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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.

Rebecca Ickes Berg

In 2009-2010, I worked at an after-school arts center for at-risk 8-12-year-olds in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, living and working in what was considered one of the poorest neighborhoods in the UK. It was there that I first learned ceramics. Not only did I see the calmness it helped bring to some otherwise tough kids, but it also showed me – a stereotypical extrovert – a quiet, introverted new hobby. Read more>>

Jenny Boully

After earning my degrees from Hollins, I began to write poetry in prose and then, after I earned an MFA in Poetry from Notre Dame, I began to write essays in the manner of prose poetry. I experienced a great confluence of genre and uses of words and forms, a feeling that I am sure goes back to my childhood of vibrant cultures and languages. I think, too, that my parents gave me a lot of freedom, probably more freedom than they should have. Read more>>

Aaron Williams

As I got older rock bands like Nirvana sparked me to have an interest in playing music. Found mother’s old dusty guitar and played it not stop, pretty much teaching myself. In High School, I was asked by a classmate to start a band due to some poems I read in Mr. Hendee’s English class at Glenbard West High School. The only goal was to write three original songs from those poems and play the school Talent show. Read more>>

Ana Mabeline Aguirre

My art reflects the intensity that connects me with my being a woman, with my being an immigrant and with understanding life as a continuous metaphor of the inner world. I was born and raised in the semi desert north of Mexico and I have been planted in the high desert in Central Oregon. Read more>>

Jonathan Meyer and Julia Antonick

Julia & Jonathan met in 2006 through a workshop at Links Hall in Chicago. They continued to bump into each other here and there in the experimental contemporary dance scene until a fateful moment at the Chicago Cultural Center that set in action an intensive long-term artistic collaboration. Julia had rehearsal space there through a choreographic residency program through DCASE in the dance studio. Read more>>

Tom Benko

Through all of this early learning, I knew I wanted to keep studying music, and so I set my path towards this by accepting admission to Northern Illinois University to study music with an emphasis in Percussion Performance. I spent my college summers touring with the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps and one winter with the NorthCoast Academy Percussion Ensemble. Read more>>

Gerald Bailey

Extracurricular activities became an important part of my childcare, with band and Boy Scouts being the two things that I enjoyed most. My troop made a point to schedule a camping trip once a month. In five years or so, that comes out to 60 outings. Those frequent weekends in the woods had a lifelong impact. Read more>>

Steven P. Robinson

At the time I was taking a musical hiatus but in 2010, I was asked (or coerced!) into being on the bill at a charity gig. I played an electric set as part of a duo Adam and Steve (we released only one EP post show called ‘On the 6th day God Created Adam & Steve’!) and it was such a good feeling to be playing again that it reinvigorated me in a lot of ways. I then began a second musical chapter in a new City playing shows and releasing EPs regularly. Read more>>

Angela Bachman

I suppose my story started off trying to find a place in my mind where I felt I fit in. I didn’t feel like I fit anywhere specifically growing up. I was just trying to exist and find purpose somehow. As a child, I always drew and wrote. From the beginning, it was a creative outlet that fueled me subconsciously. As I got older and life got more and more complex, so did my mind and perspective. I struggled with my mental health. Read more>>

Eric Jimenez

Art and fiction have always captured my imagination, and I had an inexplicable compulsion to produce my own version of whatever held my interest. Whether it was dinosaurs, action heroes, or cartoon characters, I was always drawing. My parents were definitely instrumental in cultivating that interest, and some of my earliest memories are of my father assigning various artistic challenges to help keep my interests well-rounded. Read more>>

Marilet Martinez

My gateway artist experience was in preschool. I played the title character of The Little Red Hen, and have been hooked on theatre and performing ever since! I grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco, in a multigenerational, Spanish bilingual home, full of incredible singers, musicians, and storytellers. Throughout my childhood, I performed in school plays, church reenactments, and community events, loving every minute of it!!! Read more>>

Joey Tea

I fell in love with street art, graffiti, hip hop, and architecture and knew I wanted to live in Chicago. I went to Mchenry County College and got an associates degree in graphic design. I moved to Chicago in 2014 to pursue music and become emerged in city life. I had no intention in making any visual art but couldn’t help but take photos of Chicago’s beautiful architecture when I’d go out exploring. Read more>>

Carina Francioso

My paintings and life are an expression of this belief and my heart and soul go into my work. I graduated with a degree in Honors Fine Art and Italian Language – two of my deepest passions in life! I am also a professional model and enjoy traveling the world when I’m not painting in the studio! Traveling allows me to collect photographs and inspiration to bring home and create from. Read more>>

Helen Boggess

I grew up in a very creative family, surrounded by music, and loved to doodle and make patterns, but never saw myself as an artist. I couldn’t (and truly still cannot) draw people that don’t stick people, I haven’t taken many art classes, and majored in education while in college, so I am clearly still working on deconstructing my self-made wall of caveats as to why I could never be a “real artist. Read more>>

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