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Meet Janice Aponte of AponteART in Logan Square

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janice Aponte.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Art was always a big part of my life. As a child, I always felt a sense of comfort when I created art and today it brings me healing and it grounds me. I traveled back and forth while growing up, between New York and Puerto Rico (this usually happens in a Nuyorican family while parents are figuring things out) then after college, a family, and two kids, from Puerto Rico to Chicago, in search of the American dream! There was always the “doodling” in between but it was not until after my own divorce that I found myself drawing as a form of escape. It was my way of coping with yet another broken home. Today it’s not an escape but it’s my reality.

My emotions are imprinted by a brush or knife stroke, by the hue of a color that expresses my life and what I am experiencing as a woman, a mother, a friend, a sister. Creating opened a door to all my passions that were dormant for many years. By exploring my creativity I transitioned from pencil to oils. I soon fell in love with oils and the adventures of discovering techniques, blending and creating textures and depth in my pieces. The visual arts was very natural to me, it became my new home. When I showed my first pieces 11 years ago at the Milwaukee Ave Arts Festival, now known as the Logan Square Art Fest, I felt so vulnerable.

All I had was my table, my art pieces and well, a lot of courage. There I was exposing my most inner feelings on a canvas. This Puerto Rican girl, finding her way in the arts in the big city of Chicago. Years later, after participating in many neighborhood art fests, juried shows (because if you are part of the art community you know damn well you need to work your way to these by developing a strong point of view) gallery shows, curating open studios, I feel my art embraced, not only by the Latino community but it transcends and touches all races and social backgrounds in the city of Chicago. Through persistent personal marketing and the power of social media, my work has reached so many viewers and my pieces have homes in New York, Florida, California, Texas, North Carolina, and my homeland, Puerto Rico.

Today, I continue to paint my story, and each year brings more gifts, more life lessons that I translate into my work. How exciting to live through colors, through my eyes. The artist I am today I owe to sleepless studio nights, human relations and community involvement, travels and so many enriching life experiences. All these experiences help me nurture and further perfect my craft. Perfection to me is to have my own “style of expression”. Thirteen years later, I can confidently say, this one is finished…YES! there it is! an Aponte art piece!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My life has been far from perfect but it’s these imperfections and my tribulations, moments of fear, joy, sadness, love, loss, passion, all these intermixed emotions that carved my path. My life lessons taught me persistence, to keep painting, to be disciplined, no matter if a door shuts on you or you just don’t see that door, you keep doing what you love, the day will come at the right time and the right place. I believe God gives you the tools you need in life and you are responsible for creating your own story.

I had many struggles to get to this point in my art career, a point where I feel accomplished. This does not mean I won’t stop pushing the bar. There is more to come because I am open to it and because I am willing to put in the time and am determined. I think when you first go out there and show the “world” so to speak your work, it is scary. I did not know how people would react to my body of work. But when you have a good support system, family, friends, and co-workers, that love you, it’s not all that difficult. The more I showed my work, the more confident I became. I use to say “Hi, I’m Janice, I’m an accountant and I also do artwork”. Today I am simply “an artist”. Today it is what my soul feels no matter how many numbers I crunch. So that is my everyday struggle, juggling a full-time job, taking care of a home, and finding the time to do what I really love. I feel it in my heart, God gave me a gift and it is my responsibility to paint and show the world what I am about.

My mind and my spirit are obsessed with creating beautiful images on a canvas, I leave my emotions and my life experiences on that cloth. Finding time to create is by far my biggest challenge, but I am such a night owl and I always make time to lose myself in my world at late hours. People, that are close to me, ask me all the time, “Where do you find the energy?” But when you love doing something, you always find a way and the energy is there.

AponteART – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
It feels almost strange to call my art pieces a business because it never feels like work. But in all honesty, what artist can say they would not be happy to sell their first art piece and grow to a point where they are steadily and successfully selling their work?

Well after a decade, my “labor of love” has grown and I find myself selling not only in Chicago but throughout the states and my home in Puerto Rico. After many years of experimenting with different mediums, charcoal, pastels, watercolor, acrylics, I realize oils is my medium of preference. It allows me to feel unrestricted to time, it gives me more time to create to where I feel my piece is perfected. I am detailed by nature and oils is definitely the best of friends.

My works of art echo spirit, hope, love, and endurance as their central themes. I enjoy painting the feminine figure with strong bold colors that stem from my Latino roots. My faces are a mix of expressionism and realism and this translates into my own unique style. I feel this sets me apart and makes an Aponte art piece.

Most recently, September 20th to be exact, I formed Arte Al Rescate, a not-for-profit organization with my friend Erica Sanchez. We used the visual arts as a way to bring together the community and artist throughout the United States and help raise funds for victims of Hurricane Maria. And although this is a separate organization from my personal art business, undoubtedly it’s rooted stem from the same tree, ART. Art is powerful and can not only bring people together, it moves hearts, opens them and heals them.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
There are many elements that define success. For me as a visual artist, one of the most important is expressing my vision on canvas and evoking an emotion, translating what I feel or see in my mind. There is a satisfaction you get anytime you reach an audience, seeing a smile, a smirk, overall a human reaction, and if it’s a good one, that’s even sweeter. I challenge myself, experiment, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable, it’s part of the process and pushes me as an artist to dig deeper and aim higher.

I learn from another artist, whether through practice or conversation and I also enjoy mentoring others as this makes me grow not only as an artist but a human being. This to me is all part of feeling successful. As far as the tangible, well a strong following, gallery exhibits, and consistent sales, yes! this is all nice! but at the end of the day, what truly fulfills me is my persistence to continue creating and the praise that I receive for my strong will to be and survive as an artist. And by survival, I mean every day creating, thinking, breathing art, and staying focused.

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Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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