Edgar Allan Poe inspires artists
(From left) Yvette Marie Johnson, Maureen Stiebris and Ruth Morrison go over some of their artwork as they prepare for the Edgar Allen Poe exhibit of inspired art at the Mayslake Peabody Estate from Sept. 26 through Nov. 4.| Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
‘Poe and More’
9 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, through Oct. 30
Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oak Brook
(630) 206-9566; mayslakepeabody.com
Updated: October 21, 2012 2:13PM
A confluence of circumstances led to the “Poe and More” exhibit running through Oct. 30 at Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook.
Fall is when artist Ann Grill, who teaches a watercolor class at the historic mansion, oversees an exhibit of her students’ work; it’s also when the estate’s resident theater troupe, First Folio Theatre, moves its productions indoors (the thespians perform Shakespeare outdoors in the summer). First Folio will present “The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story,” based on the life and works of Poe, from Sept. 29 to Nov. 4.
“The catalyst was the play,” said Grill, who likes to have a theme for the annual art exhibit.
“I was thinking what would be a good theme? What was going on at the estate right now or would be going on?” she said. “And it was ‘The Madness of E.A. Poe.’ And I threw it out at the artists and they took it up right away.”
Although she feared receiving 10 raven paintings, she got only one from the 15 participating students, all intermediate or advanced artists.
Among the Poe works is a portrait by Park Ridge’s Tim Tertell of a woman inspired by the poem “Annabelle Lee”; its style reminds Grill of Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. Yvette Johnson of Westmont did a portrait of Poe that Grill said has a mysterious quality, and “Fairy Land” inspired Richard Diehl of Carol Stream and Debbie Correnti of Western Springs to interpret the same poem in two different ways. The paintings will be hung in several rooms in the mansion, along with stanzas from the pieces they represent. They play a role in the “Madness” play as part of the set since it’s a progressive show that moves from room to room in the Tudor Revival mansion.
As the name “Poe and More” indicates, the exhibit of approximately 50 pieces showcases more than Poe-inspired works.
“It’s not going be just Poe,” Grill said. “We have another project, which is the Mayslake mansion as it was in 1919 to 1923, when the Peabodys actually lived there for that really brief time. … That’s the second part of our show. … And then the third segment of the show will be pieces that are on their own — whatever they’ve [her students] been working on, whatever inspires them.”
Grill herself will exhibit the watercolor “Orange Emperors.” A Hinsdale resident for 40 years, Grill graduated from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., with a fine arts degree. She’s painted water colors and acrylics her whole life and has been involved with the La Grange Art League and the Elmhurst Artists’ Guild. She likes watercolor because it’s “quick, neat and portable”; she also loves the transparency layers of watercolor can achieve.
Grill had never taught until she was asked to teach the class at Mayslake five years ago.
“It has been a most humbling experience,” she said. “You go from painting on instinct to explaining why you are painting it a certain way to your students. As my old friend and mentor, Alla Jablokow, says, you paint it with the right side of your brain then have to explain it with the left! It’s taught me a lot about my own art.”
Other students participating in the exhibit are Cathy Schultz of Burr Ridge; Bob Barnes, Deming Payne, Ruth Morrison and Jean Duffy of Hinsdale; Mary Ellen McDermott of Western Springs; Rose Mary Dagostino of Oak Park; Marg Keenan, Maureen Steibris, Kate Reynolds and Nancy Petritis of Downers Grove; and Julie Limparis of Park Ridge.
Admission is free; a portion of all sales goes to the Mayslake Peabody restoration fund.
Built as a country home for coal magnate Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, the Mayslake Peabody Estate was designed by noted Chicago architect Benjamin H. Marshall. After Peabody’s death the estate was sold to the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor in 1924 and used as a retreat. The DuPage County Forest Preserve District acquired it in 1992 through a referendum aimed at saving it from being razed for residential development. Since then it’s served as a nature and cultural hub in Oak Brook, and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. ~.