Drawing on location, William Crook Jr. is a familiar sight along Springfield, Illinois streets and county roads. His landscapes and city scenes show his love of neighborhood and bio-region. For over thirty-five years Crook has chronicled the changing life and times of his mid-western home town.
Bill received his bachelors in arts from Sangamon State University in 1982, and in 1990, his master’s degree in painting at Illinois State University, Normal. From 1990 to 2001, Crook served as an adjunct art instructor with MacMurray College, teaching at the Jacksonville Correctional Center.
He also taught at Lincoln Land Community College campuses in Jacksonville, Taylorville, and Beardstown, Illinois.
Crook founded Prairie Press in 1990. He produces fine art prints and note cards using a Vandercook proofing press which he acquired from the former Capitol Engraving Company. His printing method uses relief photoengraving plates which are made from his pen and ink originals. Crook’s style of drawing is self-taught although it was greatly influenced by R. Crumb. He has done illustrations in conjunction with the works of such comics luminaries as Harvey Pekar and Tucker Petertill. Currently Crook is a contributor to Mineshaft, a comics and literary magazine from Durham, North Carolina.
Over the years Crook’s work has attracted a local following. In the late 1970’s he was a regular contributor to the Illinois Times. In 1982, he self-published a hand printed collection of forty-four street scenes entitled Springfield, Illinois. Bill was selected to create the Mayor’s Awards for the Arts in 1994; and in 2001, his painting Cliffs in the Shawnee National Forest was purchased for the collection of the Tarbell Library at Eastern Illinois University.
Perhaps best known for his views detailing the architecture of the Illinois State Capitol Building, Crook has done over twenty-five capitol prints with his most recent work featuring the impeachment proceedings against former Governor Blagojevich. Influenced by Route 66 artist and map maker, Bob Waldmire, Crook has also created a series of prints depicting historical sites along Route 66 from Illinois to California.
Bill recently published a book entitled SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS: A Pen & Ink Artist Looks at His Hometown.
From the bio page of that book:
Crook’s love of place, current and past is touchingly expressed in his recently published 152-page book containing 185 pen and ink drawings of Springfield and the surrounding area. This career retrospective covers the forty years he has spent sketching on the streets of Springfield. It includes a history of the capitol city, with Crook’s personal reminiscences about his life here, as well as landscape views of the farms and forests of Sangamon County.
Bill’s book can be purchased for $29. To contact him for book purchases or other matters, use the following info.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone – 217-726-2072
Mailing Address –
1821 Cherry Rd
Springfield, IL 62704