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Turning something old into something new, local artists gear up for Spring ArtScene

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Jenny Mathew's Work

ROCKFORD (WREX) — ArtScene reminds Rockford artist and illustrator Jenny Mathews of a younger time.

"It's kind of like an explosion of creativity over the last year," said Mathews. "You make a fort in the living room, and then you pull in all your best stuff animals and a cool flashlight, and then you invite all of your friends in to see the thing. So that's sort of what we are doing here."

So Pioneer Hall in downtown Rockford could be seen as the fort and for Jessie Prouty what lies inside is a vibrant collection.

"For me, bright colors, bold lines and big," said Tawdry Toast Artcade Co-founder and Owner Jessie Prouty.

He hopes the biannual gallery walk, hosted by the Rockford Area Arts Council, keeps people intrigued in local talent and culture.

"I think the Rockford area is kind of going through a renaissance right now. It was building a height in the local art community right before COVID. We were building so much momentum," said Prouty.

If it's not the size or color that brings community members in droves, maybe it's knowing the pieces are recycled.

"I find treasures in trash all the time. A lot of my work is on found objects and repurposed materials," said Prouty when looking around his business. "There is a local flavor and culture. Everything in this shop was locally sourced, picked within a two mile driving radius of this address."

Prouty pointed to one of his creations and said, "this is a 1940s vanity topper that the glass broke out of and somebody was going to throw it away. But the wood itself was beautiful."

Mathews has her own stories of how she got some of her supplies. "The big pieces behind me actually came from a photographer who was finished with his backdrops," said Mathews.

Turning something old into something new for all to marvel at.

"For me, it's about other people's interpretation and reaction. Whether I sell a piece or not doesn't really matter to me," said Prouty.

Spring ArtScene is Friday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday from 4-9 p.m. Admission is free to the public and venues can be found all across Rockford. Click here for a list of each location. The list and map can also be found at each venue.

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Cassandra Bretl

Cassandra is the morning reporter for 13 News Today.
She joined the WREX team in July of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a major, minor and a certificate.
She is excited to bring her skills back to the 815 where she is originally from.
You can contact Cassandra at

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