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The Art of Inspiration: VanderPoel Art Collection in Beverly A 'Hidden Treasure'

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 29, 2014 8:00PM

We’re the sort of folks who love stories of inspiration. Throw in Mr. Holland’s Opus, Dead Poet’s Society or Good Will Hunting and we’re right there, tissue boxes rapidly emptying as we remember the teachers who inspired us and made us the best versions of ourselves that we could be.

But we’re also always down for discovering what might have previously been hidden or overlooked, like the original version of the Caillebote uncovered at the Art Institute recently.

That’s what we love about the story of Ridge Park’s Vanderpoel Art Collection in Beverly.

As DNAChicago reports, the collection is tucked away on the second floor of the park district and features 187 of the 600 pieces that make it up. And while many may not have ever heard of it, it’s been called one of the largest collections of American Impressionism in the Midwest.

Even more, we love the story of how the collection came to be. John H. Vanderpoel was a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago and a Beverly resident himself until just before his death. Kids on his block knew him as “Papa.”

His art students included some of America’s best known talents, like Georgia O’ Keefe, who praised him in her own biography. He literally “wrote the book” on drawing the human figure. When he died, his friends and neighbors started to amass a collection of artwork in his honor. His former students were asked to submit their work, and artists who did not know him personally also participated. This is what eventually made up the Vanderpoel Collection.

The thing about inspiration is that it tends to have a ripple effect. VanderPoel inspired his students, who were then inspired to create the gallery, which is poised to inspire a new generation of artists. If you’d like to wade in and explore, click this link for more information.