Before the Twin Towers came down and actually, before they went up, when gas was 25 cents a gallon and Mr. Ed uttered his first words in living rooms across the country, 30 local artists met regularly in the basement of the First National Bank of Naperville (now BMO Harris Bank) as a part of a newly formed not-for-profit organization called the Naperville Art League.
That group of forward thinking, financially savvy individuals, led by Hayman Herndon, set up the foundation for what was to become a thriving art center in the community. Through income raised from classes and art auctions, NAL was able to put a down payment on the Bible Church on the corner of Center Street and Fifth Avenue.
A generous donation from Harold and Eva White, owners of the Naperville Sun, enabled the league to pay off the mortgage and complete an addition to the building, giving NAL a beautiful new home for their Fine Art Center and Gallery.
In order to ensure NAL’s sustainability, Bruno Botorelli, developer of Riverwalk Apartments, Dr. Jonathan Croll, then president of the Naperville Art League, and Dee Pasternak, League Publicity Chairman, started the Riverwalk Fine Art Fair. Founded in 1986, the event has grown to international status and is consistently named as one of the top fine art fairs in the country.
Today, the Naperville Art League continues to support its mission by off ering a variety of classes and workshops for adults and children, presenting monthly exhibits, hosting annual Public Art Competitions and providing additional opportunities for members to showcase their work at local restaurants, off ices, and other local venues.
The Naperville Art League would like to invite the public to share in the festivities of the 50th Anniversary Celebration. Excitement and entertainment will abound beginning at 5:30PM on Sat., Oct. 27, as members and nonmembers connect and socialize over refreshments and libations at the commemorative open house.
The fun continues from 11AM-3PM on Sun., Oct. 28, as the league hosts the Art Education Open House, an interactive introduction to classes, workshops and open studios off ered and the instructors who teach them.