Past Exhibitions

McLean County Arts Center members have access to past exhibition videos.

Thin Deep Ribbon

Scott Rankin

The McLean County Arts Center presents Scott Rankin’s exhibition Thin Deep Ribbon – photography of the sky in the Armstrong Gallery January 6 – February 25, 2017. The free and public Reception will be on Friday, January 20, 5 - 7 pm and the Art Talk will be on Friday, February 3 at 6 pm.

For several years Scott Rankin has been photographing the sky- zooming up from the ground or floating within from an airplane window seat. As a visual artist and pilot drawn to the sky’s constantly changing depths, colors, forms, and sensations, Rankin has taken tens of thousands of still images and videos. In this small selection, he presents clouds creating abstracted space. Exploring flatness and depth, scale and light, ambiguous shape and human recognition, each unique image surprises and inspires awe. Rankin writes:

The sky is the source of air, light, moisture, and energy.

It illuminates and reflects the land.

It is an essential component of the “landscape”.

Although it is very thin, it is deep.

You can lose yourself in it.

The sky is a place with many places within it.

It is always with you and yet far.

It is a place we want to go to.

It is three-dimensional yet two-dimensional.

It is always different and the same.

In the past one hundred years or so,

we have been privileged to dwell there for precious moments,

accumulating, if we are lucky, a few hundred or thousand hours.

Scott Rankin is a Professor of Art at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards and his work has been published and exhibited worldwide. 

Click Here to Listen to WGLT's Sound Ideas interview with Laura Kennedy about the exhibition

The McLean County Arts Center presents the exhibition point|line|shape|form in the Brandt Gallery January 6 – February 18, 2017. The free and public Artist Reception will be on Friday, January 20, 5 - 7 pm with a Gallery Talk at 6:30 pm.

The words point|line|shape|form outline the basic principles of geometry and suggest a commonality among the work of five Illinois artists. Juan Fernandez, Jonathan Higgins, Mark Holmes, Travis Janssen, and John Nelson create non-representational modernist artwork- defining spaces with lines and planes, isolating and unifying composition with color, and creating movement and visual vibrations. The work they create is an exercise of what they believe to be essential, pure, and necessary. What separates their artwork from abstract modernism art is an embracing of postmodernist technologies, traditional art media, hand as tool, layering of media inherent qualities, or juxtaposition of characteristics. The artists’ aesthetic may appear familiar at a glance but is full of surprises.

 Juan Fernandez’ photographic project Façade focuses on the familiar yet strange exterior forms of buildings. He states, “I want the peculiarities to exist as metaphors for uneasiness, rejection, and isolation. These feelings are illustrated as odd photographic moments within a landscape of form, structure, and order. This is accomplished by using the innate qualities of the photographic process, coupled with varying amounts of digital manipulation. Specifically, each image is cleansed of distracting elements.” The overemphasis of their geometry makes the buildings feel solid, opaque, and uninhabitable with few windows and doors, some missing door knobs.

Jonathan Higgins’ metalpoint drawings are created by dragging a fine point of copper, brass, silver, or other metal over a gesso painted paper leaving trace amounts of metal. Using a ruler and compass to create precise lines, Higgins lays out hundreds of lines creating forms, patterns, and tonal areas. The metalpoint technique of drawing dates back to the Renaissance creating permanent images in metal that oxidizes over time transforming in color by tarnishing. Higgins shares, “To be working in metalpoint within the realm of contemporary abstraction adds an additional layer of interest for me as an artist, and suggests the potential of bringing new relevance to a Renaissance technique.”

Exhibiting two distinct sculptural bodies of work, Mark Holmes constant interest of manipulating geometric form, color engagement, and creating movement through drawn lines are apparent. His wall constructions are structures of shaped planes, drawn lines, and shells of forms that seem to be building as well as unbuilding themselves. As much as the wall constructions are seemingly in motion, his large vertical clay objects are static and monumental. He states, “Everything I’d ever made (buildings, furniture, sculpture) had been constructed from hard materials like wood or metal through many binary acts of severing or attaching one thing and another. And, because most of my ‘skills’ with materials were really skills with tools, I wanted to shape things without tools. What finally resulted were vertical objects, six to seven feet tall, made by pinching together small pieces of clay over a period of several months.”

Travis Janssen’s linear prints on stretched book cloth are optically engaging shifting two dimensions to three. The repetition of lines in increasing and decreasing degrees of thickness create shape and form and a vibration that encourages the eye to move back and forth, up and down, in and out, or around and around. He states, “As the lines of these compositions interact with the woven cloth support, interference or moiré patterns frequently result, forming additional line structures. Paradoxically, both quiet and dynamic, these works allow viewers to immerse themselves in contemplative abstraction while also locating familiar ground within the images.”

John Nelson’s stretched linen acrylic paintings explore color relationships through square compositions. Color becomes opaque solid shape when applied strategically on the front of the canvas or ephemeral haze when applied to the back of the linen or the wood of the stretcher bars. Harmony and discord are explored through tone and hue, proportion and composition, opacity and transparency. “I am engaged in the dynamic of taking different things and mashing them together,” states Nelson.

Juan Fernandez is an artist based in the suburbs of Chicago. He earned his BFA from Columbia College, Chicago and his MFA from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb. He teaches photography at Elgin and Waubonsee Community Colleges. Fernandez exhibits nationally and is included in many collections.

Jonathan Higgins is the owner and Master Printer at Manneken Press in Bloomington. He earned his BA from Humboldt State University, Arcata, California and his MA from New York University, New York City. He exhibits his own work, has worked at printmaking studios, and collaborated with artists internationally.

Mark Holmes is an Associate Professor and Chair of Art at Knox College, Galesburg Illinois. He earned his BA from Hope College in Holland, Michigan and his MFA from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Holmes exhibits nationally.

Travis Janssen received an MFA degree in Printmaking from Arizona State University and a BFA from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Janssen exhibits internationally and is currently an Assistant Professor and Head of the Printmaking Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

John Nelson earned a BA from North Park University in Chicago and an MFA from Northern Illinois University.  He exhibits primarily in the upper Midwest and has taught studio classes at University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri and Quincy University in Quincy, Illinois. He lives and works in Quincy.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by Susan Emmerson.

The McLean County Arts Center presents the 40th annual art exhibition and sale Holiday Treasures in the Brandt Gallery, November 3 – December 31, 2016. A festive way to begin the holiday gift giving season with friends, the free and public Opening Reception will be held Thursday, November 3, 5 – 8 pm. A free art activity for youth will be held in MCAC’s classroom during the reception.

The Holiday Treasures Exhibition and Sale features over 60 locally and nationally known artists exhibiting paintings, glass, fiber, photography, jewelry, wood, ceramics, as well as handmade seasonal items. The McLean County Arts Center is free and open to the public during regular hours for the holiday shopping season.

Holiday Treasures is generously sponsored by Sue & Julius Alexander- Alexanders Distinctive Autos, Anne & Brian Boyden, The Family of Jackie Dolan, Charlette & Roger Elm, Richard & Diana Finch, Linda Willis Fisher & Robert Fisher, and Jim & Pam Raymond.

Abstracted Landscapes Dick Folse

The McLean County Arts Center presents Dick Folse’s painting exhibition Abstracted Landscapes in the Armstrong Gallery December 2 - 31, 2016. The free and public Opening Reception will be on Friday, December 2, 5 - 7 pm during Downtown Bloomington’s First Friday.

Dick Folse creates Abstracted Landscapes through painting imagined places of essential color, light, and shape. An artist for thirty years, he mixes his artistic skill and intentions with chance by using aerosol paints and wet inks as well as brush painting with oil paint. He states, “Inspiration comes from specific places, but the work does not represent any one place or view; rather, it is a sense of the places the artist knows well, fictitiously portrayed.” Prairie horizons as well as ascending urban mountain views are pieced together in harmonious and contrasting colored shapes. During a six week residency at the Shiro Oni Studio in Japan, Folse was influenced by the mountainous landscape and the different painting materials available. Sections of Japanese newspaper were collaged in the paintings creating blocks of shape and texture of information. The body of work exhibits an ambitious, fluid, and meticulous artist’s path.

Dick Folse earned an MFA in studio art from Illinois State University in 1990. He resides in Bloomington, Illinois, with his family and works as an administrator at Illinois Wesleyan University. He lived in Japan during the summer of 2016 at the Shiro Oni Studio Artist Residency Program.

Click Here to view an online catalog of the exhibition                                                                                                                                    

Abstracted Landscapes is generously sponsored by Mary Anderson, Donna & Darrell Hartweg, and Carolyn & Paul Jarvis.

Click here to listen to WGLT'S Laura Kennedy interview Folse for Sound Ideas


Colleen McCall Julie Nelson Matt Urban

The McLean County Arts Center presents the art exhibition Flora in the Armstrong Gallery November 3 - 26, 2016. The free and public Opening Reception will be on Thursday, November 3, 5 - 8 pm. A free art activity for youth will be held in MCAC’s classroom during the reception.

Flora features the ceramics of Colleen McCall, paintings of Julie Nelson, and blown glass of Matt Urban. Each artist focuses of different characteristics and proclivities of plant life as subject matter and their unique relationship to their artistic media.

 Colleen McCall creates functional ceramics with colorful floral surface decoration. She states, “Decorated inside and out and from top to bottom, my hand built pottery is inspired by vibrant textile patterns and the unique shapes and textures in vintage glassware.” McCall hand paints layers of colored slips and delicately carves through to create details revealing the dark colored clay of the form. The bold and symmetric floral patterns offer notions of strength and order in nature like William Morris designs and Pennsylvania Dutch folk art.

Julie Nelson paints floral still lifes from flower arrangements she creates. She states, “I work directly with no preliminary drawing.  Paint can be applied thickly or in washes.  Color generally is inspired by what I am observing, but can deviate.  I look for repeated rhythms in shapes and lines and a push and pull in positives and negatives and lines and areas of color.  This begins early on with the selection of elements for the still-life. These works are not meant to be true representations of what I am seeing, but, spontaneous reactions to the beauty found in nature.” Her paintings emphasize the wildness and uncontrollable nature of plants as the stems, leaves and petals tangle together on the paper. Growth and decay, life and death, order and chaos are often the message in still life.

Matt Urban sculpts fruits and vegetables with blown and solid hot glass. His pineapples, pumpkins, and corn in beautiful transparent colors are complex iterations in delicate lines and full volumes. The bounty they symbolize is precious but powerful. Urban is offering his glass work at lowered prices for the Flora exhibition and 40% of each sale will support programming at the McLean County Arts Center.

Colleen McCall is a studio artist and adjunct instructor of ceramics at Corning Community College in Corning, New York. She earned her BFA from Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri, and her MFA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, New York.

Julie Nelson is an artist and retired art museum professional in Quincy, Illinois. She earned her BFA and MFA from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb. Nelson was the Executive Director and Curator at the Quincy Art Center for twenty years.

Matt Urban is the owner and operator of Furnace Urbini Glass Works in Normal, Illinois. He earned his BFA from University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and his MFA from Illinois State University, Normal.


Flora is generously sponsored by Julia Davis Law Firm, LLC and Robert McDonald & Company, P.C.


Four Decades of Prints from Normal Editions Workshop

The McLean County Arts Center presents the exhibitions 40 Years NEW and Behind Every Print in the Brandt and Armstrong Galleries September 9 – October 22, 2016. The Opening Reception will be on Friday, September 9 from 5 - 7 pm. A Panel Talk will also be held on Friday, September 23 at 6 pm. These events are free and open to the public!

 In celebration of Normal Editions Workshop’s fortieth anniversary, the McLean County Arts Center is pleased to share with the community the wonder and possibilities of printmaking.

40 Years NEW features a selection of forty prints made by professional artists at the Normal Editions Workshop studio in Illinois State University’s School of Art. Since its founding in 1976, the Normal Editions Workshop has been a facility for artists to create limited editions of print work and is equally used as a learning experience for ISU students. Artists work collaboratively with the faculty, staff, and students to create editions of lithography, intaglio, and woodcut prints. One print from every edition created is retained for the NEW print archive- a collection exemplifying a range of printmaking techniques as well as a time line of contemporary art’s development.

Behind Every Print

Normal Editions Workshop Faculty and Staff

Behind Every Print features the artwork of Illinois State University faculty and Normal Editions Workshop staff who have been educators and collaborators during its forty years. The skill and expertise of the artists will be apparent showcasing their own artistic endeavors in the fields of print making, painting, and sculpture.

Lisa Lofgren The Quickening


The title for this body of work is "The Quickening," which references the moment in time where baby flutters are felt and is said to have life. Within the 12 x 12 inch format, I looked to explore a wide variety of content derived from the common yet exceptionally strange emotional and physical response to bearing a child. I wanted to unfold the archetype of the mother that is so symbolically rich and universally relatable as I discover this content first hand within myself.

Each piece started with the same three screens printed in different colors that began as a collaboration with students at Middle Tennessee Sate University under the instruction of Nick Satinover. In printmaking we term each printing plate, screen, block, or stone as a matrix. This matrix is the ‘mother’ of the printing process that gives birth to many. To transform these multiples into unique and individual works of art, I painted, printed, and collaged materials onto the images recognizing a spectrum of mediums as different dialects within visual language. I enjoyed the direct relationship of exploring connections between visual, written and spoken languages in my current studies of Japanese.Many pieces reference this in title and imagery.

- Lisa Lofgren

tread lightly my dear, for you tread on my dreams

dawn gettler

The McLean County Arts Center presents the exhibition "tread lightly my dear, for you tread on my dreams" in the Brandt Gallery from August 12 through September 2, 2016. The Artist Reception with Dawn Gettler will be on Friday, August 26 from 5 to 7 pm.

Dawn Gettler creates mixed media installations incorporating sculptural models, video documentation, and concept drawings. She explores the human conditions of longing and desire through her ephemeral installations.

for the longest time my work has been what i would call a journey to find what was missing. the objects i would make would fill the void for mere moments. the places and spaces would provide some comfort for as long as i stayed in them. i always knew these things i made were temporary and wouldn’t exist forever. i make something to fill a void knowing it would only provide comfort for a short amount of time in what seems like an eternity without it. the time and effort in making these objects, rooms, and spaces seems minimal in comparison to the vast amount of time i spend longing.

i am no longer interested in looking for something or trying to figure out what it is that would provide me with a feeling of contentment and most importantly happiness. i have found it. and now i am afraid of what it’s going to be like when i can’t have it. we are ingrained to want, to desire, to need. i am not so good with or interested in the feelings, physically and mentally, that come with the absence of ‘you’.

- dawn gettler

Dawn Gettler is an interdisciplinary artist in Peoria Illinois. She earned her MFA from Ohio University, Athens, and her BFA from University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls. She is the Program Manager and Gallery Coordinator at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Peoria.

Generously sponsored by 

The McLean County Arts Center will present Rover: Mobile Arts Program, the culminating exhibition of the MCAC’s rural and urban community outreach arts workshops from the past year. ROVER: Mobile Arts Program is an arts education program for youth that mirrors art education experiences offered at the McLean County Arts Center (MCAC) and is funded in part by the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation- Mirza Arts & Culture Grant and local private donors. Workshops led by local professional artists for youth ages twelve to nineteen were hosted in different community locations in McLean County from March to June 2016. At no cost, youth were taught techniques and created art in various media. The artwork from the ceramics, 2D, 3D, and fibers workshops, as well as the instructors’ artwork, will be installed in the Armstong Gallery to share with the community.

Generously sponsored by Illinois Prairie Community Foundation- Mirza Arts & Culture Grant 

and Linda Fisher Willis & Robert Fisher

Four Photographers from McLean County

Marty Gerwick Mabel Lux Tim Stone Britten Traughber

The McLean County Arts Center presents the art exhibition The View from Here featuring photography by four McLean County residents in the Brandt Gallery June 16 – August 6, 2016. The Opening Reception will be on Thursday, June 16 from 5 - 7 pm.

Marty Gerwick, Mabel Lux, Tim Stone, and Britten Traughber show distinct perspectives of McLean County through their camera lenses in the exhibition The View from Here. Each artist has developed a series of photographs highlighting a significant facet of our community.

Marty Gerwick of Lexington has been interested in rural landscape and social documentary photography for many years. He focuses on the urban details of our towns highlighting the iconic, like the old McLean County Courthouse now McLean County History Museum, as well as the forgotten, like the demolished foundation of an old Lexington storefront. Shooting photographs in night as well as day, Gerwick captures the mood of places revealing their deep history as well as their bright future.

Mabel Lux is an avid nature and rural landscape photographer living in the country near Downs. Her seasonal photographs of wildlife, plants, woodland and prairie views are inspired by her love of creation and nature preservation. Photographing since she was a teenager, it was later in life through taking workshops and classes and an affiliation with camera clubs like the KodaRoamers, We Click, and the State Farm Camera Club that Lux developed her skills and keen eye.  Her photographs offer a wonderland of color and an insight into the often hidden narratives of our natural environment.

Tim Stone has studied the night skies of McLean County since a child and picked up black and white photography in high school. Bringing these two lifelong passions together, he began an interest in astrophotography supported by the digitally advanced equipment of our local astronomy club, the Twin City Amateur Astronomers at the Sugar Grove Nature Center in Funks Grove. Stone presents startlingly detailed images of the stars, constellations, and galaxies light years away. Printed on large scale sheets of aluminum metal, the images glow and reflect light while drawing you into the darkness.

Britten Traughber, born and raised in Central Illinois, has travel and lived in many “exotic places” but has a particular love for home focusing much of her work on the people and places of the Midwest. In her series TEN, Traughber has interviewed and photographed portraits of ten year old youth in McLean County asking them to share their interests, creativity, and thoughts. Each portrait is a window into a fresh ten year old perspective on life.

Generously sponsored by Barbara & Bill Taft


The McLean County Arts Center presents the art exhibition micro<MACRO, a mixed media group exhibition, in the Armstrong Gallery June 16 – August 6, 2016. The Opening Reception will be on Thursday, June 16 from 5 - 7 pm.

Over sixty McLean County Arts Center affiliated artists were invited to create an artwork in any media about the conceptual possibilities of scale and perspective. Size is about comparison and perspective– what is considered small or large compared to what and by whom. Some artwork may reference the physical and concrete or the fantastical and conceptual of what is a micro or macro point of view. The survey of different artwork in the exhibition micro<MACRO offers questions about what may be considered precious or expansive and how shifting perspective allows for greater knowledge and understanding of our world.

Emerging Illinois Artists

The McLean County Arts Center presents Emerging Illinois Artists in the Brandt Gallery April 29 – June 11, 2016. The Artists Reception will be on Friday, May 6 from 5 - 7 pm when the Juror’s Choice Award will be announced followed by an art performance– all during Downtown Bloomington’s First Friday.

Emerging Illinois Artists is a triennial juried exhibition featuring artwork by MFA students currently enrolled or recently graduated from an Illinois university. This year 34 pieces from 20 artists were selected by the juror Kelly Shindler, Associate Curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Reflecting on and wrestling with contemporary ideas in art making, the painting, sculpture, video, and installation will challenge and expand expectations of a gallery experience.

The selected artists are: Rocio Azarloza – SAIC, Joshua Backus - University of Chicago, Mariko Brown - Illinois State University, Benjamin Cook - University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Alexandria Douziech – SAIC, Cathy Hsiao – SAIC, Frances Lightbound – SAIC, April Martin – SAIC, Jaclyn Mednicov – SAIC, Laura Newman - Illinois State University, Ben Nicholson - University of Chicago, Alex Peyton-Levine – SAIC, Kaveri Raina – SAIC, Miguel Sbastida – SAIC, Jenn Smith – SAIC, Stuart Snoddy - Northern Illinois University, Marcy Thomas - Northern Illinois University, Orkideh Torabi – SAIC, Christina Warzecha - Northern Illinois University, Dylan Welch - Illinois State University.

The McLean County Arts Center offers, with its central location, accessibility to those all over the state to visit the exhibition and see the work of the fine artists being educated at Illinois universities.  As ultimate peers, MFA students steer through the rite of passage that is graduate school.  Using the wide range of media offered to them, experimenting with scale and presentation, and probing the intellectual and emotional fabric of their lives, their journey will be evidenced and celebrated in this exhibition. The McLean County Arts Center has been hosting the triennial Emerging Illinois Artists exhibition since 2004.

Emerging Illinois Artists juror Kelly Shindler has worked in the field of contemporary art exhibition and programming for over ten years. She joined the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) in 2011. She holds Master’s degrees in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism and Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as a B.A. in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by Linda Willis Fisher & Robert Fisher, Illinois State University School of Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Julius & Sue Alexander- Alexander Distinctive Autos, In Memory of Janet Giugler, and The Art and History Club in Honor of the Life of Darlene Brandt.

Kevin Goodrich Charlie Bravo Alpha

The McLean County Arts Center presents the art exhibition Bravo Charlie Alpha by Kevin Goodrich in the Armstrong Gallery April 22 – June 11, 2016. The Artist Reception will be on Friday, May 6 from 5 - 7 pm during Downtown Bloomington’s First Friday.

Kevin Goodrich pieces together abstract compositions in his paintings that speak of individuality within replication. Photographic screen prints of plywood in black copier toner act as building blocks on the raw canvas. Goodrich sets their rectangular shapes in intuitive patterns to be interrupted with brushy patches of acrylic paint or spare lines of spray paint. This mix of a production of familiar imagery in black and shades of grey with hand applied hints of color speaks of a rhythm adapted to a personal need or expression. Some of the canvases incorporate collaged imagery of urban landscape and objects- chain link fences, kiddie pools, and plants. The imagery continues into small paper collages that are exhibited along with the large canvases. Goodrich creates these with the speed and intensity of sketches. Cut and layered papers with painted marks in a loose geometric style are punctuated with photographic images.  Like the canvases, the structure and symbols of the collages create an even abstract composition and our individual interpretations make the pieces complete.

The exhibition title as well as the titles of the work are in reference to the NATO phonetic alphabet code in which spoken words stand in for letters (A = Alfa). It is within this construct that Goodrich creates his own language of symbolism to be translated- a language of contemporary landscape, order, and chaos. Bravo Charlie Alpha explores the gaps in understanding materiality, language, and equal ground in composition.

Kevin Goodrich’s exhibition follows his development as the Juror’s Choice Award Winner in the McLean County Arts Center’s 2013 Emerging Illinois Artists exhibition for Illinois MFA graduate students. Goodrich earned his MFA and BFA from The School of the Art Institute at Chicago and is currently a Lecturer in the Print Media Department there. 

89th Annual McLean County Amateur Art Competition/Exhibition

The 89th Annual McLean County Amateur Art Competition-Exhibition opening reception is Sunday, February 28, from 1 to 3pm with a public awards ceremony at 2 pm. The exhibition will be on view in MCAC’s Brandt Gallery through April 23, 2016.

MCAC received 235 entries for this year’s competition. The jurors, Dawn Gettler and Joshua Cox, selected 93 artworks for the exhibition and awarded 26 cash prizes for outstanding works of art by amateur McLean County artists.

Jurors for 2016, Dawn Gettler and Joshua Cox are professional artists living in Peoria. Dawn Gettler is an installation artist with her MFA from Ohio University, Athens. She is the Program Manager and Gallery Coordinator of the Prairie Center of the Arts in Peoria. Joshua Cox is an installation artist with his MFA from the Art Institute of Boston. He is an educator and curator.

This exhibition and awards are made possible by the generosity of the following sponsors:

Julius & Sue Alexander – Alexander Distinctive Autos, Ron Bacon & Dee Bohbrink, R. Charles & Laura Baue, The Copy Shop, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, Gay Dolan, Charlette & Roger Elm, Susan Emmerson, Dennis French, Linda Willis Fisher & Robert Fisher, Glodo's Original Kettle Korn, Alison & Brian Hatcher, Aaron Henkelman & Lori Baum, Jan & Ken Holder, Dave & Sandy Holt, Kristen & Doug Johnson, Alexis & Mike Kalish, KodaRoamers Camera Club of Bloomington-Normal, Mid-America Insurance Services, Inc., Reid & Cathy Richards, Ashley Ritter Memorial Fund, Jack & Linda Ritter, Robert & Connie Stefl, Sulaski & Webb CPAs, Barbara & Bill Taft, Mark & Deborah Thurston, Timothy Kent Gallery & Framing, Steve & Deb Wannemacher, Lynn & Patsy Webber, and Debra Wozniak! 

Monica Estabrook Altered Portraits

The McLean County Arts Center presents the exhibition Altered Portraits, artwork by Monica Estabrook in the Armstrong Gallery March 4 – April 16, 2016. The Opening Reception will be on Friday, March 4 from 5 - 7 pm during Downtown Bloomington’s First Friday.

Monica Estabrook, artist and art educator, shifted from teaching elementary students to high school students a few years ago. Her photographic series Altered Portraits became a method for her to create open more communication with her students and break down some barriers. Photographed on a white background, each teenager stands in black and white alone on a blank canvas. Estabrook then presents the student with the printed portrait allowing them a week to alter it in any way they desire and with any media.

The results create a powerful dialog between representation and teenage identity. Estabrook states, “When photographing subjects, photographers typically have the final say on the portrayal of the subject; thus, the subject relinquishes control.  My intent was to have them regain control by being more than just a subject.” Through paint, pen, collage, text, cutting and sewing, each student alters what the camera and Estabrook have seen to how they wish to be perceived. Allowing their intellect, emotion, and psyche to become visible, the subject allows us to see beyond the clothes and skin of a teenager. 

Monica Estabrook teaches art at Bloomington High School. She earned a bachelors degree in art history and a Master of Arts in Teaching, K-12 art education, from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, as well as a MFA in photography from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

This exhibition was generously sponsored by 

Doug DeWitt Elemental

The McLean County Arts Center presents the exhibition Elemental, artwork by Doug DeWitt in the Armstrong Gallery January 9 – February 27, 2016. The Artist Reception will be on Friday, January 22 from 5 - 7 pm.

There is inherent poetry in Doug DeWitt’s artwork. Sometimes spare, sometimes complex, each piece reflects a unique relationship to the natural and man-made worlds. The reference of Elemental to DeWitt’s work opens thought to the principle forces of nature and how we are both witness and steward to this earth.

DeWitt makes found object constructions- stick, stone, wire, rubber sheeting, and weathered wood. Each element plays its role in creating a composition- an abstracted narrative of the artist’s experience with a landscape. DeWitt also presents in the gallery the artifacts, photographs, and video from temporary outdoor installations and events. A rectangle of canvas, the remnant of a child’s tipi altered by weather, play, and a lawnmower accident, becomes a record of a moment in time and a reference to traditional painting on canvas. Another work, This Is Not a Garden, includes a video of an ecological land restoration in northern Illinois, photographs, writings, and constructed fragments of the process. The transformation of the land is breathtaking.

Doug DeWitt is an artist and restoration ecologist in Lake County, Illinois. He earned his MA from Illinois State University and his BFA from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio.

Generously sponsored by the Membership of the McLean County Arts Center

Click here to listen to Doug DeWitt's interview with WGLT's Laura Kennedy


Building the Future of the Permanent Collection

The McLean County Arts Center presents the exhibition Legacy – Building the Future of the Permanent Collection in the Brandt Gallery January 9 – February 13, 2016. The Reception will be on Friday, January 22 from 5 - 7 pm. A Family Activity will take place on Saturday, January 23 at 1 pm- free to all MCAC members or $5 per child for non-members.

The exhibition Legacy features recent acquisitions and noteworthy pieces from the McLean County Arts Center’s Permanent Collection in conjunction with a new expanded storage facility for the collection.

The McLean County Arts Association has had an ongoing mission to support and develop its Permanent Collection of art. Artwork has been acquired through generous donations by artists, collectors, and art aficionados. In response to these donations, MCAC has begun expanding its climate controlled collection facility. A monetary campaign is underway to fund the completion of this room allowing for future growth and preservation. Recent acquisitions include a twenty four foot landscape by Michael Dubina from County Financial, Illinois Panorama: Route 51, Pana, Illinois. Artwork by Harold Boyd, Britten Traughber, Ed McCullough, Gary Justis, Tim Kowalczyk, and many more will also be on display. To contribute monetary funds for the Permanent Collection facility or have an artwork donation considered for inclusion, contact the McLean County Arts Center to learn more about the acquisition process and tax benefits.

Generously sponsored by Country Acres Land Corporation and Gay Dolan

Click here to listen to our interview with WGLT's Laura Kennedy

Dale C. Evans The Corner of my Eye 

The McLean County Arts Center presents The Corner of my Eye, paintings by Dale C. Evans in the Armstrong Gallery December 4, 2015 – January 2, 2016. The Opening Reception will be on Friday, December 4 from 5 - 7 pm during Downtown Bloomington’s First Friday. Dale C. Evans is also a luthier and will give a Stringed Instrument Demonstration on Tuesday, December 8 at 6 pm. All events and the exhibition is free and open to the public.

The Corner of my Eye offers a sincere perspective of central Illinois landscape through watercolor, oil, and acrylic paint. A native of Bloomington, Dale C. Evans has traveled the rural roads of our area searching for inspiring spots to stop and paint on site (plein air) or snap a few photos to construct a painting in his studio. Evans realist paintings are made of quick expressive brushstrokes of color that evoke the warmth of sunlight, the coolness of shadows, the reflectivity of water, and the varied textures of leaves, fields, and gravel roads. Evans shares the words of English Romantic painter John Constable, “I should paint my own places best--- Painting is but another word for feeling. They made me a painter and I am grateful.”

Born and raised in Bloomington, Dale C. Evans was a student of local art educators and artists Herb Curtis and Elizabeth Stein. He received his BFA from the Herron School of Art at Indiana University in Indianapolis and has taught drawing and painting at the McLean County Arts Center as well as forming a local plein air painting group. Also a luthier who builds stringed folk instruments, Evans was featured in the Illinois State Museum exhibition “Tuning the Wood - Illinois Luthiers.”

This exhibition was generously sponsored by Dr. Steve & Anne Matter.

The 39th Annual Holiday Treasures Exhibition and Sale 

includes painting, photography, ceramics, glass, sculpture, and seasonal gifts 

through January 2 in the Brandt Gallery!

This exhibition was generously sponsored by

Sue & Julius Alexander- Alexander Distinctive Autos, Ron Bacon & Dee Bohbrink, Anne & Brian Boyden, Julia Davis & Sam Evans, The Family of Jackie Dolan, Richard & Diana Finch, Robert Fisher and Linda Willis Fisher, Dennis French, 

Growing Grounds Nursery and Florist Shop, 

Mid-America Insurance Services, Inc., Jim & Pam Raymond, 

Carmel & Rod Rhoda, and David & Joan Wochner


Carlene Dingman Atwater, Kara Kirchner, CJ Niehaus

The McLean County Arts Center presents the art exhibition Animalia in the Armstrong Gallery from November 6 to 28, 2015. The exhibition will be free and open to the public for Downtown Bloomington’s First Friday November 6, 5 to 7 pm. Animalia’s Artists Reception with Carlene Dingman Atwater, Kara Kirchner, & CJ Niehaus will be held during MCAC’s annual Holiday Treasures Gala Opening on Friday, November 13 from 6 to 9 pm. Tickets for the gala are available for $50 at the McLean County Arts Center or online at

Animalia brings together the work of three artists who find inspiration in the animal kingdom. To tame the wildness of animals is the human inclination to anthropomorphize. We are fascinated yet fearful of their nature and attempt to bring them closer, make them more like us. Through the arts, we imagine capturing their spirit - make what is foreign in them familiar while making ourselves a little more feral.

Carlene Dingman Atwater’s oil paintings of animals are intimate portraits of Midwestern farm stock and garden inhabitants. Made of layered gestural brushstrokes, the animals are soft and friendly, pastoral- but their gaze is knowing, wild, and inquisitive. Atwater creates a tension of assessment between the animal and the human- a question of who is watching who. Kara Kirchner is a needle felting artist creating sculptural animals with wire armatures and layers of colored wool. Hedgehogs, foxes, and meerkats come alive with personality. Like characters in a storybook, each could be given a name, voice and disposition. CJ Niehaus makes functional ceramics with intricate drawings of animals, insects, and their habitats. Her black line drawings meld with color fields of glaze creating a sense of place where ladybugs live with tricycles and frogs live with sewing needles. The bowls, plates, and cups that they inhabit bring them even closer to us as they offer nourishment and narrative.

Carlene Dingman Atwater of  Fort Madison, Iowa paints everything and every day- her blog,,  is an archive of her studio process and finished paintings including oils, watercolors, and drawings of landscape, portraiture, and animals. A Sugar Creek Arts Festival artist, Atwater exhibits at galleries and arts fairs through the Midwest. Kara Kirchner of Bloomington exhibits her needle felted wool sculptures in the central Illinois region and has taught several workshops at Heartland Community College and The Discovery Children’s Museum of Normal. CJ Niehaus of Crystal Lake, Illinois exhibits her ceramic work nationally and teaches at McHenry and Elgin Community Colleges. She earned her MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

This exhibition was generously sponsored by Ron Bacon & Dee Bohbrink, Orbi Son Duquenne,

Angel, Buddy, & Penny Dolan, Kami, Bentley, & Bimmer Kalish, Cozy & Angus Stivers, and

Penny & Buddy Wozniak

Memory of Water

Brian Frink

The McLean County Arts Center presents Memory of Water, a solo exhibition of paintings by Brian Frink in the Brandt Gallery from September 11 to October 31, 2015. An Opening Reception will be on Friday, September 11 from 5 to 7 pm. The Art Talk by Brian Frink will take place on Saturday, September 19 at 2 pm. Both of these events are free and open to the public.

A direct experience with water on Great Cranberry Island in Maine inspired the paintings in the exhibition Memory of Water.  Artist Brian Frink spent a month working in a studio by the Atlantic Ocean experiencing the movements of the sun, stars, fog, and water and invited them into his paintings. Initially he painted what he saw, but faced with his last piece of paper to work on, he turned his back to the view and painted what he had sensed throughout the previous days. Frink states, “By not looking at my subject I began to understand it. By focusing on my memory of water--previous experiences, conscious, sub-conscious, genetic, became part of the subject. My Memory of Water series is a contemplation and consideration of the mysterious, defining, paradoxical relationship between memory and experience.”

The resulting nonrepresentational paintings allude to elements of seascapes in their titles- Wave and Fog, Moonrise on Island Lake, Morning Constellation. The colors, shapes, and compositions of the paintings range in intensity from brilliant to subdued and their sizes expand from the intimate, framed sketchbook watercolor paper, to the immersive canvases of over 8 feet. Frink’s expertise with manipulating paint is apparent from the controlled color staining drips to the precise linear ripples of the brush. The depth of these layered paint transparencies creates sublime imagined scapes to traverse. The overall experience is a sensory pleasure boat ride and a celebration of the perfections and imperfections of nature, paint, and an artist’s memory.

Brian Frink is a Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Chair of the Department of Art at Minnesota State University in Mankato. He earned is BFA from Illinois State University and his MFA from University of Wisconsin in Madison. Frink founded Rural America Contemporary Art (RACA), a group that advocates and fosters community among rural contemporary artists.

Bethany Carlson, Dawn Gettler, Ann Coddington Rast

The McLean County Arts Center presents the art exhibition observance in the Armstrong Gallery from September 18 to October 31, 2015. A free and public Artist Reception will be on Friday, October 2 from 5 to 7 pm during Downtown Bloomington’s First Friday.

The exhibition observance presents artwork that honors loss and reflects on the balance of life.The voids created in any loss can be consuming- a death of a loved one, a personal failure, a physical change. Artists Bethany Carlson, Dawn Gettler, and Ann Coddington Rast utilize common materials like flowers, paper, and thread to talk about the absences that haunt. By creating artwork through a process of repetition, the ritual in making allows for a meditation and healing to be instilled in the work.

Bethany Carlson creates drawings and sculptural work about “the ceremonial and psychological aspects of grief.” Carlson’s piece titled Beloved is a towering pile of dried flowers on top of a distressed wooden cabinet. The care and precision of making the sculpture, drying each flower and arranging them into an armature, demonstrates the devotion to a loved one. Carlson’s charcoal drawing on a circular panel titled Still hangs across the room. A dark and rich spiral of furry texture, Still offers a too quiet but comforting spot of solace.

 Dawn Gettler is an interdisciplinary artist exploring the abstract concepts of longing and desire. Her installation the smallest deaths are the saddest includes a stop motion video and a doll house sized model of an attic space. The video, created from a 1,000 still images, depicts a small table with a neat stack of hundreds of papers. The papers float up into the air and scatter across a bare attic floor to magically defy gravity and stack back up again on the table. The model of the attic space depicts the scene of the paper stack halfway depleted and littering the doll sized space. The emotional cycle of having something completely fall apart in order to be brought back together again is a familiar feeling with life changing events. A chair in front of the model and projection invite intimate participation of the watchful ceremony.

Ann Coddington Rast is a fiber artist who creates installations and sculptural objects about corporeal sensory experiences. Her piece vestiges include more than twenty waxed thread, twined organic forms hanging from the wall. The forms, about the size and shape of a doll or internal organ, have a few appendage-like nubs and tufts of hair. The care and precision of how the vestiges were created through weaving tells a timeless story of adoration and mystery.


Bethany Carlson is an artist and educator in Peoria. She earned her BFA at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and her MFA at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. Dawn Gettler is an artist, Program Manager, and Gallery Coordinator at the Prairie Center of the Arts in Peoria. She earned her BFA from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, and her MFA from Ohio University, Athens. Ann Coddington Rast is an artist in Champaign and Associate Professor at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. She earned her BFA from Colorado State University in Fort Collins and her MFA from University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

This exhibition was generously sponsored in honor of Hilda Machin.

The McLean County Arts Center and ParkLands Foundation announce an open call, all ages exhibition of art inspired by the nature of ParkLands. Art in Nature will be in the MCAC’s Armstrong Gallery from August 14 through September 12, 2015 with an Opening Reception on Friday, August 14 from 5 to 7pm.

Art in Nature is the third exhibition partnership between the McLean County Arts Center and ParkLands Foundation, two membership supported community non-profits in McLean County. Youth and adults of the community submitted artwork in any media inspired by the nature preserves of the ParkLands Foundation. Art in Nature binds together our duty to preserve and our gift to express our appreciation for this world.


ParkLands Foundation is a nonprofit, public membership land trust committed to preserving, protecting and ecologically restoring historic natural lands along the Mackinaw River and its tributaries. These lands are dedicated primarily for preserving the biological diversity of native plants and wildlife, and secondarily for passive public recreation, environmental educational and scientific research. Since our founding in 1967, the ParkLands Foundation has acquired, protected and restored more than 3,200 acres of prairie, savanna, floodplain forest and river habitat in the Mackinaw River valley of McLean, Tazewell and Woodford counties, and in other watersheds within McLean County. For more information, visit or contact Mike Hall, Administrative Director, at

Art in Nature was generously sponsored by ParkLands Foundation and Alexis & Mike Kalish

The McLean County Arts Center presents in the Brandt Gallery August 14 – September 5, 2015 the student and instructor artwork exhibition of the ROVER: Mobile Arts Program. The exhibition is the culmination of the MCAC’s rural and urban community outreach arts workshops from the past year. A free and public reception for the exhibition will be on Friday, August 14, from 5 to 7 pm with refreshments.

ROVER: Mobile Arts Program is an arts education program for youth that mirrors the classes offered at the McLean County Arts Center (MCAC) and is funded in part by the Foundation for Rural Services, the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation- Mirza Arts & Culture Grant, and local private donors.  Nine workshops lead by local professional artists for youth ages four to seventeen were hosted in six different locations in McLean County from December 2014 to July 2015. At no cost, youth were taught techniques and created art in various media. The artwork from the ceramics, 2D, 3D, and fibers workshops, as well as the instructors’ artwork, will be installed in the Brandt Gallery to share with the community.

The three-dimensional workshops offered ceramic, mask making, and wire sculpture exploration, construction, and decoration while the two-dimensional workshops explored light, shape, space, and color through printmaking, collage, and acrylic painting. During the fibers media workshop, participants explored processes like papermaking and fabric dying. MCAC takes pride in providing quality art education lead by local, working artists in its Downtown Bloomington facility and in community locations throughout McLean County through the Rover: Mobile Arts Program. More information in regards to ROVER: Mobile Arts Program can be found on our website,, and the MCAC’s Facebook page.

Workshop Locations included: Danvers Public Library, Chenoa Public Library, Towanda Public Library, Heyworth Public Library, Bloomington Public Library, and a Home School Group of Heyworth at New Horizons Christian Church.

Artist Instructors included: Erin Furimsky, Kelly Robertson, Joseph Hooten, Stoney Sasser, Sarah Sciba, Lisa Lofgren, Janet Giugler, Micah Zavacky, and Grace Sheese.

ROVER: Mobile Arts Program was generously sponsored by the Foundation for Rural Services, 

the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation – Mirza Arts & Culture Grant, 

Bloomington/Normal Women’s' Club, Linda Willis-Fisher and Robert Fisher, Julie Gerke, 

David and Pearle Jefferies, and Jim and Pam Raymond

Mary Jo Bowers contemporary quilts

The McLean County Arts Center presents Contemporary Quilts, a solo exhibition of quilts by Mary Jo Bowers, in the Armstrong Gallery from June 19 to August 8, 2015. A free and public opening reception will be on Friday, June 19 from 5 to 7 pm.

Mary Jo Bowers’ Contemporary Quilts are cut free hand and improvisationally composed. They balance on the line of nonrepresentational expressions of color and shape and abstractions that ask to be interpreted. Some flat organically pieced quilts suggest aerial landscapes. Other thinly stripped and pieced quilts mimic the pattern and play of light, fog, or water. But all the quilts establish direct associations of color to different emotions. Bowers states, “Freeform organic images are randomly cut and grouped on the design board until they begin to express the mood I am seeking. I continue to work intuitively allowing each piece to determine its own path and direction.” She uses “artist dyed and commercial over-dyed fabrics, painted fabric, and scraps from various venues including sari shops, thrift stores upholstery shops, and friends used garments” and then machine quilts and hand embroiders her wall hanging art quilts.

A quilter for decades, Mary Jo Bowers learned techniques by attended quilting classes and workshops during her career in family counseling and realty. Now retired, Bowers spends her time quilting and with her family in Chicago.


This exhibition was generously sponsored by Sarah & Edward Riehl in honor of Jean Davie

Illinois Quiltscape

The McLean County Arts Center presents Illinois Quiltscape, an exhibition of quilts made in Illinois, in the Brandt Gallery from June 19 to August 8, 2015. A free and public opening reception will be on Friday, June 19 from 5 to 7 pm. An Improvisational Quilt Workshop led by Penny Waldrip will be held on Saturday, June 27 from 1-4 pm. For more information and to register, visit or call (309) 829-0011.

Illinois Quiltscape explores the complexity and diversity in contemporary quilt making across Illinois. Twenty quilters from across Illinois have been invited to exhibit a quilt of original design. Inclusive of Art Quilts, Modern Quilts, Functional Bed and Wall Hanging Quilts, the exhibition highlights how traditional and contemporary quilting techniques are used to best tell each quilt’s unique story.


Included in the exhibition are:

Cheryl Adam (Bloomington), Frieda Anderson (Elgin), Gail Baar (Highland Park), Mary Jo Bowers (Chicago), Rhonda Byrd (Flanagan) , Georgia Dawson (Bloomington), Connie Guhlstorf (Normal), Gwen Jones (Chicago), Lynn Kunz (Woodstock), Donna Lee (Melvin), Barbara Miller (Normal), Pam Riss (Streator), Barbara Schneider (Harvard), Diane Skidmore (Bloomington), Penny Waldrip (Bloomington), Laura Wasilowski (Elgin), Trish Williams (Peoria), Betty Woodruff (Normal), Carole Wool (Western Springs), and Evelyn Young (LeRoy).


This exhibition was generously sponsored by Judie Bey & Gary Hoover, Charlette & Roger Elm, 

Alaine Miller, Sewing Studio, Barbara & Bill Taft, and Deb Wozniak.

K[nō][no̵u]W You Benjamin &amp; Delaney DeMott

The McLean County Arts Center presents K[nō][no̵u]W  You,an exhibition of mixed media installation by Benjamin & Delaney DeMott in the Brandt Gallery from April 24 to June 13, 2015. An opening reception will be on Friday, April 24 from 5 to 7 pm and an Art Talk will be on Saturday, April 25 at 1 pm. These events are free and open to the public.

K[nō][no̵u]W You is an exhibition of collaborative works by husband and wife team, Benjamin & Delaney DeMott. As a couple, artists, and educators, the DeMotts share their home, studio and occupational space in Chicago. Although together, each artist works separately on their own individual art, until the impetus to realize K[nō][no̵u]W You suggested the fresh terrain of collaboration. Artistic collaboration is an exercise in communication, partnership, compromise, and craft. Each DeMott offers their individual perspective while simultaneously questioning that view to negotiate a new joint experience. The DeMotts describe their experience as a concentrated dance, “The score for that dance is our life together and apart. One of the collaborators makes a move, a call to the other for a response. The call is answered and another provocation is made in return. A rhythm ensues.  Choreography such as theirs makes for a rich, complicated and enduring relationship.”

Exploring, unpacking and critiquing the institutions of the ‘9to5’, life-long partnership, procreation, longing, and the perpetual “do-better”, the DeMotts offer the audience a space of recognition in an attempt to get to K[nō][no̵u]W You.

The DeMott's piece titled Rummage Sale has objects available through silent auction to benefit the McLean County Arts Center's Eduacation Programming.

Benjamin DeMott is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania, he earned his MFA from NYSCC at Alfred University, Alfred, NY and his BFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

Delaney DeMott is a Lecturer of Contemporary Practices and Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. She earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and her BFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.



This exhibition was generously sponsored by Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, Jan & Peter Brandt, 

and Alexis & Mike Kalish.

Exhibition Archive

 2016 Legacy

Elemental- Doug DeWitt

89th Amateur Art Competition

Altered Portraits- Monica Estabrook

Bravo Charlie Alpha- Kevin Goodrich
Emerging Illinois Artists

The View from Here- 4 Photographers of McLean County



tread lightly my dear, for you tread on my dreams- Dawn Gettler

40 Years NEW

Behind Every Print

Holiday Treasures

Flora - Colleen McCall, Julie Nelson, Matt Urban

Abstracted Landscapes - Dick Folse


Contemporary Portraiture-Margaret LeJeune, Rick Lewis, Jason Patterson

Self is a River- Mel Keiser, Nicole White, Chris Wille

88th Amateur Art Competition

Kaye Buchman

Know You- Benjamin & Delaney Demott

Near & Far

Illinois Quiltscape

Contemporary Quilts- Mary Jo Bowers


Art in Nature

Memory of Water- Brian Frink

Observance- Bethany Carlson, Dawn Gettler, Ann Coddington Rast

Animalia- Carlene Dingman Atwater, Kara Kirchner, CJ Niehaus

Holiday Treasures

The Corner of my Eye- Dale C. Evans


Brian Patrick Franklin

Kevin Strandberg

87th Amateur Art Competition

Jodi Birdwell

Jason Reblando

Emmerson, Sheese, & Stolle

Kowalczyk & Swanson

Lofgren & Somers

Film Noir- KodaRoamers Camera Club



Preserving ParkLands

Holiday Treasures

Charles Timken

Somatic- Brooks, Lotz, & Rubin


Harold Gregor

86th Amateur Art Competition

Andrew Huot & Angela Pease

Tommy Reyes

Emerging Illinois Artists

Define Drawing


125th Celebration

Stephen Cartwright

Discover ParkLands

Holiday Treasures

Matthew Holt

Donald Lake


Jin Lee & Rhondal McKinney

John Cassidy

85th Amateur Art Competition

Connie Estep

Dennis French

Matt Moyer

In Your Neighborhood

Figure Drawing

Timothy van Laar

O’Donnell & Chalmers 

Made By Hands

Holiday Treasures

Vase as Voice

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