North Central College - Naperville, IL

Exhibit features renowned family collection of American self-taught art

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Contact: Ted Slowik, Director of PR and Media Relations, 630-637-5307,

Aug. 25, 2010—One of the nation’s foremost collections of 20th century American self-taught art will be displayed this fall North Central College.

“Say Rah! Chicago Self-Taught Art from the Arient Family Collection” is free and open to the public from Oct. 1 through Nov. 7 in Schoenherr Art Gallery at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville.

The exhibit will feature paintings, drawings, sculpture and carvings by four Chicago self-taught artists: William Dawson, Derek Webster, Lee Godie and Wesley Willis.

Naperville residents Jim and Beth Arient have been collectors of self-taught art since 1977. They built their collection by visiting artists and establishing long-term relationships with many of them. In 1982 their son Matthew joined them, taking his first collecting trip at the age of three months.

The Arients have been lecturers, writers, photographers, archivists and lenders to museum shows around the country and in Europe. Three shows have highlighted selections from their collection: a 1987 exhibit at the Northern Illinois University Gallery in Chicago, a 2004 show at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., and a 2007 exhibit at the Lubeznick Art Center in Michigan City, Ind.

Jim and Beth Arient are National Advisory Board Members of the Folk Art Society of America. Matthew Arient was the force behind the major retrospective of the works of the Rev. Howard Finster, a self-taught folk artist from rural Georgia who among his 46,991 pieces drew covers for the rock albums “Reckoning” by R.E.M. and “Little Creatures” by the Talking Heads. The exhibit is showing at the Chicago Cultural Center through Sept. 26.

The Arients continue to be always on the lookout for new and energizing examples of self-taught art.

Bulley & Andrews LLC, one of Chicago’s most trusted and accomplished general contracting firms, is corporate sponsor of the Arient family’s exhibit at North Central College. Renowned for its attention to detail and quality workmanship, B&A has completed numerous projects on campus including renovations to Meiley-Swallow Hall, Koten Chapel and Kiekhofer Hall, the Harold & Eva White Activities Center and the Boilerhouse Café.

An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1. A gallery talk with the Arient family will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3.

The exhibit will be open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, and one hour before most performances in the Fine Arts Center. Contact Nickole C. Lanham, North Central’s gallery director, at 630-637-5375 or to learn more about the exhibit.

The exhibit is among many ongoing programs at North Central College to enrich and broaden the cultural and academic outlook for the College and community. For a comprehensive schedule of musical performances, theatrical and dance productions, art exhibits and lectures, visit or call the box office at 630-637-SHOW (7469).