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Meet Anna Lentz of Spring Bird in North West Suburb, Dundee

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Lentz.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Anna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I fell in love with making things when I was very young. Luckily, my older sister, Lisa, taught me everything that I needed to know: drawing, painting, sewing, and crocheting. I continued to make art through college, studying studio art at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN, community art at California College of the Arts, and eventually, earned my MA in Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

For a while, I made art for myself and taught in various community settings, but I always found myself longing to be doing the project instead of teaching it. I knew that I could never be the teacher that I wanted to be because my heart was not in the teaching but in the making.

In 2015, we moved to fourteen acres of woodland in Dundee, IL. Sixty-eight years before, photographer and botanist Torkel Korling built a home, barn, and cottage on the acreage as well as planted an arboretum on what was once dairy pasture. He laid out meadows and trails and nurtured trees and native species to grow among the existing old oak trees and spring fed creek. In 1974, he turned his homemade arboretum over to Martha and David Bartholomew, who then opened the woodland up to visitors to experience retreats, make art, and just be in nature. Inspired by our predecessors’ creation of place and hospitality, we have committed ourselves to inviting guests to what we call Spring Bird for creative and natural experiences in the woods.

After two years of commuting into the city for school and work, I decided to commit 100% to making art and to make this place. I felt that I could only give all of myself to one thing, my art. I set up a studio in the barn loft, space I share with my cats. There, I work in a variety of media — never wanting to choose one form of expression. I work the best bouncing between different projects that all influence each other.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
For me, the struggles have mostly come from within. I would continuously erect road blocks to throw myself off course. There is a Dawes Song, “When My Time Comes” that speaks to this: “I took what I wanted and put it out of my reach”. I don’t know why I did this. Perhaps I didn’t believe in myself or was afraid to really try and commit to being an artist, but it took years — almost two decades — to really “go for it”, and I am still having to actively choose this and believe in myself on a daily basis.

Oh yeah, I also had two kids during those years, and they kept me pretty busy!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Spring Bird – what should we know?
At Spring Bird, I make paintings and textiles and manage a retreat space for others to be creative in nature.

I write and illustrate a quarterly adfree publication, Woolgathering, that meditates on the seasons. I practice noticing nature — paying attention to the rhythms and patterns of the seasons and noting how they influence our lives. I believe that if we really fall in love with nature and realize that we are nature, too, we will work to preserve our natural environments.

These rhythms and patterns pop up in my painting and textile work, too. I am currently working in watercolor and ink, painting scenes that interweave indoor and outdoor places. I want to encourage the viewer to not think of themselves as ever being separate from nature. We are never detached. Also, I tend to collapse foreground into the background as I am interested in the places between things and the relationships there.

Patterns are present in my quilting work. I love how textiles are used in our everyday lives. They often bring us comfort. So, I make quilts from people’s clothing to honor their lives and bring comfort to those they have left behind — like a textile hug. Also, I make quilts out of upcycled clothing and recycled bits into functional art for beds, cuddling, and picnics. I’m always interested in how color and pattern can be exciting and inviting.

I am still developing a practice of “creating place” for guests to be themselves in nature. We open the cottage for people seeking day and overnight retreats. Also, I seek to create beauty in the cottage and throughout the grounds to further a sense of hospitality and welcome. I want guests to feel that they have entered a special, unique place that encourages them to leave behind whatever stress and chaos that is in their everyday lives.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I couldn’t do anything that I do without my husband, Patrick, who has always been ready to walk down the path less traveled. We are living our lives together at Spring Bird. I am focusing on the art, and he is in charge of the plants! Our kids inspire us and challenge us to keep being innovative and light-hearted. My Mom has been a financial and emotional support. She keeps me busy with commissions when there is a drought and continues to believe in me when I am full of doubt. The same for my sister and sister-in-law and many other family members and friends.

As for a mentor, I am continually inspired by Lisa Stone, professor of art history and criticism, curator, and champion of artists living intentionally in their environments. Lisa taught me how to be devotional to your work and to cherish it in a way that is sacred.

Pricing:

  • Watercolor paintings range from $3o – $150
  • Memory Quilts starting at $400
  • Day and Overnight Stays at Spring Bird Cottage starting at $25

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Anna Lentz

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