Arts DuPage Month Perk: A special closing reception will be held on Tuesday, October 8 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm in celebration of Arts DuPage Month. Food and beverages will be served. Docents will be on hand to give insights into the art and life of Sheldon Peck.
The work of noted folk art portrait painter Sheldon Peck, including over a dozen original paintings from 1825-1848, will be displayed together in the Peck Homestead built in 1839. This first time ever presentation of these paintings, on loan from various private collectors and museums from across the country, will comprise a number of never-before-seen paintings.
Sheldon Peck is now receiving appreciable recognition as a major figure in 19th century art circles for his talent and innovative painting style. Peck was self-taught and was painting since his early 20’s, his abilities improving over time to better reflect more character in the face and hands and provide more props and background detail. Sarah Richardt, Executive Director of the Lombard Historical Society, believes that “He was good from the very beginning. It’s hard to miss the expertise Peck was showing. It was not learned. It was innate talent.” Peck expert and former curator at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia, Richard Miller, writes that Peck “represents the new model of a highly skilled self-taught painter who helped democratize art by making it available to more Americans than ever before.” And, Bob Jacobsen, art collector and inspiration for the exhibit, maintains that “He’s what I call a folk art innovator. He represents what we need more of in America.”
Sheldon Peck is acknowledged not only as a radical abolitionist but also as a very fine folk-art portraitist. The exhibit, Sheldon Peck: Footsteps of His Life, Noted – Folk Artist, 1797 – 1869, brings together several of his original portraits in his Illinois home for the first time. He traveled to other people’s homes to paint their portraits; they did not come to his house. His paintings were never here in Lombard when he was alive, nor have these paintings been exhibited together anywhere else before. The last time his paintings were exhibited was in 1976 at the Whitney Museum in New York. This extraordinary exhibit offers a rare experience for the folk-art community as well as those interested in American history to see several Sheldon Peck portraits in one place.
Many of us who live locally sit waiting for the traffic light to change at the corner of Grace Street and St. Charles Road daily and have no idea why the Sheldon Peck Homestead is such a special place: it is the oldest house in Lombard, and the first school house, but most importantly, it was home to itinerant folk painter Sheldon Peck. A verified stop on the Underground Railroad, it is a documented National Park Service Network to Freedom site. Hundreds of school children visit every year to learn about Sheldon Peck and how he helped Freedom Seekers find their way from slavery to freedom.
Donor Museums who have generously agreed to loan their Sheldon Peck portraits include the Aurora Historical Society, the Elgin History Museum, Stacy’s Tavern Museum – Glen Ellyn Historical Society, the St. Charles History Museum and the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
Sponsors of the exhibit include House of Glass, Elmhurst, Illinois; Prairie Glen Productions, Lombard, Illinois; Village of Lombard, Illinois; Lombard Park District; Lombard Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry; ITC Inspiring Technologies Corp., Palos Heights, Illinois; Bob & Caroline Jacobsen; Tim Frakes Productions, Lombard, Illinois; DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau, Hansen Co. Advertising, Oley, Pennsylvania; United Parcel Service, Hodgkins, Illinois; Chicago Suburban Antiques Dealers Association.
The Lombard Historical Society celebrates Lombard’s heritage by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of Lombard and operates the Victorian Cottage Museum, the Carriage House and the Society’s Archives at 23 W. Maple Street, and the Sheldon Peck Homestead, a National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Site, at 355 E. Parkside Avenue in Lombard. Both the Victorian Cottage and Peck Homestead host activities and groups and are open for tours several days a week. For more information about membership, volunteer and donor opportunities, visit lombardhistory.org or phone 630.629.1885.
Admission is free. Suggested donation is:
$8 per person
$5 for LHS members and lending institution members
Children, students and active duty military with a valid ID are free
Group tours by appointment.