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updated: 6/27/2013 8:49 PM

neXt Gallery Celebrates Ēkwabet's 25th Birthday with "The Making of Ēkwabet"

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Elizabeth Bellaver

St. Charles, IL, June 25, 2013 -- The neXt Gallery Celebrates Ēkwabet's 25th Birthday -- a program of the St Charles Arts Council -- presents "The Making of Ēkwabet" by sculptor Guy J. Bellaver at the gallery on Sunday, June 30th at 2:00 p.m.

Mr. Bellaver will share the story of how the iconic sculpture of a Potawatomi Indian "returned" to St. Charles. Ēkwabet (meaning Watching Over) was dedicated in 1988 and given his Potawatomi name by Billy Daniels of the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe in a naming ceremony in 1989.

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Says Bellaver, "I met Bill Berg of the St. Charles Rotary Club just a few weeks after my family moved to St. Charles in 1985. Bill had thought for quite some time that St. Charles needed a commemorative sculpture of a Potawatomi Indian to "return" to St. Charles -- and he immediately decided that we (he and I and the Rotary Club) needed to make this happen.

After some conversations with the city, area residents and businesses, the decision was made to go ahead with the project. I became immersed in the Potawatomi Indian cultural and the St. Charles community all at once. And it was truly a total community project. It was wonderful for me as a sculptor and a new resident in the community, and I am very proud of Ēkwabet and so pleased at how the community has embraced him. It's a treat to celebrate his 'birthday', and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to make this presentation about a project that, in 1985, many people thought would be very tough to make happen in our small, blue collar town."

The gallery address is 228 W. Main St., St. Charles (the northeast corner of Main St. (Route 64) and 3rd St.) Parking is available on 3rd Street, and in a number of municipal parking lots around the area. The gallery web site is nextgallerystcharles.org, and the phone number is 630.429.0973.

neXt Gallery Celebrates Ēkwabet's 25th Birthday features multiple rooms of fabulous sculpture, painting, photography, and ceramics -- all of which are for sale. The "South Gallery" brings the vision of Meg Bero, Executive Director of the Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures to the neXt Gallery program, and the juror for the "North Gallery" is Guy J. Bellaver, the sculptor of Ēkwabet. Please enjoy the visual art in the gallery before and after the presentation.

Ēkwabet's 25th Birthday

The two-year project to bring Ēkwabet to the banks of the Fox River in St. Charles culminated with the sculpture's dedication in May, 1988. It was named Ēkwabet -- which means "Watching Over" -- by Billy Daniels of the Forest County Tribe (Crandon, WI) of the Potawatomi Nation at a naming ceremony in 1989. The neXt gallery Celebrates Ēkwabet's 25th Birthday celebrates the sculpture's "birthday", as well as the city's artistic, historic, and cultural heritage. Ēkwabet is listed in the Art Inventories Catalog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among other historic and cultural records. The gallery features Native American visual art to celebrate and showcase the heritage of Native American art, as well as its presence and relevance in 21st century America. The gallery also includes the work of local artists as part of the SCAC's ongoing commitment to provide tangible support to artists.

The SCAC thanks Meg Bero and the Schingoethe Center for Ms. Bero's vision, knowledge, and time; the City of St. Charles who supported the gallery's promotion; Dr. Denise Kissell (Dickens, Mason, and Kissell, D.D.S.) and Tim Crandall (Crandall, Crandall, and Baert, CPA) and The St. Charles Group for their financial sponsorship; Shima Sushi for donating food and wine for the Opening Reception; Tom Hansen and Gary Brown who provided graphic design work; and N. Henry and Sons who donated the gallery signage.

For more information about neXt gallery Celebrates Ēkwabet's 25th Birthday check the gallery web site -- or call 630.443.3794 (St Charles Arts Council office).

The St. Charles Arts Council is a 501(c)(3), registered not-for-profit Illinois corporation whose mission is to create an organization that serves and promotes the arts and cultural activities in St. Charles, to the mutual benefit of the arts and the community. The SCAC is staffed entirely by volunteers.

About the neXt gallery program:

The neXt gallery Pop-Up Art Gallery program is a collaboration that promotes local/regional artists, the SCAC, and the St. Charles business community. The program is called neXt gallery, because you never know where it will pop up next!

About Ēkwabet:

For more information about the sculpture and the public art project, go to Ēkwabet.com and the St. Charles Public Library web site - http://www.st-charles.lib.il.us/history/ekwabet.htm or https://sites.google.com/site/stcharleshistoricbuildings/main_page/local-buildings---alphabetically/ekwabet-statue. Ēkwabet is also listed in the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Search Center and the Art Inventories Catalog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Illinois Secretary of State's "Illinois Digital Archives", and many media outlets.

About Sculptor Guy J. Bellaver:

Mr. Bellaver is a sculptor whose works span many media, including stone, wood, metal and mixed media. His monumental works include major public art and liturgical projects in Geneva, Elgin, and St. Charles, IL, Latrobe, PA, and Boston, MA. Mr. Bellaver's sculptures appear in corporate, university, and civic collections of the Forest County Potawatomi Cultural Museum, Crandon, WI, Armstrong County Building, Kittanning, PA, Elgin Community College, Elgin, IL, St. Charles Heritage Center, St. Charles, IL, Forbes Health System, Pittsburgh, PA, Graphite Sales, Inc., Chagrin Falls, OH, H.J. Heinz Corporation's International Headquarters, Pittsburgh, PA, Hiram College, Hiram, OH, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA, Property Investment Company, Indianapolis, IN, and St. Vincent College, Latrobe, PA, among others. His work is in private collections around the country. Mr. Bellaver's entire portfolio may be seen on his web site - BellaverStudios.com.

After his discharge from the U.S. Army, Mr. Bellaver earned a B.A. in Economics from St. Vincent College. He has worked as a sculptor full time since 1975. Mr. Bellaver has taken masters credit classes in art at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, and NIU, as well as The School of the Museum of Art in Chicago. He is a member of CSI and ISC and sits on the Boards of the St. Charles Cultural Commission and the St. Charles Arts Council. Mr. Bellaver is a past President of the St. Charles Rotary Club and Foundation and past Chairman of the DSCP's Public Art Committee.

About the Schingoethe Center and Meg Bero:

Meg Bero, the Executive Director of the Schingoethe Museum for Native American Cultures at Aurora University (Aurora, IL) is the gallery's guest curator. Ms. Bero and the Schingoethe Center have won Awards of Excellence in Exhibitions from Illinois Association of Museums, Awards of Superior Achievement from the Illinois Association of Museums, and the Illinois State Historical Society.

About the St. Charles Arts Council:

The SCAC will serve all those individuals (professionals, amateurs, and students) who produce tangible, consumable works of the imagination and all organizations, businesses, and groups that include and represent those people. This would be arts and cultural activities in their broadest sense, including graphic, plastic, and decorative arts, architecture, crafts, literature and poetry, music, theater, and dance. The primary long-range goal is the transformation of St. Charles into an arts community/an arts magnet/a nationally-known arts market. Ultimately we foresee a municipal arts center, more working artists and opportunities in arts education, many privately-owned galleries, performance venues, and related arts businesses, and a downtown architecture and streetscape conducive to both the aesthetics and business of art. Contact the SCAC for information at 630.443.3794 or info@StCharlesArtsCouncil.org

About the City of St. Charles:

St. Charles, Illinois, located in both DuPage and Kane County, is 35 miles west of downtown Chicago. Over 2,100 businesses employ over 34,200 people, consisting of a balanced mix of retailers, restaurants, and manufacturing facilities. The City of St. Charles was recently named one of the "150 Great Places in Illinois" for the combined architectural work of the City Municipal Center, the Main Street Bridge, and the historic Hotel Baker.

The City's recently completed 2014 Strategic Plan includes the following Action Plan: Market and promote St. Charles as a friendly, appealing destination, characterized by activities, events, arts, and culture. Capitalize on artistic and cultural resources by supporting local talent and lively venues and activities. Encourage collective civic endeavors to broaden the variety of attractions and events.

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