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

Ellen R Hanson

We are just more likely to share and mythologize ours. My story is fairly boring. For some reason, as a high schooler, I was stubbornly set on becoming a painter. I still am. I also have this romantic notion of the artist in her studio that I love to indulge in. For example, there are a few nightgowns I wear in the studio that each reminds me of a 19th-century French painting smock. In addition to the nightgowns and maybe even because of them, I like when I work into the early hours of the morning. Read more>>

Lydia Cash

I’ve wanted to be a singer for as long as I can remember. I was always bouncing around the house singing – so much that I remember my father frequently instructing me to go to my room if I wanted to sing. So, I’d go sing in my room. My parents bought me a karaoke machine for Christmas one year – it came with a single tape, “Under The Boardwalk” by The Drifters. I sang that song till I was blue in the face. Read more>>

Timothy Schlapp

My “real job” affords me the opportunity to save special pieces from the tree that would have finished its time as mulch or firewood. This would give a person some enjoyment for a little while, but hopefully, the items I make will bring a person pleasure for years to come. Sometimes, I even get to rescue a cat from a tree!Most of my items are cut from the tree, dried, shaped and finished by my own hand. I try as much as I can to use locally sourced wood for my  pieces. Read more>>

Susan Webb Tregay

Starting in watercolor where there was so much camaraderie, encouragement, instruction, and competition, I learned the basics, then moved on to acrylics. When bristle brushes and trying to blend paint on the canvas lead to sore hands, I developed my style. It involves a random color underlayer, a charcoal drawing, then dragging another color over the first to create flickering interplay between the colors. Read more>>

Marissa Voytenko

I was an artist. I knew that with as much clarity as I knew my own name. I had this strong sense when I was five years old and had been gifted a set of colored pencils by my aunt. Though I can recall having a love of drawing prior to this, her gift was like giving me a title that I knew was mine to receive. My childhood was spent living into this calling by drawing for hours in my room and taking every art class possible throughout my school years. Read more>>

Dominique Ashanti Johnson (Dom)

I am emotion. I’ve always been. I am the epitome of light in the darkest of places. I’ve always had a misconception with love. That is my narrative. I’ve always tried to mold myself into this form that chased approval, losing sight of my own truth. Read more>>

Molly Colleen O’Connell

I grew up the youngest of seven children in West Palm Beach, Florida. That’s my line, I use it a lot. I was extremely shy, kept secrets, and drew constantly. The brilliantly tacky neon and pastel landscape of Southern Florida soaked into my child’s brain. I loved a fast food chain restaurant called RJ Gator’s that served fried alligator nuggets. Read more>>

Marriam Khan

Chicago has been very kind to me, I am blessed. It is quite the humbling experience starting from scratch when you leave at the peak. I am grateful to all who have helped me in this journey and hope to continue to thrive with their support and my hard work. The feeling to make someone’s special day a little more special is my motivation. My goal is to bring happiness and joy to my clients through my art. Read more>>

Karen A. Johnson

Sculpting nature in polymer clay started out as a fun side path to go down, but now is becoming one of the main ways that I express myself. Being able to make lifelike flowers, leaves, and insects and turn them into jewelry is a way that I can preserve a moment in time that is more tangible than taking a photograph. Read more>>

Edra Soto

My upbringing in Puerto Rico has set the tone for the way I think about my personal and geographical relationships. Life in the Caribbean is quite contrasting from the life and career I have forged for myself in the United States. I think about the person I was, growing up as a middle-class Puerto Rican with parents that work as hard as possible to give their children what they needed. Read more>>

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