Barry McNamara  |   Published February 17, 2022

‘Next Skate … All Skate’

New exhibition by art professor Stacy Lotz is nostalgic return to the 1970s and tribute  to Galesburg’s Grand Roller Rink.

STACY LOTZ: Monmouth art professor puts serious matters aside in her new exhibition, which will r...STACY LOTZ: Monmouth art professor puts serious matters aside in her new exhibition, which will run through April 1 in the Len G. Everett Gallery in Hewes Library. MONMOUTH, Ill. – This year’s Super Bowl commercials leaned heavily on levity, an attempt by advertisers to escape the seriousness of the past two years of the COVID pandemic.

The equivalent in art is a new exhibition by Monmouth College professor Stacy Lotz.

Her exhibition “Next Skate … All Skate” goes on display Feb. 21 in the College’s Len G. Everett Gallery on the upper level of Hewes Library. It will run through April 1. On March 25 during a 3 p.m. gallery reception, Lotz will discuss her works. The exhibition, reception and talk are all free and open to the public. Face masks are required.

“Anybody who grew up in the ’70s and even the ’80s knew about ‘next skate … all skate,’” said Lotz of the phrase heard at roller rinks all across the country. “It seems like an appropriate title for this show. It is all about my memories of being a kid in the ’70s, especially being at the roller rink (Galesburg’s Grand Roller Rink, which is no longer in operation) every Friday and Saturday night. I think it played a big part in my growing up – my socializing, my interacting with people, all different kinds of people. It was always a big mix.”

“The whole time I was really having a difficult time because it was so hard. It was depressing. I found myself keep wandering back to, ‘I wish I could just go roller skating right now.’” Stacy Lotz

Lotz said that when the events of the past two years started weighing her down, returning to the roller rink in her memories and her art became a safe haven.

NEW EXHIBITION: Stacy Lotz's exhibition opens Feb. 21 and will run through April 1. She will ... NEW EXHIBITION: Stacy Lotz's exhibition opens Feb. 21 and will run through April 1. She will speak about her works on March 25 in the gallery.“I started a body of work in 2020 that was really serious,” she said. “It had a lot of political overtones in it. As you can imagine, the country was divided, still is divided. I was making work about that, but the whole time I was really having a difficult time because it was so hard. It was depressing. I found myself keep wandering back to, ‘I wish I could just go roller skating right now.’”

Such nostalgia, she said, was once considered “a mental illness. … For men who had gone off to fight in war, if they were nostalgic, they weren’t considered good soldiers – they were wishy-washy. But lo and behold, they have found that nostalgia is actually a really good thing and powerful thing that helps people to cope with really stressful situations.”

Light-hearted art

Mentally returning to that time actually brought back a positive physical feeling for Lotz

“I would hear a song on the radio from the ’70s that would remind me of the roller rink and that would make me feel really good,” she said. “My skin would actually tingle hearing that and thinking about that. So I just switched my thinking from the really serious political to the more light-hearted ’70s.”

Lotz’s new works, many of which are mixed media, reflect that light-hearted mindset.

“Come in, have fun, enjoy the color, enjoy the texture. … Push the seriousness aside for a minute.” Stacy Lotz

“I think the light in all of this is that there is a way to keep yourself positive in times when you think there’s nothing to be positive about,” she said. “I found that in this series of works that I think are pretty light-hearted, they’re put together very intuitively and they reflect on shows that I was inspired by as a kid – Sonny and Cher, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Flip Wilson Show.”

Also making appearances in the exhibit are other icons and fashion statements from the 1970s, including bell-bottom jeans, pom-poms (“because you gotta have pom-poms on your skates”), Scooby-Doo, Barbie (and her “accompanying props”) and peace sign necklaces.

“There’s a lot of different kinds of flashes of memories here,” said Lotz.

She said many art exhibitions carry with them an intrinsic “expectation that it’s going to be really serious. We’re really going to have to put our thinking caps on to really ‘get it.’ You’re not going to have to do that here. Come in, have fun, enjoy the color, enjoy the texture. … Push the seriousness aside for a minute.”

Listen Up …

Stacy Lotz discusses the exhibit, roller skating and pop culture icons of the 1970s on the 1853 Podcast.

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