Rally the Troops

Jan Wright, Publisher, art & society

This issue marks our 11th anniversary, so permit me a bit of nostalgic reflection. Back in 2006, Art & Society was our response to changing times, as its predecessor, Arts Alive!, had run its course after 10 years. We adapted to a full-color, glossy format and worked to support local charitable events, while focusing on the many arts and cultural amenities that make our region great.

Thumbing through that first issue, I see ads for businesses no longer with us, and photographs of community leaders like Jim Maloof and Mary Ann Knell, who have since passed away. Our “Take 10” in that issue featured Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, who was then less than a year into the job.

There was quite the elephant in the room at the mayor’s recent State of the City Address, with the prior day’s announcement of Caterpillar’s headquarters move. “We rally the troops when things get really tough,” he proclaimed with optimism. Having lived here all my life, through good times and bad, I would agree that our resilient community spirit remains one of our greatest assets.

In this issue, you’ll learn more about the magnificent artwork that can be found inside various local places of worship. I’ve personally watched the latest restoration of St. Mary’s Cathedral up close, and marveled at the attention to detail. Elsewhere, we talk to a young business owner on West Main Street in Peoria, as well as two women who are supporting the arts in their Tazewell County communities.

Finally, we’d like to pay tribute to Channy Lyons, a beloved local arts leader, curator and writer, who passed away on February 1st. We worked with her often. Her kindness and grace were ever-present, her passion for creativity and the arts was contagious, and her eternal optimism was a model for us all.

Channy worked hard, all the way up to her passing. In fact, she was working on a story for this very issue until several weeks ago. In her honor, we completed that story as best we could, though it surely lacks her unique perspective. We will miss Channy tremendously, but we are fortunate that she left behind so many pieces of herself, from the Illinois Women Artists Project that she founded to her many articles, books and other writings.

There is much to appreciate about Greater Peoria, as Channy knew well, and Art & Society will continue to bring the art, soul and culture of our great community to the forefront. Don’t forget to make your voice heard in the 2017 Best of Peoria competition at peoriamagazines.com/BOP! a&s

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