Art for history's sake
August 25, 2009 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL)
Thursday, July 9, 2009 12:57 p.m. - Naperville artist Marianne Lisson Kuhn works on a Naperville Century Walk mural called "Getting to Know the Great Artists" designed by Mike Venezia. The mural is on the south wall of the Naperville Art League Fine Art Center and Gallery in Naperville. The mural will be dedicated today, Aug. 25, at 4:15 p.m, at the Fine Art Center, 508 N. Center St., Naperville.
Lisson Kuhn: "I've always loved to do art and crafts from the time I was little. I'd make things out of nature or the little paper things that came in candy boxes - make little scenes with them. So, I think I was kind of a natural. There are artists in my family on both sides. I guess you're kind of sometimes born with it. And I started doing it as a profession when we had our first daughter. I wanted to be able to stay home with her, so I started doing house portraits. And from there I did Naperville scenes. We inherited my dad's tractor, and I started doing antique tractors. ... I probably have 85 different tractors I've drawn, and I do custom ones, too - special ones for people. And then Naperville scenes, I probably have 50 or so by now. I used to do all pen and ink, and then I started adding color about maybe 15 years ago. And I started doing murals with Liza Netzley about 12 years ago, and now I'm on my own, because she moved last year to Florida. ...
I love (being and artist). It's not really a job. It's something I love to do. And I set my own hours, so that's good. I've designated myself Employee of the Month several times (laughs). I even have a T-shirt that says 'Employee of the Month.'
I'm a fifth-generation Napervillian, so my ancestors were one of the early settlers. So, (Naperville) has always been near and dear to my heart. I've watched it grow and change through the years, and I grew up like a block from here. So painting this mural, I feel like I'm in my old neighborhood. ... Naperville is a big part of my life and inspiration, and I know a lot of the history. My grandparents and parents and aunts and uncles have told me a lot of the stories from back in the day. It's so interesting to know where Naperville came from, how it originated and hear those real-life stories about it. So, when I first started doing Naperville scenes, I did a lot of the really older things, and then I started doing (the Riverwalk) - because a lot of the people are so transient that all they see is the Riverwalk - which is beautiful, and I enjoy doing that, too.
But I like doing historic things, like I did the first train station in Naperville and all those things, too. I admire Les Schrader (a Naperville artist who painted historic Naperville places and events) for how he preserved the history in his time, so I'm trying to carry on his work in some way preserving today's history, too. ..."
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Danielle Gardner / Staff Photographer