"Fawn" (Photo provided)
"Fawn" (Photo provided)
"Fawn" (Photo provided)

An upcoming First Friday event will allow you to experience all the Dole Mansion has to offer for the first time, even if you’ve been there before.

The free event from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday features art, live music, a cash bar and light appetizers along with tours of the mansion as a launch of the 2013 gallery season for Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake.

Organizers say the season will begin with one of the most intriguing exhibits to date, “Midnight Fields,” featuring the work of local artists Connie Sonnenberg and Kendall Wallor.

Dimly lit, it will be an atmosphere “we don’t often see with our own eyes,” organizers say. It will remain on display through Feb. 22.

“They are not just putting art on the wall,” said Erin McElroy, advancement coordinator for Lakeside Legacy Foundation. “They’re designing the whole experience. ... When you walk in the doors at First Friday, you’re going to feel like you’re coming into ‘Midnight Field.’ ”

Both artists worked together to create the ambiance and theme, including art created with a lush, dark palette.

Connected to the equestrian world, both artists feature reflections of horses.

Sonnenberg, of Crystal Lake, also creates pet portraits, among a wide variety of artwork, including oil acrylics and some dabbling in water colors and pastels. (

Winner of the “Best of Acrylic 2012” at Barrington’s “Art in the Barn,” Sonnenberg has never before displayed work at the Dole, although she lives nearby.

“I was so ecstatic, I can’t tell you,” she said.

Along with her display, Sonnenberg will offer smaller prints for sale at more affordable prices.

Wallor describes her work as having “a dark yet romanticized feel to it that is meant to grab and hold its viewers captive while they become pulled into the infinite stage of the painting and its creative environment.” (

Along with the artwork, the event will feature live acoustic performances by guitarist Steve Middaugh, as well as guitarist Mark Piekos and his three-person band, “Northern Blonde,” featuring Summer Hallenstein on vocals and Dan Phelps on guitar.

Northern Blonde performs everything from Delta Blues to country blues to older country to newer country to contemporary rock, Piekos said.

“We run the gamut,” he said.

Often, events at the Dole have featured piano accompaniments, but organizers wanted to showcase all that goes on at Lakeside, including various music lessons. They sought out singer/songwriters.

The goal is to draw in regulars as well as those who’ve always wondered what’s going on at Lakeside, McElroy said.

“A lot of people say they live around here and never come in,” she said. “This is their chance to come in. ... This is definitely a good introduction, or if you’re excited about art and live music, come over.”