Celebrating 16 Years as Barrington’s Signature Magazine

Arts and Culture

Matt Gabler
Matt Gabler Towers and Mistake in the Night

Matt Gabler’s Art of Believing

By Lisa Stamos | photography by jim prisching

You will probably know about Barrington artist Matt Gabler soon enough. Right now, he’s setting up his studio in town with no small goals in mind. “I want to be a world-renowned artist, even controversial,” Gabler says. “I want competition that will drive me to be a better artist. My goal is to be at the top of my game. That’s what drives you towards your next goal.”

Gabler grew up in Homer Glen when it was a sleepy farm town outside of Chicago. “It had a good bowling alley. The best thing we did was to ride our bikes to the gas station and get slushies,” Gabler said. But like his growth to becoming an artist, his childhood hometown has expanded, too.

During his middle school years, Gabler went on trips with his grandfather whose abstract impressionist paintings landed him at shows in Dubai, Germany, Slovakia, Paris, and Ireland. The trips gave him a keen perspective on quality of life. “I saw the high-rollers at the shows compared to condensed poverty in some locations.”

Gabler’s first attempt at painting came at age 7. His grandfather tried to teach him, but impatience kicked in. Yet, a trip to Florence, Italy at age 19 for a design program would change everything. “It was an excuse to go abroad,” Gabler says of applying and being accepted at Polimoda, one of the top 10 fashion institutes in the world. He sent a portfolio of his early paintings and school personnel loved them. Immersed in art and culture every day in Florence, Gabler’s experience there gave him a kick-start. After six months, at a teacher’s urging that he was wasting his time in school, he left the program and moved back home to Barrington.

“I remember my fashion design teacher told me that ‘you are not the best drawer in the class, but you are the one with the highest opinion of your designs; you have the best vision’. Other students had better drawings, but they could not pinpoint where they were going with them. And they all looked alike. But mine, not necessarily better, did stand out,” he said. Armed with a new perspective on his self-worth and artistic vision, Gabler realized that he could no longer worry that his work, or he, wasn’t good enough.

Gabler lost his father at age 19, and it was a huge blow to his outlook, and part of why he wanted to go abroad. He had dropped out of high school, taking courses instead online. “One thing I always focused on in life was my painting,” he said. “Whether I was happy or sad, I always expressed it through art. In Florence, Gabler created realistic patterns in his work which were translated to fabric, with emotions expressed through his use of color.

Once he returned to Barrington, Gabler made a commitment that he would work nonstop, night and day. His goal is to continue painting and to create one-of-a-kind clothes for men and women with his company, Preyvon. He credits his supportive mom, Sheila, and stepfather Mike Miller, a local jeweler, with modeling integrity and a strong work ethic.

For other artists, Gabler offers this advice. “Do not stop believing in yourself. There will be a lot of people who will laugh at you and minimize your career choice. Take the blows but move on. All you’ve got is being yourself, so go out there, talk yourself up, and persevere.”

Matt Gabler can be reached at gablermatthew@gmail.com.

Shirley's Piano Bar Barrington

Shirley’s Piano Bar Reopens

Shirley’s Piano Bar was opened in 2018 by Chris Bauman whose vision for the venue is reminiscent of when his grandparents gathered with family and friends singing and creating unforgettable memories around a piano. The cozy piano bar has been closed since the pandemic first hit. With the country slowly opening, Shirley’s will help to breathe new life into the local scene while using all necessary precautions, including an new HVAC ventilation system with an Air Purifier Ionizer to clean the environment. Shirley’s Piano Bar will be opening at the beginning of November on Thursday–Saturday nights to the public and will also be available for private events during the week. Book your event at Shirley’s Piano Bar by email at info@shirleyspianobar.com, or call 224-888-1880.

Broadcasts for Events

Studio or Live TV Broadcasts for Events

World Touch Productions is now producing multi-camera live TV broadcast productions for streamable events, virtual fundraisers, and online conferences. Videos are produced on location or in studio. “We just produced the JourneyCare Duck Race fundraiser,” owner Thomas Balsamo said. “They raised the same amount with the live event without all the expense including the cost of renting a facility.” Currently, World Touch is in pre-production for the Jeffrey Pride Foundation fundraiser and is talking with BACOA to produce the Dancing With the Barrington Stars. “We are excited to be able to help nonprofits continue to raise funds to help their organizations thrive during this challenging time.”

Barrington Dance Ensemble

Barrington Dance Ensemble Shines

Now is a great time to reconnect with the people and places that made you. BDE alumna Brittany Bonefas did just that with a donation of a beautiful hand-made costume to the nonprofit arts organization that helped shape her into a professional dancer. While Bonefas’ stage work is on hold, she will be presenting socially distanced master classes for the Barrington Dance Ensemble dancers. “Barrington Dance Academy and Barrington Dance Ensemble prepared me for a professional career through the quality of their performances, nurturing coaches, and professionalism throughout the studio. Having a strong technical base is paramount and these two organizations gave me the tools I need for my professional career,” Bonefas said.

Barrington White House fall 2020 programs

Barrington Dance Ensemble Shines

Keep culture alive with Barrington’s White House this winter! Join us for art and holiday magic with virtual presentations, live Q&As, and more.

November begins with a multi-layered “dance-art” presentation of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. Watch the dancers of the Midwest Dance Collective bring to life “Lost in Silence”, through music, dance, and spoken word on Sunday, November 8 at 3 p.m.

Thursdays are a White House favorite, so tune in for our 2nd Thursdays Jazz Cabaret series. Watch live as local talents play some of their favorite jazz tunes with the incomparable Marianne Kim jazz duo on Thursday, November 12 at 7 p.m.

Sunday, November 15 brings us an exclusive performance from California by pianist and cultural historian Richard Glazier. Join us at 3 p.m. to witness Glazier’s passion for the rich, cultural heritage of early 20th century American music spotlighting Gershwin and the American Popular Songbook.

3rd Thursdays in November will feature artist Michael Ireland. This exhibit showcases his new work along with other pieces that have stood the test of time. The Encore Players will present an original full-length staged reading of “Pillow Fight”, inspired by the frothy comedies of the 1950s on Saturday, December 5 at 3 p.m. This adult parody sends characters on a collision course for a big Broadway comeback.

The Bella Voce Camerata will take us on a journey of jolly Renaissance Christmas songs and motets on Sunday, December 6 at 3 p.m. Chicago Tribune describes the group as “finely calibrated, with subtle variations in color”.

Barrington’s White House is delighted to present another Christmas Carol sing-a-long with Barrington treasure, Nancie Tobison on Saturday, December 20 at 3 p.m. Nancie and BHS alums will lead us through favorite holiday classics.

Barrington’s White House has something for everyone looking for a wonderful afternoon or evening enjoying the arts. All fall events will be held virtually. Tickets are $10 or less and can be purchased at

400 Split Rails for One Yard of Cloth

400 Split Rails for One Yard of Cloth

More than 150 years after his death, Abraham Lincoln continues to inspire artists—from writers to filmmakers to painters. Lake Barrington painter Donn Ziebell depicts a young Abraham Lincoln splitting rails in exchange for cloth until he should have enough for a pair of trousers. In his day, the country was poor and hard physical labor common. This five-foot wide, seven-foot tall painting now hangs in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield, dedicated on October 1, 2020.

“400 Split Rails for One Yard of Cloth” illustrates a story from Lincoln’s time in New Salem. He needed a new pair of pants but lacked the money, so he worked out an arrangement with a neighbor to split 400 fence rails for each yard of cloth needed for the pants. “I describe is as an ‘enhanced storybook painting’ because I want young children to have a wonderful visual understanding about part of Lincoln’s life and work ethic,” Ziebell said.

“We thank Mr. Ziebell for this generous donation,” said Ian Hunt, the presidential library’s chief of acquisitions. “President Lincoln’s impact on American society can be seen in how much art is devoted to him.”

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