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DAY TRIP: Art – right Next door

If you’re looking for a place where creativity, inspiration and talent are on display, there’s no place like home

Picture this: artwork, classes, and a place to discover local talent, all under one roof – and all right here in our own backyard.

For the new year, I thought I’d start out my Day Trips with a visit to a Sauk Valley location – The Next Picture Show in Dixon. This goal of this non-profit fine arts center is to, in the words of its website, help “nurture, develop, educate, foster the arts, and galvanize artists and patrons within the community.”

When I first walked into The Next Picture Show, I turned slightly to the left instead of going straight down the beckoning hallway where many paintings were displayed. There I found the artwork of Isaac Daniel Rhea of Dixon, who is described as an American contemporary visual and performing artist.

Rhea’s works by the front windows catch the eye and hold it. I could have studied his pieces for a long time, but the artwork that stretched down that long hallway was waiting. What I was looking at was the American Watercolor Society Traveling Watercolor Exhibition, which ended Jan. 1. Though this show has already hit the road – it’s next stop is Van Wert, Ohio, and then Plymouth, Massachusetts – visitors can enjoy work from artists throughout the region in the gallery’s popular Regional Survey of Art. The awards reception for this is 6 p.m. Jan. 10.

The Regional Survey of Art starts Saturday and runs until Feb. 29. This exhibition focuses on area artists, so stop in and see the works of familiar names such as David Bingaman, Graydon Cafarella, William Doering and Jan Harvey, for example.

As I walked down the hallway, each step took me into a different world. Outside the rain was falling and the weather matched the scenes of some of the paintings, while others took me to more sunny places.

Two benches sit near the exhibition, which create a space where visitors can sit and look at the art, and a piano adds a touch of class to an already classy looking place. During my visit, executive director Michael Glenn was there to greet arrivals, which added to the gallery’s charm.

Some of the future exhibitions include Shades of Gray from March 3 to April 18, Really Affordable Art June 5 to July 11, Absolute Abstracts from July 18 to Aug. 29, and Farms and Barns Sept. 3 to Oct. 17. Watercolors will return from May 2 to 29, when the Illinois Watercolor Society National Exhibit comes to the gallery.

Once you’ve finished your tour of the Next Picture Show, it’s on to the next pictures at KSB’s Commerce Towers. If you’ve been to the Towers at 215 E. First St., you may have noticed the artwork on the halls of the first floor. If not, go on over there and take a look. The location is accessible to wheelchairs.

“We like to challenge the artists,” Glenn said. “We open it up for different venues.”

On Tuesday, the artwork will change to focus on the theme Land, Sea and Sky. These will be in place through March 30. This is part of a series that focuses on art’s role in the process of healing.

Glenn said people can vote on their favorite piece on a special KSB website page. The hospital buys the winning work and it’s featured after the exhibition. Go to to vote.

“KSB is a great supporter,” he said.

Upcoming KSB displays will be The Open Art Exhibition from April 1 to June 30, Black & White from July 1 to Sept. 30, and All Abstraction from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.

Not only does TNPS have artwork for us to view and purchase in its juried shows throughout the year, people also can get explore their artistic side as well. Glenn said the gallery offers classes, such as ceramics, and painting parties are going to be scheduled again this year. The next one is Jan. 16, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Art instructor Becky Hage will lead a Winter Pines-themed paint party. Find The Next Picture Show’s Facebook page for cost and other registration information.

He also was very encouraging about taking a beginning art class. We might just have a talent we don’t realize – and you’re never too old, or young, to find out. The classes are open to ages 10 and old, and Glenn talked about artists starting in their 50s and 60s.

Art demonstrations also are held, such as painting and wood carving.

Whether you’re interested in the juried art shows at TNPS, or the People’s Choice venue at Commerce Towers, Dixon has artwork on display, which is worth a visit to see. Take a drive, stay for lunch and chase those winter blahs away.


What: The Next Picture Show

Where: 113 W. First St., Dixon

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday or by appointment

Cost: Free admittance

Distance: downtown

Accessibility: Accessible to wheelchairs on first floor from First Street; lower level accessible through the back door off the alley; Jane Edgar’s private gallery on third floor reached by stairs.

Information: 815-285-4924, Facebook or

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