An art show featuring more than 50 drawings of historic downtown Du Quoin and nearby areas will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, May 6, at Du Quoin City Hall. Admission is free.
The show, "I Remember When" is the work of local artist Deborah A. (Roznowski) Chastain, who started this artistic journey after the tragic death of her brother, Donald Roznowski, in 2005 at the Mt. Vernon Speedway.
Looking for a way to deal with the loss, Chastain began sketching places that were familiar to them as children. It was her daughter, Amanda, who gave her the inspiration and encouragement to turn to her art and recreate those memories she shared with her brother.
Chastain's first drawings were of Lincoln School, McKinley School, Sacred Heart Catholic Church and School, Du Quoin City Hall, the fire and police station, and the train depot.
We all remember the Old City Hall and the fire and police station, where during Fire Prevention Week they would give the kids rides on the 1954 Ford fire truck. Adults can fondly remember their years at Lincoln, McKinley, J.B. Ward and Sacred Heart schools.
We remember the fun times at the State and Grand theaters; the smells and tastes of the confectionaries like the chocolate eclairs from Geiger's Bakery; Higgins Jewelry, where everyone bought their class rings and wedding rings; and the train depot, where people greeted their returning loved ones or sent them off on new adventures.
These are the memories that inspired Deborah Chastain to entitle her work, "I Remember When."
It hasn't always been easy; the depot sketch was one of those difficult pieces that God used to lead Deborah down a different path. The depot is no longer here, but it held a lot of memories for Deborah and her brother, as Don had a great love for trains.
The picture she was using for the depot was not of good quality, so she sought assistance from Aaron Atkins, the choir director at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where she attends and sings in the choir. Atkins is an ex-officio member of the Du Quoin Historic Preservation Commission, and his father, T.A. Atkins, was a former railroad man, and he was able to answer her questions about the building.
Given her love for the old buildings, Aaron Atkins asked Chastain that if she would join the Historic Preservation Commission. She joined the commission in 2008 and in 2009 offered to donate 12 of her drawings to publish a fundraising historic calendar. The commission not only put out a calendar, but used the drawings in note cards and postcards.
Chastain's artistic ability was discovered and inspired by her Du Quoin High School art teacher, Carol Riley. From Riley, she learned how to draw buildings -- helped along by the two weeks she spent in Mr. Hilstrom's drafting class. Riley even suggested Chastain apply to the Art Institute in Chicago.
Chastain, who hasn't seen Ms. Riley since graduating high school, credits her encouragement for her great love for preserving these memories in her artwork.