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Thought-Provokers: North Side

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 the North Side that we hope you will check out, follow and support.

Jody Berns

Life changed as I embarked on a career in technology and raised a family. I had to put my art aside as “real life” took over. Once my children were grown and I retired, I was taking care of my mother. We had time to reconnect, but it wasn’t the same. Read more>>

Katharin mraz

I’ve been working in the industry since I was 10 years old, starting as a background actress and booking my first gig through Darlene Hunt of Extraordinary Casting in 1994. Sadly, as a child actress, there were no roles for Asian Females. Read more>>

Omotola Akinbiyi

I’ve been exposed to two very different cultures which has made me a very curious person. The more people I meet the more I realize how little I know about…everything. Unfortunately, for those who know me, this makes me the person that asks a thousand questions when I’m introduced to someone. Read more>>

Nicole Mauser

Art has always been a part of life. Both my grandmothers were painters but very different in their own right. My father is a draughtsman, a doodler and an engineer, my mother is a graphic designer and printmaker. An array of art materials were always present and accessible. Read more>>

Daphne Walsh

My sister and brother could draw and I hated my drawings so I wanted a camera, I finally got my own at about 20 from my then fiancée. I failed to tell him I wanted a Polaroid camera and what I got was a 35mm I had to learn how to use it. Read more>>

Elliette Goulding

I never really identified as an artist or creative. I tend to be more analytical and calculated. Last year I was working as a flight attendant, recently married and struggling with mental illness. Read more>>

Paul Catanese

The longer I think about this question, the more I’m not entirely sure how I got here! I’m from New York; we moved from Long Island when I was young enough for it to mean I grew up “upstate”, but old enough that there’s always been a sense of being an observer – of being someone between places on the way to something else. Read more>>

Sonya Percival

Over the years I studied and practiced a lot of different art disciplines: photography, printmaking, ceramics, before arriving to print and textile design. I have always loved the decorative arts and much inclined to create things that are both beautiful and practical. Read more>>

Naomi Spungen

I’ve always been a casual fan of standup comedy, but I started really getting into it while working my first job out of college at The Basement Theatre in Auckland, NZ. While I was with The Basement I had the opportunity work with a lot of hilarious comics and see A TON of great stand up . Read more>>

Matthew Skirving

My goal from the moment I was given my first set of Turntables was collaboration. Up until then athletics had always been my passion. I needed to find a new way to connect with others. I found that my love for mixing up old stand-up comedy vinyls with music became a way for bringing musicians and artists together. Read more>>

Angela James

As a singer I’ve been performing for most of my life. I still remember the joy of first singing in public at age 4 and having no inhibitions and ambitions. As an adult it took me until I turned 30 to return to that joy and the past 6 years of performing in Chicago. Read more>>

Jeffery Moore

Photography has always appealed to me as a means of self-expression. After my sophomore year of high school, I worked all summer to save up for my first 35 mm SLR camera. In the age before the Internet, I taught myself how to use the camera by reading books and practicing. Read more>>

JD Dennison

Music was my primary passion through school, so I went to the University of Michigan and studied music production while playing in the jazz band. While going to school I taught myself photography by going out into the arboretum at night and taking pictures. Read more>>

Tracey Knowland

Being a regional artist, most of my exposure has come via social media, particularly Instagram, where I have a following of over 6,000. My original work, including a number of large commissions, finds favor with interior designers. Read more>>


I originally started writing music at my parent’s house in Michigan about 7 years ago. I found the process to be healing & the most natural form of expression for me. 2 years ago, I made the decision to commit to my craft. I currently study Contemporary Music at Columbia College Chicago. Read more>>

Alan Neider

My fondest memories growing up are with my grandparents. My grandfather painted the outside of his house each summer and the inside each winter. When he wasn’t painting he would sew clothing. My grandmother made ceramic figures and did number paintings. Read more>>

Cassidy Kapson

Like many artists I have followed through the years, I was an artistic and creative person from a very young age. My mom used to paint quite a bit before I was born, so I like to think I inherited the visual arts gene from her, and my dad has always sung in bands, which instilled a deep love for music in me.  Read more>>

Jerry Crandall

Thus the foundation for my love the old west was established. By persistently studying and researching pre 1900 western personalities and events I am constantly formulating paintings that not only tell stories, but capture the essence of leading historical personalities. Read more>>

Hunter Floyd

I am driven by the need and desire to know people’s stories. I love meeting people and learning everything about them, what makes them tick, what their dreams are, their fears, what they’re passionate about!! That desire has been the fuel behind the stories I create. Read more>>

Alec Rudek

Using my passion for creating art and my ever-developing knowledge of technology, I am taking time to pursue physical art installations, for users to interact with. Using tech such as projection mapping and Arduino microcontrollers. Read more>>

Vaiju Saraf

My paintings generally include landscapes and nature. I have very fond memories of seeing my first fall in Chicago about 20 years ago during a job assignment. I explored the beauty and culture that the city offered and loved every bit! Read more>>

Valerie Ostenak

Art was just a regular part of my everyday life, I was always making something. But I wanted to be a zoo veterinarian, I liked animals! High school was geared toward the sciences, and taking art classes as electives. My first semester in college was the first time I was without an art class, ever. Read more>>

Jeremy Steffen

My story begins where a lot of people from the Midwest’s stories begin: in a small house surrounded by trees and corn fields. I was raised in Indiana by a teacher and a truck driver who encouraged me to play outdoors. This is where I learned to value the true beauty of nature. Read more>>

Pamela Paulsrud

Art has always been a part of my life: commercial art, fine art, healing arts and I married my high school sweetheart, Art. Having grown up in a small rural Iowa community was limiting in regard to the art scene, historical underpinnings and technical aspects. Read more>>

Aisling Kerns

Though most of my current work is drawing and painting, my first love was photography. While I would say that I have been an artist my entire life, it wasn’t until high school that I focused my practice to the art of capturing light. Read more>>

Veronica Salas

Every artist doesn’t necessarily have a “unique” story. I consider my life and experiences to be just the same as anyone else’s. I guess my interests would be categorized as someone who has wanted to create art and to contribute something positive to society. Read more>>

Rachel Joyce

I am a local artist who began painting at the age of six when my dad enrolled our family in a drawing and painting class as a favor to his friend the owner of a local private art school. It was there that I discovered a deep love for creating, a love that ultimately led me to pursue painting as a career. Read more>>

Linda Angio

I have been doing some form of art for over forty years. I have tried my hand at oil and acrylic, pottery, sculpting, rug hooking, floor cloths, stained glass, basket making, weaving, drawing and watercolor. I enjoy most forms of artwork, included gardening, cooking and creating cozy interiors. Read more>>

Francesca Baron

I keep myself busy with teaching, taking class, performing work, and choreographing for companies throughout Chicago. I am still in the process of defining and refining myself as an artist and what it means to be a dancer. Read more>>

Carrie Johnson

I decided to get back into painting myself and got a studio space in 2017. I realized after all the years I’d spent on the other side of art – being inspired and challenged by many forms of art – that I wanted to confront my own creativity head-on so I started producing my own work. Read more>>

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