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Art, History & A Rascal

Macomb, IL – An exhibit and a play will celebrate a legendary ghost town in McDonough County.

The town is Vishnu Springs. The exhibit is called Vishnu Springs: Art & History. The play is called The Inadvertent Rascal. Both can be seen at the West Central Illinois Arts Center in Macomb.

The exhibit was put together by the group Friends of Vishnu. The group's Marla Vizdal said it contains three parts.

One is a historical look at Vishnu. The second part explains how the site is being used today. It's now officially called the Ira and Reatha T. Post Wildlife Sanctuary in honor of the family who once lived there and donated the 142-acre site to Western Illinois University.

The third part is art that was inspired by Vishnu Springs and its history. The works were done by local artists and photographers.

Vizdal said Vishnu Springs continues to intrigue people.

"There are a lot of different stories that are associated with it," said Vizdal. "It's one of those places that's out in the middle of nowhere so people don't know what's there and how to get there."

Most of the art work will be for sale. The money collected will be shared by Friends of Vishnu and the WCIAC.

An opening reception for Vishnu Springs: Art & History will take place Friday June 18 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. It will remain on display through July 24.

The WCIAC is located at 25 East Side Square in Macomb. It is open Fridays from 4:00pm to 7:00pm and Saturdays from 10:00am to 4:00pm. There is no admission charge.

The Inadvertent Rascal

Playwright Sue Zendt said The Inadvertent Rascal is about Vishnu Springs founder Darius Hicks.

Hicks divorced his first wife after his father threatened to cut him out of his will. Hicks' third marriage was to his stepdaughter. He killed himself as a result of a scandal involving a pregnant housekeeper.

"My challenge to myself was to make him a likable person. He couldn't have been all bad," said Zendt. "I looked at the facts closely and I think I've managed to make him a sympathetic character."

Zendt said she drew on the facts she found in local newspapers of the time (the late 1800s and early 1900s).

She said the play is a "reader's theatre" presentation, which means the cast will read dialogue while sitting.

Zendt has written plays about local history in the past. She wrote for the Argyle Heritage Theatre years ago.

"I'm pretty well steeped in McDonough County history and I love writing plays," said Zendt.

The Inadvertent Rascal will be performed during Heritage Days weekend (Saturday June 26 and Sunday June 27) at 3:00pm each day. Performances will take place at the West Central Illinois Arts Center. Admission is $5.00.