Peer into the windows of their studio on Rockford’s Central Avenue late one night, and chances are you’ll find Jeremy Klonicki and Carmen Turner of MainfraiM Habitat for Art captivated by their work, performing some inspired alchemy. In the hands of these artists, salvaged and cultured materials, mechanical relics and found objects are transformed into inspired lighting, sculpture and custom frames.
A certainly perfect homage to Rockford’s heritage and manufacturing narrative, Jeremy and Carmen’s work captures “history and industry joined with earth and light”, and the result is truly captivating. With an obviously deep respect for materials “aged to perfection by time and weather” and a strong nod to the past, MainfraiM’s works seem the perfect amalgam of history, time and place. The two artisans also exhibit that perfect fine balance of exquisite craftsmanship and restraint; hand-hewn reclaimed barn wood retains its patina and character, while handcrafted picture frames may demand finer virtuosity and finishes.
With a “passion for things forgotten”, Jeremy founded MainfraiM, embracing art and making it a career. He believes that the often humble materials—hand-dug apothecary jars, castoff isolators, mechanical relics and hand-hewn barn wood—have a story of their own. Carmen joined Jeremy in 2011 as a design maven and revels in “digging up society’s cast-offs and making her finds meaningful and purposeful again.” With an entrepreneurial spirit seemingly sprung from the refuse, these young artisans have created and nurtured a business while salvaging and repurposing others’ trash.
Perhaps the most quixotic of their creations, their witty sculptures combine material inspiration and artistic ingenuity to invoke both curiosity and intrigue. Jeremy and Carmen both know that their “work transforms archaic technology and life into modern imagination.”
You can see MainfraiM’s work currently exhibiting at Octane.
“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” – A. Rose
Jimmy Goodman lives up to his surname. Three days a week, he volunteers in running and coaching youth in the sport of boxing. When you walk into the space, you immediately see the ring before you, but you may not get to step in it for months. Jimmy teaches discipline and harnesses the passion to get in the ring to spar, with the fierceness of disciplined practice. Practice. On a practice night, you can’t see into the space through the tall glass storefront windows, because it’s fogged up from the 20+ kids running, doing pushups and sit-ups. It’s enough to make a person who feels they are in good shape, break out in sweat just watching. It continues on with this strictly regimented activity for 45 minutes to an hour.
Now, Jimmy works with kids from all walks of life in the city. Some who can afford, but most who can’t. He charges meager monthly dues and has some support from Patriot’s Gateway, but he does not get paid. He makes no money off the gear he sells, he turns around and sells what he purchases at cost to these kids.
Jimmy’s boxers are well regarded whenever they travel to out-of-city and even out-of-state matches. They are a fierce crew of champions, everywhere from State to National. Most recently, one of his female boxers won the prestigious Golden Gloves in Chicago in her age group.
Andy Hazzard had been a staple of downtown Rockford before she decided to acknowledge her true calling of farming. She was a waitress at Octane, she worked on jewelry at several art fairs, but when it came down to it, she had far too strong of a connection with nature. But her work in the restaurant business gave her the knowledge of the industry and the rapport with those who work in them. Her passion is infectious, as her passion made Paul Sletten of Abreo (Brio at the time) realize there was support here for a “Farm to Table” restaurant, that brought about Social.
Andy has been an inspiration for many, as her resilience should inspire us all. Though, with the help of her family, support of her friends, she has continued to grow the farm and be a loud voice in the chorus of those promoting “good food” — locally grown, organic vegetables, meat and grain.
1955. Vincent Chiarelli of Sicily arrived in Rockford, IL with a song in his heart and a needle in his pocket. He opened a small tailor shop and spun out a music publishing company with his own record label from its success. His shop was located at the head of Broadway Street coming downtown, and those who came to see Vince thought he owned the town.
Passion for music is the lifeblood of the Chiarelli family, and most of this information was passed along not by the sons of Vince the Tailor, but by his grandson of the same name, Little Vincent Chiarelli. Vince the Singer started up Rockford College Radio, which laid dormant for 20 years. He has taken the torch of passion for music and has helped others get their voices heard.
By standards of the music industry, Vince Chiarelli never achieved the “success” of worldwide fame or became a household name like many dream of. What he has accomplished is something that the vast majority of them didn’t. While most of these celebrities’ flame goes out, Vince the Singing Tailor lit many torches.
When the last interview question, “Is there anything else you want to say?”, arose…Vince, now over 80 years of age, said – “I’m thankful for you doing this…I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be here.” To our eyes, he is an important figure in Rockford history and we are grateful to have come upon this first flicker of light that has illuminated the way of Our City, Our Story.