Six named to Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame
By Linda Girardi For Sun-Times Media January 26, 2014 8:16PM
A portrait photograph of Jane Peterson in a 1946 magazine, one of six artists inducted into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame on Thursday in Batavia. | Submitted
Updated: February 28, 2014 6:17AM
Six artists whose careers rose to national and international acclaim now have a place in the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame.
On Thursday, the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame announced the inductees for 2014, all of whom have left a cultural legacy in the visual and performing arts, as well as arts education.
Three artists represent the visual arts: D. Lee DuSell, Jane Peterson and George Shipperley. One artist represents the performing arts: Jim Gibson. The remaining two artists represent the performing arts and arts education: Elvina Truman Pearce and Randal Swiggum.
One of the artists, Peterson, was honored posthumously.
Inductions of selected artists are announced in the spring of even-numbered years. But this year’s spotlight on inductees whose life achievements might have gone unnoticed, were it not for those individuals who nominated them, shines even brighter.
The Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame’s earliest inductee, the late Maud Powell, will be given a 2014 Grammy Lifetime Achievement award during Sunday’s 56th annual Grammy awards in Los Angeles. Powell, who came to Aurora at age 3, was hailed as “one great master of the violin.”
“It is a huge honor and also honored the same night will be a little group you might know of, The Beatles,” said Susan Starrett, president of the non-profit organization.
Swiggum for nearly two decades has been the conductor and artistic director of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, which has performed with such world class performers as Midori and Yo-Yo Ma. He is also the education conductor with the Elgin Symphony professional orchestra.
Swiggum, 54, originally began playing the violin and reflected on what Maud Powell might have said at the podium to accept her Grammy if she were alive today.
“Maud Powell was a visionary who believed classical music was the highest art form and should belong to everyone, not just an elite few,” Swiggum said.
“Maud would probably be blown away with the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, when she lived in the Fox Valley it was little frontier town. She would say good job everyone for making my vision of 150 years ago come true,” Swiggum said.
About the artists
Swiggum commutes from his home in Madison, Wis., but said the Fox Valley has worked its way into his heart and is now his second home.
The Youth Symphony Orchestra has grown from two to six ensembles under his leadership.
“Randal inspires his students to perform at their highest level,” said Kathy Matthews, director of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Those under his leadership say Swiggum is a teacher and conductor of music who demands a high level of preparation but has a caring demeanor for each aspiring artist.
“Not only is Randal a consummate artist, but the level of care he dedicates to every student is exceptional,” said Rachel Maley, Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra alum.
Maley said Swiggum inspired her to think differently about mastering her instrument by sharing his enthusiasm for the history of music.
Shipperley, 75, of Aurora, has paintings exhibited in galleries throughout the Midwest, including The Proud Fox in Geneva.
“This is an extraordinary honor but it is also humbling. I will cherish this for the rest of my life,” Shipperley said.
The oil pastelist seriously pursued his passion for the canvas after a career in sales, but he originally discovered his love for painting in high school.
“It is your heart and soul on canvas,” Shipperley said.
DuSell, of Aurora, studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Over the course of his career he has worked as a painter, printmaker, woodworker, metalsmith and architectural fabricator, as well as a professor of industrial design at Syracuse University. He has a permanent art collection at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art that has traveled as far as the Shiga Sacred Garden in Shigaraki, Japan.
Gibson, of Aurora, rose to prominence as an entertainer, both as a musician and host of a variety of televised events and programs. He performed and toured with the Grammy Award-winning Bill Gaither Trio and the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. He hosted the Emmy-award winning program Windy City America on WCFC Chicago. He is currently producing and will host in March a show titled, “The Las Vegas International Model Search.”
Pearce, of Naperville, has a piano studio in her home and has served as founding director of North Central College’s division of preparatory and community music. A national leader in the field of piano pedagogy, Pearce was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award for the national conference of Keyboard Pedagogy in 2011. Her performing career has included recitals at Carnegie and Steinway Halls in New York.
Peterson, of Elgin, had her works on exhibit in galleries in Chicago, New York and Boston when she was alive. She traveled with Louis Comfort Tiffany, painted alongside John Singer Sergeant and authored a book “Flower Painting” in 1946. Her permanent art collections are exhibited in galleries across the country.
The Class of 2014 for the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame will be honored at a black tie induction ceremony on May 1 at Villa Olivia in Bartlett.