Our Story – The Beginning

We met at the Studios on Sheridan in Peoria, Illinois in April 2017. Our meeting was divine, we shared our story with one another. A raw look into each other’s souls so to speak. Kevin a retired Prison Guard and me a representative at an insurance company. Both of us passionate about the arts. We spoke about not really fitting in but the comfort we found in the arts and how we felt we fit in well in this world. He held my hand and looked in my eyes, my heart stopped and I knew.

Kevin went to First Fridays at the Studios with a friend and enjoyed visiting with the artists on open studio nights. He decided three years ago to take a part time job in the building and is the photographer for the First Friday event. After working in prisons, he wanted to remember to see the beauty in the world after seeing so much sadness. He adventures along river road and captures beautiful photographs of wildlife and nature. Kevin says, “God creates the pictures, I just take them.” A humble and goodhearted man. Kevin is an excellent photographer and has the ability to capture a person’s essence and natural state in photography. His nature and wildlife photographs capture eagles in flight and the stillness of nature. Kevin’s photography speaks to your soul.

I went to First Fridays with my daughters and met local artists. We enjoyed viewing the art and hearing the artists’ stories of how and why they create. One First Friday my oldest daughter and I met Gene Mialkowski. I shared my passion for art with him and we became fast friends. He gave me the courage to reach out to Preston Jackson, a Master Artist, who later taught me the art of sculpting. In March of 2017, I was visiting my Auntie in Iowa and collecting materials for our weekend of creating. I remember telling her if only I could share a studio with an artist it would be affordable. We finished shopping and as we arrived at the car my phone rang, it was Gene-o. He called to invite me to share a studio with him at Studios on Sheridan for the exact amount I had stated would work. My Auntie responded, “God really is in Hobby Lobby.”

Gene-o and I moved into our studio on April 1, 2017 and held our first open studio on First Friday, April 7th. The date April 7th is near and dear to me and significant. My Mom passed away in 2011, her birthday is April 7th. She could not be present physically for my first open studio but being able to have such an event on her birthday is a tribute to her. I met Kevin while Gene-o and I moved into our studio. As Gene-o and I prepared for our work to be in the public eye, Kevin was checking to see if we had everything ready before opening our studio doors for our initial First Friday.

Our meeting was divine. Two people, different backgrounds, a passion for art and nature, now together. We are thankful his friend invited him to First Fridays and my friend invited me to share a studio.