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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.

Eleftherios Ted Panagiotopoulos

I love to create but I really love to create with the people that mean the most to me, my family. Nothing brings me more joy then getting up early with my wife and kids and exploring. I feel in some way they begin to understand the importance of being stewards of the environment, appreciating the bonds of family, and seeing the world for beautiful place it can be. Read more>>

Carole McCulley|

Art has always been an integral part of my life. I remember being drawn to the unexpected, but beautiful quality of photography ever since I was in high school, back in the darkroom days. This was an important reason why I wanted to become a professional photographer and teacher of photography. Read more>>

Brad Meese

I grew up in South Bend, Indiana with no art background at all. I was into sports like a lot of kids, but around middle school I got into skateboarding. That pushed me in a different direction. I became very interested in music, more so than the average kid. Read more>>

Sofya Karash and Daniel McManus

Dan McManus founded The Narrative in 2012 with a vision of intellectually elegant design and collaboration with good people—Sofya joined the company several years later bringing an interdisciplinary philosophy and multicultural perspective to the studio. Read more>>

Sarah Bastress

The first painting I ever made was undoubted with her, and the first story I ever wrote was about her and me going on an adventure with the Sphinx in Giza, and I don’t see becoming an artist without her normalizing art, her calm encouragement, or her existing as my muse. Read more>>

Patt Bakle

I used to watch movies day and night and I remember analyzing the cinematography carefully, I was excited. Afterwards, I immersed myself a bit in the world of fashion and it was there where I found my passion for photography. This helped me a lot to be more precise while observing the things that I photograph. Read more>>

Danny Larsen

I started up as a professional snowboarder and lived the pro-life from 2002 to 2015. I had during my last years of riding shifted focus to art instead. The experiences I achieved through the life on the road helped me to appreciate my own surroundings. I realized that it doesn’t matter where you are unless you are able to take a moment and appreciate it. Read more>>

Kevin Swallow

I started to combine my love for shooting photos of architecture and cityscapes and began to focus exclusively on those subjects in my paintings. I painted with acrylic for 17 years but for the past six years, I’ve mostly painted using oils. Read more>>

Shane Tolentino

My family is a huge inspiration for me and it’s because of them that I get to pursue what I love every day at Columbia College Chicago as an Illustration BFA student. Their unwavering love and support, even if they aren’t 100% sure about what I’m doing project-wise all the time, makes me want to always work harder, do better, and reach higher. Read more>>

Erin Smego

As I got older, I would make secret drawings showing them to no one and realized this is what I really loved doing. I ended up going to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to study traditional watercolor painting and drawing, seguing into abstract, conceptual painting. Read more>>

Alicia Márquez

I love letters—typography, calligraphy, handwriting, graffiti, sign painting, letter carving—you name it! My passion for lettering began during my first years at university in Buenos Aires, where Rubén Fontana introduced me to the fascinating world of typography. Read more>>

OSA North

I recorded my first song with my younger brother, in his room and I was hooked from then on. The song was called “Intro” and it was over a 50 Cent instrumental. So, fast forward six years down the line and I am creating Afrobeat music on the North Side and talking to Voyage Chicago! Read more>>

Magdalena Sustere

For me, cello playing was, first of all, a way of how I worshiped in church and it was my hiding places for lives’ troubles. Behind it, I find peace and deeper connection with God. I know these two reasons helped me stick with the cello and music making, and grow through the process. Read more>>

Te Bates

My exploration unveiled my love for photography, which has led to collaborations with clients including The Chicago White Sox, The Chicago Bears, Big Ten Network, Nike, and Reebok, to name a few. My passion for creativity is what lead me to combine my love for the art, music, and sports through my creative studio, Project 23. Read more>>

Peter Fagundo

My personal life went through some drastic changes and then changed again and then again. My studio work and my personal life have always been in a constantly renegotiating symbiosis. Through those years, my practice was driven by the question, what is painting? Read more>>

Robin Wilson

My love for arts and crafts began in my childhood when I became immersed with coloring and making intricate friendship bracelets. The passion continued through college where I studied graphic design and fine art. After graduating college in 2010, trailing the peak of the recession. Read more>>

Devin McSherry

I am taking the leap into growing my freelance business! But before I really dive in, my husband and I are taking a backpacking trip to Europe for the month of October. I hope to soak in the sights and inspiration and come back in November ready to make beautiful things and major business moves. Read more>>

Mike Newquist

Throughout my life, I would contribute my drawing into everything I could. I’d create portraits advertising each performance of a play I was in. I would get commissions here and there to make greeting cards, portraits, all that good stuff. Read more>>

Ibrahim Ali

I took some of the best pics I had ever taken at that meet and since then I held myself to a higher standard and always look to improve my craft. Here I am 1 year into photography, I love it and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Read more>>

Yuliya Pieletskaya

With the goal of landing an agency. I have since achieved that goal and have worked on three children’s illustration projects to date! They have been very fun and have taught me so much about the illustration process. My art journey continues. Read more>>

Michelle Wanhala

The path to where I am now was a little rocky, art school sucked, my tattoo apprenticeships were awful, and I moved around a bit before settling in Chicago, but I am super happy to be where I am now. Read more>>

Akeem Muhammad – AiseLife

As an artist, I pull a lot of inspiration from nostalgia and things I loved growing up and as an adult. My parents really made it a point to introduce me a lot of different cultures, hobbies, and interests as a kid which range from 15+ years of martial arts, space camp, science fairs, art fairs, entrepreneurship, to painting and so on. Read more>>

Clark Armstrong

Chaos in Creation was formed in the summer of 2016 by Clark Armstrong and Antonio Montanez and began playing some shows around the area. This was the beginning for Clark to start writing music full time because the new project needed material. Read more>>

Joyce Polance

For me, art has always been a way of looking into myself. I have pursued this career because I embrace the selfish nature of being human, in that our own bodies and our own minds are the fundamental lenses through which we can see the world. Read more>>

Joyce Polance

My work has had many incarnations: Initial impressionist landscapes led to large, semi-abstract cityscapes. In 2002, I began experimenting with encaustic and worked in that medium until 2006, mostly using the figure as my subject. But I found myself missing oils and wanting to explore more emotional narratives. Read more>>

Michael Schaeffer

My most inspirational class was abstract painting. To me, abstract painting presented many more opportunities, options, mystery. It was exciting for me to put many different possible elements together to create a cohesive outcome. In 1993, I was accepted to study for a semester at the Royal Academy of Art in London. Read more>>

Irregular Girl

I think my identity as an immigrant was really formative; I othered myself and was othered by classmates for my cultural differences. I think my practice, now primarily drag, has been really impacted by this. I’ve always felt as though I didn’t quite fit in, isolated in a way. My answer to this is the irreverent work that I make. Read more>>

Leng Ung

My passion of black and white came from here for sure, it was so magical to see and understand how light can be manipulated with hand manipulation to dodge or burn to interpret your picture in a Photoshop predominant era. I must admit the smell of the chemistry misses me even now! Read more>>

Lexie pitter (Majesty)

I represent my community; I represent my country; I represent women who are afraid to tell their stories. These responsibilities that I took on as an artist leads to the birth of my self-proclaimed name; Majesty. Read more>>

Sage Cortez

Ended up going to school for sculpture which is where I had my first true ceramics course. In which I was encouraged to make a dinnerware set which I completed with resistance (Haha, I never looked back). I started Hand and Fire with a desire to focus my practice on solely ceramics, specifically tableware. Read more>>

Kelly Maryanski

I have been drawing and making things ever since I was little. I remember around age seven, I hand-drew and catalogued every outfit worn by Melissa Joan Hart on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I drew every costume in CATS the Musical. Read more>>

Mayor’s Kids

Mayor’s Kids started when two friends, with the love of OJ, TLC, and TV comedy (and music) came together. They then started pumping out jams like no tomorrow. This craze attracted two new bandmates with the same interests. Thus, Mayor’s Kids was born. Read more>>

Jeffrey Bivens

I was lucky in that when I first emerged from school, I didn’t think much about a vocation. Everything mixed: books, music, philosophy, and politics. I didn’t set my mind to any one thing, because I was interested in everything. I was always into film and theater. Read more>>

Radius, Ramon Norwood

I started getting into beats in 2001 with the use of Acid Pro I think it was 2.0 or 2.5 from my then roommates, The Stowaways (especially Allen Johnson, known then as Jubilee) who were later part of The Nacrobats, we lived at what was then known as the Dover Crib, there I met Elevation KNA Uncle El, Decay, Gilead 7, Ryan Officer and many more. Read more>>


With that said, all respect due to the graffiti culture, and all my friends and acquaintances who still get busy. It will forever be a part of my life, I learned a lot about myself practicing that art form, and it kept me out of trouble believe it or not. Read more>>

Steven Vandeven, “Vansteven”

The biggest lesson; if there are things you want to do, if you enjoy something, go for it. Don’t hesitate to experiment and try new things. You never know when life could end. You’ll never succeed if you don’t try. Don’t be afraid to fail. I fell in love with the camera about four years ago. Read more>>

Matt Brown

My artistic journey started with my first voice lessons at the age of 11. I trained to sing gospel and jazz, but mostly classical music and song literature throughout my adolescence for 7 years. Once high school graduation came near and I started to think about what I really wanted to do with my life. Read more>>

Jack Pontarelli

Growing up, my dad had a Film SLR camera that he would always take on family vacations and other various trips and he would let me take some shots with it from time to time. So, I was exposed to photography and a pretty young age. Read more>>

Janet Mesic Mackie

My infatuation with the West and horses has stayed with me and much of my work represents those themes and concepts, freedom, nature and individuality. My interests have broadened to include the Midwest landscape and flora, nudes and travel imagery. Read more>>

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