Blog

  • February 12, 2018 4:00 PM | Guest Blogger (Administrator)

    Sunday Music Series will welcome The Dixie Dads, with guest artist Bob Havens, to February’s concert on Sunday, Feb. 18. The band will play many of the traditional jazz tunes that are commonly heard in New Orleans, especially during this month’s Mardi-Gras celebration!

    The Dixie Dads are an eight-piece Dixieland-style jazz band composed of local musicians and organized by bandleader John Schneider. The band has been in existence for two years, and has performed at a number of festivals and other events in Quincy and Hannibal. 

    Bob Havens is the band’s music coach, and has been guiding the musicians in their interpretation of New Orleans-style music. Havens had an illustrious career as jazz musician with Al Hirt, Pete Fountain and the Lawrence Welk Orchestra before retiring and returning to his native Quincy. He will be featured as a trombone soloist at this event. 

    In addition to Havens and Schneider, the musicians performing will be Jeff Schuecking, Les Fonza, Chardy Bangert, Corey Bowman, Todd Evans and Gary Bratton.

    The concert will begin at 4 pm at the Salem Church (located at 9th and State Streets) in Quincy. Attendees should park in the lot on the north side of the church, and to enter through the handicap ramp on the Northwest corner of the church. The monthly series of concerts are free and open to the public, however, donations will be accepted at the door.

    For more information about the concert or if you would like to perform, contact Phyllis Robertson, Program Coordinator, at 217-228-2866 or visit dixiedads.com.


  • February 08, 2018 4:17 PM | Guest Blogger (Administrator)

    This February we celebrate Black History Month with several events that recognize the achievements and roles of African Americans in our history. Below is an article about a memorial ceremony held this week to honor the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty, not only in Quincy, but in the state of Illinois, William H. Dallas. He was very courageous and broke down many barriers to accomplish things others in his generation we unable to do in the late 19th century. His heroic story has been the highlight of discussion among the community this month. Dallas’ actions have paved the way for future generations to protect those that need it the most.

    By Richard Keppner
    Historical Society of Quincy & Adams County and Civil War Roundtable

    In Memorium
    William Hall Dallas
    1834 - 1876

    One hundred and forty-four years after his death, Detective William Hall Dallas of the Quincy Police Department (QPD) received the honor he so heroically earned. A headstone was placed on his grave site in Woodland Cemetery. An identical marker for his wife was placed beside his grave site.

    Born a slave in 1844, Dallas escaped and eventually found his way to Quincy, Illinois where he was helped by a local businessman, J.K. Van Doorn.  However, fearing slave catchers, fled to Canada.

    When African-Americans were permitted to enlist in the Union army during the Civil War, Dallas signed on with the 55th Massachusetts Infantry. Private Dallas was injured in a battle on Johnson Island, South Carolina in July of 1863. After many months of recuperation, he received a medical discharge and returned to the only real home he had ever known, Quincy.

    He married Virginia (Jennie) Winn in 1868 and joined the QPD in 1874. In May of 1876, he and his partner were on a burglary stakeout in a barn where Washington School now stands, 1400 N. 8th Street. A gun battle ensued with the suspects, and tragically, Detective Dallas was fatally shot. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery, but no marker was ever placed on his grave site.

    Jim Rost, a retired QPD detective, researched the story of William Dallas. In conjunction with the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County (HSQAC), he set out to give this brave Quincy police officer the recognition he deserved.

    On Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, a large group, including numerous members of the Quincy Police Department, gathered at Woodland Cemetery, 1020 S. 5th Street, to dedicate the head stone that now marks his grave site.

    After opening remarks by Beth Young, HSQAC and the Civil War Roundtable, Robert Copley, Quincy Police Chief, welcomed those gathered. Rost gave a brief history of this courageous man. New headstones for both Dallas and his wife were unveiled by Rost and Danyelle Harrison, Harrison Monuments, who graciously donated the material and labor for Dallas’ head stone.   

    After the unveiling, Reverend James Hailey of the African Methodist Evangelical Church led those gathered in a prayer. This was followed by the QPD Honor Guard giving the Last Call, and the American Legion Post #37 in conjunction with the Payson VFW honor guard presenting the traditional rifle salute. The ceremony ended with taps sounded by Beth Young.

    R.I.P. Officer William Hall Dallas, one of Quincy’s finest.



  • February 01, 2018 9:55 AM | Guest Blogger (Administrator)

    By Kelsey Deters
    Imagine being trapped inside for days while a hurricane rages outside, and the floodwaters rise.  While you are safe and dry, you know that beyond your windows there are people who are in danger. These people are fighting to stay alive and save as many of their possessions as possible. Some of those people might even be the children you spend five days a week with discussing history, geography and the world around them. Chad Cleveland faced this reality in August 2017 during Hurricane Harvey. 

    Cleveland, a Quincy native, grew up in the Quincy Public School District and was continuously involved with the Music Department. After graduating high school in 2011 he attended Illinois State University and is now a fifth grade Social Studies teacher in Pasadena, Texas, a suburb of Houston. 

    As Hurricane Harvey swept through the area where he teaches, the Category 4 Hurricane dropped 51 inches of rain on the city and caused disastrous damage. Following the storm, Cleveland took action and quickly got to work helping the students at his school who were in need. 

    During the holiday season, Quincy helped in the effort too. At the school's yearly Vespers presentation, the Quincy High School Music Department took donations and raised an amazing $3,500 to support Clevleand’s efforts to assist his students.

    “He did so much during his tenure at Quincy Senior High to make Vespers come to life for the enjoyment of the Quincy community, that it is now our turn to return the favor,” wrote Kathi Dooley, QHS Music Department.

    In this blog post we are digging deeper to Cleveland's efforts in the storm's aftermath.
    Read to the bottom to learn how you too can help! The following is the Q & A interview.

    What arts related activities were you involved with while you were growing up in Quincy? Growing up in Quincy gave me so many opportunities to become involved in the arts. I started choir in the fourth grade at Baldwin and continued through senior year at Quincy High School. During high school I was involved in the show choir, participated in four musicals and was co-choir president.

    Why did you decide to become a teacher? I decided to become teacher because of the opportunity to influence the future. The youth of the world are literally our future and I want our future to be brighter tomorrow because of the work done today. I also became a teacher because of the summer vacation opportunity. I use this opportunity to travel to different parts of the world to learn about culture and bring back these real life experiences for my students who do not have the same opportunities yet. For example, this summer I lived in Thailand for two months teaching English and learning about a culture completely different from my own.

    How do you think your background in the arts influences your life and work today? Being involved with the music department and the arts taught me a great deal of discipline. The arts taught me how important preparedness, collaboration, and time management is. Being involved in shows and performance groups taught me how to always be on my toes and ready to change direction if needed, a huge help in the field of teaching. Teaching, in a way, is a performance every single minute of every single class. You have this plan of how the “show” is supposed to go but always have to be prepared for the unexpected.

    Can you tell us about how Hurricane Harvey affected you and your students? Hurricane Harvey had a catastrophic impact on the community. I was fortunate to stay safe and dry during the storm personally, but there was always the fear of waking up and looking outside the next day to see water coming into the first floor of the apartment complex I lived in. It was an anxious waiting game for so many days. The worst part was that, while being trapped up in the apartment, on the news there were images of people swimming from their homes or trapped on their roofs. In one case, it was one of my students shown wading through three feet of water to get from their home to the National Guard boats. After the storm, about 90 percent of our students were displaced or unable to return home until the water receded weeks later; most lost everything in the floodwaters. We now still have 90 students that are technically homeless and many more that have had to move to new homes, a stressful situation for any student to have to go through.

    What kind of things have you and your fellow teachers done for your students in the aftermath of the hurricane? We opened our school as a temporary place for our students and their families to have internet access to apply for FEMA, have fresh drinking water, and an air conditioned place to cool down for the week we were closed after the storm. We had many volunteers bringing in all kinds of donations from clothes to baby formula. Our staff went out into the community multiple times to bring them fresh milk, cereal, and hotdogs. For multiple days, we sat at our desks calling nearly 700 families to check on them to see what their needs were and just to know that they were in a safe and dry place. We took down names of the families that needed help and matched those with the donations already received. Teachers personally drove supplies to students’ homes and helped them clean up the mess. We have received so many donations from all around the country to help replace students’ clothes, school supplies, toys, and pay for things like food and gas, all because of the connections that our teachers have. As of today, those 90 homeless students still receive free lunches from our school and a bag of food every Friday to help support the families over the weekend.

    Over Christmas you partnered with the QHS Music Department to raise money for your students. Can you tell us how that came about? I had reached out to Kathi Dooley after the storm to help put something together to help my students. Kathi and I have maintained a positive relationship since graduation and two of my younger brothers are still in high school. At the time, I did not know exactly what our students’ needs were or how far our current donations would reach. Once we evaluated what we needed after the news stories had moved onto other natural disasters, we could see how quickly donations were running out and how many families still needed help. That is when I called the Quincy Music Department again and Sarah Grawe, Kathi Dooley, and I came up with a plan to take a simple donation during the Vespers concert. Vespers was always something I was overly passionate about, so it could not have worked out any better.

    What kind of impact will those donations from the Quincy community have on your students this year? These generous donations are being used in different phases. The first phase was to provide students with gifts for Christmas. In February, we will be allowing students to purchase books through our school’s Book Fair. The next phase will be to provide spring and summer clothing in early March before our students leave for spring break. With any leftover money, we will be providing students with sports equipment, summer pool passes, and other miscellaneous summer items. These donations are going for some essential items that students will need, like clothes, but they are also being used to give students a better sense of normalcy. With children, it’s all about their mental state. When a student receives a toy or item that is theirs, not a hand-me-down from a stranger, it gives them their humanity back.

    Is there anything you would like to say to those who took the time to give to your students? I would like to say thank you. No amount of words can describe how thankful I am to have grown up in the Quincy community. Thank you for helping us give back out students’ humanity. Thank you for showing us that we are not forgotten in a world where every time we turn around there seems to be another natural disaster or cause to donate to. I am humbled to know that so many, so far away, care so much.

    Is there a way people can continue to give to your students? The Quincy Music Department will still be accepting checks and cash for the cause and I hope to partner with them and the Friends of the Performing Arts this March during the Showcase of Excellence.

    To assist in this effort, please contact the QHS Music Department by calling 217-224-3774.
    Click here for details on the 2018 Showcase of Excellence on Saturday, March 10.


  • January 18, 2018 8:38 AM | Guest Blogger (Administrator)

    By Carol Mathieson
    Sunday Music Series January Program Chair

    For over 40 years, soprano Carol Mathieson and pianist Leonora Suppan-Gehrich opened the New Year for the Quincy Sunday Music Series with a concert of songs and chamber music in recital format called Carol Mathieson and Friends.  

    With the passing of Suppan-Gehrich, Mathieson continues to call together local musicians of professional caliber to sing in the new season. Quincy Sunday Music Series’ opening concert for 2018 celebrates the artistry of 13 such Friends who also draw the best from each new generation of young performers and patrons of the art with inspired teaching.  The public is welcome to their program subtitled Spotlight on the Teachers of Music on  Sunday, Jan. 21 at 4 pm in the Quincy Unitarian Church at 16 and Hampshire Streets.  

    Pianist Dylan Marney, who enjoyed collaborating with Suppan-Gehrich in recent January concerts, will accompany Mathieson and  many of this year’s Friends, who include singers Scotty Allison, Lisa Blake, Karen Hetzler, Paul Shelor, Steven Soebbing, and Amy Stollberg as well as violinists John Basinger and Jane Polett, organist Rhonda Basinger, saxophonist Trent Hollinger, and trombonist Thomas Polett.

    Witty songs of cats and beasts, sound sketches of mythic beings, Mozart opera both passionate and clever, love songs from Lieder and Scripture…a rich program performed by teacher-performers representing Culver-Stockton College, John Wood Community College, Quincy University, Trinity United Church of Christ, and private studio instructors.  

    Admission to the concert is free, but the Sunday Music Series welcomes donations to its mission of providing chamber music that features local professional musicians to the community for over 75 years. 

    Click here for more information.


  • January 03, 2018 2:51 PM | Guest Blogger (Administrator)

    Quincy University’s Pursuit in Learning in Society (POLIS) spring semester class schedule has been released. POLIS is an opportunity for lifelong learning for seniors. There are no tests. The atmosphere is casual and welcoming. There is even a coffee and cookie break after the first hour of each course.

    Spring Class Schedule:

        Feb. 13 – “The Presidency and the Constitution” –  Dr. Bill Postiglione

        Feb. 21 – “The Investment Environment” –  Dr. Mitch Ellison

        Feb. 22 and March 1 – “Not Even Past: Race, Religion and History in William Faulkner’s Short Fiction” –  Dr. Michael Keller

        Feb. 28 – “Canton, Culver-Stockton College and the Civil War in Northeast Missouri” – Dr. Scott Giltner

        March 8 – “Les Misérables: Themes, Motifs and Symbols” – Maryam Chaudhry

        March 9 – “Presidential Powers Under the Constitution” –  Jim Palmer

        March 21 – “The High Country: Altitude and Latitude” –  Dr. Alfred F. Pogge

        March 22 – “Rethinking the Center of Paul’s Theology: The Gospel and Faith” – Dr. Matthew Bates

        March 27 – “Important Women in the Life of Stephen A. Douglas” – Dr. David Costigan

        April 5 – “Ulysses S. Grant” –  Beth Young

        April 6 – “The Role of Humans in the Emergence and the Re-Emergence of Disease” – Dr. Kim Hale

        April 11 – “Luther, the Jews, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust” –  Dr. Wendell Mauter

        April 13 – “Ethical Dilemmas at End of Life” –  Jonathan Miles

        April 18 – “Media Literacy: How Your Filter Bubble is Hiding the Truth and Making You Angry” –  Nora Baldner

        April 19 – “The Other Side: The Palestinian Perspective” –  Neveen Ayesh

        April 20 – “Gustav Holst’s The Planets: A Look at a Timeless Piece 100 Years After Its First Performance” –  Dr. Christine Damm

        April 25 – “What is Legal Aid?” – Larry Ruemmler, J.D.

        April 27 – “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time VI: The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts” – Dr. Len Biallas

        May 1 and May 3 – “Selected Poetry and Prose of John Donne” –  Dr. Joseph Messina

        May 11 – POLIS Annual End of the Year Party- FREE- 2:00 p.m. in the North Cafeteria

    The cost of a POLIS membership is $15 per semester, and each two-hour class is $4 to attend. Anyone is welcome to bring friends and attend one class free of charge. Registration is Wednesday, Jan. 24 and Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 from 2:00 pm-4:00 pm at Quincy University’s North Campus, or forms can be submitted by mail. Classes during the semester will be held at North Campus 2-4 p.m., and signs will indicate directions to the individual classes. All Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday classes are in the North Cafeteria which is on lower level one. All Friday classes are in Strieby Room 323-A on the third level.

    To be added to the POLIS mailing list and receive a brochure describing all spring classes

    plus a registration form, please email polis@quincy.edu with a name and address, call 217-228-5594, or visit the POLIS webpage at www.quincy.edu/polis.


  • December 08, 2017 2:25 PM | Guest Blogger (Administrator)

    By Cheryl Loatsch

    Dance has always been the way Sarah Phillips expresses her full spectrum of emotion. Happiness, anger, joy, melancholy and more all find its way into her movement. She uses her movements and the music to tell a compelling and beautiful story.

    Dance has been an integral part of Phillips’ story from her very first tendu.

    “I remember when I was as young as three years old, feeling free to follow not only the beat of the music but my own unique rhythm,” she recalled.

    "Strength and grace go hand-in-hand on the dancer’s stage, " she says. "This pairing also serves us well in our day-to-day endeavors. By accepting the outcome of daily events with grace and strength, one is able to persevere."

    The inner strength Phillips found through dance became her personal anchor and continues to serve her when the life’s challenges appear.

    For Phillips, the structure, focus and determination it takes to conquer the ballet barre has become a spiritual exercise. Barre techniques are some of the most important building blocks of all dance. Phillips sees the barre as a space where all dancers return and refresh their spirits.

    As an instructor and adult dancer, Phillips is now experiencing the joy of instilling the love of dance in her students.

    “There is no greater satisfaction than witnessing a child find the dancer within themselves,” she said. “My parents get the credit for encouraging me to dance. I see the pride they have in my dedication and journey as a dancer. The pride they have felt throughout my dance career is now magnified for me when I watch my students perform.”

    Phillips teaches ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, character and hip-hop to ages three and up at Cheryl Loatsch Dance Studio in Quincy.

    Arts Quincy is excited to share a new column with our readers: Let's Dance! Dance is a way of making us feeling more alive and is an outlet for the body, mind and soul. We look forward to featuring more local dancers in future Arts Quincy magazines. The following is about a local dance instructor and how dance is an integral part of her daily life. If you know someone to be featured in this area please contact us at marketing@artsquincy.org.


  • November 29, 2017 11:35 AM | Marketing (Administrator)

    Usher in the new year with the gift that keeps on giving, Sunday Music! This free concert series happens once a month throughout the school year and there is no better time than now to enjoy one of the areas favorite ongoing music events!

    This January, Carol Mathieson will mark her 42nd Annual New Year's performance with the Sunday Music Series (SMS). The program titled Carol Mathieson and Friends will join additional performers, professional musicians and educators from around the region to entertain you with solos, instrumental duets, trios, vocal ensembles and chamber music on Sunday, Jan. 21 at 4 pm in the Unitarian Church, 16th and Hampshire.

    Mathieson, of Canton, Missouri, is known to the region for her involvement with Muddy River Opera Company, Quincy Civic Music Association and Quincy Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. She is Emeritus Professor of Music at Culver-Stockton College. 

    She and fellow colleague and friend, the late Leonora Suppan-Gehrich, performed the SMS New Year's concert together for many decades and would often entertain local audiences in other performance venues. Gehrich's gift of music is a cherished memory to Mathieson and the arts community.

    As Mathieson recalls, it was quite an undertaking to perform those early concerts at the Unitarian Church in the 1970s. With a rented piano, volunteers and warm hearts, Mathieson and Gehrich made memorable recitals that SMS concert-goers looked forward to every year.

    Mathieson reminisced how those early concerts took place right after New Year’s Day. “Many area musicians probably remember freezing fingers and frosty breath as we rehearsed without much benefit from the ancient and finicky furnace. We hoped against the possibility of blizzards...hopes that were not always fulfilled.”

    Over the years the musical options expanded for SMS performers as the congregation acquired its own pianos and updated their heating system! Today, the church is one of the most beautiful settings in the area for chamber music.

    Mathieson says, "The new year for Sunday Music will begin with professional-caliber musicians performing together in a tradition that stretches back decades. It still enlivens the present, even as it honors the past."


  • November 21, 2017 4:28 PM | Marketing (Administrator)
    What do a musician, painter, educator and history buff all have in common? An appreciation for the finer things! If your friends and family members are passionate for the visual arts, music, humanities, literary and performing arts, they’ll appreciate a unique gift that suits their interests and hobbies this holiday season!


    Here is Arts Quincy’s Top 5 Christmas Fine Arts & Culture Gifts for 2017

    1.    Season Tickets

    Season Ticket holders are some of the many people who make each performance great at Quincy Community Theatre, Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association and Quincy Civic Music Association! What gift recipient wouldn’t love a season pass to one of their favorite performance organizations? Not able to purchase the entire season pass? Individual tickets are available that can be used on date nights or special occasions for a reasonable price tag!

    2.    Classes

    You are never too old to learn something new! How great would it be to sculpt an item from clay? Or become a master-woodworker? Many organizations offer educational classes that fit into even the busiest of schedules! Quincy Art Center, local colleges and studios continually offer special interest courses or seminars for a low-to-no cost! Additional discounts and scholarships may be available for those who qualify.

    3.    Gift Shops

    Want to give a physical, gift wrapped present? Quincy Museum, Quincy Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home & Museum and Quincy Brewery & Arts offer books, ornaments, magnets, apparel and more in their gift shops! Did you know that many of Quincy’s small businesses support individual artists by selling their handmade products like artwork, furniture, clothing and more? Visit Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce’s website for a list of these entrepreneurs!

    4.    Memberships

    Why not support your favorite nonprofit club or alliance by gifting your loved ones a membership to the organization? Becoming a member to organizations offers various benefits and sometimes perks including discounts, entrance to special events or even a free bottle of wine! Quincy Woodworkers Guild, Great River Watercolor Society, Quincy Preserves or the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County all welcome new members and the dues are used to further each organization’s mission as well as provide exclusive opportunities for members. Click here for a full list of Arts Quincy's Partner Organizations.

    5.    Memorial Donations

    Honor a friend or relative by donating to a special cause or organization in their name. Did you know that Arts Quincy works to foster, strengthen and expand the arts throughout Adams County? By donating to Arts Quincy, your tax-deductible gift makes a significant impact for groups, individuals, classrooms and more! Arts Quincy is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity and reports show that 85 cents of every dollar Arts Quincy receives is put right back into the community! Learn how you can contribute by visiting artsquincy.org/supportus.

    By gifting the arts this holiday season, you are giving a truly unique gift that will be enjoyed in 2018 and beyond while supporting a local nonprofit that relies on funds from its community to survive! See a comprehensive listing of Arts Quincy’s nonprofit partner arts organizations and what they have to offer by clicking here. Watch a video that tells you about everything Arts Quincy is, click here.


  • November 13, 2017 8:53 AM | Office (Administrator)

    Quincy Public Library encourages parents to read with their children on Family Reading Night, Thursday, November 16, 2017.



    QPL has a wealth of books to engage readers through a wide selection of material to meet any interest.  In addition to print material, digital resources, including interactive storybooks, eBooks, audiobooks, graphic novels, and magazines for all ages are available to anyone with a valid QPL card.

    “Reading with your children, not just on Family Reading Night, but every night, is a great way to show your kids the importance of reading in their daily lives,” explained QPL Children’s Librarian Bill Waters. 

    Study after study has shown that family engagement in reading has a positive impact on children’s reading skills and on their readiness for school. Children who are read to learn to read and write more easily; understand instructions better; and listen to their teachers more often.

    There are lots of ways to engage your child with books and reading.

    • 1.       Make reading a daily habit, family time to enjoy sharing together
    • 2.       Ask your child to point to pictures in the book.
    • 3.       Ask your child to re-tell the story in their own words
    • 4.       Ask your child to act out characters from the story.

    It’s never too early to start reading with your child.  Babies from birth enjoy the comfort of hearing their parent’s voices and learn to engage with printed material at their own pace.  Place your baby or toddler in your lap to look at the book together.

    For ideas on fun, child-appropriate books, visit the children’s department at Quincy Public Library.


  • November 08, 2017 8:37 AM | Marketing (Administrator)

    All Wars Museum Open House

    Saturday, Nov. 11

    Noon to 4 pm

    It’s Quincy’s best kept secret.

    That’s how All Wars Museum Curator and Marine Corps Veteran, Bob Craig explained it to us as we toured the expansive collection spanning all major conflicts in American history.

    “There are so many places that the military and the arts world intersect,” Craig continued as he pointed toward a display of Revolutionary War-era heraldry and military insignia. “I think it would surprise people who have never visited our museum to see the great art and music made by or inspired by men and women who have served.”

    The All Wars Museum at the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Home at 12th and Locust is not just a collection of military memorabilia, but is a treasure trove of stories about the men and women from the area who have served. The heart of the collection is made up of art created by local vets.

    Dan Waggoner, a Marine Corps Veteran who served during the Vietnam War, was among the artists we met with to learn more about the museum. Waggoner is a quiet and thoughtful man and is clearly passionate about what the museum adds to Quincy.

    “I hope that this community understands that this museum isn’t a monument to war, but it’s really about representing people and their stories,” Waggoner explained. “Everything here is a part of the fabric of freedom.”

    Waggoner has loved art his entire life, but had no idea that he had a real talent for oil painting until recently. In just over 2 years, he has completed over 60 portraits, including a set of 23 Adams County KIA (Killed in Action) veterans of the Vietnam War which are on display at the museum. He’s also begun painting the 23 KIA area soldiers who served in the Korean War. As Waggoner showed us his paintings, he pointed to each one with warmth and familiarity. Several of these men were his friends and classmates, and it’s clear what a personally meaningful project this has become for him.

    “When you get back from war, you wonder what you’re going to do. You bring back baggage. Art gives soldiers healing opportunities. I struggled for years and years to find a positive outlet, but creating this art feels like I’m giving something back,” he explained.

    “When I paint, I try to capture a bit of what each man was like in there. I want people to know a little about who they were. There is nothing that makes me feel better than when a family recognizes the personality of the soldier they lost in one of my paintings.”

    Joe Laratta, an Army Veteran who also served in Vietnam, has a big personality and equally big grin. He specializes in replicas and dioramas at the museum which he completes to exacting detail.

    “I’ll call a paint manufacturer to blend the right colors for a tank or I’ll research the sand color for a model of Normandy Beach,” said Laratta. “If you’re going to do something like this, you have to do it right. It respects the history to be accurate.”

    Laratta also cited the healing power of the arts for himself. “There’s nothing normal about war. Nothing normal about carrying around an M16 and looking for bad guys. This is a way to work through this stuff. Vets are basically a society within a society and sometimes we need this connection to feel normal.”

    Visitors will be surprised by the detail of even the enemy side of Laratta’s dioramas. For instance in one display, he vividly depicts the city-like life inside of the tunnels of the Vietcong.

    “I think students who tour the museum especially benefit from seeing both sides and thinking about what life was like,” Laratta told us. “A soldier is a soldier, and even across enemy lines, there is a certain respect there and things we have in common. That’s why I go to this level of detail on both sides of the conflict.”

    Laratta is one of they many volunteers who donate their time to the museum, which has no paid staff except for Craig. Craig wants museum visitors to know that every piece in the museum and every resident at the Veterans’ Home has a story. Those stories are what drive him to create his art projects, which include two seemingly disparate mediums: painting enormous murals and scratch crafting tiny miniature replicas of armament, soldiers and military vehicles.

    “I do this because sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance,” said Craig. “Every soldier has paid an awesome price to preserve our way of life, and this is my way of making sure we remember.”

    He said that the veteran-created art inspires conversations within the All Wars Museum that are a treasure all their own.

    “Veterans seem to relax here and tell their stories. A POW (Prisoner of War) that had been held in the Philippines was in here telling us about his experience,” said Craig. “It was good for him to tell his story and good for us to hear it. We’ve had German and Japanese ex-soldiers tour the museum and have commented on how thorough and fair the collection is. We often have Veteran’s Home residents sharing important historical moments- like [current resident] Bob Erickson who was the man that played Taps on his bugle at the final flag ceremony at the cease fire as the US was leaving Korea. I’m proud to be able to tell these stories.”

    Visitors can tour the All Wars Museum Tuesday–Saturday, from 9 am to 4 pm, and Sunday from 1 to 4 pm. The museum will also be holding a special Open House during Veteran’s Day weekend on Saturday, November 12 from noon to 4 pm with assistance from Arts Quincy. To make a donation to support the All Wars Museum’s art programs for veterans, send your check with notation that your donation is for the museum to: Illinois Veteran’s Home, 1702 N. 12th Street, Quincy IL 62305.


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