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Iannelli Studios Heritage Center endeavor brings Governor's Home Town Award home to Park Ridge

The Kalo Foundation was recognized Monday, January 21, at the city council meeting for its work in saving Iannelli Studios Heritage Center, which won a Governor's Home Town Award.

When she quoted the old African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child,” Park
Ridge home town girl Hillary Clinton made it almost as famous as she is.  Since I’m not above creative inspiration myself, I say to Park Ridge, it took the whole community to Save Iannelli Studios, and now the State of Illinois has recognized this grass roots effort with a Governor’s Home Town Award for Park Ridge.

Many people stepped up to the plate to make this possible. Among them were Betsy Foxwell, Judy Barclay, Herb Zuegel, Ed and Jean McCabe, John and Lee Sasser,  and Carol Rossi and Sandy Dumalski—who assembled the impressive scrap book that cinched the deal, Vicky Bellisario, and Craig Harris. If I’ve omitted anyone, please forgive me—everyone in the Kalo Foundation has helped put Park Ridge and its art colony on the map. 

Then there was Dick Barton who chaired that first Save Iannelli Studios meeting
when the outcome seemed doomed by a developer’s contract on the property, John Garrett Thorpe who came on board from Oak Park to provide his expertise and heart for historical preservation, Dick Larsen, who provided countless hours of legal counsel and negotiation to close the deal, the 500 plus donors from Park Ridge and across the country—from school kids to the anonymous angel who gave us the challenge grant that kept us going when so many people thought it couldn’t be done.  And now there are countless others who continue to step up as each need arises.

But we’re not done yet.  We’ve saved the place from the developer’s wrecking ball and restoration has begun, but ahead of us lies the polishing of this Park Ridge jewel as we  transform Iannelli Studios Heritage Center into a gathering place for classes, gallery exhibits, art heritage tours, a gift shop and more—as well as an attraction that draws visitors from all over the world to Park Ridge to learn about our town’s art colony legacy, especially this place at the corner of Elm and Northwest Highway where American Modernism put down its roots and influenced the world for 45 years. 

We’ve saved Iannelli Studios—and we’ve been recognized by the State of Illinois with a Governor’s Home Town Award. But we’ve only just begun.  Watch for the list of activities and events we’ve got planned for February as we celebrate the 125th anniversary of Iannelli’s birth the 17th.

Inspired by the poet Edgar A. Guest, I leave you with this:  

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,

But we with a chuckle replied

That "maybe it couldn't," but we’d be ones

Who wouldn't say "no" till we tried.

So we buckled right in with the trace of a grin

on our face. If we worried we hid it.

Then we each took our swing as we tackled the thing

That couldn't be done, and we did it


Thank you Park Ridge for the privilege of bringing this Home Town Award home to our town.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

BMG Media Services January 23, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Hats off to the Kalo organization and especially Karen Larsen for a job well done. The home and studio were preserved for ours and future generations.

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