On a rainy Thursday evening, members of La Grange's art and business communities joined together in the shelter of the La Grange Art League to officially kick off the La Grange Business Association's (LGBA) downtown summer art exhibit: Hour Town. All summer long, 60 unique and beautifully appointed grandfather clocks will line the streets of downtown La Grange and the West End Business District reminding residents and visitors alike to slow down and enjoy their time spent in La Grange.
"We want to get visitors out on our streets and shopping locally," said Charlene Vickery, who has led the planning of the exhibit for the last three years.
The clocks arrived just in time for a weekend of fun events in La Grange, including the 66th Annual La Grange Pet Parade and the Ah, La Grange Carnival. The parade draws thousands to downtown La Grange, and exhibit organizers said they hoped clocks would add to visitor's enjoyment of the village.
"[The clocks] will create a lot of attention and buzz about the local area," Nancy Cummings, executive director of the LGBA told attendees at the reception.
Additionally, Cummings said, a scavenger hunt incorporated into this year's exhibit will encourage people to explore the whole exhibit, and experience all of La Grange's business community, not just those on La Grange Road. Those who find all the hidden items could be the winner of $100 in LGBA gift certificates to local merchants.
La Grange area businesses were able to purchase clocks this year for $250 from the LGBA, which are then given to local artists to put on their own special touch. In September, the clocks will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to local charities and to help cover the cost of next year's La Grange Pet Parade.
LT student Matt Mardiks helped create a clock this year for the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce with other student's in LT's Transition Program. Entitled, Hour Time, the clock reflects changing seasons and is a symbol of the student's own changes as they move on from the program.
"When we thought about Hour Town, we thought of our time in the program and our future," Mardiks said.
Artistic duo Rebecca and Rick Cortez's beautifully mosaiced clock titled, Ranchito, was a labor of love for the husband and wife team. The couple worked for two weeks laying glass and ceramic tiles, and found objects on their clock. The clock's face is a reproduction of a painting of the same name by artist Karl Beuhr, which is in the collection of the Salt Creek American Art Foundation McKinnon Gallery housed at Park Jr. High.
"We were pleasantly surprised when we found out [the exhibit] would feature clocks," Cortez said. "They're so elegant... and they're something you can display in your home."
Coincidently, Rick had already been working on a series of pieces using found mantle clocks.
"It was nice because this was a grandfather clock—bigger than what I've been working with, but in line with what I've been doing," Rick said.
For many, the clocks also represent a sense of community in La Grange.
"It helps everyone, and it's a lot of fun," Vickery said of the exhibit. "It's a great way to get the community involved and give people something fun to see while they're downtown."
Dean Rouso and Gary Stevens of Baird & Warner Real Estate agreed that the downtown art exhibits are one thing that makes La Grange an attractive community for homebuyers.
"We've got a lot of assets here... one of which is a very vibrant downtown," Rouso said. "[The exhibit] brings in people from outside the community and gets people in the community talking [too]."
The Hour Town exhibit will be on display through Sept. 7 when the clocks will be auctioned off at Village Hall. Walking maps of the exhibit can be found in many downtown businesses, or viewed online at www.lgba.com, where you can also submit a vote for your favorite clock design.