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Naperville
Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Art Talk – Chiaroscuro

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I opened the refrigerator door and there it was: a one-gallon jug filled with Maraschino cherries of questionable age: 126 ounces of the original 128 of red splendor, more than an average family of four could consume in a lifetime. Further kitchen exploration unearthed a truckload of mismatched casserole dishes, numerous Tupperware jello ring molds and more plastic deli trays than Jewel Food Store has in its warehouse. And toothpicks, seriously, without exaggeration, over 20,000 toothpicks of all different sizes and colors: some long, some short, and some with frills, stored in every cabinet and crevice throughout the room.

And so began my first day as the executive director of the Naperville Art League (NAL). Things were about to change and the hoarding was over. After clearing out the old and starting with a clean slate, I spent the next 15 years doing my best to help move the organization forward. We watched NAL grow in reputation and scope as the membership increased, the class catalog expanded, inside renovations were made and the building, enhanced with the “Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists” mural, gained attention after becoming a part of Naperville’s Century Walk.

I thought I had found my forever home at NAL, but then I saw an employment listing at Arts DuPage (artsdupage.org), an offshoot of the DuPage Foundation, formed to promote engagement and investment in the arts for all of DuPage County. With heart racing, I read the job description and instantly knew I had found what could be my fantasy career. An updated resume was prepared and submitted, and after 3 interviews and a torturous wait, I received an offer. Oh, sweet victory! I never dreamed I could find anything more succulent than that jar of cherries, but there it was calling my name. I signed on without hesitation.

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Now as I prepare for an exciting new position, I am feeling pangs of melancholy as I bid adieu to my art league life. But I won’t have to say good-bye to the friends I have made and artists I have met through NAL as I plan to engage them and the entire community in Arts DuPage. Together we can build a stronger, more vibrant future for the arts and cultural offerings in the region.

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Debbie Venezia
Debbie Veneziahttp://www.artsdupage.org
Debbie Venezia is the Director of Arts DuPage, a DuPage Foundation initiative. Contact her at debbie@dupagefoundation.org or visit www.artsdupage.org.

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