Duane Bonifer  |  Published February 22, 2024

‘An Imaginative and Lofty Dream’

Buchanan Center for the Arts’ Blum Studio classroom – which honors legendary Monmouth couple – ‘will inspire so many wonderful art activities.’

Harlow and Lila Blum of Monmouth, center, cut the ribbon Wednesday morning to dedicate the Buchanan Center for th... Harlow and Lila Blum of Monmouth, center, cut the ribbon Wednesday morning to dedicate the Buchanan Center for the Arts Blum Studio classroom. Looking on are, from left, Monmouth Mayor Rod Davies '74, BCA Program Coordinator & Social Media Curator Rebecca Quick '21, Art Presenter Program Coordinator Sarah Mayfield and, far right, Buchanan Center for the Arts Board President ​​Mary Osborne.MONMOUTH, Ill. – A standing-room only crowd packed the latest remodeled space in the  on Wednesday morning to celebrate the realization of “an imaginative and lofty dream.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to officially open the Blum Studio classroom, named in honor of Harlow and Lila Blum ’61 of Monmouth, two of the strongest advocates for the arts in the region.

“We are honored to dedicate this classroom to two individuals who have served our community for decades through education and the arts,” said ​​Mary Osborne, Buchanan Center for the Arts board president. “Our dream for this space became a reality with the completion of the project.”

The remodeled space includes an upgraded kitchen, cabinets for arts supplies, work spaces for artists and guests, an elevator lift, automated entry, and a kiln.

Lila Blum said that the remodeled space “will inspire so many wonderful art activities.”

“The Buchanan Center has a beautiful gallery for displaying art, and now it has a beautiful space for creating art,” said Blum.

Referring to the late Grace E. Buchanan, whose memorial trust established the Buchanan Center for the Arts in 1989, Blum said: “Wouldn’t Grace Buchanan be pleased? She was a leader in the arts who laid the foundation for an arts center, and many other believers followed to make it a reality.”

“Harlow and I are proud to be part of a community that supports a vibrant arts center.”
– Lila Blum

The Blums joined the Monmouth community in 1959 and have since dedicated their lives to education and the arts in the region.

A lifelong educator, arts advocate and Monmouth graduate, Lila was an instructor and administrator at Western Illinois University, including serving as director of the International Education & English as a Second Language Institute. She co-founded the local Art Presenter Program, an arts education program in Warren County public and private schools.

A longtime art professor at Monmouth College, Harlow’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, and he is the recipient of multiple honors and awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a fellowship to study at Harvard University.

“Harlow and I are proud to be part of a community that supports a vibrant arts center,” said Blum.

Blum also thanked the Buchanan Center for the Arts staff for their work, adding, “You all carry the spirit of Grace with you in making this a special and welcoming place.”

The Blum Studio was made possible by support from Blick Art Materials, the Blums, the City of Monmouth, Duane Bonifer and Kristyne Gilbert ’90 of Monmouth, Midwest Bank, Monmouth Rotary Club, United Way of Greater Warren County, and an anonymous donor.

The Blum Studio was transformed into what Osborne called “a creative and functional space” thanks to the work of TL Cook Construction, Advanced Plumbing & Mechanical, Breslin’s Floor Covering, C&D Electric, IHC Heating & Cooling, Klingner & Associates, and Flylow Fabrication.

The project also included upgrades to the building’s electrical service, which Osborne said will allow the Buchanan Center for the Arts to push ahead with plans for its next big project – remodeling the building’s second floor.

“We are pleased that the Buchanan Center has such strong and visionary leadership,” said Blum. “It’s exciting to see the plans for the second floor and to think about the possibilities for the future as the center expands its outreach and plans for future generations.”

Listen Up …

Listen to a March 20 story by Tri States Public Radio that includes news about the Blum Studio.

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