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Thought-Provokers: Northwest 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 Northwest Side that we hope you will check out, follow and support.

Shannon Marie Barnes

As many stories go, I have been artistic since I could hold a marker. I was born into a creative family and the arts were encouraged. I have been very fortunate for that. I continued my studies all the way through a masters degree in the arts. While I did have an incredible support system, it was not always an easy world to inhabit. Read more>>

Maura McDanel

Two and a half years ago, I was at my wit’s end. I was going through a big upheaval in my life and felt very lost. I finally decided to take a metalsmithing class because I remembered back in 9th grade thinking my older friend who helped a lady make stamped jewelry was really cool. Read more>>

Remo Daut

Since I remember myself, I always had this urge to express myself. First, I started to paint, then to write stories with illustrations… and in the end, ended up with going to music school, playing instruments. I love playing music and singing songs, that was my first true love. The problem I had with music was that goes really well with alcohol and parties, I did that for a while but eventually got exhausted and had to find other ways to express myself. Read more>>

Adam Michaels

My professional art career technically started in 4th grade where I sold a Mortal Kombat drawing for $3. Back then, a kid could buy a couple of comic books with that kind of dough. With my new found success as an artist and entrepreneur of $3, I took a short break from the crazy lifestyle of an art career but would officially start back in around 2007 when I was in my twenties. Read more>>

Richie Carter

I was first enthralled with art when I was about four or five when I would watch my uncle draw dinosaurs for me. I actually remember at that point saying to myself that I wanted to be an artist. Little did I know, what all this would entail. I continued my interest in art through high school and started to understand more and more that I was interested in traditional art. Read more>>

Chad Hayward

I don’t have the standard fairytale artist beginning story with a crayon in hand from age one. I occasionally attempted to color in the lines as much as any normal kid throughout childhood but I was generally more concerned with the climbing, running and jumping. Later on, in an 8th grade English class, I discovered a simple cartoon character drawing in the corner of the whiteboard as I waited for the final bell to ring. Read more>>

Milena Deneno

Being surrounded by like-minded, driven, talented people propelled me into trying even harder than ever before. And that is where I met my people, my friends… no, my family. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. On my very first year, one of my friends said “I’m doing a convention, do you wanna split a table” and I haven’t looked back since. Tabling at cons is one of my most favorite things to do nowadays. Read more>>

Mae Vitali

I have been drawing for most of my life, but I delved a lot deeper into my creative side when I got to high school. Amidst a lot of turmoil in my family at the time, I found art as a way to not only catch a break from the chaos but to explore parts of myself that were new and unknown. Even though it was a difficult time, art provided (and continues to provide) an outlet for me to deal with things in a healthy way. Read more>>


Comics made me want to read, so I would read them whenever I could. In elementary school, every time the opportunity came to order books from the book club, I’d order the latest Peanuts collection. I read the comics in the newspaper every day. At some point, I found superhero comics and indie comics like Bone and Cerebus the Aardvark. There’s something about the combination of a good story and wonderful art that’s magic. Read more>>


The idea of modeling wasn’t really something I considered until my late teens. I’ve had cancer twice in the past seven years, but my first experience with it was the most important. During the time I was getting therapy, my life became extremely monastic in a beautiful way. It was then I started educating myself on the things that interest me most today: dreaming, symbolism, religion, philosophy, quantum physics and metaphorical allegory, which ultimately lead me to a fascination of occult esoteric knowledge. Read more>>

1 Comment

  1. Danny Diaz

    August 22, 2018 at 2:56 am

    Thank you So much for being listed among these fine individuals, artists and thought provokers! Truly honored…

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