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Wheaton painter to be inducted into Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame

Joel Sheesley to be among latest inductees at Bartlett banquet

Two visual artists including Joel Sheesley of Wheaton, two composers and an internationally known choir director are the latest inductees who will be honored by the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame.

They also include Jeff Hunt, founder of the St. Charles Singers; portrait artist Vincent Chiaramonte of Campton Hills; and musicians Patrick Beckman of Freeport, Illinois, and Kevin Braheny Fortune of California.

All the winners will be present to be honored formally at the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame biennial awards dinner at 6 p.m. April 24 at Villa Olivia in Bartlett. The public is invited to the festivities.

Sheesley, Wheaton College professor emeritus, undertook a multiyear project to capture the Fox River on canvas, working with The Conservation Foundation of Naperville, whose representatives were on hand for the announcement of the inductees.

After three years, he's up to about 90 works he painted outdoors (en plein air) between West Dundee and Ottawa, Sheesley said.

"I'm still hooked on the Fox River, still painting," he said. "I know [the river] intimately. I wade in. I've painted from my canoe out in the river. All seasons, all weather. I tried to be out there and be part of everything, camping out a few times. The Conservation Foundation provided … great contacts and deep understanding [of the] importance of the river."

Dan Lobbes of The Conservation Foundation said the organization also helped gain Sheesley access from private landowners to places rarely seen on the river.

Sheesley said stepping into midstream became a metaphor for mortality and remembering to pay attention to the present.

Arts Hall of Fame

Founded in 2001 during a commemoration for the new millennium, the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization that gives public recognition to artists associated with the Fox Valley by birth, education, residence or service who have achieved national or international acclaim. They must have spent at least 20 years in their profession.

This will be the 10th class of inductees who are honored with engraved plaques displayed at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin.

The community is invited to join the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame and its inductees at the awards ceremony dinner at Villa Olivia at 1401 W. Lake St., Bartlett.

To register to attend, go to the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame website at for information or contact President Susan S. Starrett at 630-605-4000 or Vice President Murna Hansemann at 847-727-7165.

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