Art View     by Paulette Thenhaus


A family of artists


For a family that's been as involved in social causes as the Tourlentes family always has been, it is amazing to realize they not only make time for art-making but that it's Art with a capital A. The Tourlentes Exhibit at the Galesburg Civic Art Center celebrates the art of three generations, with each of the six members expressing his/her unique voice. Sometimes though, one family member influences another.

Take matriarch Mona Tourlentes' delicate, often whimsical, paper and fabric sculptures that are rather plant-like. From her childhood she cut "Jacob's Ladder" designs for various decorative uses. Now she realizes they are actually the same structure as DNA models. Daughter Elizabeth Tourlentes Johnson "shrunk" and flattened the sculptures and invented original paper jewelry with a contemporary look far removed from "Jacob's Ladder." When a catalogue became interested in Elizabeth's jewelry, it was patented, as were Mona's designs.

The three guys in the family, patriarch Tom and sons Steve and Ted, also work with paper photographic paper. Tom, once President of the Art Center, had his work displayed in many Members and Friends shows over the years. Some were prize winners. Steve and Ted are professional photographers who showed together at Knox College last November (see: Zephyr, Art View, "Brothers in Art," 11/03/05). Since then, Steve's work has taken on the white grid of photo paper between images, similar to Ted's use of a grid with prairie flowers. Steve's multiple images on an urban/rural theme are an impressive scale. Some reach 4' x 6'. The experience is that of seeing 30 or so computer screens at once. Amber Davis Tourlentes, Steve's wife, is currently working in the same format as Steve and with a similar social awareness.

Most of the family have been or are teachers, not solely in art but also in computers (Ted) and piano (Mona). The work of Elizabeth's young reading students reveal the strong influence art-making has on improving a student's ability to learn to read. Across the gallery from this display is Lily Johnson's colorful drawings. She is Elizabeth's daughter and surely following in the family footsteps.

This exhibit proves that "home grown" may provide the best variety, even in art.


"The Tourlentes, A Family of Artists," at the Galesburg Civic Art Center at 114 E. Main Street, Galesburg, runs through November 3rd. More info? Call (309) 342-7415 or visit



More art


Kaldi's Coffeehouse

124 E. Simmons Street, Galesburg

Small, tactile collages by KCCDD clients are on view during October.


Q's Caf

319 E. Main Street, Galesburg

New collages by Monmouth College professor of art emeritus Harlow Blum. Displayed to November 30th.



This just in


"A Century of Public Art," a brochure commemorating a century of murals and sculptures in Knox County, Illinois, is now available and free at the Galesburg Civic Art Center and will soon be at tourism sites. Twenty-two artists and art works are documented in the pamphlet, which inspires a self-tour of the area. An artist you know may be in it.