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Aurora gallery holds unique fundraiser for food pantry

Jim Schweizer Aurorshows his paperbag art work which included part woman's bowling ball trophy.

Jim Schweizer of Aurora shows his paperbag art work which included part of a woman's bowling ball trophy.

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Updated: January 12, 2014 6:22AM

Function and art all came together recently in Aurora at If These Walls Could Talk, a newly-opened framing shop and art gallery that offered a special raffle to help raise money for a local food pantry.

Local artists used a new medium, the shopping bag, to create holiday themed sacks and murals that were sold, with proceeds going to the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry’s new warehouse at 1110 Jericho Road, which opened in November.

If These Walls Could Talk co-owners Tim Frederick and Jennifer Rauch developed their “Pack the Pantry” event to give the Aurora arts community an opportunity to use their creativity in a unique way.

“We have challenged the creative people of the Aurora area to take an ordinary paper bag or multiple paper bags of any size and recreate them into an art piece or object,” Rauch said.

The idea for the bag decorating actually came from Naperville resident Eric Dinse, who Rauch said works with her at another job.

“Eric would come to work and I would see him doodle on his lunch bag and it gave me this idea,” she said. “We have received work from nearly 30 artists, and I must say this has more than met my expectations. There are sculptures, flat, and 3D bags, and people have actually thanked me for the challenge of using this medium.”

Dinse said that, for him, using the medium of a paper bag wasn’t that difficult as it brought him back to doodling when he was a child. “People write on just about anything, and when you were a kid, if you had a pencil or a pen, you’d draw on something,” he said. “This is a great cause, and I’m flattered to I have a chance to show my art here. My design was just kind of a ‘being in the moment thing’ where I worked off an initial sketch.”

Dinse’s designs employed an ordinary lunch bag while other artists such as Patti Parish of Aurora used a deconstructed lawn bag. Parish called her work “Stay-cation in Colorland” where she constructed a community made of paper.

“I took apart a lawn bag and made a community with various colors and added paper columns,” she said. “Aurora has really embraced me as an artist, and I wanted to be a part of this as a result of the city welcoming me in. This is not just about selling pieces, it’s about raising money for a good cause, especially during the holidays.”

Maureen Gasek of Aurora said she tore apart a grocery bag to make her design which included “10 layers of paint.” Gasek said using the paper bag medium was tough.

“This sort of forced me to think out of the bag,” Gasek said, laughing. “Basically, I’m an abstract artist who has been doing art for about 30 years. I remember selling my first piece of art work for 25 cents.”

Jim Schweizer of Aurora went three-dimensional in his design and said his bag, which was left in its original form, was adorned with a piece of metal from a women’s bowling trophy he elected to use.

“I had fun doing this, and whatever you want to call this, it’s organic,” Schweizer said. “I guess you could call this ‘repurposed art’ and it’s whatever it wants to be. I remember when I started out and I was carving soap, and the idea was for the soap to tell you what it was. I let the paper bag find its own path.”

Executive director of the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry Marilyn Weisner said she had no idea how much the auction would fetch for the cause but she believes the auction is a start for other events like it.

“We have this initial idea and it has room to grow,” she said. “It’s wonderful that these artists care about funding our cause.”

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