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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.

Delphine Pontvieux

Besides making jewelry and being a published author, I am also a performing actor: I have appeared in movies such as “LOL-Laughing Out Loud” with Demi Moore, “Sinister 2” and various TV series such as “Empire.” Read more>>

Jim Vondruska

I began to craft a unique style of shooting and found joy in showing life at its most intimate and unadulterated form through photography. I have since found love and a passion in telling stories whether they come from conflict zones, events, or simply a brief glimpse into a subject’s daily life. Read more>>

Ola Morin-Muhammed

Architect . Creative Director. Magic Maker. Ola wear many hats, each more beautiful than the last. She established IJORERE, Inc. in June 2008. Her architectural expertise is evident in the unconventional approaches to her designs. Read more>>

jason peterson

I have been shooting the same photos for over 25 years. about 6 years ago my work was discovered thru social media and it exploded. I have around 2 million followers of my work on social media. Read more>>

Justin Casselle

My story began as an accident. I was a soon-to-be graduating senior at Xavier University I was entirely unsure of what would be next for me. I remember being told by my counselor that I needed a few more credits to graduate and suggested I take an arts course.  Read more>>

Samantha Callahan

I knew at a young age that it was important to capture all of life’s moments. I have been photographing since I was 13 years old. Where ever I went I had a camera, and my friends and I always ended up having a mini photoshoot no matter where we were. Read more>>

Andrew Wille

The photography community out here is really unique; I haven’t met a mean or selfish person through photography out here. Everyone is so welcoming and always down to meet up. I can now easily say that photography has become my biggest passion in life. Read more>>

Michael Barton

From as early as I can remember I have played music and wanted to play professionally. I took private lessons on numerous instruments and played in countless ensembles. I went from making incoherent noises to playing simple etudes and then found myself studying music at the University of North Texas. Read more>>

Gina Whalen

I started my career as a Special Education Teacher. I have always loved teaching and helping others. After my 8th year, my husband and I had a baby. While still teaching, I started to take photos for friends. I quickly fell in love with capturing special moments and it developed into a career. Read more>>

Nick Albertson

I went to Bard College in the Hudson Valley in New York, where I got my degree in photography, and then moved to Portland, Ore, to work at a photo book publisher called Nazraeli Press. After a few years in Portland, I decided to go back to graduate school to get an MFA. Read more>>

Sarah Carolan

As a child, I loved to draw and was encouraged to do so by my family. Still, it took a long time to reconcile art as, “I’m a hobby-artist,” and art as a means of self-expression and therapy—even with my graduating from art school, and working as a professional graphic designer. Read more>>

Jesse Howard

As an African American, I have experienced profiling and discrimination. I know firsthand the lack of sensitivity that the African American community is viewed upon and often dismissed. My work embodies what is in me and how I feel, without limitations of my surrounding. Read more>>

Steven Bell

At an early age, I was fascinated by art. I spent many afternoons at the Art Institute of Chicago and particularly loved the Dutch masters. When I was thirteen, I won a contest at my grade school to take a sculpting class at the Art Institute. I was hooked on art. Read more>>

Ginny Pitre-Hay

My life as an artist follows a trajectory from a being graphic designer and art director to a full time artist. I realize now what I have been doing all along in my journey, in both fields, was visually telling stories. Read more>>

Tim Macdonald

I’ve been playing the classical violin since I was a four-year-old growing up in Honduras. When I was a little older I moved to the US, learned the English words for musical terms, and got into Scottish folk music. That kicked off what’s been a wonderful decade and a half of meeting other musicians. Read more>>


I found my calling at a very young age. I work with flowers! I am fortunate to say I have been doing for the last 45 years, I worked at my parent’s flower shop for 40 of those years. But now, I am excited to say, I work for myself! On June 1, 2012, I started “Laura’s Flowers”! Read more>>

Minami Kobayashi

I am so happy to be here and learn about a culture that is often totally different from my own. I love it. I recently tried to hug my parents which I had never done since I was around 10 years old. I was leaving in Japan to return to Chicago. It was sort of awkward but I felt satisfied and got more confident at leaving. Read more>>

Anne Von Ehr

I never could color inside the lines. As a child the pictures in my coloring books were just a suggestion. My pages were embellished with additional characters, wardrobe adjustments, elaborate backgrounds, and blended colors. Read more>>

Hoa Hong

My interest in fashion and music rekindled my love for painting. Though I have been creating and painting things for as long as I can remember. I did not paint religiously until my final year of college. Read more>>

Jourdon Gullett

When I was younger, my father painted cars, motorcycles and semi-trucks. Whether it was body work or something custom, he would work on stuff in our basement. I have a lot of memories of taking time masking things, holding tools, and sometimes getting to use a spray gun with him. Read more>>

Lee k

I loved and admired art when I was young, but I wasn’t such a prominent student. By chance, I started to go to art high school and started to do art in earnest. Simply, I loved painting so much but I had no natural talent, so I was just a hard worker. Read more>>

Chris Hodge

Art really became a way for me to have a voice in the classroom. I could say things with my art that I couldn’t say with my words, and the attention that I received from making art kept me making more. Read more>>


Aviation is what brought me to Chicago though, and I never stopped leisurely photographing things, mostly architecture. It wasn’t until I decided to leave my corporate career that I really thought I could make photography a real venture. Read more>>

Erica Wexler

I use my art as a personal form of therapy to help heal myself as well as others. I come from a family of turmoil, addiction, abandonment and depression. I have lost 3 people who were extremely close to me to suicide. I believe one of the reasons why so many people are unhappy today is because we have lost our connection to ourselves, to nature and to one another. Read more>>

Daniel D Hochstatter

I think it took me making about 30 mediocre videos before I ever got paid to make one. Now after maybe 200 videos, I have found myself in very high demand. I view this as an advantage often times because it’s easy to stay out of the typical traps of predictable media. Read more>>

Ebby Lowry

I found my passion for photography kind of on accident when I began working on the yearbook staff as a senior in high school. From there, I was given my first camera for Christmas and haven’t put it down since. What started as a fun hobby quickly became something I knew I had to do for the rest of my life. Read more>>

Graham Chapman

The opportunities that I’ve gotten from picking up that camera are things I’d never imagined. It’s given me friendships I’d never thought I’d have. Its help be an outlet for creativity I never knew I needed. Read more>>

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