Berwyn's Arts Blog
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Peanut Butter
Hi all

Berwyn Township and Health District is partnering with WGN radio and Greater Chicago Food Depository for a one day peanut butter collection on Thursday, December 1.

After hearing food pantries are experiencing a shortage of one of their most important foods, John Williams was inspired to rally his listeners and collect some peanut butter!

Here is a link to the web page -,0,7547555.story

Please stop by the Berwyn Township/Health District building at 6600 W. 26th Street on Thursday, December 1 between 9:00am and 4:30 pm
and drop off some jars! Any Brand, any size. 1 or 100, it will add up!

On Friday, December 2, the donations will be delivered to the Greater Chicago Food Depository to be distributed among their member food pantries. The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago's food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community. The Food Depository distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 678,000 adults and children in Cook County every year. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 69 million pounds of nonperishable food and fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 145,000 meals every day. The Food Depository's programs and services for children, older adults and the unemployed and underemployed address the root causes of hunger. For more information, log onto or call 773-247-FOOD.

Thank you in advance for any help you could give!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Berwyn's Very Own
The Berwyn Route 66 Museum is not quite what you might be expecting.

Aside from hundreds of Route 66 related artifacts, there’s also a serpentine faux wall covered in local art, a bell from the original LaVergne School that predates Route 66, an electric vehicle charging station in front of the museum and — for good measure — an original window from Abraham Lincoln’s Springfield mansion.

For Jon Fey, the museum’s curator, it all makes sense ... sort of.

“Lincoln’s home in Springfield is about a block and half off the original Route 66,” said Fey. “His home was a stone’s throw from Route 66, but that’s as close as I can get it.”

After nearly 35 years of operating his plaque- and trophy-engraving company SWF Products next door, Fey decided to offer up an extra 625 square feet of his Ogden Avenue storefront to the museum project. It was his hope that the museum would promote Berwyn to tourists passing through on Route 66.

“My whole idea of this space was to build an attraction for this community and to bring people in from outside of Berwyn and have them check it out,” Fey said. “Whatever I can do to make that happen without going bankrupt or having something horrible happen is worthwhile to me.”

When Fey opened the Berwyn Route 66 Museum in January, he intended it to be a tribute to the city’s history as part of the fabled Mother Road and Dealer’s Row. Almost one year into the venture, the museum has turned into a mix of Fey’s interests that also doubles as the office and gallery space for the Berwyn Arts Council.

In truth, the museum’s eclectic nature stems from myriad interests of Fey, who enjoys making art cars, local history and especially aviation.

“If I could figure out a way to hang an airplane in here, I’d probably do it, but we’ll have to put that on hold,” said Fey, making a joke on the cramped quarters.

Fey also sits on the Berwyn Arts Council, and decided in June the space could easily double as a venue for local artists to show off their work.

For the Berwyn Arts Council, the museum-gallery space has been a boon. For the first time in its five-year existence, the council now has a proper mailing address and someone to answer its phone line. Fey has even put its name on the door just below the museum’s.

Now, through Fey, the council has showcased six artists this year and hopes to expand the program to a dozen in 2012, said Paula Swasko, president of the Berwyn Arts Council.

“It feels like it’s our little center of being now,” she said. “We kind of have a place we can call our own.”
For the last three years, the council had acted as a local arts advocate. Its most high-profile event was “Passport to Art,” featuring children artists throughout the Depot District.

Fey has allowed the Berwyn Arts Council to clear out a space in the middle of the store and put up 25 feet worth of standing metal grids to create faux walls to hang paintings.

“We have always wanted some sort of way to support local artists and making their work available to the public, but we've never had a venue in which to do that,” Swasko said. “It’s really been a treat. It’s just the right size for these small events.”

Many local artists lack a place to show off their works and often end up working in obscurity. Fey said some artists featured at the museum hadn’t had public showings in 25 years.

For Wendy Ritchy, a painter from Berwyn and art therapist at Loretto Hospital in Chicago, the gallery’s low-key nature and wide appeal is a major plus.

“I like that I can just show it to my friends and neighbors. It’s not a high-pressure kind of venue to show your work,” Ritchy said. “It’s welcoming, and it can invite all kinds of people in — people that might not ordinarily come and look at art.”

Although an art gallery housed in a room that’s ceiling is bordered by hubcaps may seem dissonant, Fey says it hasn’t taken away from the success of either venture. Fey has taken care to ensure that the Route 66 Museum is well researched and thorough while making sure artists feel at home.

The museum saw visitors this year from as far away as Sicily, Poland and even New Zealand.

“It’s amazing how many people are really into Route 66. They're kind of like groupies,” Fey said. “They’re all great people and we’re having a lot of fun with it.”

Fey was able to create the open space after technological advances cut the size of the machines SWF Products uses in half. The two storefronts, once separate buildings, were connected before Fey bought the building.

Although the art and historical venture has taken some time away from him and his staff, he feels it’s been a net positive for the business.

“It’s kind of like a bowl of candy on the table,” Fey said. “We get to talk to people we wouldn’t normally get to talk to.”

Although the Berwyn Route 66 Museum already has spawned new branches, albeit in the same room, Fey might not be done. He’s talked of making a display for Berwyn’s Depot District and other local historical artifacts.

Whatever the museum ends up being, Fey is still formulating his vision.

“Maybe it’s an eclectic museum. Maybe that’s what this is,” he said. “I just wish we had more space.”

Copyright 2011 Berwyn Life. Some rights reserved

Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Holiday Thanksgiving Weekend
Our Holiday Stories continues this weekend to celebrate the holidays.

Buy tickets here.

And speaking of food and drink, the rain should not stop you from an excellent meal. And that's just what you'll get at Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits (3 Stars! - Chicago Tribune). Tuesdays throughout the month of November are community Tuesdays at Autre Monde with 10% of sales going to 16th Street Theater!

Thursday, November 17, 2011
Bert Hicks
Berwyn has lost a true icon. Bert Hicks passed away
Thursday, November 17, 2011, peacefully, in the late morning hours.

Bert Hicks was in his late 90's and formerly owned Hicks Hardware Store
at 6805 Stanley, in Berwyn.

He lived much of his life in Berwyn and knew Berwyn's history through
and through.

There will be a wake for Bert on Sunday, November 20, 2011, from 3 pm
to 8 pm, at the Kopicki's Heritage Funeral Home at 3117 S. Oak Park Avenue
in Berwyn.

Thursday, November 10, 2011
Trio of Weekend Events

Our Holiday Stories
opens this Thursday at 7:30 PM. Join us Thursday or Friday night this weekend to celebrate with food and drink while we celebrate with the cast and authors Elizabeth Berg, Rohina Malik and Tanya Saracho. Press Opening on Thursday with VIP Opening Friday at 7:30 PM. 100 Club members make your reservations now. Not a 100 Club member? Buy tickets here.

And speaking of food and drink, the rain should not stop you from an excellent meal. And that's just what you'll get at Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits (3 Stars! - Chicago Tribune). Tuesdays throughout the month of November are community Tuesdays at Autre Monde with 10% of sales going to 16th Street Theater!

Friday Night at the Route 66 museum, the show will be up for a week and is opening at 5:30 PM till 9 PM on Friday, November 11th at Berwyn's Route 66 Museum, 7003 Ogden Ave which is also the home of the Berwyn Arts Council. Wendy Ritchey, a Berwyn resident, will be showing about 16 framed watercolors painted while on her hikes on the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin, the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois and on Isle Royal in Michigan. Two larger works of boreal piney woods will be on view. Great stuff! Check it out.

Saturday night, check out Nov. 12 @ 7pm The Tamale Hut Cafe, 8300 W. Cermak Road, North Riverside, IL 60546 Reading Series presents two editors (and successful writers in their own right) of the anthology Men Undressed: Women Writers on the Male Sexual Experience — Cris Mazza and Gina Frangello.

Cris Mazza has authored sixteen books, most recently Various Men Who Knew Us as Girls, a novel. Her other fiction titles include Waterbaby, Trickle-Down Timeline, and Is It Sexual Harassment Yet? In 1995 & 1996, Mazza was co-editor for the original Chick-Lit anthologies: Chick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction, and Chick-Lit 2: No Chick Vics. In 2006, her essay “Who’s Laughing Now: Chick Lit and the Perversion of a Genre,” explaining the co-opting and corrosion of the title, appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine. In addition to fiction, Mazza also has published a memoir, Indigenous: Growing Up Californian, and has another hybrid memoir, Something Wrong With Her, forthcoming from Jadid Ibis Press. A native of Southern California, Mazza grew up in San Diego County. She currently lives 50 miles west of Chicago and is a professor in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She can be found online at

Gina Frangello is the author of three books of fiction: My Sister’s Continent; Slut Lullabies, a ForeWord magazine finalist for 2010′s Best Book of the Year; and A Life in Men, forthcoming from Algonquin Books in 2013. The longtime editor of the literary magazine, Other Voices, she now serves as the Executive Editor of its book imprint, Other Voices Books, which she co-founded in 2004. She is also the Fiction Editor of the popular online literary collective, The Nervous Breakdown. She can be found online at

Books will be for sale, so bring cash. And bring your appetite for tamales and tinga!

Friday, November 04, 2011
Tomorrow, please join for a FREE community performance showcasing Morton High School students and their presentation of Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida by Victor Martinez. Led by 16th Street theater teaching artists Sam Roberson and Ashley Honore, each class focused on bringing one chapter of the book to life.

Artwork by students of Gallery 16 and Morton High school and inspired by Parrot in the Oven also will be displayed. See below for details.

BERWYN READS! Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

Thank you to Sponsors and Community Partners: Berwyn CARES, Berwyn Public Library, FitzGerald's, Morton High School, Gallery 16, and North Berwyn Park District.

Sat, Nov 5 at Noon at Fitzgerald's, 6615 Roosevelt Road. Doors open 11am.

Event is free but you must call (708) 795-6704 x104 to reserve.


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