Monthly Archives: May 2006

“Depressed” Mode Concert

Having been a Depeche Mode fan for 22 years, I was about to face the realization of a lifelong dream in having front row tickets to their 5/11 concert date at Allstate Arena last week.

Much like the dark and cold rainy day that day, the excitement of finally seeing my favorite band of 22 years up at the very front turned to shock and disbelief as news began to break that Depeche Mode was forced to cancel the show due to lead Singer Dave Gahan losing his voice.  Even worse, it is uncertain as to whether or not the date will even be rescheduled before the end of thier current "Playing the Angel" tour.

I think I have an unlucky streak when it comes to concerts.  Shortly after my youngest son, Ben, was born, Shelby and I had tickets to see Prince at the Allstate Arena back in the summer of 2004.  It would have been the first "night out" for us and we were pumped up.  We arrived at Allstate Arena and got in line to wait for the doors to open.  As many of you may recall, the doors never opened that night as Prince was forced to cancel that show as well.  However, he was gracious enough to come back to Chicago a few months later and make up the show.  Tragically, I had an unavoidable out-of-town meetings and we had to miss the show.  Shelby loves Prince in the same way I've loved Depeche Mode these many years.

If only that was where the story ends.  When I was in college at the University of Kentucky, Bruce Springsteen was on tour and had a concert date in Lexington, KY at Rupp Arena.  I had looked forward to the concert for months.  The day of the concert, you guessed it, "the boss" cancelled the show because of his own vocal problems.  He never rescheduled.

The lesson to be learned from this story… actually, there is no lesson other than it's really disappointing when this happens… and for me, it's happened a little too much.

Nonetheless, I have maintained hope and have issued my plea on the official Depeche Mode message board pleading for them to reschedule.  

I realize this story doesn't have much to do with Naperville, other than instead of seeing DM on Thursday, I instead joined Shelby for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen over at Cantera.  Of course, CPK is actually in Warrenville so that doesn't count either.  Nonetheless, I felt compelled to share my story perhaps to alleviate my disappointment a bit. 

Who Stole Naperville’s Dandelion Fountain?

Fear not, our cherished dandelion fountain is fully intact along the Riverwalk.  During a trip to Reims, France last year I was shocked to discover a slightly larger dandelion fountain along the Place Drouet D'Erlon amongst many open air cafes, restaurants and, of course, patesseries.  Of course, being the Naperville geek that I am, I instantly began snapping pictures and drew the comparison to Naperville as my wife affectionately rolled her eyes.  I guess Reims does have almost 2,000 years of history over us as well as all the great champagne houses.  On a side note, I couldn't help but pass the picture along to Naperville Community Planner Dan Di Santo and the rest of our hard working professionals at Transportation/Engineering/Development (TED) for their enjoyment.  I met the hard-working staff at TED a couple of weeks ago during my participation in the 2006 Naperville Citizen Academy. 


Artist Valerie Lorimer at the Naperville Cultural Center


A special exhibit of the contemporary whimsical art of Valerie Lorimer was launched on Saturday night at the Naperville Cultural Center during a special reception in which the artist, herself, was on hand to discuss her unique art. 

Lorimer's contrasting use of swirling vibrant patchworks of patterned color against minimalist ink patterns often feature the telling expressions of her subjects which convey a sense of the strength and subtle unassuming complexity of "woman".   

The exhibit runs through the month of May at the Naperville Cultural Center in the Main Street Promenade.  In addition, both original works and reprints may be purchased.  I'm proud to say that Shelby and I took advantage of the opportunity to purchase the original piece pictured above to the left.

You can also experience Valerie Lorimer's work through her website at .   

Naperville Photographs – by Stuart Meyer

(To access all Naperville-related photography by Stuart Meyer, see the “Naperville Photography” category or click on the following link:

I’ve included a couple of my favorite photographs I’ve taken of Downtown Naperville.  I hope you enjoy them as well.  If you are interested in purchasing prints of any size, please send me a post.  





The Naperville Cultural Center

For that past couple of years, I have been searching to connect with others who have a strong passionate vision for helping to create the next great chapter in Naperville's cultural arts history.

About six months ago, I found a kindred spirit in Michelle LeBlanc, who opened the doors of the Naperville Cultural Center in Fall of 2005 .  With her own vision, money, sweat and devotion, Michelle created a non-profit focal point for multi-cultural arts, language and experiences at the Naperville Cultural Center's home on the 2nd floor in the Main Street Promenade.  The Center consists of a dance/yoga studio, multi-purpose rooms in which a variety of classes take place, a music studio for piano/instrument lessons and a small shop featuring original art and other merchandise representing a variety of cultures. 

I encourage anyone who might read this to drop by the Naperville Cultural Center and check out all they have to offer.  Even more, the Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is always in search of members, volunteers and financial supporters.

Even more, I am presently working as part of a small planning team at the Naperville Cultural Center to develop a Naperville World Music Festival which promises to become on annual event and tradition not only in Naperville, but in all of Chicagoland. 

During many discussions with my good friend, and former candidate for City Council, Matt Freeman and Michelle, we have hatched a long-term vision of ultimately creating a summer long festival with a permanent home to rival the North Shore Ravinia Festival and create world class arts opportunities for the Western Suburbs.  Stay tuned, the first step toward the festival will be a fundraising event later on this summer, which will feature a variety of musical acts.    

Ultimately, I can see this festival feeding into my ultimate dream of creating the ORIGIN Center for the Experiential and Collaborative Arts one day which will become the destination in the Western Suburbs for original and innovative arts experiences, education and performances.  There is tremendous energy and talent within the Naperville community and the Western Suburbs and I believe so strongly that it is time to create a home that will be the progressive model for other communities across the country.  When the STAR line suburban commuter rail is ultimately built within the next 10 years, the land near the Rt. 59 station where the STAR line will link with the BNSF, could be used to build this arts complex, making it easily accessible to the Western Suburbs as well as the city of Chicago via train. 

Working together, as a community, we can make this vision a reality in creating an innovative world class arts destination.

Supporting Arts in Education

I'm always very moved by visionary teachers who are passionate about infusing the arts in the learning process.  I can recall when I was in high school, a teacher supported my desire to shoot a fictious documentary about the Maine Potato Council, an actual political action committee, to present to my class.  The experience still stands as one of my fondest educational memories.  Throughout my education growing up, I was very fortunate to have some degree of arts programs available to me, whether it was instrument groups in elementary school or choral groups in middle school and high school. 

The reality is, especially in the Chicago Public Schools, there is seldom enough money to adequately fund arts in education.  While there are many foundations and groups that raise money to go towards arts education as well as the utilization of the arts in the teaching of traditional subjects, I cannot express how much admiration I have for those teachers who, by passion alone, go the extra mile in not only infusing the arts in eductaion but also spending money out of their own pocket to acquire the materials needed to accomplish their goal. 

While Naperville is overly blessed with grammy award winning music programs in some of its schools, there is one such teacher in Chicago who I learned about yesterday on my drive home listening to the "Chicago Matters" program on Chicago Public Radio.  His name is Jesse Senechal and he is a teacher and Kelvyn Park High School in the Logan Square neighborhood on the northside of Chicago.  Senechal talked about the value of media literacy in skills development and works closely with his students, enabling them to utilize media tools as part of their education.  He believes strongly in his students and advocates that aside from the impact of utilizing the arts to educate his students, they are also developing meaningful technology skills at the same time.  The most touching aspect of the story was Senechal's almost reluctant confession that he pays for some of the media arts materials he uses in his classroom out of his pocket.  He was quick to emphasis the need for increased funding and that most teachers can't afford, nor should they have to, buy materials to enhance the learning process for their students.

While we might be quick to demand that arts funding be increased in schools, I want to pause for a moment to place the spotlight on teachers like Jesse Senechal who uses ingenuity, passion and his own money to utilize arts in the educational process.  We all know that teachers do not get paid anywhere near their worth and that most teachers are teachers because of their passion to educate.   

I encourage anyone who reads this post to consider sending a donation to Jesse Senechal c/o Kelvyn Park High School, 4343 W. Wrightwood Ave., Chicago, IL 60639.  Let him know his efforts are not going unnoticed and that hopefully such money can be used to the benefit of his students.  In Naperville, we are very very fortunate and it is important that we put our resources towards helping other schools and communities… especially in the area of the arts, arts education and the utilization of arts in education.

A final note, Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE) is a non-profit organization that partners with schools to create innovative arts-infused programs to enhance the learning process in traditional subjects.  Once upon a time I was a finalist for a development job with CAPE and though I came in second place, I have continued to believe strongly in the mission of CAPE and hope Arnold and his staff are able to continue to find funding for their important work.  Their website is

ORIGIN of my Naperville ArtsVision

originally posted 5/03/06 

One thing anyone would quickly notice is that Naperville offers many arts opportunities regardless of what you are looking for.  From the concerts of Ribfest to the DuPage Symphony Orchestra to the regular weekend live music and Frankie’s Blue Room to the Riverwalk Arts Festival to the main stage at Last Fling.  In addition to a strong Jazz program at North Central College and grammy award winning high schools, though, there is something I believe Naperville is missing.

Amidst the many arts opportunities, I think Naperville is still searching for its unique heart and soul in its original arts “vibe”.  The good news, is Naperville is poised to move to the next chapter in the history of its arts community.  My dream is to help facilitate opportunities and develop facilities that provide creative space for the many forms of artists that already live in Naperville, from photographers and painters to songwriters, composers and filmmakers.  We have a solid foundation to be built upon.

I envision Ravinia meets the Old Town School meets new innovative experiential and experimental arts space.  We’ve built a skate park for kids, why not creative space for all generations to come together to create and share their original art.  You can go to any Chicago suburb and experience a variety of arts that mimic and emulate other artists, but not too many suburbs with an original arts vibe that is celebrated in the same vein as cities like Austin, Texas.

Being a composer, songwriter, photographer and filmmaker myself, I see tremendous potential and support for someting original that our community could rally around and celebrate.  In my mind, artists represent the heart and soul of any community and that is something I would love to see Naperville attracting. 

Welcome to the World of Naperville


Like many young adults who migrate to the big city of Chicago for its action-packed urban landscape, I found myself at an unavoidable crossroads back in 2003.  I was married with one child and we were about to outgrow our 2nd story Roscoe Village flat which we adored on Chicago's Northside.  I found myself a matter of blocks from the fabled Wrigley Field living just off of Addison.  I was pursuing my dreams of composing music and writing songs for independent films closing in on the arts scene. 

With an increasingly inconvenient landscape for a fast moving 2 year-old and a desire to take the next step of the epic American dream in purchasing a home before our second little guy would come along, we were faced with the choice of staying in the city and settling for a small condominium or taking the same money to the "S" place to buy an actual house with some land.  Yes, that's right… suburb city. 

I had convinced myself the only way I would go to the suburbs would be kicking and screaming.  After all, in 1998 I moved to Chicago from Kentucky to be in the city, not the suburbs.  Nonetheless, once I accepted my fate, I became focused on finding the perfect suburb that would combine the best of all worlds.  I wanted to combine the cherished small town Main St. feel of my childhood in Kentucky with big city amenities.  I wanted a place where I could live out my dreams community activism in playing a role which would help shape the future of my new hometown.  I was in search of a vibrant community spirit with strong pride.  A place in which I would feel a strong sense of passion and desire to be a part of.  I found that and so very much more in a place I'm extremely proud to call home… NAPERVILLE.

I consider myself and my family to be NEW NAPERVILLE, which can be characterized by those who hold the city in their hearts not because they were born here, but because the actively chose to live here in the same way Joe Naper and Naperville's early pinoeers traveled their way west from Chicago to settle Naperville amidst challenging circumstances, the least of which was the necessity of a fort to protect themselves from the original natives of the DuPage and Fox River Valley. 

Nowadays, I've emerged into such a Naperville geek that my friends and family refer to me simply as Mr. Naperville for the way in which I've learned about the history of my new hometown, stay up-to-date on local issues through the Naperville Sun, have already gotten involved in the community in a number of ways and my constant attempts to coerce everybody I know to come visit, or better yet MOVE, to Naperville.  

This BLOG is dedicated to what I call the WORLD OF NAPERVILLE.  It's all about the experience of living in what CNN/Money magazine has called the second best place to live in America in 2005 (only because the categories were merged from the previous year when we were first). 

The WORLD OF NAPERVILLE is about the history, the happenings, the people, the places, the opportunities, the amenities, the arts, the experience, the attractions, the politics, the future, the spirit, the pride and the perspective of life in this charming little town in a big city through my eyes.

I invite you to look around, share your thoughts and hopefully come visit us here in Naperville. 

Stuart Meyer