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City-wide celebration of noted Illinois artist Preston Jackson

August 29, 2006

SPRINGFIELD – A city-wide progressive celebration on September 9 of the artwork of renowned Illinois artist Preston Jackson will mark the grand opening of an exhibition of his work at four locations in Springfield.  The exhibition, Bearing Witness: The Art of Preston Jackson, will be held at UIS, the Illinois State Museum, Springfield Art Association, and Prairie Art Alliance through October 28.  Each venue will display different bodies of his distinctive and bold work to enable viewers to explore and experience the depth and breadth of the artist's prolific career.

The celebration is the most diverse and comprehensive exhibition of the range of Jackson's work ever presented at one time.  

"Peanut and Momma's Escape," by Preston Jackson

The public is invited to help kick off the progressive celebration with a reception and ceremony beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday, September 9, on the quad at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  Staged in front of a monumental Jackson sculpture called "Travels of My Seven Sisters," the ceremony, which begins at 4:30 p.m., will feature a welcome by UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen and a poem specially written for the occasion by UIS English Professor Marcellus Leonard. The artist will be present.  An exhibit of Jackson’s bronze figurative works from his most recent series titled "Fresh From Julieanne's Garden" will be in UIS' Visual Arts Gallery.

The progressive celebration then continues as follows:     

A reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Illinois State Museum, 502 S. Spring St., where more of Jackson’s figurative works from "Fresh From Julieanne's Garden" will be exhibited.

A reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Springfield Art Association, 700 N. Fourth Street, where the artist’s abstract sculpture and his representational paintings will be featured.

A reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at Prairie Art Alliance located in the Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 S. Sixth Street.  Jackson's miniature cityscape "From Bronzeville to Harlem" in painted bronze that shows people and places from the Harlem Renaissance period will be exhibited there.  The reception will also feature jazz musical entertainment by Virgil Rhodes and Footprints.

The public is encouraged to take part in the celebration by attending each reception in progressive fashion.

Born in Decatur, Illinois, in 1944, Jackson is a Professor of Sculpture and Head of the Figurative Area at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was chair of the Sculpture Department from 1994-96.  He is also founder and owner of The Raven Gallery, home of the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria. He was chosen Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois in 1998, the state’s highest award for individual accomplishment.

He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University and Master of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign.

Often politically charged, Jackson's work is varied and wide-ranging.  His cast bronze sculptures best reflect the artist's interest in retelling American history through compelling personal stories. Common themes include the ravages of war, racism, sexism, and social injustice.

Jackson has created numerous works for private and public commissions, with portraits in relief and three dimensions of such eminent American figures as poet Gwendolyn Brooks, baseball player Ernie Banks, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Dr. Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, Jean Baptiste Point duSable, and, his most recent, a cast bronze sculpture of Irv Kupcinet for the City of Chicago.

Earlier this year, the 28 bronze sculptures in Jackson's "Fresh From Julieanne's Garden" were exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Kevin Nance, Chicago Sun-Times art critic, stated in a February 3 review of the exhibit, "It will fill you up with what it means to be human."

Other cultural and educational programs featuring Jackson and his artwork will be held at the four venues and elsewhere during the exhibition. Information about those upcoming events may be found on the Illinois State Museum's website at www.museum.state.il.us.

The city-wide exhibition is the first partnership of its kind among the four major art venues in Springfield. Primary organizers are UIS Professor of Art Mike Miller; Robert Sill, Assistant Director of Art at the Illinois State Museum; Gayle Norton, Executive Director of the Prairie Art Alliance; and Angie Dunfee, Executive Director of the Springfield Art Association.

Other key organizers are Karen Witter, Associate Director of the Illinois State Museum; UIS Art History Professor Jonathan Perkins; and Christopher Miller, Vice Chancellor for Student and Administrative Affairs at UIS.

    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.
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