Late Peoria Scientist's Art Gaining New Recognition

Oct 28, 2020

You may have noticed several new carved limestone pieces adorning the Peoria Heights Sculpture Walk along Prospect Avenue and the Rock Island Trail.

The mastermind behind these unique sculptures was Dr. William Kwolek, an insect expert who spent a career doing statistical analysis at Peoria’s Ag Lab. Kwolek died in 2004.

The pieces, along with others in wood, granite and other materials, continued to adorn his Peoria yard and home until his wife, Marie, passed away last year. The couple’s seven children then held an estate sale.

This is how Hugh Higgins, the owner and operator of Hearth in the Heights, stumbled upon them.

"We purchased two, and they (the Kwolek family) donated one, as well. At the Rock Island Trail, right at the intersection of Glen Avenue, where there's a stoplight, these three pieces give people a place to pause ... contemplate," Higgins said.

Higgins said he is "beyond thrilled" that Kwolek is now getting the recognition he deserves.

"He was just this quiet artist, unassuming, who did the work, for the love of doing the work," Higgins said.

Kwolek’s son, Jim, said his dad wanted people to interpret the sculptures for themselves."It's really a challenge for the viewer as to what you see in each of these pieces," Kwolek said. "And that was something my father really held close to his chest. He really sat back and wanted the viewer to look at these pieces and come to their own conclusions about what tingles the viewer's mind."

Another of Klowek's pieces recently was installed at the Studios on Sheridan in Peoria's historic West Bluff neighborhood.  

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