Dominican University in River Forest honors a century-plus of fine arts

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Celebrating the arts is no new phenomenon in the Oak Park, River Forest area, but at Dominican University, it's the more-than-100-year commitment that is being honored. The Dominican community will embrace that legacy on July 29 with a program hosted in partnership with the Oak Park Art League.

The story begins with one of this country's oldest study abroad programs in Florence, Italy, where young woman studied and recreated masterpieces in the early 1900s. Today, art students still visit Italy for a summer study abroad program.

Back in River Forest, Dominican showcases a permanent art collection at the O'Connor Art Gallery. The collection, which developed over the last nine decades, includes pieces by Carl Krafft and Salvador Dali.

Jessica Mackinnon, director of public information at Dominican, said the event will expose the greater community to the fine arts programs at Dominican.

In addition to selections from the permanent collection, Jeffery Cote de Luna, professor of painting, and Joshua Johnson, a recent art graduate, will display and discuss their work. The restoration of one of Dominican's major pieces will also be discussed, along with a campus tour of outdoor sculpture.

Steven Szegedi, an archivist at the school, said the school forged a strong connection to the arts from the 1960s through the 1980s. The school is now focusing on how the program can evolve.

"There is a renewed recognition for the arts," said Szegedi, who hopes exposing more people to the programs and artists at Dominican will help improve their goal of restoring many of its older works, which includes a several-hundred-year-old statue.

Recently, he said, the school realized that diversity in its fine arts programs was being overlooked. People involved in the programs are mindful of the history, but this event, they hope, will attract new artists.

"It makes people aware of what we have and what we've done in the past," Szegedi said.

Attendees are invited to bring a picnic dinner to eat on the university quad, where artists from the Oak Park Art League will create plein air paintings and lead children's art activities.

A free ice cream social will complement the picnic. The celebration begins at 4 p.m. at Dominican's O'Connor Art Gallery, 7900 Division St., and will culminate in a free screening of the Academy Award-winning film, Hugo, in the Lund Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Participation from 4-5:30 p.m., which includes the exhibit, art talks, sculpture tour and art restoration discussion, is limited to 70 guests. The picnic, ice cream social and art activities from 5:30-7 p.m., as well as the movie are open to all. For more information, call 708-524-6289 or

Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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