on the show, Goss immediately notified her friends via an excited Facebook post.


Soon after, several Facebook friends posted the video clip featuring Picton’s half-Frankenstein and half-doll toy sitting on the keyboard during musician Jenny Lewis’ performance on the late night show.


It was a shining moment for Picton, but it’s not the first time that he and Goss, both artists living in Aurora, have achieved recognition for their artwork. The creative couple has worked with popular podcast hosts, comedians, and retail stores.


But we can say that we knew them when. The couple started their independent art adventures shortly before the first Alley Art Festival in 2010. Picton will return for the festival’s fifth year, but Goss, a designer at Emerson Creek Pottery and Tearoom, will be busy at work.  


Picton and Goss are among several talented, local artists who have shown their art and handcrafted wares on the last Saturday in August at Alley Art Festival in downtown Aurora.


Over 60 artists will set up along downtown’s Water Street Mall this year from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30.



Not only will Picton’s Frankencuties be for sale, but Chris Hodge’s famed, whimsical prints will be priced to sell, along with Matt Cargill’s hand-detailed mid-century furniture, Jeff Weber’s guitars, Gail Chrisse’s steampunk jewelry, and more.


Alley Art Festival provides a great opportunity to meet the many artists who live and create in the Aurora area. Some operate successful Etsy pages, and some show their work locally and regionally at galleries and art events like First Fridays in Downtown Aurora.


I’ve filled my house with artwork that we’ve purchased at Alley Art Festival, and I never get so many compliments as when I wear jewelry by Valerie William, of St. Charles.


Whether you are looking to give a gift of silhouettes by artist Cassidy Alexander, decorate a room with one-of-a-kind watercolor pieces by Rosa Nevarez, or you want to get your hands on a Chris Evans original, Alley Art Festival is where you will want to be this Saturday.


Alley Art Festival runs from noon to 5 p.m. on Water Street Mall between Downer and Galena near City Hall. For more information about Alley Art Festival, visit Alley Art Festival on Facebook.

Alley Art Festival Music


Alley Art Festival: Final Artist List 2014

Don Picton Mastosquid

Say what? Alley Art Festival is happening from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30? Sweet!

Check out the lineup of this year’s artists. You’ll want to make a day of it, so we invited Jerry’s Hot Dogs and Two Brothers Cafe out to keep everyone fed. We’ll also have music and spectacle all day long.

Come on down and have a real good time on Water Street Mall (between Downer and Galena) in downtown Aurora.


Alice DuBois
Angie Hibbon
Ariel Hodge
Becka Davis
Carlos Deltoro
Cassidy Alexander
Charles Huff
Chris Evans
Chris Hodge
Chris Pawlowski
Chris Szostek
Chrissy Wright
Christina Gutierrez
Daniel Cox
Darius Hurley
Desiree Franklin
Don Picton
Ellis Maldonado
Fareeha Bakhrani
Gail Chrisse
Georgia Alderson
Jeanne Hoch
Jeff Weber
Jennifer Edmondson
Jessi Cox
Jill Amoni
Joe Hadamik
John Burke
John Heinz
Judi Kickel
Katrina Henderson
Kirsten Thomas
Kris DuCharme
Kristin Jones
Laura Wright
Leslie Sabella
Lita Lu
Lydia Crist
Madeline Schuster
Marie Lubshina
Matt Cargill
Michael Kriz
Michelle Miller
Miguel SZ
Mike Mancuso
Mike Smith
Natalie Picchi
Omar Torres
Pierre Lucero
Raul Rodea
Robert Gratcyk
Rosa Nevarez
Roz Anomaly
Sasha Tweel
Solange Henson
Sophia Coulter
Staci Lockman
Susi Daniel
TJ Banks
Teresa Millies
Timothy Campbell
Tom Liebing
Turts McGurts
Valerie William

Want more? Facebook it HERE.

June 14: Biggest Day in Aurora is Cool and Green

The second Saturday in June has a reputation in Aurora. It’s the busiest, most fun, and coolest day all year. Some folks spend months planning what others will take in that one day – a whirlwind of activity from dusk to dawn. So, what do you need to know about June 14? Downtown Auroran Magazine lays it out for you. Conquer the day with confidence good friends!

8 to Noon: Aurora’s Farmers Market


9 to 4: Aurora Greenfest

Aurora Greenfest logo

The 5th Annual Aurora GreenFest is coming on Saturday June 14, from 9 am to 4 pm to Prisco Community Center & McCullough Park, 150 West Illinois Ave, Aurora IL.  This free family event features a Children’s Eco-Village and Community Trade Show with over 100 eco-friendly exhibitors from the Fox Valley Region.  Find solutions for earth-friendly living with local organic food, clean renewable energy, nature exhibits, a green car expo, and recycling extravaganza.

Ride bicycles and bring friends to share a day of inspiration and fun. Enjoy live music featuring 5 piece blues fusion band Maxwell Mojo and the Hix Bros Ukulele Club Band. Explore innovative, eco-friendly solutions for recreation, home and business. Experience natural and sustainable solutions to improve the quality of life for all.

Come see what it means to be green in Aurora :

● Local Farmers: organic, hydroponic, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

● Clean Energy Solutions: solar, wind, and geo-thermal

● Nature & Conservation: bees, eagles, chickens, bats

● Green Car, Truck & Bike Expo: electric vehicle conversions and new models

● Recycling Extravaganza: art supplies, musical instruments, electronics and more

● Children’s Eco-Village: games, art and “kids teaching kids” activities

● Live Music: local bands in the park by the beautiful Fox River

- See more at:

9 to 3 Louche Puce Market


Find items you can’t believe you’ve been living without at Aurora’s Louche Puce Market (pronounced loosh pyoose). This friendly outdoor market, named after the flea markets in Paris, hosts a wide mix of vendors offering an eclectic taste of wares.

With area artists, live acoustic music, local food vendors, and a park-like urban ambiance, Louche Puce is as much a festival as it is a market. Don’t miss your chance to browse this European-style vintage and collectible market every second Saturday of each month on the Water Street Mall, the cozy tree-lined, brick-paved alleyway between Downer Place and Galena Boulevard in downtown Aurora.

There is never any charge to attend and children are welcomed with free rub-on tattoos, buttons, treats, and trinkets.

Noon to 5 Aurora Paddlesports Festival and Art in the Park

“Art in the Park” Fest will run on both afternoons adjacent to the Illinois Paddlesports Festival in Phillips Park.  Local artists will exhibit and sell their works, while live music, food vendors will add atmosphere to the Festivals in the Park.

Held in conjunction with Illinois Paddlesports Festival, enjoy two great family friendly events in Aurora’s beautiful award-winning Phillips Park! The festival continues on Sunday, June 15.

  • Art Vendors
  • Tasty Food & Drinks!
  • Live Music!
  • Wine Tasting Event

DTA Q&A: Chris Evans on Wes Anderson, Stealing Souls and Getting Bill Murray to Show Up

Chris Evans dudley raleigh

Local artist Chris Evans has been on our radar since he collaborated with his artist wife, Jen Evans, on the cover of the Fall/Winter 2012 issue of Downtown Auroran Magazine. Evans has a knack for capturing the essence of people using squiggly lines and ruddy colors. We like him so much that we commissioned Evans for the Music Issue of DTA out now.

On June 6, Evans has his first solo show at the Yetee Gallery at 110 Cross St. in downtown Aurora. The show titled, “Best Show Ever Man” features new drawings by Evans that are inspired by Wes Anderson movies. Anderson is famous for his lovingly campy and quirky cult-classic movies, like Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums.

Downtown Auroran Magazine sent Evans some questions about the upcoming show. Here are his answers.


Q: How long have you been drawing?

A: I have been drawing as long as I can remember. My parents saved a lot of my drawings I’d done when I was younger. I started taking it serious in 3rd grade I guess.

Q: When did you start doing blind contour drawings?

A: The blind contour drawings started in 8th grade or freshman year art class. It is a fairly common exercise for a teacher to get kids to loosen up. They look really bad at times, but intentionally. It is not supposed to be perfect.

Q: Can you explain the process?

A: You draw your subject with one continuous line without lifting it from the paper and you are not supposed to look at the paper while drawing. The goal is to get your eyes to trace the lines of your subject and get your eyes and hand in sync.

It also helps teach someone to really look at what they are drawing. Many times people draw what they think something looks like as opposed to what it actually looks like in real life.

Q: How long does it take you to do one drawing?

A: It varies. The drawing doesn’t take that long. Maybe if I want to capture something special, I take longer. The coloring takes most of the time.

Q: Why Wes Anderson?

A: I love his movies. Also, I don’t usually know what to draw. Drawing and painting can become tedious and something that I have avoided doing when it is no fun. I was inspired by Don Picton and Mike Mancuso. They seem to be making things that they enjoy and do it well. Especially Don. His work makes me happy and I can see that he has fun making things. I wanted to tap into that. I can draw, so what? Why not draw things that I like?  The Wes Anderson stuff is very fun to me. I want my stuff to hold onto a sense of humor. I thought I could pull this off and enjoy the work.

Q: Is there a Wes character that you relate to?

A: I relate to bits of a lot of them. It seems to me that many of the characters have the chance to excel at something and never quite pull it off. They have potential to be really great or aspire to be so and ultimately somehow they fall short of that. Often they self-sabotage. I feel like that a lot. I bet a lot of us do.

Q: What is your favorite Wes movie?

A: I like Rushmore the best if forced to choose. From start to finish I enjoy that one the most.

Q: Portraits seem to be your specialty. Why?

A: I just find the people the most challenging subject. It is difficult to draw people correct and then you have the added element of capturing the character of the person. Lots of people could draw my face and many would make it look like an expressive, well-rendered man’s face, but can they make it look like me? Will people who know me instantly recognize it as me?

Portraits are not always the most respected. Anybody can go to a carnival and get a drawing of themselves with exaggerated features. That is fun, but it is not what I do. I like trying to capture people’s emotions. Stealing bits of their soul.

Q: What should people know before going to the June 6 show?

A: People should know that the show will be a fun time. If you’ve seen the movies you will recognize a lot of the subject matter. If you are not familiar with the movies, come on out anyway. The Yetee always throws a great party. Maybe Bill Murray will show up. He likes to do things like that.

See a video preview HERE!
“Best Show Ever Man” at the Yetee Gallery is part of the First Fridays in Downtown Aurora lineup for June 6. The opening is from 6 to 11 p.m. For the full First Friday lineup, click HERE!