The presenters for the “Those Were the Days” depot program on Saturday, August 26 at 10:00 will be speaking about the history of the Grand Detour art festival. The John Deere Historic Site at 8334 South Clinton Street in Grand Detour, Illinois will host the 74th annual Grand Detour art festival on Sunday September 10th from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, rain or shine. This is a juried show with cash prizes. Admission is free. Exhibited artworks will include paintings, graphics, sculptures, jewelry, photography, drawings and artisan crafts. There will be art, food, music and tours of the historic John Deere museum and grounds.
According to local historian, Duane Paulsen, the Grand Detour Art Colony was born out of the establishment of the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony in Oregon in 1898. Original art colony member and landscape painter, Charles Francis Browne, began bringing students from the Art Institute of Chicago to Grand Detour where they spent several weeks each summer painting and sketching in the quaint, cozy village and along the Rock River. The colony began with six prominent resident artists with John Nolf as their unofficial leader. The other artists were Holger Jensen, Oscar Soellner, Fred Garner, Mattie Lietz and Dixon native Agnes Ferguson. Beside painting and holding exhibitions, most of these artists supplemented their income by conducting art classes. Some later artists took lessons from members of the Grand Detour art group. Among these were Eunice Schuler, Hazel Howell and Charles Kested. By the mid-1950s a majority of the artists had died, but their paintings, especially of local scenes, can be found in many area homes, the Loveland Community House in Dixon and the Oregon Public Library Art Gallery. Dixon native Charles Kested started what would become the Grand Detour Arts Festival in 1949.