For one thing, he isn't from, and doesn't live in, Illinois, let alone the Fox Valley. He's spent the past 16 years commuting to Elgin from Wisconsin (first Milwaukee, then Madison).
And he is only 54.
"That (the honor) is the kind of thing that happens to old people -- or dead," he said with a laugh.
Swiggum is one of six artists being inducted this year. They were announced Thursday and will be honored at a banquet May 1 in Bartlett.
"Of course it is an honor. I feel like I am among friends," Swiggum said at the news conference at the Batavia Public Library.
It's the seventh class for the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame, which organized in 2001. Plaques about the members are displayed at the Paramount Theater in Aurora.
To be considered for the Hall of Fame, artists must have worked at least 20 years in their discipline; have come from, live or work in the Fox Valley; and have attained national or international acclaim. Writers, performers, visual artists, educators, curators and benefactors are eligible.
One of the inductees is the late painter Jane Peterson, who grew up in Elgin as Jennie Christine Peterson. She was nominated by Elgin residents Linda Rock and Jeff White. They are fans of Elgin history as well as the arts, and White thought Peterson deserved attention.
In her day, Peterson traveled the world; hung out with people such as Louis Comfort Tiffany and Gertrude Stein; and painted works that are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Baltimore Museum of Fine Arts. She died in 1965, at the age of 89.
"I thought it was fun that she came from our town," White said. And he noted that there is still interest in her paintings, with one selling in 2010 for $130,000.
The other nominees are:
• D. Lee DuSell, born in Aurora in 1927. He has been a painter, printmaker, woodworker, metalsmith, architectural fabricator and professor of industrial design at Syracuse University. He has works in the permanent collection of Bostons's Museum of Fine Art, on the campus of Harvard University, and in the Shiga Sacred Garden in Japan.
• Elvina Truman Pearce of Naperville. Pearce is the founding director of North Central College's Division of Preparatory and Community Music. She is a national leader in the field of piano instruction, having received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 from the National Conference of Keyboard Pedagogy. Pearce has performed at the National Gallery of Art; at Carnegie and Steinway halls in New York City; and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is also a composer.
• George Shipperley of Aurora. Shipperley, who grew up in Aurora, put his artistic inclinations on hold to work in sales to support his family. He retired early, in 1994, and has since devoted himself to his painting. He is the first Signature Member of the Oil Pastel Society. His works are in the corporate collections of BP Amoco, the Q Center, the Mayo Clinic, Rich Harvest Farm golf course, and Aurora and Benedictine universities, among others.
• Jim Gibson of Aurora. Gibson owns the Gibson Organization LLC and Big Talk Media. He worked for eight years as director of pageant affairs for the Miss Universe organization, has hosted more than 1,500 pageants and televised specials, performed with the Bill Gaither Trio and the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, and is the author of "Six Rings From Nowhere," a book about the career of six-time Super Bowl participant Don Beebe.
Previous classes have included opera singer Eric Halfvarson, ballet teacher Elisabeth Boehm, actor William S. Hart, journalist John Drury, author Marguerite Henry, ESO director Robert Hanson, journalist Paula Zahn, cartoonist Dick Locher, broadcaster Floyd Brown, choreographer Gower Champion and actor John Qualen.
With this year's class, the hall will have 49 members.