The Next Picture Show executive director plans to leave in February

Philip Atilano will rejoin Wisconsin studio that specializes in restoration of historic buildings

Phil Atilano, new executive director of The Next Picture Show fine arts community center in downtown Dixon,  is remaking the the storage space upstairs into more exhibit space.

DIXON — A little more than a year on the job, Philip Atilano of Sterling will step down as executive director of The Next Picture Show in mid-Febrary, the fine arts center announced on Friday.

Atilano will be returning to Conrad Schmitt Studios of New Berlin, Wisconsin, as lead artist.

Conrad Schmitt provides stained glass, ornamental plaster, frescoes and historical stenciling for restoration projects, such as for state capitals, cathedrals and historic theaters.

Atilano spent seven years there as a foreman and artist, leading such projects as the restoration of the University of Notre Dame basilica and Paramount Theatre in Aurora. He completed restoration of a church in Westphalia, Missouri, before coming on board at TNPS.

“It is bittersweet,” said Atilano, who plans to continue to reside in Sterling with his wife Julia and their two sons. “I have met so many amazing artists and people. I have made many new friendships and rekindled old ones along the way. TNPS truly is a gem to have in Dixon.”

Phil Atilano, new executive director of The Next Picture Show, is turning the unused upstairs in the historic Dixon building into more gallery space.

During his tenure, Atilano has made changes to the not-for-profit gallery, including adding exhibits, adding instructional tools to the basement classrooms and opening a new floor for exhibits. He initiated an artist-in-residence program.

In addition to serving as executive director Atilano has served The Dixon Theatre Board, City Arts Coalition, Sauk Foundation, Dixon Main Street and been a partner with the Beautification and Preservation Committee.

A 1999 graduate of Dixon High School and a 2001 grad of Sauk Valley Community College, Atilano’s association with TNPS goes back long before being its executive director. His own creations — figurative drawing is his specialty — were displayed at the gallery, which opened in 2004. He also served as an exhibition judge.

Atilano has a bachelor’s degree from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and worked for Spolar Studio of MIlwaukee and Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in MIlwaukee. The Next Picture Show had sought him out for director in 2016, but he declined. He took over last year after Michael Glenn retired.

The fine arts center said it has already started interviewing candidates for the position, but remains open to accepting other applications. They can be sent with cover letter and resume to A bachelor’s degree is required; art and design experience preferred.

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Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.