By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Rock Valley Publishing
The Jack & Peggy Wolf Gallery at the Boone County Museum of History is a tribute to a couple who have contributed a great deal to the betterment of Belvidere and the beautification of the community.

The Boone County Museum of History quietly dedicated a new exhibit room during the downpour of rain on the Saturday of Heritage Days. When nearly every other scheduled activity had been cancelled, the museum continued with its gallery dedication.

The speaker for the event was the well-known public art advocate, author, and Walldog, Jay Allen.

“History is filled with stories of people who have ‘met the moment’ in life,” said Jay Allen, president of the Boone County Arts Council. “They chose courage, faced hardship, squared off against challenges. Their lives have a sense of purpose. Author David Brooks writes about their moral compass, ‘You have to just recognize what needs to be done and do it. A person of character performs sacrificial service with modest composure and expects nothing in return. What a person of character does is not impressive in any form; it is simply their duty.’

“I found Jack Wolf’s handwritten notes for his comments at last year’s Artist Reception for the Eldredge Automobile mural production he sponsored. Jack remarked in his notes that Belvidere was, ‘the center of our (his and Peggy’s) universe.’

“While some people used their hard-fought gains to pamper themselves or experience things beyond the financial means of most people, Jack was different. Jack understood the value of creating pride in a place, or in a business, or in a community service group. He and I spoke about spirit and how important it was to give people a place to gather and gaze at something beautiful created by an artist – or artists.

“That selflessness matched up well with my devotion to the Arts Council that I have just recently left after 27 years.

“The photos that I show here (in the talk) are photographed from many angles. You might wonder why. Even in the Arts Council’s own public art brochure we only have room for one photo of each of the many sculptures and public art examples in the community. But the artist has gazed at their creation from every possible angle and made sure that the expression was exactly so – or that the eyes were perfectly placed – or that the earlobe was gently curled. You can’t experience public art sculptures like those that Jack and Peggy gifted to the community without getting out and looking at the dog’s expression, or the face of the boy holding the flag, or how the Indians head is bowed on ‘He is…They are’.

“So, if there’s any one message about the public art sculptures or murals in the community it is the care and purpose placed behind the stories that each one tells that must be passed on to the generations to come. That is the aim and end of our existence, to improve the conditions for all people yet to come. If we do that then we haven’t lived in vain, but added a link to the progressive chain of perfection of life. Jack understood that. Peggy understands that. I still understand it. Future generations will honor us not as individuals – but for being members of a ‘community’ and walking the talk of Public Art advocacy.

“The question is who will be the next Jack Wolf? Or who will be the next Jay Allen? Who will find their ‘moral compass’ as challenged by David Brooks in my opening comments?”

The first, and current, display in the Jack & Peggy Gallery is a tribute to the work regarding the public art in Belvidere and Boone County.  To learn more about the Jack & Peggy Wolf Gallery visit them online at or visit the museum in person at 314 S. State St.

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