BATAVIA – The Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame just unveiled its 2022 inductees, and because of the pandemic will celebrate not only their achievements but also the 2020 inductees who were named a few weeks before COVID-19 arrived and waylaid the planned banquet in their honor.
The newly rescheduled gala is set for March 31, 2023, at Villa Olivia in Bartlett, and the public is invited to the festivities.
The earlier honorees, who were profiled in February 2020, include two visual artists, two composers and an internationally known choir director. They are Jeff Hunt of St. Charles, founder of the St. Charles Singers; portrait artist Vincent Chiaramonte of Campton Hills; painter Joel Sheesley of Wheaton, known, in part, for his Fox River paintings in Geneva; and musicians Patrick Beckman and Kevin Braheny Fortune, both originally from Elgin.
This month’s big reveal at the Batavia Public Library was helmed by Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame President Susan S. Starrett of North Aurora.
The 2022 class includes visual artist Joseph Morton “Mort” Luby, a painter from Carpentersville; and four late luminaries from Aurora: Lucille and Sten Halfvarson, music; and writers Olive Beaupré Miller and Charles Pierce Burton.
The Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame recognizes artists associated with the Fox Valley by birth, education, residence or service, who have achieved international or national acclaim. The organization was a dream of Lucille Halfvarson and other arts leaders, taking root during the millennium celebration in Aurora, the organization notes. A series of two-minute history sketches for public television put the spotlight on violinist Maud Powell, an Aurora resident who, a century earlier, had the musical world at her feet. The committee that worked on the project evolved into the nonprofit Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame.
A second objective of the FVAHF is to ensure a strong cultural legacy for future generations. Inductees are honored with engraved plaques that are displayed at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin. The founders of FVAHF are Joyce Dlugopolski of Batavia, Jay Harriman, Mary Clark Ormond, Susan S. Starrett, and the late Lucille and Sten Halfvarson, G. Edward Nelson, Roger Parolini and Charlotte and George Peichl.
About the inductees
Mort Luby has won more than 50 awards in national, regional and local art competitions. He is a member of Plein Air Painters Chicago, in which painting is done outdoors in one session.
“We receive an email on Thursday with the designated location, gather on Saturday morning and after three hours or so of maniacal creative effort, we line up our canvases against a fence or building and a very serious discussion ensues,” he said in a news release.
His paintings have been displayed in dozens of galleries, civic buildings, corporate offices, libraries, hospitals and private collections around the world.
He was nominated by FVAHF board member Don Haefliger, who said he is a fan of Luby’s style of impressionist works. Haefliger is pleased that the organization can spotlight the “fabulous” talents across the Fox Valley.
The young Charles Burton roamed the area behind his grandparents’ Massachusetts house, a 200-foot ridge called Bob’s Hill, which would become the setting of most of his successful books, the “Bob’s Hill” series begun in 1905, copies of which are collector’s items today.
The fourth of the 12-book series is titled “The Boy Scouts of Bob’s Hill,” praised for its early adoption of the Boy Scout movement.
He was nominated by Dr. Thomas Brooks, who said an Aurora Scout troop he and his family have been involved with is named after the Bob’s Hill boys.
Olive Kennon Beaupré Miller was born in Aurora in 1883. She co-founded a publishing company, The Book House for Children, in 1919. The company printed children’s stories edited by Miller, which were sold by subscription door-to-door. My Book House became the first collection of children’s literature that was graded to meet the developing needs of children at different ages.
Miller had a great sense of civic obligation and turned it into a lifetime spent curating children’s literature from around the world, said nominator Mary Clark Ormond, president of the Aurora Historical Society. She notes that the selected works focused on the very best of writing, ethics, character and culture.
“She traveled the world collecting [works], and was an entrepreneur,” Ormond said. “All [her] employees were women.”
In the 1920s, job opportunities for women were fairly limited, but the company hired an all-women sales force, and women managed its branch offices nationwide. The books were sold in sets packaged in cardboard houses, some of them made of wood, which became highly collectible.
Nancy Hopp nominated Lucille and Sten Halfvarson, whose musical accomplishments are numerous. He built an active choral program at West Aurora High School, and was a driving force behind reviving the Fox Valley Orchestra. The Halfvarsons were instrumental in the renovation of the Paramount Theatre in 1978.
Lucille Halfvarson produced Aurora’s first “Do-It-Yourself Messiah,” which became a popular tradition, and she helped establish the choral program at Waubonsee Community College. The couple’s son, Eric, would become a famed opera singer.
It’s a long overdue honor, said Hopp, who sang under Sten Halfvarson’s baton in high school.
“Those two were very instrumental in my life,” she said, and influenced the lives of many others, she added, calling the Halfvarsons remarkable people.
For information on attending the spring banquet, email firstname.lastname@example.org.