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Branch Gardens opens bit of paradise on corner lot in downtown Aurora

Posted by on May 12, 2018 in Featured News | Comments Off on Branch Gardens opens bit of paradise on corner lot in downtown Aurora

Branch Gardens opens bit of paradise on corner lot in downtown Aurora

Kori and Brian Kasper took an empty corner at Lake and Benton streets across from the Santori Library and made it a bit of paradise. The Kaspers, both from Wheaton, opened Branch Gardens, 77 S. Lake St., to the public on May 4.     The couple met each other in high school, later became friends, and then got married. Brian studied horticulture and Kori studied fashion design while working in a beauty salon.   Kori said Brian is the brains of Branch Gardens. He also has experience working in other landscaping companies and working on Kasper’s Trees. Kori helped him on the weekends, and she started to get into landscaping when she was 25. She was the one that had given Brian the idea to start and open Branch Gardens after a few comments coming from people who wanted to know if they did gardening. Now at 28, Kori is the one that stays at Branch Gardens, while Brian works at another job. Brian still helps out with anything that Kori needs a hand on, and he is the “tree expert.” She said, he is “(my) go-to in case I need anything.”   This spring, Branch Gardens has perennials, annuals, succulents, cacti, house plants, a new air plant that doesn’t need soil, and more. While Branch Gardens is mainly focused on plants and trees, Kori is selling decor frames for Mother’s Day, and the quaint indoor store has a nice selection of pots, outdoor art, soaps, and miscellaneous garden accessories.   Kori said her inspiration comes from Northwind Perennial Farm that is owned by Roy Diblik and is located in Burlington, Wisconsin. It made her fall in love with landscaping, and giving it a little touch of design to it.   The couple is excited to share Branch Gardens with the public, and are ready for more customers. “I love talking to everybody. Come on down,” Kori said.   Branch Gardens is open Wednesday through Sunday. Check their Facebook page for hours. Follow them on Instagram. Story by Aimee Zarco. Zarco is an intern for Aurora Downtown for summer 2018. She is a student at Aurora University. Photo by Marissa Amoni. Courtesy of Aurora...

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Original curator gets a room of his own at fire museum

Posted by on May 10, 2018 in Featured News | Comments Off on Original curator gets a room of his own at fire museum

Original curator gets a room of his own at fire museum

History eventually burns out, and it is up to people like Captain Charlie Goodwin to keep it alive. On May 9, Aurora Regional Fire Museum held an event for Goodwin, a former firefighter. Goodwin flew all the way from Denver to Aurora, where he was honored in front of 70 people, as one of the curators of the museum. Not only was Goodwin, 95, honored, but also his wife, Georgia. Georgia took a chance and recorded all of the unique stories that the firemen had lived through. Many of these were recorded since mid 1800s according to an employee of the museum. Goodwin served as the curator of the museum from 1966 to 1982. 2018 marks the 50th year that the Aurora Regional Fire Museum has been open to the public. The museum first opened to the public in October 1968 under the direction of Aurora Fire Department Chief Erwin J. Bauman. The museum was originally located in the basement of Station No. 4 on the city’s east side with the original exhibits researched and curated by the Goodwins. A distant relative of the Goodwins said, “I don’t think she knew how important it was to record all of these stories.” Together they made it possible for the Aurora Regional Fire Museum to be opened to the public on October 1968. The museum honored the couple by officially naming one of the rooms after Charlie and Georgia Goodwin. In this room, many can experience the life of these firefighters, where they are able to “humanize the firefighters,” who are often seen as superheroes.   Aurora Regional Fire Museum is located at 53 N. Broadway. Hours are Thursday and Friday from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit them on Facebook here. Story and photos by Aimee Zarco. Zarco is an intern for Aurora Downtown for summer 2018. She is a student at Aurora...

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May 4 Food Truck Festival Event Info

Posted by on Apr 29, 2018 in Featured News | Comments Off on May 4 Food Truck Festival Event Info

May 4 Food Truck Festival Event Info

Planning on joining us on May 4 for Aurora Downtown’s annual Food Truck Festival on Benton Street? We hope so! Here is the info you might want to know ahead of time, and please visit our Facebook invite for lots more details. Free to enter! Pick up a map at a welcome station at each entry point: Benton/River Street, Benton/Broadway & Downer/Stolp “May the 4th” Food Truck Festival Vendors* West Bridge: Cheesies Grumpy Gaucho Empanadas My Funnel CheSa’s Gluten Free Food Truck Kona Ice Crust Culture Piko Street Kitchen Wurst Kitchen Gobble Doggs Izakaya Yume Sushi Pierogi Wagon Joe’s Street Kitchen Foxy’s Ice Cream East Bridge: Mother Wilma’s Marshmallow Factory Da Pizza Dude Modest Coffee Yum Dum Pizzeria Al Forno Fresh Off the Grill A-Town Hot Dogs Auntie Vee’s Andre’s Restaurant Lucy’s Food Truck Famous Dave’s Cajun Connoisseur Taco Grill Gandhi the Juice Guru Roaming Hog Happy Lobster American Glory Food Truck *Please note that the list of food trucks and the placement is subject to change. If you have questions, please look for volunteers in gray and yellow “Rebel Staff” t-shirts. Don’t miss out on all of the fun activities during First Fridays, too! First Fridays in Downtown Aurora May 4 On Benton Street, we invite families to visit the kids area near the Swimming Stones with SciTech Hands On Museum and Paramount School of the Arts. Enjoy live music from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Millennium Plaza gazebo on Stolp Avenue Millennium Plaza Stage Schedule: 6 p.m. Sweet-T”” 8 p.m. Nashon HollowayFirst Fridays also brings art, music, & more to more than 20 venues throughout downtown Aurora from 5 p.m. to midnight.Two trolleys running from parking lots to the festival.Trolley stops (6-10 p.m.): 1) GAR Museum, 23 E. Downer Pl. Serving street parking in the downtown core/Stolp Island Parking Deck/Lot Q 2) Fire Museum, 53 N. Broadway (rear lot) Serving LaSalle Street/Fire Museum Lot/ATC Lot 3) Restaurant Row on New York St. @ River St. Serving Lots W, Y & X (behind Hollywood Casino) 4) The Web, 134 W. Downer Pl. Serving street parking west of the core/Old Second Lots 5) Santori Public Library, 101 S. River St. Serving Library Lot There will be two trolleys available. Trolley rides are compliments of Aurora Downtown and stop approx. every 15 minutes at stops. 6 to 10 p.m. PARKING INFO: See parking map here. There are several free city lots. Each trolley stop is located near a city lot. There are also 3 parking garages (free for the first hour/up to $5/day). Street parking is available for 90 minutes on up. Best bet parking: Santori Library lot at Benton & Rt. 31; Lot W (behind Hollywood Casino). There is also free parking courtesy of Smith Towers at the SE corner of Galena/Broadway behind the bank building. PET INFO: Dogs are allowed outside at First Fridays, but they must be leashed at all times. Dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs and must clean up after their dogs. Please note the crowd and noise may be uncomfortable to some dogs. We ask that dog owners use their best judgement for the comfort and safety of everyone. If there is an incident, police will be called. ALCOHOL: There is no alcohol served at the Food Truck Festival. Please visit a nearby estabishment to...

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Live music, food trucks, perhaps a wookiee at First Fridays on May 4

Posted by on Apr 27, 2018 in Featured News | Comments Off on Live music, food trucks, perhaps a wookiee at First Fridays on May 4

Live music, food trucks, perhaps a wookiee at First Fridays on May 4

The force will be strong in downtown Aurora on May 4. Live music, food trucks, and art openings are all part of the First Fridays lineup that welcomes Star Wars fans to celebrate. Although nothing official is planned, the night gives a nod to “May the 4th be with you,” the movie’s annual day of fandom. So don’t be surprised if you see a wookiee or two at the Food Truck Festival from 5 to 10 p.m. on Benton Street. Food Truck Festival activities begin at 5 p.m. with close to 30 food vendors parking along the Benton Street bridges. Live music is featured at Millennium Plaza on Stolp Avenue with Sweet-T at 6 p.m. and Nashon Holloway at 8 p.m. The night also includes almost 20 venues open with art, music, and more for First Fridays. Visit pop up shops at All Spoked Up and Wyckwood House, and ride two free trolleys from 6 to 10 p.m. Gallery 1904, 1 E. Benton St., hosts Congressman Bill Foster’s Congressional Art Show featuring student artwork and awards. 5 to 9 p.m. The ArtBar, 205 N. Broadway, hosts “Live Long and Prosper” in the tavern at Two Brothers Roundhouse. 7 p.m. to midnight Aurora Public Art continues “Rhonda Wheatley: At Your Soul’s Discretion” on the third floor at the David L. Pierce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Pl. Waubonsee Community College Aurora Downtown campus library, 18 S. River St., is open with a ceramics show and sale plus a pottery throwing demonstration and Waubonsee’s Jazz Combo. The campus cafe will be open and artist Michael Wille will be present at his show “Micro-Aesthetics.” 6 to 8:30 p.m. Branch Gardens, 77 S. Lake St., opens its garden center at the northwest corner of Benton and Lake Streets for a pre-grand-opening party. 5 to 10 p.m. Endiro Coffee, 29 W. New York St., celebrates their one year anniversary with art and live music. 6 to 9 p.m. AKA Dance, 14 W. Downer Pl. Ste. 10, hosts a free dance class. 6:30 to 7 p.m. Gremlen Recording Studios, 130 W. Downer Pl., offers studio tours and karaoke from 6 to 9 p.m. Aurora Historical Society, 20 E. Downer Pl., hosts “Ethnicity and Diversity in Aurora, 1834-Present,” an exhibit featuring the contributions of immigrant groups to Aurora culture, on the first floor and “Aurora Story” on the second floor. 5 to 9 p.m. Santori Public Library, 101 S. River St., celebrates Aurora matriarch Marie Wilkinson’s birthday. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. If These Walls Could Talk, 32 S. Stolp Ave., opens “Into the Deep: Natalie Siebel.” 7 to 10 p.m. The Web, 134 W. Downer Pl., hosts “Paper, Scissors and Glue,” featuring artists Erin Jones Joseph, Jason DeLancey, and Bryan Danial Joseph. 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Gillerson’s Grubbery, 33 W. New York St., welcomes Surly Brewing Company to “Pint Night.” Starts at 6 p.m. SciTech, 18 W. Benton St., hosts “Play, Learn, Connect” with SPARK Aurora Early Childhood Collaboration. 6 to 8 p.m. Zen Loft Wellness Center, 6 W. Downer Pl., is open with $5 mini classes, demos, massage, and welcomes special guest Jennifer Minott with Young Living Wellness. 6 to 9 p.m. Christian Science Reading Room, 34 S. Stolp Ave., is open with prizes, gifts, and free kids crafts. 6 to 9...

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Free concert series starts in downtown Aurora on May 4

Posted by on Apr 27, 2018 in Featured News | Comments Off on Free concert series starts in downtown Aurora on May 4

Free concert series starts in downtown Aurora on May 4

Aurora Downtown’s free concert season kicks off at the Food Truck Festival on Friday, May 4. Patrons are encouraged to grab a bite to eat on Benton Street where about 30 food vendors will be lined up, and then head north on Stolp Avenue to the Millennium Plaza gazebo along the Fox River and adjacent to Leland Tower. Aurora Downtown, an organization of downtown business and property owners, hosts summer concerts from May through September at the plaza gazebo. Performing on Friday at Millennium Plaza are Sweet-T at 6 p.m. and Nashon Holloway at 8 p.m.   Sweet-T is a culmination of decades of experience and musical styles put together in a one of a kind trio package. Sweet-T is made up of the dynamic husband and wife duo Bill and Melanie Thompson known as The Thompson Duo along with drummer/percussionist extraordinaire Ken Schultz.   With appearances at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and on the Oprah Winfrey Show, it’s a thrill to have Nashon Holloway perform in downtown Aurora, said event coordinator Marissa Amoni.   Based out of Chicago, Holloway is well-versed in jazz, soul, and funk music, and she brings a little bit of everything to the plate.   The evening, also First Fridays, will be filled with music, food, and community. Future concert dates at Millennium Plaza include Wednesdays at the Plaza on June 20, July 18, and August 15. An official Illinois Bicentennial birthday bash is planned for First Fridays on June 1 with Dog and Pony Show performing.   The annual Stolp Island Block Party is planned for First Fridays on August 3 with Ron Porter Trio and Bones Jugs...

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Aurora Museum Week announced for June 17-23

Posted by on Apr 26, 2018 in Featured News | Comments Off on Aurora Museum Week announced for June 17-23

Aurora Museum Week announced for June 17-23

Aurora Downtown recently announced the inaugural Aurora Museum Week to be held this summer from June 17 through 23. Brian Failing made the announcement at the Aurora Regional Fire Museum during the inaugural Fox River Arts Ramble on April 21. Failing, executive director of the fire museum, also debuted the event poster created by local artist and Naperville Central teacher Chris Hodge. Hodge designed the poster to incorporate all of the participating museums including Aurora Regional Fire Museum, Blackberry Farm, David L. Pierce Art and History Center, Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall and Museum, SciTech Hands On Museum, and Aurora Historical Society’s Tanner House. Aurora Museum Week encourages residents in Aurora and across the Fox Valley to visit Aurora’s world-class museums, Failing said. The week also coincides with Aurora Museums After Dark on Thursday, June 21. “With the success of Aurora Museums After Dark, the museums are excited to collaborate more. We look forward to showcasing these Aurora treasures,” he said. The week will offer special activities and offers including passports that allow visitors a chance to win a prize basket. Exclusive coloring books designed by Hodge will be available while supplies last, and free trolley rides will run during Aurora Museums After Dark from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Aurora. Aurora Museum Week is sponsored by Aurora Downtown in collaboration with the participating...

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Free Songwriting Workshops in the spirit of “Once” this May at Aurora Public Art

Posted by on Apr 24, 2018 in Featured News | Comments Off on Free Songwriting Workshops in the spirit of “Once” this May at Aurora Public Art

Free Songwriting Workshops in the spirit of “Once” this May at Aurora Public Art

In preparation for its upcoming production of “Once The Musical,” Paramount Theatre, in partnership with the Fox Valley Music Foundation and Aurora Public Art, invites songwriters of all ages to attend Be a Builder of Worlds: A Two-Part Songwriting Workshop, Tuesday, May 8, and Tuesday, May 15, both at 7 p.m. at Aurora Public Art, 20 E. Downer Place in downtown Aurora. Chicago area singer-songwriter Andrea Dawn and actor/musician Larry Tobias, who portrays “Da” in Once, will spend two evenings sharing their songwriting process and helping songwriters find their own process and songwriting voice. On Tuesday, May 8, Dawn and Tobias will host an intimate evening that will include performing their own music, sharing their experiences as songwriters and offering some tools and techniques they’ve used in their songwriting process. There will be ample time for questions and work to be done on current or new pieces. On Tuesday, May 15, it’s show time! Participants are encouraged to come prepared to share a song they’ve been working on, and Dawn and Tobias will offer individual feedback to continue to inspire growth as a songwriter. Not quite ready to share your piece? That’s okay; just come be part of a supportive community celebrating each other’s songwriting journey. Be a Builder of Worlds is presented as part of the new Dive Deeper series of workshops being introduced to the community by Paramount’s new education department. Both events are free, but space is limited. Reserve in advance at paramountaurora.com/education/#dive-deeper-programs. “Songwriting can be a lonely pursuit. These workshops will allow for beginning and professional songwriters to grow together, learn from each other and build a community,” said Shannon Cameron, Paramount’s new director of education and community engagement. Paramount Theatre’s Once, directed by Paramount Artistic Director Jim Corti with music directed by Tom Vendafreddo, is the first Chicago-area regional staging of the Tony Award winning musical. Through song, this modern-day musical tells the moving story of an Irish busker (Guy), his immigrant fan (Girl) and their eventful week in Dublin as they write, rehearse and record songs from which their beautiful love story unfolds. Previews are April 25-27 with regular performances following through June 3 at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. For tickets and information, visit paramountaurora.com or call (630) 896-6666. City of Aurora Public Art is the civic hub for multi-disciplinary arts partnerships, public art projects, and formal gallery programming. Aurora Public Art prioritizes innovative community development and social justice through the arts. For more, aurora-il.org/329/Public-Art-Commission. The Fox Valley Music Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that preserves, promotes and presents the music of the Fox Valley area of Illinois while providing music education to people of all ages and from all walks of life. For more, visit foxvalleymusicfoundation.com. Workshop leader biographies Trained at a young age and composing since she was 10, Chicago singer-songwriterAndrea Dawn has methodically honed her craft into a unique style that exists somewhere between 1930s jazz singers, ‘90s singer-songwriters and the film scores of Danny Elfman and Jon Brion. While haunting and often orchestral, the songs remain, at their core, an examination of the human experience. In 2012, this sound was fully realized through Dawn’s full-length debut, Theories of How We Can Be Friends, released on Waterloo Sunset Records, followed by her 2014 sophomore album, Doll, with Murmur Entertainment. For more, visit andreadawnmusic.com. Larry Tobias is a songwriter and the lead singer for The Grand Tour, a tribute to the music...

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Downtown Taste expands, moves to last Tuesday in July to debut downtown restaurant week

Posted by on Apr 15, 2018 in Featured News | Comments Off on Downtown Taste expands, moves to last Tuesday in July to debut downtown restaurant week

Downtown Taste expands, moves to last Tuesday in July to debut downtown restaurant week

For the last 15 years, the second Tuesday in May is reserved for enjoying a taste of restaurants in downtown Aurora. This year, the Downtown Taste is moving to the last Tuesday in July and will kick off a new restaurant week within downtown. Downtown Taste offers diners the opportunity to visit a variety of participating restaurants in downtown Aurora. Started by Aurora Study Circles, the popular event has grown under the direction of the Exchange Club of Aurora in recent years. The event will now be run by Aurora Downtown, a nonprofit organization of business and property owners within downtown’s Special Service Area, and continue to benefit the Exchange Club and contribute to scholarships for East and West High students. Tickets for the evening cost $30 and can be purchased online at www.eventbrite.com/e/downtown-taste-tickets-45147065087 through July 31. Tickets can be purchased in person, cash only, from 4 to 6 p.m. on July 31 at the welcome table at Santori Public Library, 101 S. River St. One ticket includes four ticket passes to any participating restaurant. Ticket passes can be used at one restaurant or multiple restaurants to get a taste of downtown offerings including appetizers, small plates, and desserts. Free trolley rides and entertainment are also part of the evening. Exchange Club of Aurora proceeds contribute to scholarships for East and West High students. More at www.exchangeclubofaurora.org. For more information on downtown events and an updated list of Downtown Taste participants, visit www.auroradowntown.org or the Facebook event...

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Mural unveiled in downtown Aurora during Fox River Arts Ramble on April 21

Posted by on Apr 14, 2018 in Featured News, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Mural unveiled in downtown Aurora during Fox River Arts Ramble on April 21

Mural unveiled in downtown Aurora during Fox River Arts Ramble on April 21

The first piece of public art to go through Aurora’s new public art  ordinance is being unveiled this Saturday. The mural will be unveiled behind Aurora Fastprint, 54 E. Galena Blvd., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the inaugural Fox River Arts Ramble. Aurora Fastprint owner Kim Granholm commissioned artist Cheryl Holz to create a piece of art for the back of building that is adjacent to the Fox River and faces New York Street in downtown Aurora. Holz, of Aurora, is a longtime collage artist working upstairs in Aurora Art Studios, so it was a natural collaboration. “This will not be a mural in the traditional sense, painted directly onto a wall,” Holz said. “Kim wanted to employ some of the newest printing technology to wrap the back of the building,” she added. Holz said she was originally daunted by the challenge of trying to create a beautiful piece of art on a wall covered with pipes of every material, vents, a fire escape, etc., but Holz, whose mixed media work is often sculptural, came up with a concept of making another layer of panels and sculpture to cover a majority of the chaos. Granholm was on board to try it out and the work began. The completion of the mural took many local resources including the Paramount Theatre’s set shop, Aurora Sign Company and Lite Construction. Holz describes the mural as a contemporary piece of art that incorporates references to Aurora’s rich cultural artistic, musical, and literary history, and the beautiful river that runs through it. Painterly splatters and washes represent the art-making happening inside the building, and all throughout Aurora. There are nods to the blues history, and the text running through the center is a poem called “Aurora” by Susan Schubert, a member of A-Town Poetics, a local poetry group. Significant downtown buildings are seen at sunset with street lamps that gave Aurora its name. The Fox River has small mouth bass, soft-shell turtles, and other species scattered throughout the mural. A 3D dragonfly of stainless steel perches above a dimensional silhouette of native prairie plants, and a monarch perches above the skyline.   During the Ramble, Holz opens her studio for visitors, along with neighboring artist Anne Von Ehr. Schubert will read poetry at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Aurora Fastprint hosts an open house with music, light snacks, and cocktails for the remainder of the afternoon. Fox River Arts Ramble is a one-day self-guided tour of art along the Fox River from Aurora to Elgin. Downtown Aurora features nine locations to visit. For more information and a map, visit...

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Rhonda Wheatley show opens at Aurora Public Art

Posted by on Apr 8, 2018 in Featured News | Comments Off on Rhonda Wheatley show opens at Aurora Public Art

Rhonda Wheatley show opens at Aurora Public Art

  “At Your Soul’s Discretion, Assemblages and Experiences by Rhonda Wheatley,” opened at Aurora Public Art at First Fridays on April 6. Rhonda Wheatley’s work is grounded in the speculative, metaphysical, and spiritual. Imbuing the work with meditative focus, she explores healing, consciousness expansion, and transformation. Combining such diverse materials as moss, crystals, and vintage electronics, Wheatley arrives at new tools for the contemplation of energy and meaning. Accompanying each sculpture are written works that inform the viewer of the objects’ uses as shamanic tools.   Sam Trump joined the art opening with two musical sets. Trump, a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter is heavily involved in Chicago’s live music scene and is a long-standing member of hip hop, soul, jazz band, Sidewalk Chalk. The art show runs through May 19 at Aurora Public Art’s third floor gallery at the David L. Pierce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Pl. in downtown Aurora. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is...

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