Letter to the Editor: Art Box Owner Hopes Community Can Support Business, Art


To the Editor:

This relates to the loss of The Pure Gardener in Geneva.

Something everyone is missing here is the fact that three new businesses are being booted, also.

I have worked seven days a week 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the past nine months and made huge personal sacrifices to survive and succeed in this economy. 

We teach art classes to kids and adults. I supply the area and schools with good art materials. I have a gallery. I have thrown special art events and receptions for kids, charities and professionals.

My large easel sits in the middle of the space, where I paint and allow people to watch and ask questions. I love Geneva, I really wanted to give this town and the people I love here something special. 

I went to Joe Stanton with idea of creating a "West State Art District" with Art Box, Simitree, Robert Ridyn Photogrophy, The Pure Gardener and The Underground Theater, anchored by Bien Trucha and the Urban Grille, I really saw the vibe and style of this area going in a beautiful direction. I felt little support.

Now I  know why. I was just told I could be looking at 60 to 90 days to make room for another bank.

I am too tired and strapped to fight, and worst yet, I am getting too tired to create, and at Art Box, that is what we do. I don't think I can handle a move.

I like Joe Stanton, he has been a good landlord, and talking to other tenants, I have only heard good things. Joe is just another businessman, like myself, who is just trying to survive. I believe he has done too much for this city to knock him on this. He deserved the Wood Award.

The leadership and the residents of Geneva really need to look at the future of Geneva, and decide what they want and act, before it is too late. I have no problem with progress, I just want to belong.

Len Bielefeldt
Art Box 514 W. State St., Geneva

Craig MacLean February 23, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Len, You have provided Geneva with a beautiful resource for area artists. All the work you have put into your business is never appreciated as much as it deserves, BUT, for those customers who GET IT, and appreciate what you have done, and take the time to tell you, and support your work by spending money.....gives all of us business people who depend on the public, a reason to get up in the morning and keep going. Your business is one of the treasures of Geneva....another great reason to visit this town. I appreciate what you do, and I love having such a great business next door to mine.
Tom Lichtenheld February 23, 2012 at 03:37 AM
In addition to the relevant and well-articulated points about historic preservation and keeping current businesses intact, I would like to point out three practical, long-range planning reasons the city should question the idea of removing the Pure Oil building to allow for a drive-through bank facility: 1. A drive-through bank is a specific-use building for a business within an industry that has a high rate of failure*. Should the bank fail, finding a new tenant for the facility would be extremely difficult. *53 Illinois community banks have failed in the last four years, per the FDIC. 2. The neighborhood is saturated with financial institutions and drive-through facilities. Standing at the proposed site, one can already see two financial institution drive-throughs; the State Bank of Geneva and the KCT Credit Union. Within four blocks of the site there are already four banks; US Bank, State Bank of Geneva, Private Bank and First State Bank. 3. With so much empty retail space in Geneva, the city should encourage businesses to use existing buildings. In this case, the former US Bank building on 3rd street should be considered. It has a drive through, ample parking and good visibility. In summary, it would be irresponsible of the city to allow the development of a high-risk risk business in an area that's saturated with similar businesses when a perfectly suitable facility is available right down the street. Tom Lichtenheld, Geneva resident
Mark Wissing February 23, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Dear Friends, I am very excited about the ART BOX. I have been practicing art in Geneva for a lifetime and recently discovered “The ART BOX” and Len Bielefeldt. Geneva is a great artist community and we should embrace this locale forum. I just signed up for 6 weeks of watercolor classes and would love to see some of our friends join me on Sunday from 1:00 to 3:30 as we collectively step away from our busy worlds and enjoy each other and our craft. Please join me in some quality time with friends to practice what we love in a comfortable environment. Call Len at 630-232-2870 to start this Sunday. Mark Wissing
Noel G. Rooks February 23, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I agree. Good letter. Tom also makes valid points. At the meetimg it was definitely clear that community sentiment is behind saving the Pure Oil building. We do need to think of the other tenants too. Stanton mentioned something in the meeting about moving the Art Box, but is this viable? I've heard lots of good things about your business and will look into lessons. Thanks!
Marty Kane February 25, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Tom you are so right, We do not need another bank in Geneva...you mentioned the GIANT white elephant right next to my store that has been vacant for almost 2 years. The Pure Gardener is a Gem in this town. The rest of the businesses over there are great, putting another bank and knocking down a historic building makes no sense.


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