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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.

Maria Mola

I’ve had a passion for anything and everything art-related for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate to grow up in a super creative family, surrounded by music, writing, dancing, the list goes on. As a kid I dabbled in it all, writing poems, short stories, participating in choir, theater and various forms of dance. I loved every second of it, but nothing compared to the feeling I got my sophomore year of high school when I held my first film camera. Read more>>

Lidiya Yankovskaya

I studied music my entire life (as a pianist, singer and violinist), but wasn’t sure that this was what I wanted to pursue professionally–I always had a slew of other interests: literature, languages, philosophy, history, athletics…etc. In college, I focused my studies on Music, Philosophy and languages, and considered pursuing an academic career in Philosophy, but realized that when I had the choice–I always chose music. Read more>>

Shannon Lewis

My mother was the person to kick-start me into creating art. I started taking art lesson when I was only four years old. But I never knew how much creating art has meant to me until in middle school. I was bullied, then expressing and creating art became an outlet for me. I begin to take art seriously in high school, I took almost all of the art class that my high school has offered, graphic design to illustration to drawing and painting to photography. Read more>>

Taylor Mallory

My story began in a small town 3 hours south from Chicago named Decatur, IL. I was 6 years old and my parents noticed I could sing and they put me in a contemporary gospel group called The B.O.Y.S. (Believers of Yahweh Sing; essentially we were the gospel version of the Jackson 5). Consequently, when I turned 13yrs old I started producing and arranging my own music with a Casio keyboard, Dr. Rhythm Drum Machine, and a 4-track BOSS mixer). Read more>>

Mark A. McLemore (CEO), We Aint Scared Records

We Aint Scared Records was birthed out of a Non-Profit/501c3 called We Aint Scared Inc. Mark A. McLemore (CEO) and his wife Jennifer (CFO) formed We Aint Scared Inc in 2017 and went on a 10 city national music and more tour to raise money for water filters to send to the residents of Flint, Michigan. Read more>>

Crystal J Ocegueda

I could never live without art in my life. I can confidentially admit I am an emotional artist (but maybe we all are?), It drives the colors I use, the shapes my hands develop and the clarity of the object. Each piece of art I develop is an evolution of the one before it. Each painting incorporates the discovery of a new technique and skill I didn’t know I could do. Read more>>

Mahmud Suwwan

My pieces can sometimes represent various panels within the same story board in my head. My inspirations and influences stem from the highs and lows of day to day life, music, anime, and film. If something can evoke an emotion out of me, chances are it will inspire my next piece in some way, shape, or form. Read more>>

Chicago Loud 9

We want everyone to feel better after listening to our music and seeing us perform live. We hope in the large-scheme of things people can learn to work together to get things accomplished, in the small-scheme of things we want people to get turned up and have a good time to our music and our shows! Read more>>

Melissa Mata

I consider my style to be classic with a soft touch yet vibrant in color. I draw inspiration from my client’s emotions towards each other. I hope people have a deeper feeling that true love exists and can withstand the test of time. Read more>>

Ayaka Sano

I never know what to say when people ask me where I’m from. I was born in Japan, moved to Georgia when I was 8, moved to Indiana when I was 21 for grad school, and now I’ve been in Chicago for 4 years. I’m a self-taught photographer, but have 2 degrees in music! I was a classically trained violinist for 15 years. Read more>>

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