Monthly Archives: June 2007

World of Naperville on Vacation in South Haven, Michigan

I’m sending my best to everyone in Naperville as my family and I enjoy a wonderful vacation in South Haven, Michigan.  For anyone who has not been to South Haven, I recommend a visit as there are many wonderful attributes to this quaint little lakeshore town.  The harbor reminds me allot of a New England town with the downtown area reminding me allot of our hometown of Naperville.  

Ironically, the other day as my boys and I were swimming back to the beach I was approached by a woman who asked if I would swim out and help her sons get back to shore as they had a large thick floating mat and were struggling a bit as they drifted further out into the lake.  After helping them back to the shore, my wife and I were talking with the boy’s mother and ironically learned that she was the sister of Naperville’s own Ray Kinney.  Small world indeed… especially when it comes to world of Naperville.

Video of Space Shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station Orbiting Over Naperville

When I learned earlier this week the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station could be seen flying overhead here in Naperville, I took both my curiosity and video camera outside around 9:31 PM on Tuesday evening to see what I might capture. The result amazed me in how well you could see the two star-like lights moving rapidly through the skies. In addition, I was able to capture an excellent view of the planet Venus alongside the moon. Click below to see my edited footage which is now on You Tube.

Though it’s tough to get a feel for exactly how fast both were moving in the compressed video (dv version looks much better), I can say from the time I first saw both lights moving through the sky from the far west it only took a couple of minutes for them to disappear far into the east. Even more, I couldn’t believe who well Venus showed up as I zoomed as far as I could toward the crescent moon. For those wondering, I was using a Canon ZR-85 miniDV camera… nothing special but the result wasn’t too bad.

Heads Up! Original Downtown Naperville Architecture Worth the Neck Strain

When in Downtown Naperville, it’s easy to feel the history all around you as you stroll around the idyllic setting of our city.  Once you begin a closer examination of the buildings along Washington Street, Jefferson Avenue and Main Street it is easy to see the history firsthand.  I recently engaged in a windows tour of downtown to take a closer look at the vintage crown molding and sublty ornate window seals.  I’ve walked past these buildings a hundred times but never quite took the time 


(Second story windows along Main Street between Jefferson Avenue and Jackson)

to stop and study the varying styles and features in understanding why the blocks of new and original architecture take on such visual charm and clean breakpoints between connected and adjacent buildings.  Take a look yourself and you can see the amazing detail that still remains as a reminder of days in Naperville long ago when you were more likely to get your horse and buggy stuck in mud along Jefferson Ave. rather than sit in traffic.


(Twin windows overlooking Main Street)

It’s a credit to the leaders and city planners of Naperville who have protected and preserved the authentic look and feel of downtown Naperville architecture, both new and old.  Much of the ornate style has been preserved in much of the new construction which has taken place and I believe it to be very important as a community we continue to preserve a strong vision for the detailed intracacy of what downtown architecture should look and feel like.


(The well-known corner of Jefferson Ave. and Washington Street which remains relatively unchanged since the late 1800s)

Combine the authentic architecture and abundance of mature trees along the streets in downtown and the view almost tells its own story.  If you ever have the chance, drop by the Naper Settlement’s downstairs museum or Andersons Bookshop to look at books of early Naperville photos and see how much of the architecture remains the same.  I continue to hope the preservation of old architecture and character of new architecture will preserve the charm of downtown.


(Looking southward down Main Street toward Jackson… had to include some B&W photos)
Though I’ve featured the photo below in the past, I would be remiss if I wrote of the windows of downtown Naperville without mentioning the old city hall building, which now houses La Sorella di Francesca.  The twin arching windows which sit above street level on the first floor are my favorite.  As a matter of fact, I have a framed print of this picture hanging on the wall in my office at work, along with a couple of other downtown Naperville prints and photographs I’ve taken in Europe. 
I encourage you to pause and look more closely at the vintage architecture of downtown Naperville during your next visit.
(The corner point and crown molding atop the vintage building at the corner of Jefferson and Washington which currently houses Zazu Salon and Day Spa)

Construction Progresses at New North Central Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center Prompting Thoughts on Future of Naperville’s Arts Community

Yesterday, I spent the better part of the afternoon walking around downtown capturing a new set of pictures to add to my growing collection of Naperville photos.  Along the way, I decided to head up Chicago Ave. just east of Washington to capture some images of the construction site for the new North Central Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center.  I’m amazed by how fast the arts center is taking shape as it heads toward a Spring 2008 opening.  Below you will find one of the photos followed by the artist rendering of the finsihed center from North Central’s website.  As I stood there peering over the  


(Top:  6-17-07 picture of construction progress, the experimental black box theater to the left and the Concert Hall taking shape in center of the photo  Below:  Artist rendering of finished Concert Hall and Arts Center)

fence, I also glanced down Chicago Avenue at the crowds of people enjoying a wonderful day in Downtown despite the heat. My mind turned to visions of how our community can both support and take advantage of this new hub for the arts.  I believe there is a shared vision betwen North Central and the community for the new arts center to be buzzing with activity and opportunities to experience the arts on a daily basis for residents and visitors alike. 

To place these thoughts in terms of another world class city, I remember a trip to Paris a couple of years ago in which my wife and I saw a flyer for a chamber concert which was to take place that night featuring both a small orchestra and choir at the Magdeline Church (the site of the funeral of my favorite composer of all time, Chopin).  Mozart’s Requiem and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons were on the bill for the evening and the experience is one I will never forget.  While I was moved by this special experience, the reality is these types of concerts are quite commonplace and somewhat informal in Paris.  I was amazed by the admission process as you simply showed up at the church, stood in line, paid a person sitting at a folding table with a small cash box and then you simply sat wherever you wanted.  In Paris, these types of concerts are common place and are performed by a number of local groups and ensembles weekly.  The point is, the opportunity to experience these types of events are regular and quite commonplace.   

As a community we must all get involved whether it be through financial support, spreading the word or coming together to determine how we can maximize the community use and presence of North Central’s world class arts facility.  We must foster and promote the artistic soul within our community and welcome artists and arts organizations from outside our community to participate from both an amatuer and professional level.  

In my mind, it all begins with a centralized arts alliance or local arts commission which develops and executes a coordinated master cultural plan and brings arts organizations to the table to work together.  This same model has been replicated successfully in acclaimed arts communities throughout the country, such as Austin, TX, Arlington County, VA and even Chicago.  When we look back at the evolution of the Special Events and Cultural Arts Fund (SECA) in Naperville, I believe strongly that much of the confusion arose from lack of such a formal alliance of local arts organizations and stakeholders.  In essence, the cart was placed before the horse given the fact we had an abundance of de-centralized stakeholders working from the standpoint of their own interests and not from the mission, goals and values of a centralized arts alliance or arts commission. 

Music and the arts has been an intimate part of Naperville’s history dating back to Joseph Naper and the early settlers who brought with them musical instruments and enjoyed impromptu performances within homes and other gathering places as our community grew.  To succeed in building a world class arts community, we must unify our energies, creativity, expertise and resources to market and promote a well-coordinated arts presence locally, regionally, nationally and even globally.  A presence which becomes a daily part of life in Naperville full of opportunities to experience and/or participate in the arts and artistic expression.  A vibrant arts scene which utilizes artists, space and technology to offers a truly innovative experience.  All of which will build upon the many wonderful arts traditions and organizations which are currently present in Naperville. 

It all begins in coming together and working together.  Please share your own thoughts and comments.

If you have not already done so, I also encourage you to click on the following postings:

New North Central Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center a Huge Opportunity for Naperville

A Benchmark for the Economic Impact of the Arts in Naperville      

Testimonials for the Profound Impact of the Arts


Just Back from Naper Days at Naper Settlement. Also, a Special Message to Arbor Vitae Java and Juice

Synonomous with Father’s Day weekend is Naperville’s annual Naper Days Festival, which benefits the Naperville Heritage Society and Naper Settlement.  I’ve yet to write about Naper Settlement but plan to do so soon as the settlment is an experience not be missed by residents and visitors alike.  Though the weather outside feels more like August and less like June for all the heat and humidity,


(A quick shot of the Mitchell Mansion at Naper Settlement with the Naper Days main stage in the background.)

my son and I headed out early this morning to beat the crowds and temperature at Naper Days.  Naper Days is truly a family festival with a little something for everyone.  There is a main stage full of music ranging from local amatuer to professional.  This morning we enjoyed a little bit of the younger teenage local bands and I want to encourage all of them to keep living their passion.  You all did great!

 For the toddlers, there is an abundance of play areas full of moon jumps of all shapes, sizes and themes.  The Carriage Club of Naperville featured a free slide obstacle course and moon jump which my son enjoyed thoroughly shortly after we arrived.  The main toddler play area is fenced in and had everything from mini hand-controlled paddleboats to a long tunnel obstacle course to a dome full of balloons blowing all around.  I want to thank the young staff who was managing the area as they were extremely conscientous of everyone waiting their turn and were genuinely friendly to the kids.  I believe the area was sponsored by .

For the adults, there is no shortage of food and cold beer to sample.  The centerpiece is the Taste of Naperville, which plays upon the theme of the larger Taste of Chicago.  At each of the vendor booths, you could shell out a couple of bucks for taste samples ranging from skewered shrimp to mini filet sandwiches.  Vendors at this years Naper Days include:  Catch 35, Hugos Frog Bar, Riva, Sullivans, Braconis, City Club, Belgios Catering, Chef by Request, Angeli’s Catering, Famous Daves BBQ, India Harvest, Timpano, Cold Stone Creamery and Arbor Vitae Java and Juice.

 I want to take a moment to deliver a special note about Arbor Vitae Java and Juice  As you may or may not know, Arbor Vitae was a cherished independent coffee and juice shop which until recently was located in downtown Naperville on Jackson Avenue next to Egg Harbor Cafe.  They closed their downtown doors and have since moved out the NIU’s Naperville Campus on Diehl Road.  Additionally, they sell their coffee at Casey’s Supermarket in Gartner Plaza South of downtown off of Washington Street.  Like many, I was heartbroken to see Arbor Vitae leave downtown given the fact the place had independent character and spirit and the fact there are already three Starbucks outlets in downtown (including Barnes & Nobles).  I have nothing against Starbucks and occaisionally drop by for an iced coffee; however, there is something wrong when downtown has three Starbucks forcing an independent coffee house out of business.  I encourage everyone to show support to Arbor Vitae and check them out either at their Diehl Road location or pick up their coffee at Casey’s.  Maybe one day they will reappear in downtown.

Also at Naper Days is a children’s craft and performance area sponsored by the DuPage Childrens Museuem .  I caught up with a couple of neighbors from our street participating in the Corn Bag Toss tournament.  As of this writing, Todd and Ken had made it to the second round.   

Aside from the many temporary attractions, your $5 admission also gives you access to the grounds and buildings of Naper Settlement which is worth the price of admisssion in itself.  In addition to the outdoor buildings, if you’ve never been to the indoor museum in the lower level of the Pre-Emption house I strongly encourage you to do so as it features relics and art which tell the story of Naperville’s history.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Naper Day’s major sponsors are the Naperville Sun, the Carriage Club of Naperville, First National Bank of Naperville, Comcast and the City of Naperville which underwrites part of the festival with a grant from the Special Event and Cultural Amenities Fund.  Beyond the major sponsors, there are also a myriad of business and indivdual sponsors which can be viewed at .  I encourage you to support all of those who support all that makes Naperville and it’s many festivals great.

 As for the Naper Day’s Executive Committee and volunteers, the World of Naperville would like to extend a special thanks and acknowledgement:

Howie Crouse, Event Chair

Ray Kinney, Advisor

Alex Harris, Advisor

John Buckley, Naper Settlement / Sponsorship

Michelle Harrison, Naper Settlement

Lori Montgomery, Administration / Sponsorship

Kimberly Kaindl, Marketing/PR

Committee: Collin Pradel, Ann Marie Stuopys, Lynette Klingbell, Kevin Dolan, Ilyssa DeMare, Marie Reneman, Curt Vance

Jim Jacobson,, Beverages / Logistics

Committee: David Byrne, Greg Moran

Jim Healy, Insurance / Legal

Committee: Eric Wilen

Melissa Risden, Entertainment / External Events

Committee: Marie deGroh, Kevin Dolan, Kevin Gensler, Dave Kelsch, Roxanne Lang , Katie Risden

Jason Altenbern, Manpower

Mark Rice, Taste of Naperville

Committee: Jim Healy, Roy Schoeneck

Mary Ann Junkroski, Family and Children’s Activities

Committee: Peg Yonker, Gail Kobe, Jacque Clermont, David Kelly, Gene Drendel, Dawn Kelsch, Chris Cash, Jeff Penick, Joe Sweeny, Stephanie Penick, Judy Teichen

Naper Days Kids: David Healy, Eric Healy, Kally Harris, Emily Kinney, Sara Kinney, J.R. Kinney, Austin Kelsch, Jackson Kelsch, Jack Lang, James Lang, Brendan Montgomery, Alexa Montgomery, Sam Scott, Chloe Scott, Colin Pradel, Mitch Gauen, Ben Gauen, Jack Kennedy, Joe Kennedy, Nicholas Pradel, Zachary Pradel

If you happen to read this before the end of the weekend, Naper Days runs through tomorrow (June 17) at the Naper Settlement on Aurora Avenue in downtown Naperville.  To learn more, visit

Downtown Naperville Photographs by Stuart Meyer

Photography is one of my many artistic passions.  Downtown Naperville has served as a wonderful subject over the past couple of years.  No matter how many times I head out with my camera, there is always something new that I find in experiencing downtown through my viewfinder.  There’s no better way to appreciate the form, symmetry, textures and overall architecture of a community than to view it from the many angles and perspectives of the photographic eye.  Below are a few of my favorite pictures from my personal photo collection.  You will quickly notice that I love to utilize black-and-white prints of many of my Naperville pictures as it elicits vintage charm of our community.    


This arching rail can be found just west of Eagle Street overlooking the paddleboat quarry.


A set of three benches beneath a shelter located near the corner of Eagle Street and Aurora Avenue, which reminds me a bit of Paris.


The Carillon on Rotary Hill reflecting upon the tranquil waters of the paddleboat quarry.


The flowing curves of the Riverwalk in late Fall.


The two signature arch windows of the old city hall which now houses La Sorella di Francesca.  This is one of my favorite architectural features of downtown which has endured since the turn of the last century.


A pavillon just off of the Riverwalk with its peaceful benches overlooking the Eagle Street bridge. 


The giant trunk of an old tree meeting the stone wall of the Riverwalk joining the past and present along the DuPage River where Joe Naper and Naperville’s earliest settlers established roots of their own.


The curving symmetry of the outdoor ampitheatre which resides in the dip of the Riverwalk between Main Street and Eagle Street.


Vintage Naperville architecture still thriving thanks to its modern occupants.  I personally love how these interconnected buildings have their own unique break lines with color and textures which create unique character for each space.


The Riverwalks true residents basking in the calm glassy waters of the DuPage River. 

Please note that all images above are copyrighted materials with all rights reserved by Stuart Meyer.  Unauthorized reproduction or use of the images is prohibited.  If you are interested in using any of these images or obtaining prints, please contact me at  

Testimonials for the Profound Impact of the Arts

In my mind, there is no better way to continue our examination of the Impact and Potential of the Arts in Naperville than to benefit from the experience of artists and historical figures as well as modern community and business leaders from all over the country as spoken in their own words.  I’ve collected the quotes below over the past couple of years from a number of sources, including the recent Arts & Economic Prosperity III study released by Americans for the Arts:

“The arts deepen our understanding of the human spirit, extend our capacity to comprehend the lives of others and allow us to imagine a more just and humane world.”     

Jonathan Fanton – President, MacArthur Foundation

“In my own philanthropy and business endeavors, I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities…the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery and achievement in our country.”

Paul G. Allen – Co-Founder, Microsoft

“All children are artists.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Pablo Picaso

“Having an abundance of unique arts and events means more revenue for local businesses and makes our communities more attractive to young, talented professionals – whose decisions on where to start a career or business are increasingly driven by quality of life and availability of cultural amenities.”

Bart Peterson – President, National League of Cities

Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind.”

Magdalena Abakanowicz

By creating cultural hubs, nonprofit art business helps cities define themselves, draw tourists and attract investment.”

Louise M. Slaughter – U.S. House of Representatives (NY), Co-Chair, Congressional Arts Caucus

“Art does not solve problems but makes us aware of their existence.  It opens our eyes to see and our brain to imagine.”

Magdalena Abakanowicz

“As Chairman of the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce, I visited almost every city and town in the state.  There is a visible difference in places with an active cultural community.  I see people looking for places to park, stores staying open late, and restaurants packed with customers.  The business day is extended and the cash registers are ringing.”

Ken Fergeson – Chairman & CEO, NBanC; Past President, American Bankers Association

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.  My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children the right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”

John Adams

A Benchmark for the Economic Impact of the Arts in Naperville

Today, I’m pleased to launch a new comprehensive community arts series, entitled The Impact and Potential of the Arts in Naperville .  This series will be based upon research, case studies and analysis as well as my own thoughts and vision regarding the bright future for the arts in Naperville.  As a nonprofit executive and an artist, I’ve experienced both the business world and arts world through a single lens and see tremendous potential.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, Naperville enjoys a strong devotion to the arts through a number of arts organizations, events, institutions and activists.  Given this foundation, Naperville is poised to open the next great chapter in the future of community arts. 

Based on my own lifelong passion for and experience in the music and film arts as well as the creative process, I’ve spent the last couple of years gathering and analyizing community arts models and a great deal of documentation pertaining to the impact as well as challenges of strengthening community arts programs.  My strongest desire is to help make a difference in people’s lives by advancing the role of the arts in society in making the arts and opporutnities for creative self-expression accessible to all.

I believe deeply in the power and potential of the arts in improving lives on a personal, community and economic level.  Thanks to our nation’s arts advocates and community leaders, we can now also quantify the tangible value of the arts.  Below is a quick summary of the most recent body of data pertaining to the economic impact of the arts.       

Americans for the Arts (, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America, recently released the most comprehensive study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever performed.  While the summary of the study, entitled Arts and Economic Prosperity III, was released over the past couple of months, the raw data tables were formally released just yesterday in Chicago.  

To help shed some light on the potential economic impact for Naperville, I crunched the numbers pertaining specifically to study participant cities which fall in Naperville’s population range (128,000 – 139,000).  These participants include:  Alexandria, VA, Fort Collins, CO, Humboldt County, CA, Savannah, GA, Marathon County, WI, Fullerton, CA and Island of Maui, HI.

It is important to note that Arts and Economic Prosperity III focuses solely on nonprofit arts and culture organizations as well as their audiences. 

These data findings will enable Naperville’s government, business and arts leaders to benchmark and envision an even greater future for role and impact of the arts in Naperville.

Summary of Nonprofit and Arts and Culture Organizations in Cities with a Comparable Population to Naperville (combined average of population group)

Please note, Arts and Economic Prosperity III focuses on data from 2005.

Overall Direct Local Economic Impact:  $27,337,709 

Overall Local Event Related Spending:  $19,098,585

Local Event Related Spending per Non-Resident (excludes admission):  $44.89

Local Event Related Spending per Resident (excludes admission):  $21.25

Attendance by Gender:   Female – 63.4%     Male – 36.6%

Attendance by Education Level (2-4 years of college):  56.2%

Attendance by Education Level (Masters or Doctoral):  27.4%

Attendance by Education Level (High School or Less):  16.4%

Arts Volunteerism (Total Volunteers): 2,338

Arts Volunteerism (Total Hours):  148,667

Arts Volunteerism (Value of Time):  $3,624,702

Arts Volunteerism (Hours per Volunteer):  59.5

If you would like to access all current resources related to Arts and Economic Prosperity III, you can visit:

In the coming weeks, I will be adding many other pieces to this series which will serve as a strong basis for community leaders as we all work together to plan the future of the arts in Naperville.