A holiday fundraiser for ‘godmother of the arts’ in Joliet

Artists invited to make Christmas ornaments in special fundraiser.

"It's all custom. It's not being mass produced in a factory. I love shop small, I'm all about supporting local and I love when people want to come spend money in small places in the community," says Sue Regis, owner of Sue Regis Glass Art on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Joliet, Ill. Sue Regis Glass Art is one of the thousands of business across the nation participating is Small Business Saturday, an annual shopping holiday designed to celebrate and help discover small businesses.

For the first time in more than 25 years, Sue Regis of Sue Regis Glass Art in Joliet won’t be making Christmas ornaments to sell on Small Business Saturday.

Regis, a self-taught glass artist and longtime small business owner in Joliet, is still recuperating from cancer and two extensive surgeries.

So this year, local artists are invited to make ornaments to benefit Regis. The community purchase them at “Sue’s Small Business Saturday,” which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Nov. 26, at Sue Regis Glass Art, 32 West Clinton Street in Joliet.

The Sue Regis Glass Art storefront at 32 W. Clinton St. in downtown Joliet.

Artists may make their ornaments at home or come to Regis Glass Art and make ornaments there, Eryn Blaser, president of The Art Movement board, said.

The Art Movement in Joliet and The Strange and Unusual Art Gallery, also in Joliet, are coordinating the fundraiser “in the spirit of Sue and her shop,” Christine Nordstrom, owner of The Strange and Unusual Gallery said.

“Sue is not well enough to make her own ornaments,” Nordstrom said. “But it’s important that it still happens…we can’t let her tradition die.”

Ornament creation times are from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 19 and 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 20.

Nov. 20 is the drop-off date for all ornament made offsite, Blaser said. In addition, Nordstrom said several local artists are also creating collaborative ornaments top sell.

“They’re taking her ornaments and putting their own stamp on them,” Nordstrom said.

• Sue Regis Glass Art has handblown glass ornaments, icicles and pendants from Sue Regis Glass Art is located at 32 W Clinton St. in Joliet. Holiday hours are noon to 8 p.m., Dec. 20 and noon to 6 p.m., Dec. 23.

In early January 2022, Regis was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis, which required “extensive internal reconstructive work” according to the “Fundraiser to Keep Sue Regis Glass Art Alive” GoFundMe page.

A few months later, Regis was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. Regis has played an integral role in Joliet’s arts community.

The Chicago Street Pub is also hosting a fundraiser for Regis from noon to 6 p.m. Nov 6, at the pub, located at 75 N. Chicago St. in Joliet. Admission is $10 and includes light appetizers and live music.

People may also donate to Regis’ GoFundMe page at gofund.me/d4c83e53.

Godmother of the art community in Joliet

Regis co-founded The Art Movement in 2017, is the chair of the visual arts committee for the Old Joliet Burnt District Artists and a commissioner on the Joliet Artist Commission.

In a 2018 Herald-News story, Regis said her goal was to bring together “people from all walks of life who love art” for a bigger art movement in Joliet.

“Joliet has all these amazing artists no one knows about,” Regis said in the 2018 story. “It’s a great way to get an art movement started down here.”

The Art Movement in Joliet will unveil five sculptures at 6 p.m., Thursday, July 28, 2022, at Juliet's Tavern in Joliet for its second annual summer sculpture exhibition and raffle. Pictured are the Art Movement board members with two of the corporate sponsors for "Summer of Stone and Steel." They are (from left) Hudson Hollister, Priscilla Cordero (sponsor), Erick Deshaun Dorris (sponsor), Sue Regis, Kayla Sorensen, Dante DiBartolo and Eryn Blaser.

Her introduction to glass art began after high school when she took a jewelry making class at Joliet Junior College and learned to make glass beads, according to a 2009 Herald-New story.

Regis was so fascinated by the entire process of using a torch to melt glass, she purchased equipment to continue the process outside school.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville works on the torch creating glass art with Sue Regis, owner of Regis Glass Art.

In 2005, Regis began Regis Glass Art, where people marveled at the colorful, melted, layered glass inside pieces of clear glass or “like little explosions of flowers,” Regis said in the 2009 Herald-News story.

For the last decade, Regis created the memorial ornament for Lightways Hospice and Serious Illness Care (formerly Joliet Area Community Hospice) Lights of Love Memorial Service at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.

In a 2013 Herald-News story, Regis expressed her dedication to making these ornaments.

“It makes my heart smile just talking about it,” Regis said in the 2013 story. “Helping people with their grieving process makes me feel good about myself.”

For more than a decade, Regis has also made memorial pieces for clients with cremains – cremated remains of beloved family members or pets – that Regis encases in glass.

One of the custom services that Sue Regis Glass Art offers including cremated ashes into glass work. "It's emotional for them and it's emotional for me sometimes to see, to be able to help with the grieving process," says Sue Regis on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Joliet, Ill. Sue Regis Glass Art is one of the thousands of business across the nation participating is Small Business Saturday, an annual shopping holiday designed to celebrate and help discover small businesses.

Blaser, who previously called Regis “the godmother of the arts” in Joliet, said artists beyond hers and Nordstrom’s reach have contacted them hoping to make ornaments, too.

“It’s kind of nice thing because now some people that we never even knew before we know now,” Blaser said.

Regis is still bringing people together through art.

For more information, visit regisglassart.com and artmovementjoliet.org.