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Thought-Provokers: Downtown

Chicago has always had an artistic soul. The culture and heritage of our city, like most great cities, owes a tremendous debt to the arts community. Supporting local art is something we care deeply about and we’d like to do everything we can to help the local arts community thrive. Unfortunately, too often media attention is monopolized by corporate interests and tabloid gossip – but culture doesn’t come from a focus on celebrity breakups it comes from a focus on the arts.

Below, you’ll find some incredible artists from in and around Downtown that we hope you will check out, follow and support.

Ahmad Lee

I’ve been lucky to learn from some amazing artist, teachers and designers through the years and meet some special art collectors and clients in general that that pushed me forward and gave me the courage to growing and take on being a full time artist/creative for hopefully the rest of my life. Read more>>>

Sammi Malone

I’m an extremely emotional person and my music has helped me survive that. It has helped me grow and appreciate the things in life that have hurt me. Anyone that says music can’t save lives doesn’t know what they’re talking about because I can tell you several instances where it saved mine. Read more>>


Although his initial sculpture direction was in contemporary portraiture and figures under the tutelage of Chiam Gross, Bruno Lucchesi and others while at the New School, the basic nature of that work evolved as his scientific curiosity led to a growing visual language. Read more>>

Leigh Barbier

For me, making drawings, paintings and sculpture is a simple and direct process of giving emotions form. This compulsion, along with my over-active imagination that perceives peril around every corner, drives my image making. Read more>>

Kevin Thonkulpitak

I turned to photography to help me deal with it. And you know what they say about how sadness kindles creativity. It was a creative outlet that I really needed at the time. I’m now looking to get into more commercial and editorial projects, maybe even a little bit of high fashion. Read more>>


We are a collaboration of 5 artists from the US and UK working together to create entirely hand-screened artworks which are never duplicated. Although the process of printmaking has been around for ages, we have taken an approach that is counter-intuitive to the ‘mass-production’ aspect. Read more>>

Mario Cuadros

My true passion is street photography, but you can’t really capture anything if there’s nobody on the street. One day I went on Instagram and I got the inspiration to start shooting urban landscapes. There were no tall buildings where I lived. Read more>>

Tony Whlgn

I’m a Painter + Designer, born on Detroit’s Eastside. With a background in Digital and Fine Art, I’ve survived as an Artist in the 21st Century by creating unconventional ways for my work to be experienced and made available for mass exchange. Read more>>

J.A. Medcalf

My creative story starts at an early age of cooped up in my room sketching. I used to love to draw cars, sports figures, celebrities and landscape architecture. I never really told my friends what I was up to but my Mom always took notice. Read more>>

Ron Pickering

Photography can be a very powerful tool and creative outlet which I feel a responsibility to pass on to the younger generations. Sharing knowledge, experiences and ideas is best way to break barriers. Read more>>

Jen Duffin

Throughout my adult life I surrounded myself with creative people, but did not consider myself to be a creative person. I resigned myself to being a “behind the scenes” person – supporting others in their creative pursuits but never putting myself out there. Read more>>

Swapna Namboodiri

Myself, a software engineer by qualification and an artist by passion. After my studies I was working for an IT giant as a software engineer for 5 years. After spending long hours with desktop, I used to rejuvenate myself during short art sessions in the evenings. Read more>>

Clay J. Benjamin

I chose photography in college. I went to school for broadcast journalism, but halfway through my junior year, I realized that I could be more creative and I could express myself more behind the camera. Read more>>

Michael Schunke

I began making glass when I was 19 years old as an art student in Philadelphia. I really enjoyed working with the material, so I stuck with it. I still enjoy trouble-shooting difficult techniques, advancing my skill and creating unique work. Read more>>

Lauren Parquette

Experimenting with self-made studios made from household items and different photography styles. At 15 I was finally signed to a mother agency, FH models. There I met many friends and fellow models. I then started my first series of photos that were of other people, not just myself. Read more>>

Dylan Fraley

As for photography, it was always something on the edge of my interest that seemed really appealing. When I was young I thought being a Nat Geo wildlife photographer was the dream job. Other than that all I did photography-wise was use my mom’s old Canon to shoot flowers in the front yard once every couple of years. Read more>>

Ted Preuss

After moving to Chicago and having a personal tour through the photography vaults at the Art Institute of Chicago, this is where I encountered photography as an art form. Everything I learned about lines, shapes, and shadows became an integral part of my art today. Read more>>

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