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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.

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>>

Sophie Lucido Johnson

I was always a writer; I didn’t think I could draw. I loved indie comics, and I spent hours at museums, but I believed the tired old idea most adults have that I wasn’t really capable of visual art. That’s because when we’re children, someone tells us that art is something that you can get right or wrong. Read more>>

Everett Reynolds

I just randomly picked up a cheap brush, cheap canvas, and started painting, and instantly fell in love with it. Got great feedback and support from people. I realized I might actually be able to be GREAT at this. I started teaching myself different techniques and mediums and I’ve been doing it ever since. Read more>>

Omar Mondragon

I love to capture moments and expressions. I used a couple of apps to give some dimensions to some of the pictures I take, to give them some extra bright colors. I just want people to get lost in my pictures like I do and feel happy when they look at them. Read more>>

Ashley Dahl

I decided to turn my photography hobby into a business because I was looking for ways to fill my free time. It wasn’t until a few months into creating my business that I realized that I fell in love with not only photography, but the business of photography. Read more>>

Caitlin Ruby Miller

I have always had a highly inquisitive mind, whether that is inquiring about the nature of particle physics or learning to love someone deeply. I have brought this inquisitive nature to everything I have done in my life, including opera, music, science, psychology and the humanities. Read more>>

Dom Udell

I fell in love with making videos, but professionally went in a different direction. In college I started out studying microbiology and ultimately decided that I didn’t want to be a lab tech or go to grad school. Even though I was a junior I knew I had to change paths. In that moment I decided to pursue film. Read more>>

Juli Del Prete

I was an only child, so I read a lot of books. I think that’s where it started. Once I ran out of books to read, I started writing. My mom is a singer, so I grew up around music and eventually words and music led me to theatre. Read more>>

Paul Han

I found a passion for photography through a close friend of mine asking me to go shoot in the city. At the time I had no idea I would get so hooked on it, but after walking around the city and taking a couple photos that night, I have not put my camera down since. Read more>>

Nikki Morgan

I did eventually get my bachelor’s degree, in acting, and I moved to Chicago a little bit after that, but it wasn’t until years later that I started making music. I bought my first guitar for $65 in 2014 because I wanted to play for the worship team at my church, but it wasn’t long after that that I started writing my own songs. Read more>>

Dontay Lockett

I started drawing when I was in third grade. My god brother and I would draw wrestlers from the WWE. In fifth grade, I met a kid who could draw faces really well, and I was inspired to do the same. Read more>>

Jane Carney

Even though I did not pursue my romantic idea of going to New York and starving while producing work I have continued to make art. My role models as teachers and mentors were all working artists. They inspired me to believe that I could combine an artistic practice and education. Read more>>>

Erica Elan Ciganek

Learning to see over and over again. Learning to listen through the process. Learning to seek humility toward the subject and process even when it’s easier to seek power. I continue to paint portraits in a world that is quick to dehumanize, and look for embodiment in that process. Read more>>

Winter Gale Colloton

My love of anthropology and Archeology comes through in many of my paintings. I am a self-taught acrylic painter. Nature is my biggest source of inspiration, followed closely by travel, history and the drive to emphasize the connections between people and time. Read more>>

Cassie Tompkins

Working mostly in print design, I became fascinated with layering colors of ink to create new hues, a technique often used in screen-printing. I like its efficiency and how it reveals the process. I began incorporating this technique into my design work. Read more>>

Vagabond Maurice

Son of African immigrants who moved to the United States before their Civil War broke out, I’ve developed into a man who has been influenced by 90s pop culture, anime and comics, as well as jazz music. I was born and raised in Minnesota, which is very cold, and moved to Chicago. Read more>>

Kelly Neibert

My time in grad school was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I worked with faculty members who challenged me and truly cared, experimented with painting materials and techniques in SAIC’s state-of-the-art Studio Lab, and discovered a love for teaching through my teaching assistantships. Read more>>

Anne Hughes

My environment nurtured curiosity, observation, contemplation and creative play. I enjoyed reading, exploring and “making things.” Before entering university, I was already imagining that pursuing art would be a means of pulling together any of my interests. Read more>>

Scott Freeman

It all started when I was 16 years old and my parents told me it was time to get a job. I started working at a watch shop in a mall doing quick fix watch repairs. Little did I know, it would be a lifelong career. After I graduated high school, I knew I needed to further my education and training in the jewelry field. Read more>>

Joanna Kramer

My love of art, and especially ceramics, led me back to school to study Art Therapy to add to my Masters in Social Work degree. My Social Work experience was with adolescents and art became a powerful therapeutic tool to help clients access parts of themselves they could not easily verbalize or identify. Read more>>

Seth Carlson

In rural Minnesota, my artistic career began with my father as my first mentor. Through my parents I learned how hard work and compassion create purpose in life as they demonstrated through their service oriented professions and entrepreneurship. Read more>>

Betty Tousignant and Bet Toosna

After deciding to leave the corporate world here in Illinois and I moved to a SW Florida area with plenty of canals in the neighborhood and the Pine Island Sound which took me to the Gulf. I could me found almost daily kayaking with the returning pods of Manatees out to Matlacha. Read more>>

Kris Easler

Illustration as a career, and especially freelance illustration, didn’t manifest until I had finished my BFA in Studio Art and I moved to Georgia to start my Masters in Illustration at Savannah College of Art and Design. I moved to Chicago five years ago and have learned a lot about my art, my business, and myself since then. Read more>>

Chris Pieta

Photography combines technical knowledge and creativity into one. I always have liked taking pictures, and a year and a half ago I upgraded from my cell phone camera to a DSLR camera. This pushed me head first into this fascinating world. Read more>>

Will Hooper

I think my interest in art, drawing particularly, started when I was 10 or 11. At that age I started copying characters like Garfield, Charlie Brown, and various other comics. From there I progressed to super heroes like Superman and Batman. Read more>>

Ron Gard

Every day I have my hands in or on something that is on its way to becoming something else. I have 3 Ash trees at the junction of the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park in Chicago that were scheduled to be cut down because they were done in by the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle. Read more>>

Jaclyn Mednicov

Being a bit too timid to take art classes early on in high school, I found another creative outlet, makeup. I fantasized about becoming a makeup artist and practiced on my friends by doing their hair, makeup, and nails. This was my way of making art. Read more>>

robert stotts

My work is about exploration and personal expansion as well as celebrating my passion for traditional arts and crafts. I’m fascinated by most any, especially, traditional crafts and feel that we live in a golden age of access to participate in these. Read more>>

Jeremy DeBor

I started my career as a web designer for a boutique digital agency after graduating art school. Sometime later I founded the branding and digital design studio “Other Things” with my friend and collaborator Buddy Boor. In 2015 we left our day jobs and spun our studio practice into our full time gigs. Read more>>

Cam Casey

I originally started with video editing back about 4-5 years ago with putting together football clips and uploading them to Vine. I enjoyed doing this as a hobby but I was able to accumulate enough followers to start making it into a side job. Read more>>

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