Begalka: Company’s trucks a traveling tribute to fallen soldiers

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Jim Zwaldo, of Milwaukee, Wis., earned second place in the Real People exhibit for one of two abstract oils, “Pedestrians 228.”

As we draw nearer to pulling U.S. combat troops out of Iraq, it is worth noting the many soldiers who went there and never returned home.

Joe Alger, president of J.A. Frate Transportation Services in Crystal Lake, remembers the fallen. And he wants to make sure you do, too. Toward that end, the company contracted with T G Signs & Graphics of Wauconda to paint two of its trailers. The first was completed following the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Jonathan Collins of Crystal Lake in August 2004.

“The whole town of Crystal Lake came out [to honor him] and I thought ‘That was great.’ But then I realized as time goes on, his name will kind of wane,” Alger said. “I thought it was appropriate to have a living memorial. So I talked to his family and got their permission and dedicated one of the trailers. We took one of the new trailers and painted it up in memory of Jonathan Collins.”

That trailer since has been replaced with a new one and a new tribute. J.A. Frate also added a second trailer, dedicated about three weeks ago in a low-key ceremony for family members with the mayors of Crystal Lake and McHenry. It features the portraits of Collins; Army Sgt. Jason McLeod of Crystal Lake, killed last year in a Afghanistan rocket attack; Army Cpl. Keith Nurnberg of McHenry killed in September 2007 during a battle in Baghdad, Iraq; and Army Pfc. Collier Barcus of McHenry, who died in July 2004 in Baghdad during a suicide car bombing.

“I thought it was fitting if we did a trailer with McHenry County soldiers killed in action,” said Alger, who rides with the Warriors Watch. Between both trailer, the message is broadcast in a creative, respectful way throughout the entire county. “They run every day. That is why we did it,” Alger said. “We don’t just put it off to the side and run it out for parades.”

‘REAL PEOPLE’

The figurative exhibit “Real People,” sponsored by the Northwest Area Arts Council and the Old Court House Art Center in Woodstock, runs through Sept. 26. It features 87 works in many mediums, gleaned from more than 500 submissions. There are large canvases and small; sculpture, paintings, fiber and multi-media pieces.

“There was definitely more variety,” said show co-chairperson Kimberly Gust of St. Charles, among a cadre of volunteers that made the exhibit possible. “We got people from all over the United States. We even got some repeats from the Women’s Works show this time, and some repeat artists from the spring show. ... It’s another great way for artists to get their work out there.”

Winners include: A painted ceramic sculpture called “Earth” made by Austrian-born former physical therapist Michaela Groeblacher. Now living in Kansas, the 1989 immigrant earned a fine arts degree from McPherson College in 2005 and now plies her trade melding acrylic painting with clay.

Jim Zwaldo, of Milwaukee, Wis., earned second place for one of two abstract oils, “Pedestrians 228.” And Cary artist Dorothy Carringi’s pastel, “La Petite Creperie” claimed third.

“The work reminds me of Impressionist café scenes while still feeling completely contemporary,” wrote judge Gregg Hertzlieb, director/curator of the Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind.

Artistic merit awards were presented to photographer Michael Gora and watercolorist Meredith Lynn. Meet the artists during an awards and artists’ reception 7 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. It will feature live jazz music and refreshments.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The gallery is located at 101 N. Johnson St. It also is hosting two other shows simultaneously – ClayMirth, featuring artists from St. Charles’ Fine Line Creative Arts Center, and the Workshop for Contemporary Artists’ 26th annual show, dubbed “Strings Attached.”

“I’d like visitors to leave with a greater appreciation for the diversity of the human person; of how people perceive other people,” Gust said. “There are a lot of interesting people out there.”

PORT CLINTON

The Port Clinton Art Festival marks its 27th season 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Aug. 29 in downtown Highland Park. More than 275,000 visitors are expected to tour this free exhibition of some 260 artists along Central Avenue, at the intersection of First and Second streets. Visitors will be treated to live music and the Third Annual Taste of Highland Park, featuring fare from area restaurants. For details, driving directions and a festival map, visit www.amdurproductions.com.

And when you are done with that, drive east toward Lake Michigan for the 26th annual American Craft Exposition at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion on the campus of Northwestern University, 2311 Campus Drive – just east of Sheridan Road in Evanston. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 29.

This juried indoor exposition of museum-quality items features one-of-a-kind baskets, ceramics, fiber decorative, fiber wearable, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media and wood crafts. Just 150 artists are gleaned from 1,000 applications each year. Exhibitors include whimsical whirligig aficionado James Eaton of Sleepy Hollow; metalsmiths Jack and Alice McLean of Johnsburg, and (among my personal favorites) fiber artist Chris Roberts-Anteau of Manchester, Mich.

The cost is $15 for adults at the door, $5 for children younger than 10. Tickets bought by Tuesday are $12. No strollers. All proceeds benefit breast and ovarian cancer research. A benefit preview party will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $100 and include a three-day pass to the show and all demonstrations. Tickets to the preceding “collector’s hour” at 5:30 p.m. are $150.

For information, call 847-570-5095 or visit www.americancraftexpo.org.

• Kurt Begalka may be reached at 815-526-4432 or at kbegalka@nwherald.com.

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