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Unique exhibit in Waukegan shows ‘Presidential Love’

Valentine's Day Presidents Day come together during this Saturday's ArtWauk as  CassandrAnzelone The Backroom Gallery 100 S. Genesee St.

Valentine's Day and Presidents Day come together during this Saturday's ArtWauk, as Cassandra Anzelone and The Backroom Gallery at 100 S. Genesee St. feature "Presidential Love: Art Inspired By Our Greatest Presidents." | Submitted photo

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Updated: March 15, 2014 6:24AM

When Valentine’s Day brings with it thoughts of classic love stories and matches made in heaven, not everyone thinks of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln.

Cassandra Anzelone not only begs to differ but made Abe and Mary one of the subjects of “Presidential Love: Art Inspired by Our Greatest Presidents,” opening this Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Backroom Gallery, 100 S. Genesee St.

“He was a very devoted husband,” said the Waukegan resident, who opened the gallery last fall. “To me, they had a bond that would last forever. They loved each other very much, they had a family together and they were always together.

“Even thought Mary was ‘crazy’ and you hear all those stories,” she added, “he was a very devoted husband and family man.”

Anzelone, who studied art at the University of Illinois at Chicago, painted watercolors and silhouettes of not only the Lincolns but also George and Martha Washington over the past two months after noticing the timing of February’s ArtWauk in downtown Waukegan.

“The exhibit kind of started because of the combination of Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day,” she said. “I’m really interested in history and have a special love for Abraham Lincoln, so I decided to do some art based around those things.”

Also on the roster is Thomas Jefferson, who along with being a Founding Father had a variety of romantic pursuits that Anzelone found appealing.

“I love Jefferson,” she said, “because he’s just a very interesting person. I love how he went to France and spent so much time there, and I thought that really added to the Valentine’s part of (the exhibit). And I’m interested in architecture and art, and he was into all of those things.”

Backroom Gallery — which, as the name implies, was set up in a back room at the Water Street Gallery — debuted in November with “The Delicious Duo,” featuring both works of art and bakery items from Anzelone and Betty Turbo.

Anzelone’s focus on both traditional and culinary art continues with “Presidential Love” — visitors will have an opportunity to sample Mary Todd’s courting cake, and almond-vanilla delicacy that is said to have captured Lincoln’s fancy when they were dating.

“He’s the one President where the more you research him, the more you love him,” Anzelone said. “With many people, you research them and find out there’s another side to them, but Lincoln doesn’t have that other side. He’s just a great man.”

ArtWauk is scheduled to run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at participating galleries and businesses in the downtown arts district. Highlights include the release of “The Darkest Corner,” a book by Waukegan author and filmmaker Justin Hamelin at Dinosaur Studio, 116 S. Genesee, and the continuation of “InFocus,” featuring the work of current and former professional photojournalists at the Urban Edge Gallery, 220 W. Clayton St.

For a complete list of events and exhibits, visit or ArtWauk’s Facebook page.

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