At this time last year, art & society was still just a concept. We’ve come a long way in just a year! One can now detect the anticipatory buzz in the air as proud central Illinois residents eagerly await their next issue to see whose photos make the Social Scene. Our staff has been graciously received at many of these events, and we welcomed your photos and news from those we weren’t able to attend. October and November were particularly busy months for galas and recognition events, and we’ve shared several in this issue.

The CIBP tours have been fun for us, and you’ve let us know that it’s fun for you as well! This time around, we thought you’d enjoy reading about the best local restaurants at which to get a cup of homemade soup on a cold January day. Send us an email with your ideas of what we might consider for an upcoming issue.

Central Illinois is proud of its many homegrown artists. We thank Lonnie Stewart for his many generous contributions to our area. To see a few examples of his striking bronze sculptures, you only need to stroll through the Shoppes at Grande Prairie or drive through the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center complex. From watercolor to oil, his work is an expression of his careful research and artistic perspective on historical events. When in town, you just might run into Lonnie at an event, as he stays connected to friends and supports social and cultural organizations.

I had the great privilege of meeting Ansel Adams’ son and daughter last month as they graciously brought a part of his private collection for display at Lakeview Museum. There are many collectors of Adams’ work, but most people are surprised to learn of his connection to Peoria. His son-in-law is a graduate of Peoria High, and friends and family of the artist still live here. This wonderful exhibit continues through March at Lakeview—don’t miss out!

There is no finer dining experience in town than that at French Toast in Peoria Heights. Whether you are planning a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner for two or looking to impress out-of-town clients for dinner, you should consider their elegant setting on North Prospect. In addition to the main restaurant, you can reserve the VIP room at the adjoining Wine Country for a special celebration, or even reserve the entire store for a larger gathering, as my husband arranged for my birthday last year. Jennifer, Mary and their expert staff took care of all the details, including the decorations.

What a difference a year makes! The last year was good to us, and we at art & society hope that the New Year will be even better. Thank you all for helping to make this magazine a success! a&s