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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.

Vinod Kalathil

As a visual person, my interest in photography continued, but I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to it. Around 2014, I started traveling around the world extensively for my job and my interest and skills really took off. I also joined the online Arcanum photography Academy and became very active on several social media platforms, especially Google+ with its vast photography communities. Read more>>

Kameron Sears

I’m not sure I’d consider my story to be super unique. (haha) I’ve always been a visual person in general, but my love and interest in photography started when I downloaded Instagram, after that, I was hooked. I immediately finding and following people who photographed and it just opened up a whole new world to me. Read more>>

Evan Kasle

When you’re young, people tell you that “You can be anything you set your mind to! Shoot for the stars!” Then, you get a bit older, and they say “You can do anything that is realistic! Will it make money?” My response varied person to person, but I never wanted to mention that I wanted to spend my life on anything related to art. The tale of a starving artist is widespread. Read more>>

Marilyn Grad

I am and always has been, a “creative independent type.” Personally, I quite enjoy it. Professionally, I discovered very early in my career pursuits that being creative is a blessing and a curse when it comes to employment. I spent 16 fun, diverse, challenging, exciting and unstable years in media and advertising production and account management. Read more>>

Corey Smith

I found my passion for photography. I always enjoyed looking at pictures, but never really thought that I would call myself a photographer. It all started when I had a friend ask me if I wanted to go to an Instagram meetup downtown. I was hesitant at first but decided to tag along. I rushed out and purchased a Canon T61 and a prime 50mm 1.8. Read more>>

Bekah Wriedt

After saving all my money for a year, I finally bought my first canon, the rebel t3i. I was 15 years old then, and with my camera in hand, all my friends became my models as I practiced everything I learned from the countless photography books, and “how-to” YouTube videos I watched. I constantly asked older photographers how they do what they do. These years of hard work and a constant posture of learning have brought me to where I am today. Read more>>

Kelly Reed

My life changed after I saw Sufjan Stevens perform “Age Of Adz” in 2010. It was the first time I’d ever been moved to tears by a musical performance. I was amazed by the entire production and album – it was full of color, sound, pageantry, depth… I knew I wanted to write music that was challenging and beautiful like that. Shortly after, I started recording a demo album (based on Dostoyevsky’s “Notes From The Underground”), picked up the guitar and, in 2013, joined Shy Technology, a band out of the western suburbs. Read more>>


And I managed to find myself in it! I get great pleasure from working with watercolors and I am in love with the result of each work! And since my attitude to animals and their vulnerability has always been very reverent and remains so, and I draw inspiration from the world of animals – in most cases – this watercolor project is dedicated to those who live next to us – the world of wildlife, predators, birds, and pets. Read more>>

Iain Stewart

My eyes have given up long ago and the brush in my hand is moving on its own. Over the book on tape, I hear the dogs starting to move around and that means that the only one who can tell me if I’m going to crash and burn or pull off another one is getting ready for her day. As she makes her way through the house, I ambush my wife in the kitchen by the coffee maker which is still warming the dregs of the last pot I made at five. Read more>>

Andrea Dunn

Art direction allowed me to let my creativity out through creating big ideas and use my range of skills to execute them. I love being able to see projects through from start to finish and collaborate with other photographers, illustrators, and designers. After graduation, I interned at a creative agency in Chicago and was hired on full time. Read more>>

Jessica Winton

Though my work is not about diabetes or medicine, it does require listening ears and full hearts. I recall a medical psychiatrist once telling me that his patients with lifelong chronic illness were often the most empathetic people. Does this translate into the way I make my artworks? Read more>>

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