Author revives history of Robert Allerton in C-U


Photo courtesy of Maureen Holtz website

Author Maureen Holtz has written three books, one being “Images of America: Robert Allerton, His Parks and Legacies.” Holtz recently spoke at the Urbana Free Library talking about the works of Allerton on Thursday.

By Odeth Rubio, Staff Writer

Creative expression and nature is predominant throughout Champaign-Urbana due to the abundant community landscape and artistic creativity. An important figure who was also deeply affected by nature’s surroundings and expressions was Robert Allerton, an artist from Chicago.

Maureen Holtz, a writer who has focused on the life and work of Allerton, wrote three books about his life and art. Holtz recently spoke at an event titled “Allerton’s Art with Maureen Holtz” at the Urbana Free Library where she presented Allerton’s legacy.

“The Archives hosts monthly talks on local history and genealogy,” said Sara Bennett, archives librarian at the Urbana Free Library. “The speaker, Maureen Holtz, has written multiple books about Robert Allerton.”

The Urbana Free Library said that it held this event in hopes that art fans, as well as regular attendees, would get a more comprehensive look at Allerton and his life.

“Attendees can expect an in-depth look at Allerton’s art collection and favored artists, now spread between Allerton Park, his property in Hawaii and the Art Institute of Chicago where he was a significant donor,” Bennett said.

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In regards to her own work, Holtz said that her career centered the computer industry for more than a decade.

“Over 20 years in the computer industry, then (I) retired to write a book,” Holtz said, talking about life before she started her work on Allerton. 

Her work has consisted of three volumes on Allerton one being a photography book in which she hoped people would view Allerton’s work through his eyes.

“I went to Allerton Park for the first time and saw the flowers and gardens (and felt that there) needed to be a book about the place,” Holtz said.

While being at Allerton Park, Holtz said she was deeply moved by the flowers and gardens, and she felt there was a need to have a book solely dedicated to the place.

“(My presentation) is more of a focus on his art, statues and artwork,” Holtz explained. “He was a major donor to the Art Institute of Chicago.” 

Holtz said people often overlook this and said she hopes individuals can get more of a focus on the artistic side of Allerton.

In regards to what is next, Holtz said that she is currently working on more novels. She added, however, that she is witnessing the struggle to get nonfiction published. 

“It’s really good to make sure you have a sounding board a critique group as they can tell you where you’re lacking,” Holtz said. 

Holtz said she believes it is important for young writers hoping to complete a book one day to have a critique group in which they gain criticism, learning what they are lacking in their own work. 

During the event, Holtz opened up with the relevance of Allerton to the Art Institute, stating that he not only is accredited for maximizing the building, but also for widening the collection.

Allerton is perhaps just as much a notable figure to C-U, having donated his home, Allerton Park, for recreational use here at the University just as much as he has also made an impact on the lives of artists.


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