Geneva school board president to lead Water Street Studios

  • The gallery at Water Street Studios in Batavia. Taylor Egan will take over as the arts center's executive director in July.

    The gallery at Water Street Studios in Batavia. Taylor Egan will take over as the arts center's executive director in July. Daily Herald File Photo

Posted6/13/2020 7:30 AM

Just more than two months ago, Mark Grosso stepped down from his position as Geneva School District 304 president, citing some health concerns. Fellow board members quickly voted in Vice President Taylor Egan as the new president.

It may not have occurred at exactly the same time. Still, Egan also accepted what she considers her dream job as the new executive director of Water Street Studios art gallery in Batavia.


In a matter of about eight weeks, Egan jumped into a whirlwind of responsibility and new adventures. Yet, this is a person extremely confident about what lies ahead.

"I wouldn't have applied for the job at Water Street if I didn't feel I could give 100 percent to both roles," Egan said. "No one is going to get shortchanged on my watch."

The path she took to get to these important community roles is certainly providing much of the fuel that manifests itself in Egan's enthusiasm for the tasks.

Egan graduated from DePaul University with a bachelor's degree in art history 16 years ago with a goal of working in an art gallery or museum. The thought of curating and doing research in the art world was highly motivating.

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But so was getting married and having children, which became the major focus for the next several years. But the yearning for a professional job in art was still brewing.

"I needed to fill that need with some professional-like goal to fill that part of my brain," Egan said. "The joke about getting 'Mommy brain' is real, and you have to keep your brain active in some form."

That form initially became volunteer opportunities with the PTO, the Geneva Academic Foundation, Geneva Theater, and the Geneva Library Foundation.

On her second attempt to win a school board seat, Egan reached that goal in 2017. It hasn't taken long to advance into the president's role.

As for the Water Street Studios' position, it came about at a time when Egan claims she wasn't actively looking for that type of job.

"But I couldn't pass it up," she added. "It encompassed everything I wanted in a position with the not-for-profit, the community enrichments, the education piece and all of that packaged in an art gallery.


"It really was the perfect, perfect job."

While under the leadership of Danielle Hollis, the art gallery has developed a strong presence in Batavia and expanded its educational offerings.

Taylor Egan
Taylor Egan

"Dani did a great job in tying the cultural importance of art in a community and focused on drawing people into the gallery," Egan said. "My role will be to continue to develop the business side of things and to be there as support for a great staff, and lead them on the goals the board sets for the organization."

Egan isn't quite sure how that will look, considering she doesn't officially start in her role until July. She'll be talking to board members soon, and next week will shadow Hollis on the workings of the gallery.

"I feel like my life has come full circle," Egan said. "I don't overly think about being in the right place at the right time, but it really does feel like I have been, over the past few years, and it makes me the perfect fit for this position."

Making way to Elms:

As if the coronavirus hasn't been rough enough on small restaurants, imagine having the street in front of your establishment torn up at this time as well.

That's what is facing The Elms Restaurant, the tiny gem at 912 Main St., Batavia in the middle of a residential area since the 1960s.

With Main Street torn up, right up to the front entrance of The Elms, you have to figure it's been even trickier for owners Geri, Ray and Kurt Morrison to drum up business.

So, this truly mom-and-pop operation made it on my "carryout" list in support of local restaurants. This place has always been easy on the pocketbook with good food and reasonable portions.

My order of a cheeseburger, fries and coleslaw, or, as Geri quickly reminded me, "that's a basket," definitely hit the spot. But let's not forget this place is well known for its root beer and ice cream treats. And it's not that hard to figure out how to get into the parking lot.

All boarded up:

It was absolutely unusual and unsettling to see area businesses, especially in Geneva's downtown district, boarded up for protection against the possibility of a peaceful protest gone haywire.

The day before, a peaceful protest turned into a rough night in Naperville. That left plenty of folks uneasy.

But it seemed nonsensical for social media threads to ponder what sort of message is sent to neighboring towns, and whether it was entirely necessary or undermined the overall message about police brutality.

Lively debate is generally a welcome part of American life, but second-guessing a business owner's decision to board up a property and consider it overkill isn't clicking in with me.

In fact, if anyone out there can predict when a peaceful or even a joyous demonstration, like a city's pro team winning a title, might turn into looting and turning over cars, that person would be a national hero. Insight like that would save lives and property, but also allow peaceful demonstrations to carry on without fear.

Yes, that would be a very helpful person who could do that -- far better than just another piece of noise on a social media thread.

Outdoors and exercise:

As I am typing in this note, the weather is really nice. If someone were pitching an outdoor exercise class under these circumstances, it might catch my attention.

That's what the area park districts are up against in offering some outdoor exercise classes during the pandemic closings and safety guidelines. They rely on finicky Mother Nature to fully cooperate.

Many of these classes have started or will start next week, so anyone interested should contact their park districts through the websites or phone numbers.

It might be a good way to blow off some steam after sheltering in place for months and adding recent stress from the country's racial unrest.

Soothing art:

The St. Charles Arts Council has gone virtual with its planned 2020 Student Art Show, an event scheduled to take place during the spring at the 116 Gallery in St. Charles.

Now, the artwork from students throughout the Fox Valley is available at the site. It covers the gamut from paintings and digital photography to works with clay and other materials.

The promotional email featuring a student's oil painting on canvas certainly caught my eye -- and it was soothing for the mind during these high-stress times.

It was a scene of the 12th hole at Augusta National from 15-year-old Emilie McHenry. And we certainly missed seeing the Masters tournament on TV this spring.

OK, so the golf hole really resonated with me. The point is, there is some excellent work from local students in this exhibit.

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