2013 Award Winners

ADVOCATE ACE: Kathleen Harleman (watch video)

Kathleen Harleman has been director of Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2004. She has a M.A. and a M.B.A. Her close to thirty years of museum experience include a range of positions across institutions large and small, Canadian and American, public and academic. She worked for twelve years in Canada at the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario, assumed leadership roles at Wellesley College’s art museum as well as at public museums in the Fort Lauderdale, FL and Seattle, WA areas, and was a consultant with the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.

In addition to her work as director of Krannert Art Museum, Kathleen has also served on the 40 North board of directors, Illinois Arts Council grant review board, and the board of  directors of the Public Art League of Champaign-Urbana. She has recently been named a board member of the Illinois Arts Alliance, the leading state-wide arts advocacy group.

ARTIST ACE: Steve Hudson (watch video)

Steven Hudson is a prolific figurative oil painter known for his masterly paint handling, moody space and use of color in his works. Mr. Hudson grew up in rural New England and moved to Illinois for graduate study at SIU Carbondale. After graduation Steven immediately began exhibiting his work professionally in Chicago where he lived as a practicing artist. He also has had an exhibition at the Krannert Art Museum, was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Midwest Award, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship and has received national recognition. Mister Hudson’s works continue to provoke controversy as they probe our frail relationships with our environment, each other, and our endeavors.  Currently he lives in Champaign with his wife and son, he has an active studio and teaches at Parkland College and the U of I.


VOLUNTEER ACE: Leonard Doyle (watch video)

Leonard Doyle entered the doors of the Virginia Theater in 1947 starting a life long journey between the two.  He could not have foreseen his "2nd home" that was being created.  His involvement with the Virginia started when he first took the job of usher, and his commitment to the theatre remains unwavering to this day. He has been the best of friends to the Virginia, freely offering his time and his extensive knowledge of local theatre history. When the Virginia was threatened with demolition in the 1990s, Leonard was among the community members and organizations that stepped forward to prevent the loss of a local icon. 

In his many roles at the theater, Leonard has been there to warm you with his smile and share his passion for the Virginia.  His favorite topic of discussion puts a hint of pride and excitement in his voice.  You can see the history passing thru his eyes as he relives, "if these walls could talk."  Anyone who has met Leonard Doyle knows that he is an outstanding example of the most dedicated of volunteers.

BUSINESS ACE: The I.D.E.A. Store by CUSF (watch video)

Started in 2010 to have a local impact  on the arts and the environment, The I.D.E.A. Store is a drop-off for quality materials that people no longer need (to keep them out of the landfill) and a retail market of creativity for teachers, artists, crafters, makers, tinkerers, designers, club leaders and more!   Creative educational workshops for children and adults have made creative reuse household words in our community and hundreds of thousands of items have moved through the store to find new homes.

Operated by dedicated volunteers and a couple of paid staff, the store profits all go to support local K-12 education through the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation. Last year the I.D.E.A. Store and a group of its steadfast store volunteers coordinated a new creative-reuse arts festival called HATCH.  The festival featured more than 40 reuse artists, an art exhibition, a juried art fair, workshops, and other activities. HATCH 2014 planning is underway with hopes for an even bigger community presence.  

TEACHER ACE: Chris Berti (watch video)

Chris Berti received his BFA from Alfred University in NY and his MFA in Ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Soon after his graduation when he inherited a set of stone carving tools from his grandfather, who worked as a stonemason and bricklayer in New York City, he changed creative directions. Eventually Berti shifted mediums once again and began carving reclaimed brick. As a Professor of Art at Parkland College, Chris successfully helps and prepares many students to transfer to quality undergraduate and graduate programs across the country as well as takes great satisfaction in seeing them succeed in their chosen careers. He has been a visiting artist at the Cleveland Institute of Art, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, University of Iowa, Indiana University, as well as Penland and Arrowmont Schools of Craft. Chris has received Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Grants in both Sculpture and Crafts as well as an award from the National Council for the Education of Ceramic Arts. His artwork can be found at Cinema Gallery in Urbana in addition to Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee, WI. His work is in many public collections including Alfred University in NY, Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, Montreal Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Museum.

 STUDENT ACE: Emily Denis (watch video)

Emily Denis has a BFA in Painting and Art Education and is currently in her second year of graduate school to earn her MA in Art Education at the University of Illinois.  Although she grew up in Carbondale, Illinois, Champaign-Urbana has become a second home.  While an undergrad, Emily was a visiting artist at the Carbondale, Illinois Family Advocacy Center, collaborating with middle school students to create a community mural. As a graduate student she supervises and mentors pre-service art educators during their first teaching practicum in the UIUC Saturday Art School. From January 2012 through May 2013, Emily worked for the UIUC Center for Education in Small Urban Communities as the instructor for the After School Arts Program at Franklin Middle School. This past summer Emily was an Out-of-School Youth Educator for the Illinois Migrant Education Program and this semester she began as the Art Educator for the ArtSpeak After School Art Program, funded and presented by 40north.  Emily’s career in the arts has expanded exponentially through teaching, directing a local gallery, and practicing as an artist.   Emily’s primary passion is teaching and striving to create social justice through the arts.

 LIFETIME ACE: Donnie Heitler (watch video)

Donnie Heitler, born blind, attended the Jacksonville School for the Blind. As a youngster, Heitler began to ask for permission to go downtown where he would listen to jazz records. Heitler had dedicated music teachers, among them piano teachers George Gerlach and Edward Jacobs. By the time he was in seventh grade he was playing on stage with adults at McMurray College in Jacksonville. Upon graduation, he decided to major in piano performance at Illinois Wesleyan University. He transferred to the U of I to study with Stanley Fletcher and earned his bachelor's degree in music performance and music education. In the late '60s, Heitler moved to New York City where he had a steady gig at the Waldorf-Astoria but after five years he returned to Champaign.

He continued playing venues in C-U as well as booking venues in Las Vegas, Hollywood, San Diego, and Canada. In 2008 he also performed at the 30th annual Chicago Jazz Festival. He continues to play weekly gigs at Minneci’s and the Great Impasta well into his 70s.