More than Art

A place to meet and explore the art of the written word.

Written by Greg Smith
SCWG Organizer

That’s right. Tucked in with all the paintings, photographs, and other forms of visual art there is a group that meets to paint with words. The Next Picture Show, Dixon, hosts two writer’s workshops a month for the Sauk Creative Writer’s Group (SCWG). The writers meet at 2 p.m., on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month in the downstairs meeting room. 

“We welcome writers of all levels to attend,” said Greg Smith, Dixon, the group’s organizer. “We have members working on novels, short stories, and prose. Recently we had someone bring in lyrics to a song they wrote.”

The SCWG had been around for more than five years before the pandemic. The group rebooted earlier this year after a TNPS volunteer contacted Smith about restarting the SCWG at TNPS. 

“We have members who have been published and those who are just starting a writing project,” Smith said. “The goal is to meet other writers and to help each other improve our craft.”


For more information, contact Smith at [email protected] or come stop by and check out the group.

Featured artist | Steve Hart

Local Photographer embraces his life-long hobby

Written by Judy Schmidt

It began decades ago as a unique, teachable, interesting father-son pas-time to be shared between twelve-year-old Steve Hart and his Dad, Steven Senior, already a seasoned hobbyist in the field of photography. From the moment young Steve was gifted with his first camera–a Minolta XGM–learned to develop film in a converted walk-in closet re-designed and equipped as a darkroom in their Sterling, Illinois home and acquired a collectible amount of paraphernalia for this new activity.

He was hooked–hooked on a hobby of taking pictures that carried him well into adulthood. It literally broadened his scope of what to shoot, learning new methods of creating and manipulating the right scenes, positions, lighting, and transitioning between the history and methods of early film to digital times. 

Also, there was a growing passion, that excitement that builds on an adventure, continually bringing new knowledge and experiences. However, before venturing into this particular field of art and becoming a photographer that now regularly displays his work in fine art centers and other prominent places, for which he has earned recognition and awards, Steve gleaned many tricks of the trade by practicing with his Dad and on his own. 

As a budding photographer in a small Baptist Christian school near Sterling, he took pictures of students’ sporting events, individual lay-up shots as needed, and other opportunities as they arose. He also took pictures needed of their church during that era. Spending time learning photography with his Dad was a “wonderful project”, he remembered. They had several years of sharing a connective hobby until his father passed away in 1987. 

“It was tough to keep doing it after Dad died,” he recalled. However, his mother, Betty, who was an artist and hobbyist in her own right, was making Teddy Bears out of mohair, alpaca wool, and other materials at that time. So, Steve began taking pictures of the Teddy Bears for her, which were put on the Internet and displayed on “The Paula Sands Live” show, where Betty was featured and interviewed. Helping his mother in that way became a new means of bonding with her that not only re-ignited his photography passion but drew him to a new genre he never experienced before. 

“I never thought I’d go out in marshlands,” he said. “But my Mom liked birds.” So, with binoculars and cameras in tow, they headed out to identify and photograph different species of birds along rivers and other places. Steve took an evening photo of a snowy owl on top of a telephone pole. “You get what nature gives you,” he said. “She never left for half an hour.” “I like doing wildlife shots because they’re never going to complain about how the picture looks,” he added. 

Photography, however, is not just a fun pastime running around randomly clicking images that might magically appear in a view finder. Comparing photography with other fine arts Steve believes it may require equal time to find the perfect composition. “Oil painting may take months to complete compared to taking snapshots, but a photographer may have to study a location waiting for a sunset or the sun moving or changing colors. They always have to look for the right light and clouds and consider the atmosphere. There may be distracting elements in the background to consider. “Everything through trial and error,” he said. “Art is subjective and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but putting yourself out there makes you vulnerable or open to criticism.” 

Still, there are times of encouragement, and Steve has been recognized at different times. In 2021 he received a best of show for a photo of the Sterling Theater and recognition at other shows for photos displayed at CGH Commerce Towers in Dixon. “You can have thousands of images in a hard drive,” he said. “But that doesn’t compare to finalizing your image, putting it into a print, picking your mat and frame, and seeing a tangible item you put on the wall. 

That’s where The Next Picture Show comes in,” he said. Steve’s work was on TNPS’ feature wall for March of 2022. He is an active volunteer at the center, photographing different events. He enjoys the atmosphere, the people, and meeting other artists. He is a lifelong resident of the city of Sterling. 

His love of photography began as a hobby, grew bigger as an older hobby. And today it is still just that–a hobby that he loves.

“Art in a Bottle” Gala Fundraiser | May 20

Good times for a cause

The Next Picture Show welcomes a new event that combines patrons’ support for the arts and a fine glass of wine (or two, or three).

Read More

2022 Phidian Art Show awards announced

71 pieces of original art on display

Guest judge, Sydni Reubin, spent an afternoon walking the gallery and looking over 71 pieces of original art as she judged the 73rd Phidian Art Show. The Phidian Art Show gives out over $3,500 in cash awards given by many local businesses and individuals.

Top prize
Best of Show, the Myrtle Walgreen Memorial Award, has been awarded to Matt Jagitsch of Sterling, Illinois for his artwork, “Leonardo.”

Be sure to vote for your favorite piece

The show is open to the public through Apr. 22 at The Next Picture Show art gallery at 113 W. First St., in Dixon. While visiting the show, patrons have the opportunity to choose the Agnes Ferguson Memorial “People’s Choice Award” by voting for their favorite entry during the gallery’s business hours Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Voting for this final award ends on Apr. 14.

…and the winners are

Myrtle Walgreen Memorial Award BEST OF SHOW
Matt Jagitsch “Leonardo”

Roger Brown & Iva L. Gamel Memorial Award BEST AMERICAN SCENE
Jim Hey “Grand Detour Fireworks”

Robert Crowson Memorial Award
Shirley Guay “Body and Soul”

Phidian Past Presidents’ Award (chosen by a small group of past presidents)
Becky Hage “Here and Now”

Myra Nichols Memorial Award
Ben “Bengji” Perez “Untitled”  

Lucile Warner Memorial Award 
Betty Higby “Sound of Silence”

LeSage Memorial Award REALISTIC STYLE
Jim Hey “Evening Stroll in Venice”

Sauk Valley Bank Award BEST OIL
Perry Paliga “Des Plaines River Valley”

Ann Roe Memorial Award Pen, Pencil, and Ink
Dan Bowman “Hungry Packer Lake”

Beverly Weber Memorial Award 
Elizabeth Jahn “Ribbons”

Caryl Crawford Fleming Memorial Award BEST NATURE SUBJECT
Betty Predmore “Iris Dance”

Ruth Wood Davis Memorial Award WATERCOLOR
Craig Carpenter “Flipping Seasons at Wade’s Field”

Roxy Hey Memorial Award BEST FLORAL ART 
Karen Tucker “Red Dahlia”

Mary Helen “Mame” Cooper Memorial Award
Jan Harvey “Along the Creek”

Dixon Telegraph Award
Philip Atilano “Charles”

KSB Hospital Award
Kitto “Sofia”

Marie L Helin Memorial Award CREATIVITY
London Baker “Vision” 

Ronald Reagan Presidental Award BEST REGIONAL SCENE
Dale Tulk “Put Me in Coach!”

The Next Picture Show Award
Laura Brown “Cormorant Lunge”

Mary DeFrancisco Memorial Award Honorable Mention 
Joy Meyer “Tertiary”

Mary DeFrancisco Memorial Award Honorable Mention 
Michael Moreth “Untitled”

Mary DeFrancisco Memorial Award Honorable Mention 
Bonny Brown “Sunflower Tea”

Phidian Art Show announces CALL FOR ARTISTS

New location

The Phidian Art Club of Dixon, IL has announced a call for artists to register for their annual Phidian Art Show. After a two-year absence, the Phidian Art Club has made a big change with the venue moving from the Loveland Community House & Museum to The Next Picture Show art gallery at 113 W. First St., in Dixon.

In-person awards presentation a no-go for 2022

The exhibit of original artwork is on display on the gallery walls from Apr. 1-22. Due to remaining COVID concerns, the Phidian Art Club is forgoing the in-person awards presentation this year. All awards will be announced on Apr. 1.

73rd Phidian Art Show
Photo: Jayne Rose | 2019 Phidian Art Show

Show runs Apr. 1-22 during gallery hours

The show is open to the public during regular gallery hours, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Local artists will vie for over $3,500 in cash awards. The public has the opportunity to choose a “People’s Choice Award” by voting for their favorite entry from Apr. 1-14, after which the People’s Choice award will be announced.

Get your entry form here, folks.

Artists can pick up an entry form at The Next Picture Show art gallery or download the form BELOW.

Artist requirements

Artists must live within 35 miles of Dixon and be 17 years of age or older. Only two-dimensional paintings or drawings, in any medium, will be accepted. Artwork must be original, not produced under the direction of an instructor, no more than five years old, and never have been entered in a previous Phidian Show. Photography, crafts, sculptures, digital art, or three-dimensional work is not eligible for this show. All work must be ready for hanging by wire, no larger than 48” in width, or exceeding 25 lbs. 

Artist registration dates and times

Artwork will be received at The Next Picture Show on the following days and times:

  • Saturday, Mar. 26 | 26 p.m.
  • Sunday, Mar. 27 | 26 p.m.
  • Monday, Mar. 28 | 26 p.m.

Artwork will remain on display in the gallery through Apr. 22. 

The entry fee is $15 for one artwork and $25 for two artworks with a two artwork limit. Artwork is on display at The Next Picture Show through Apr. 22.

Mar. 26-27, from 2-6 p.m., and Saturday, Mar. 28, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The entry fee is $15 for one artwork and $25 for two artworks. There is a two-artwork limit.

For more information, guidelines, and entry forms, please contact Gloria Nusbaum at 815-631-3560, or email her at [email protected]

Shades of Gray awards announced

Opening night was a hit!

EXHIBIT RUNS FEB 25-MAR 26
On Feb. 25, 2022, Philip Atilano, TNPS executive director, presented the awards for this year’s Shades of Gray Art Exhibition during the artists’ reception. Jessica Modica, Executive Director of the Freeport Art Museum served as the guest judge for this exhibition.

Shades of Gray award recipients

Best in Show | “Pig Skull, Paella Pan, Corinthian Capital” by Les Allen of Dixon, IL

Les Allen Best of Show

First Place | “Net Force Zero Equals Zero” by Carol Bingham of Sycamore, IL

Carol Bingham 1st place

Second Place | “Self Portrait” by Matt Jagitsch of Sterling, IL

Matt Jagitsch 2nd place

Third Place | “Leicha” by Lorena Malm of Spring Valley, IL

Lorena Malm 3rd place

Honorable Mention| “A Door to the Past” by Stephen Hart of Sterling, IL

stephen hart hm 1

Honorable Mention| “Disruption” by Pamela Hansen of Spring Valley, IL

Pamela Hansen HM 2

Honorable Mention| “Midnight Path” by Kat Heitzman of Freeport, IL

Kat Heitzman HM3

Regional Survey of Art Awards announced

Rock Valley artists celebrated

JAN. 7 – FEB. 12, 2022
The Regional Survey Art Show focuses on the work of area artists and seeks to identify current trends in the Rock River Valley art world. In the past years, this show has garnered over juried 90+ pieces of artwork. The show features 2D and 3D media.

Opening night | artist reception

On Jan. 14, 2022, Philip Atilano, TNPS executive director, presented the awards for this year’s Regional Survey of Art Exhibition during the artists’ reception. Glenn Bodish was the show’s guest judge. Bodish is currently the Associate Professor of Art and the Gallery Director at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, Illinois.

Drum roll, please.

Best in Show | “Indiglow” by Dale Tulk

Tulk Best of Show 2022

1st Place | “Due East” by Carol Bingham

1st place Carol Bingham

2nd Place | “Lucky Bird” by Joann Murdock

2nd Joann Murdock

3rd Place | “Stumped” by Mary Rogers

3rd place Mary Rogers

Honorable Mention | “Fox Lady” by David Bingaman

Honorable Mention 1 David Bingaman

Honorable Mention | “Animism” by Les Allen

Honorable Mention 2 Les Allen

Honorable Mention | “Floating” by Jessica Payne

Honorable Mention 3 - Jessica Payne

Philip Atilano takes over as Executive Director in 2022

“I love The Next Picture Show. It is an amazing community resource with so much potential, much of which is untapped.”

The new year ushers in a change in leadership at The Next Picture Show (TNPS)  fine arts center in Dixon, IL. Outgoing executive director Michael Glenn announced his upcoming retirement at the November board of directors meeting. 

Philip Atilano takes over for Glenn as of Jan. 1, 2022. A former Dixon native and 1999 Dixon High School graduate, Atilano attended Sauk Valley Community College, and received a BFA from The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2005. After living in Milwaukee for 16 years, Atilano and his family decided to move back to the area in 2018. He and his wife Julia, along with their two sons, now reside in Sterling, IL.

After college, Philip began working with Spolar Studio in Milwaukee as lead artist and project manager. After eight years with Spolar Studio, Atilano accepted the position of exhibit designer with The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum of Milwaukee, where he collaborated with a team and designed spaces and exhibits for the museum–some of which traveled the country and world. 

For the past seven years, Atilano has traveled extensively across the country and abroad with Conrad Schmitt Studios of New Berlin, WI as a foreman and lead artist performing restoration and conservation in some of the nation’s most beautiful architectural gems. Several of the buildings include the University of Notre Dame, the Minnesota State Capitol, the South Dakota State Capitol, the Paramount Theatre, and numerous cathedrals, basilicas, and churches across the nation. 

Previously, Atilano had personal ties with The Next Picture Show as an exhibiting artist, an exhibition judge, and performed and assisted in community art projects affiliated with the gallery. “I love The Next Picture Show. It is an amazing community resource with so much potential, much of which is untapped,” said Atilano. “The timing is perfect. I am at the point in my career where I am confident in my artistic abilities and visions and am ready for the new challenge.”

Atilano welcomes anyone to stop into the gallery Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to visit, discuss art, or bring their ideas about what they would like to see at the Dixon art center in the future. He plans to bring his almost twenty years of experience to The Next Picture Show, offering fresh exhibits, new classes offered to the public, and incorporating much of what he has learned and seen in his travels.

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