Park Ridge native Iannelli turns 125
Herb Zuegel with the Kalo Foundation talks about the work of Alfonso Iannelli at Iannelli's Studios February 8, 2013. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:01PM
PARK RIDGE — For Judy Bacon, the small room of framed, early pencil sketches by Alfonso Iannelli evokes a feeling of the artist’s ghostly presence.
Her favorite, she says, is the circa 1916 sketch “Leg Studies” which was exhibited at the Art Institute in 1921 and is, as the title indicates, a drawing of individual legs, an exaggeration of muscles, tendons and bones.
“They remind me so much of the Renaissance drawings, the practice work you saw in the sketchbooks of DaVinci and other Renaissance artists,” Bacon explained. “Our students still do that today.”
These sketches and other Iannelli works are on exhibit this month at Iannelli Studios Heritage Center, 255 N. Northwest Highway, in recognition of the 125th anniversary of the Park Ridge-based artist’s birth. A celebration, coinciding with Iannelli’s actual birthday, will take place Sunday, Feb. 17 and include a presentation by Chicago cultural historian and Iannelli expert Tim Samuelson at 2 p.m.
The collection of roughly 40 pieces is on loan to the Kalo Foundation, the owner of Iannelli Studios, from collectors Samuelson and Dave Jameson. Jameson has also written a book about Iannelli which will be published this spring. Work owned by the Kalo Foundation is also on display, as are paintings and prints of the interior and exterior of the Pickwick Theatre — which Iannelli had a hand in designing — and are offered for sale.
Sketches and paintings of people and building designs make up a large part of the collection, which also includes the nine-foot tall crayon drawing “Daniel” which was incorporated into a stained glass window at St. Patrick’s Church in Racine, Wisc.
“Truthfully, they’re all my favorites,” Kalo Foundation member Judy Barclay said of the art pieces. “Each one is so different and unique. It’s like having children. Truthfully, you love them all.”
Barclay and other Kalo members say Iannelli, who lived and worked for over 40 years at the studio which bears his name, is an important part of Park Ridge’s history and the country’s 20th Century art movement in general.
“While his name is not a household word like Frank Lloyd Wright, it should be,” said Karen Larsen, also a Kalo member. “And it will be.”
“He lived and worked in this place for 46 years and had a far-reaching impact in the first half of the 20th Century,” said Craig Harris, caretaker of Iannelli Studios, who lives in the portion of the building that the artist once called home. “For people in Park Ridge to miss the opportunity to see this stuff all gathered here, it’s going to be a long time before we have this many Iannelli pieces in this place.”
Iannelli Studios will be open to the public to view the exhibit on Wednesdays and Friday between 1 and 3 p.m. through the end of February. Other birthday month events include a pizza-tasting fest from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, featuring Park Ridge restaurants; a presentation on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. entitled “Tracing Your Genealogy: A Case Study of Alfonso Iannelli” by Margie LaCerra; and performances by the Horizon Brass Quintet on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.
Donations are requested at each event and parking is available in the city lot across the street or at St. Andrews Lutheran Church.
For additional information visit www.kalofoundation.org or call (847) 261-4595.