Park Ridge, Art Colony
Starting about a hundred years ago Park Ridge became an intellectual and artistic haven for some of the most influential talents in America. In 1897 Frederick Richardson, an instructor at the Art Institute school and a renowned illustrator, moved to 300 W. Grant Place and wed Josephine Welles, daughter of former Park Ridge mayor George S. Welles.
Soon others with artistic interests began to move here Including a recent graduate design student, Clara Pauline Barck from Oregon. Unable to find a regular job because she was a woman, Clara was operating a small studio in Chicago. She married the widowed Mayor Welles and established the Kalo Arts Crafts Community at 322 Grant Place. Clara Barck Welles hired highly skilled American women as designers and well trained immigrant men, mostly from Scandinavia, as silversmiths. Among apprentice silversmiths who worked and lived in Park Ridge was the future world-famous painter, Grant Wood ("American Gothic"). By 1916, the Kalo shop employed two dozen people in Park Ridge. (Later it moved back to Chicago and was the first shop of its kind on Michigan Avenue.) The hand wrought pieces made by Kalo artists are the preeminent silver of the American Arts & Crafts movement. For more Kalo silver information and photos of Kalo silver artworks, visit www.chicagosilver.com/kalo.htm .
One of the most innovative sculptors and designers of the 20th century, Alfonso Iannelli came from California in 1914 to help Frank Lloyd Wright with "Midway Gardens." Iannelli’s "Sprite" statues brought him fame, and he and his talented wife Margaret moved to Park Ridge where he presided over a Renaissance-type atelier (studio) at 255 N. Northwest Highway for 45 years. Following decades as a studio for other artists and as a retail store, the historic Iannelli property was saved from demolition by an emergency campaign in 2011 by the Kalo Foundation. As the Iannelli Studios Heritage Center, it celebrates all aspects of our cultural heritage.
Many other artists and designers have made their home and their contributions to culture in Park Ridge. For more about the Kalo Foundation, visit www.kalofoundation.org .