ART FOR THE MASSES
June 16, 1999 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Kathy Millen
Despite a steady downpour of rain Sunday afternoon, dozens of people showed up with umbrellas and raincoats to see the unveiling of "Genevieve," a statue of the late Naperville Sun writer Genevieve Towsley, and the "River of Life," a mosaic illustrating life in Naperville as seen through the eyes of its youth.
The two works of art were officially added to the growing Century Walk exhibit in downtown Naperville.
"Genevieve" is located outside the Barnes and Noble bookstore at Washington Street and Chicago Avenue.
The "River of Life" hangs on the west side of Anderson's Bookshop at 123 W. Jefferson Ave.
"I don't know any other person who has seen a statue of their mother unveiled," said Caryl Towsley Moy to friends, family and fans of the late columnist who specialized in Naperville's history.
"How lucky I am."
The life-size bronze statue depicts the writer sitting on a bench holding a pen and note pad.
It was sculpted by Pamela Carpenter of Glen Ellyn, formerly of Naperville, who talked at length with Towsley's family and friends in order to accurately capture her subject.
Carpenter also wrote a poem about Towsley that is inscribed on the plaque next to the statue.
Illinois State Rep. Mary Lou Cowlishaw, R-41st, a former journalist, worked with Towsley for several years at The Sun. She remembers her friend and colleague as a wordsmith who epitomized the very best in journalism.
"Genevieve Towsley did a lot to contribute to the quality of what is Naperville and to the lives of the people who lived here," Cowlishaw said. "She always pointed out in feature stories when some seemingly ordinary person had done some extraordinary thing."
The "River of Life" mosaic was created by more than 250 art students at Naperville Central High School and all five District 203 junior high schools.
Inspired by the work of noted artist Faith Ringgold and under the direction of District 203 art coordinator Stacy Slack, the students illustrated different aspects of their lives in each of the clay relief tiles that make up the four mosaic story quilts.
The centers of the quilts are images representing their memories, present experiences and hopes for the future.
The DuPage River, a metaphor of life, flows through all four scenes.
Slack calls the artwork the mural that Naperville built and said that putting the work in a prominent place validates the young artists' thoughts and feelings.
"We are very proud of what has been accomplished, and we hope when you look at it, it will do what we think all good art should do and that is engage you," she said.
Pat Springer, administrator for Century Walk, said that someday these students will bring their own children to see it.
"I think it's been one of the most gratifying of the projects I've been involved in because of the involvement of the students," she said.
"It says a lot to the citizens of Naperville about their talent.
They are young, but they take seriously what is happening in their lives."
Chicago artist Corinne Peterson, who helped the students on the project, congratulated Naperville for its commitment to public art, making it a part of everyday life.
"Genevieve" and "River of Life" are the 11th and 12th works added to the Century Walk, started three years ago by Naperville attorney Brand Bobosky. The goal of the 10-year program is to place three artworks depicting significant Naperville people, places and events in downtown Naperville each year for a total of 30.
Moy said the dedication of the artworks is the sort of thing her mother would have loved to have written about.
"She wouldn't think of the notoriety.
That wouldn't mean so much to her," she said.
"But it's such a wonderful, wonderful example of the community spirit of this town and why she loved it so."
Kathy Millen can be reached at (630) 416-5204 or by e-mail at kathy.millen(at)exchange.copleypress.com
A WRITER FOR THE AGES For almost 50 years, Genevieve Towsley told the story of Naperville.
Her own story is yet another important chapter in the city's history.
• Genevieve Brayton Towsley was born in Oak Park in 1907.
• Moving to Naperville in 1924, she was a graduate of North-Western College (now North Central College.) She taught English there for three years.
• She began her newspaper career as a columnist for the Naperville Clarion in 1948.
• In 1954, she began writing columns and features for the Naperville Sun. Her Grapevines and Sky-Lines columns were Sun staples for decades.
• A 20-year collection of her Sky-Lines columns on the history of Naperville were compiled into a local best seller, "A View of Historic Naperville."
• She helped found Little Friends, Martin Manor and the Naperville Heritage Society.
• She received numerous honors including AAUW's 1976 Woman of the Year, North Central College Outstanding Alumni in 1979 and the Illinois Department on Aging Lifetime Achievement award in 1993.
• She was married to the late Myron Towsley for 56 years.
They had three daughters, 13 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
• She died March 6, 1995, at the age of 88.
EDITION OF TOWSLEY BOOK REPRINTED The Naperville Sun has reprinted a special edition of Genevieve Towsley's book, "A View of Historic Naperville."
The book, a compilation of the author's newspaper columns chronicling Naperville's history, was first published by The Sun in 1975. For almost 25 years it has been an important source of information on the people, places and events that shaped the city.
Dwight Yackley, president of BBM Incorporated, donated $15,000 toward the project as well as the location for the "Genevieve" sculpture on the corner of Washington Street and Chicago Avenue.
The Sun also assumed a portion of the book's production costs.
The book is available at Anderson's Bookshop, Barnes and Noble and the Naper Settlement Gift Shop. Suggested price is $29.95.
Proceeds will fund the acquisition of original works of art for the Century Walk exhibit.
Artist Pamela Carpenter gently wipes rainwater from her sculpture "Genevieve" Sunday afternoon, when the exhibit was dedicated in front of Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Washington Street and Chicago Avenue. The sculpture is a life-size tribute to the late Genevieve Towsley, a journalist who specialized in Naperville history.