The 2018 class of the the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame reads like who’s who of the arts — including an internationally known painter, a Grammy-Award-winning musician, a Hollywood film producer, the first African American member of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis, and educators and benefactors who blazed trails in Kane County.
The six new inductees and their categories are Sterling (Stu) Ainsworth (Benefactor), Bobbie Brown (Visual Arts—Painting), Frank Catalano (Performing Arts—Music), William LaBaron, (Visual Arts—Film Producer), William Moulis (Visual Arts—Murals) and LaVerne Newsome (Performing Arts—Educator).
The Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame was founded in 2001 to give public recognition to artists associated with the Fox Valley by birth, education, residence, or service who have achieved national or international acclaim. The Class of 2018 Banquet and Inductee Celebration will take place on Friday, April 20, at the Villa Olivia Country Club in Bartlett.
For tickets and more information, see foxvalleyarts.org.
The Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame was a dream of Lucille Halfvarson and other arts leaders that took tangible form during the millennium (2000) celebrations in Aurora. A series of two-minute history sketches for public television briefly put the spotlight on violinist Maud Powell, an Aurora girl who, a century earlier, had the musical world at her feet.
The committee that worked on this project evolved into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame, a not-for-profit organization that gives public recognition to artists associated with the Fox Valley.
The artists honored with induction every other year represent the visual arts, performing arts, literary arts, media arts and educator/curator/benefactors. Each must have served at least 20 years in his or her profession.
A second objective of the FVAHF is to ensure a strong cultural legacy for future generations. Inductees are honored with engraved plaques that are displayed at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin. The founders of FVAHF are Joyce Dlugopolski, Jay Harriman, Mary Clark Ormond, Susan S. Starrett, and deceased members Lucille and Sten Halfvarson, G. Edward Nelson, Roger Parolini, and Charlotte & George Peichl.
Meet The Class of 2018
Sterling (Stu) Ainsworth
Sterling (Stu) Ainsworth has lived in the Fox Valley since 1978, first in Elgin and presently in St. Charles.
He learned to play the piano and clarinet when young, and loves to sing, and his passion for the arts and arts education is made evident in his 39 years as an arts benefactor in the area
He has been a major supporter of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, (ESO) the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, (EYSO) Elgin Master Chorale, Soiree Lyrique, Chamber Music on the Fox, St. Charles Arts Council, St. Charles Cultural Commission, Steel Beam Theatre and more. He is the lead sponsor of the Art in Public Places project in St. Charles.
The ESO’s annual youth programs, Ainsworth Concerts for Youth, were named after him in honor of his commitment to music education for children. Mr. Ainsworth was recognized for his contributions to the arts when he was named Volunteer of the Year in 2017 by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.
“There can be no creative acts without benefactors who encourage and support the art,” said David Bearden, ESO CEO. “As a donor, director, board member and leader, Stu Ainsworth has created a model of service for others to follow.”
Bobbie Brown, a St. Charles resident since 1988, is known nationally and internationally for her paintings, which are inspired by nature, and range from detailed realism to imaginative abstraction.
Brown achieved certification in Home Landscape Horticulture and Botanical Art and Illustration through the Morton Arboretum, and was an instructor there for 10 years.
She has been elected to membership in Allied Artists of America and the American Artists’ Professional League. She is an active member of the Nature Artists’ Guild of the Morton Arboretum and served as their program chairman for several years.
Brown is also former program chairman for the DuPage Art League. Her work has been published in Today’s Botanical Artists, The Colored Pencil Society of America’s Signature Showcase, the American Society of Botanical Artists, and more.
Paintings by Bobbie Brown are included in public and private collections throughout the United States, Great Britain and Japan, and she has donated art prints for Fox Valley Beaux Arts auctions to raise money for art student scholarships.
Frank Catalano began playing saxophone at age 7. By 18, he was touring with Santana and signed to Delmark Records to record his first solo album.
While at Streamwood High School, Catalano won first place in the Illinois All-State Jazz Saxophone Competition. He holds a BA in Music Composition from DePaul University.
Catalano performed with the Elgin Community College Jazz Band as an ECC student in 1999, and was a saxophone instructor at College of Lake County from 2005-2012.
He has played on three Grammy-winning, and 11 Grammy-nominated recordings with artists including Jennifer Lopez, Destiny’s Child and John Legend. His recordings feature collaborations with leading jazz heads of state, including bassist Larry Gray, longtime Pat Metheny percussionist Paul Wertico, and the legendary Randy Brecker.
Catalano’s music has been spotlighted in many of the hallowed live performing venues and festivals, and he has toured throughout United States, France, England, and Japan. His 2016 album, Bye Bye Blackbird, with David Sanborn, hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, making it one of the best-selling jazz albums of that year.
William LaBaron was born in Elgin in 1883. He graduated from Elgin High School and attended the University of Chicago and New York University. A producer, songwriter, composer and author, he wrote a number of Broadway stage scores and libretti.
More than 10 years of song writing in New York City prepared him for writing the book and lyrics for 10 Broadway plays.
But LaBaron was a master of many arts. Heworked as the managing editor of Colliers Magazine, and then director general of Cosmopolitan Productions until 1924, when he caught the eye of financiers like Joseph Kennedy, who suggested he go to Hollywood. Reluctantly he did, and soon began producing films.
In Hollywood, he joined ASCAP in 1933 and wrote dozens of popular songs.
He was Chief Production Executive of Film Booking Offices of America in 1927, Production Chief at RKO Studios from 1929-1931 and Production Chief at Paramount Studios from 1936-1941. He was the head of the Independent Production Unit at 20th Century Fox from 1941 until he retired in 1947.
LaBaron died Feb. 9, 1958.
William Moulis, born in Chicago in 1919, was an accomplished artist from 1941 to 1989, known for his mural paintings, as well as oils, watercolors, gouaches and collages. He was commissioned to paint public and private murals in many cities in the United States and abroad.
At the height of his career, he was sought as a muralist to establish the design style for notable hotels and restaurants in Chicago, New York and Hong Kong.
While a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, he was commissioned by Kate Raftery, notable owner of The Little Traveler in Geneva, to paint murals in various rooms of the business.
Following his service in World War II, Moulis moved into and worked for The Little Traveler, and he lived in Geneva until he died on Jan. 6, 1989.
Locally his work was exhibited at the Wayne Art League Show, the Community Hospital Geneva and Delnor Hospital St. Charles Benefit, The John Forden Gallery, Aurora, and the Norris Cultural Arts Center in St. Charles.
LaVerne Newsome was a musician and educator who touched the lives of countless aspiring musicians.
Born in Elgin on Oct. 21, 1907, “Mr. Newsome provided encouragement, guidance, hope, a sense of direction, and a sense of worth to me and countless black youths who were under his tutelage,” wrote a former student, Professor David Baker.
Newsome graduated from Elgin High School and received a BA and MA in Music Education from Northwestern. He taught at Alabama’s Talladega College until 1937 when he moved to Indianapolis. There he was orchestra director and music department chair at Crispus Attucks High School, the city’s first all-black high school.
For 37 years, he taught and mentored thousands of students, including trombonist J.J. Johnson, Virgil Jones, trumpet, and guitarist Wes Montgomery.
An accomplished violinist, Newsome was the first African American member of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis, a position he held until 1992. He frequently returned to Elgin to play violin at his parent’s home for their annual music teas to benefit the St. James AME Church.
Newsome died on Aug. 25, 2001.
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