Rockford Art Museum (RAM) opens new feature exhibition Bittersweet Observations on Friday, June 9, with a preview reception for museum members from 5 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a free public opening from 6:30 to 9 p.m. RAM hosts a free book signing with exhibiting artist and author Casey Riordan Millard on Saturday, June 10, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The exhibition remains on view through Oct. 1 at Rockford Art Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford.

Bittersweet Observations explores the grown-up wonder of childlike nostalgia in a dramatic, fairytale setting through paintings, drawings, prints, animation and installations by Cincinnati artist, author and illustrator Casey Riordan Millard, Rockford artist and illustrator Jenny Mathews, Rockford printmaker Sarah Reed-McNamara, and Rockford custom craftsman Jeremy Klonicki.

Millard’s Shark Girl series will catapult viewers into the life of a bizarre half-shark, half-girl’s imaginary world. The artist created the character while confronting her rational and irrational fears during a search for solace from the heartbreak of mortality. Shark Girl and Belly Button is her first children’s book. Full list of related education programs
, including $5 Family Fridays and Storytime Saturdays, at rockfordartmuseum.org.

The feature exhibition is on view at RAM in Funderburg and Kuller Galleries, on the museum’s main level. Concurrent exhibits on view at RAM in Anderson Gallery, on the lower level, include selections from the Rockford Art Museum Collection (through Nov. 12).

Bittersweet Observations is organized by Rockford Art Museum, curated by RAM Curator Carrie Johnson. This exhibition and its related educational programming are sponsored by Women’s Art Board and Niccole Ranz, In Home Medical Group; partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and by the Armer Ahlstrand Charitable Foundation.

RELATED EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING


BOOK SIGNING
WITH CASEY RIORDAN MILLARD
SAT, JUN 10
, 10–11:30 AM, FREE
Join exhibiting artist and author Casey Riordan Millard for a reading and signing of her children’s book Shark Girl and Belly Button. Following the reading, children will have the opportunity to participate in an art activity in the RAM Art Annex.

$5 FAMILY FRIDAYS
JUN 16–SEP 8
, 10 AM–5 PM
ROCKFORD ART MUSEUM, 711 N MAIN ST, ROCKFORD
Admission for the entire family is just $5 to experience kid-friendly feature exhibition Bittersweet Observations. Every Friday, all day, from June 16 through Sept. 8.

STORYTIME SATURDAYS
WITH ROCKFORD PUBLIC LIBRARY
JUN 17–SEP 9
, 10–11:30 AM, $5 suggested donation
ROCKFORD ART MUSEUM, 711 N MAIN ST, ROCKFORD
Join Rockford Public Library children’s librarians for a weekly storytime in the Rockford Art Museum galleries. Parents and kids will experience the exhibition while participating in an engaging story and small craft project. Tailored for ages 2–5, open to all.

POETRY OPEN MIC NIGHT
WITH THE MAS TEQUILA REVIEW

FRI, JUL 14
, 7–9 PM, FREE
ROCKFORD ART MUSEUM, 711 N MAIN ST, ROCKFORD
This after-hours open mic night for all ages is hosted by Richard Vargas of Rockford literary publication The Mas Tequila Review.

COFFEE WITH THE CURATOR SERIES:
JENNY MATHEWS + THOMAS VAULTONBURG
FRI, JUL 28
, 10–11 AM, FREE
ROCKFORD ART MUSEUM, 711 N MAIN ST, ROCKFORD
Join in this lively conversation with RAM Curator Carrie Johnson, exhibiting artist and illustrator Jenny Mathews, and author Thomas Vaultonburg of Zombie Logic Press about the vital connection between visual and literary arts.

POETRY + ILLUSTRATION WORKSHOP
(AGES 7–12)
2 PARTS: SAT, JUL 29 + SAT, AUG 5
, 10–11:30 AM, $20
ROCKFORD ART MUSEUM, 711 N MAIN ST, ROCKFORD
REGISTER BY JUL 26 AT ROCKFORDARTMUSEUM.ORG
This two-part workshop will introduce kids to the worlds of poetry and illustration. They will learn the elements of poetry as they write an original poem in the first session. In the second, led by exhibiting artist Jenny Mathews, they will create an illustration to go with their poem, leaving with a matted artwork! REGISTER ONLINE OR CALL RAM, (815) 968-2787

COFFEE WITH THE CURATOR SERIES:
DAVID POTTER
FRI, AUG 18
, 10–11 AM, FREE
ROCKFORD ART MUSEUM, 711 N MAIN ST, ROCKFORD
Grenn-itch not Green Witch, art and music, Love Lemons and more! Join in this lively conversation with RAM Curator Carrie Johnson and Greenwich Chair David Potter about the 69th annual art fair.

ARTIST PANEL DISCUSSION:
SARAH REED-MCNAMARA + JENNY MATHEWS
THU, AUG 24
, 7–8:30 PM, FREE
ROCKFORD ART MUSEUM, 711 N MAIN ST, ROCKFORD
RAM Curator Carrie Johnson leads an engaging after-hours discussion that gives insight into the process and practice of these two exhibiting artists, both based in Rockford. Come early to explore the exhibition free of charge.

COFFEE WITH THE CURATOR SERIES:
BITTERSWEET OBSERVATIONS
FRI, SEP 8
, 10–11 AM, FREE
ROCKFORD ART MUSEUM, 711 N MAIN ST, ROCKFORD
Get the inside scoop (and grab a cup of joe) during this lively conversation with RAM Curator Carrie Johnson about the current feature exhibition – before it closes Oct. 1!

Founded in 1913, Rockford Art Museum is a non-profit organization that exists to enrich the quality of life in the Rockford region through art collection, exhibition and education. Regular admission: $7 adults, $3 students/seniors, free for children younger than age 12 and RAM members; Free Day every Tuesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (regular rates apply after 5 p.m.). Regular hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., every day. For more information call (815) 968-2787 or go to rockfordartmuseum.org.

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