Previews of upcoming arts events

Summer Solstice Celebrates Local Art and Spirit 

Summer Solstice Celebrates Local Art and Spirit 

June 21 is the longest day of the year, and the perfect night for the Beverly Area Arts Alliance (The Alliance) to celebrate the spirit, inspiration and interaction of the vibrant local arts community at the Uprising Summer Solstice, 5 to 10 p.m.  

The onset of sizzling summer days and languid summer nights has inspired an event that mixes a quirky variety of hands-on arts activities and music in an outdoor setting 99th and Walden Parkway with the opening reception for the Prairie Gothic art exhibit at the Joplin Marley Co-Creative Space9911 S. Walden Pkwy. 

Family friendly art “projects” invite people to create something fun, then take it home. Projects include making flower crownsdoing screen printing with members of the Spudnik Press cooperative and creating unique personalized images of the community on wood.  

Summer’s spirit will be captured in festival hair creations by stylists from Tranquility Salon, Tarot card readings and a bonfire 

Fans of the Alliance Uprising events can expect to find hand-crafted items from a number of vendors, as well as merchandise from Fair Trade Chicago.  The 99th and Walden shops will also be open.  Available for purchase will be tote bags featuring the Summer Solstice poster graphic created by Chris Wilczak and screen-printed by Spudnik Press.  

The highlight of the event is the opening of Prairie Gothic, a group show featuring works by artists from across Chicago: Kass Copeland, John Walker, Robin Power, Jake Saunders, Larry Tuckman and Kevin Blake, that promises “the dark side of the prairie and the mysteries of the midway will be revealed to the more curious among you.” Following the Summer Solstice, viewings can be scheduled with exhibit curator Sal Campbell, sal@beverlyarts.orgThe exhibit closes with a reception Sat., July 20, 7 to 10 p.m. 

Summer Solstice food vendors include Ellie’s Café. Music will be supplied by DJ Ruta Spencer and pop-up musicians.  

The Alliance was formed in 2014 to coordinate art-focused events and projects fostering collaboration between artists and the community. The Alliance presents the Beverly Art Walk, The Frunchroom reading series, art exhibits and music events. Learn more at  



Art Fair & Festival Returns to Ridge Park this Summer 

More than 40 artists will be exhibiting and selling original works at the 2nd annual Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival Sat., June 22, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Ridge Park Cultural Center, 9625 S. Longwood Dr. The event is being planned and presented by the Ridge Park Advisory Council (RPAC) and John H. Vanderpoel Art Association along with the Chicago Park District. 

highlight of cultural opportunities in the community, the Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival will feature work across a wide variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, photographs, jewelry, art glass, leatherwork and more.  

The art fair debut last year was a resounding success, with more than 1000 visitors and a host of activities. This year’s festivities will be expanded to include more live music, more kid-friendly options and more food trucks including Misiericordia Hearts and Flour, Calabria and Pollo LocuasChildren’s and adult beverages will be available.  

Performing music are inspirational singer Gincy Hartin, a local jazz ensemble and the Over the Side Band, a popular cover band.  

New this year are limited edition tote bags featuring a beautiful water color of Ridge Park by famed artist Judie Anderson. Anderson will be will be on hand to sign the bags also and she has donated the original artwork to be auctioned off at the art fair.  

For the kids there will be two bounce houses (one will be just for the little ones)and Twistcity with two amazing shows, one with giant bubbles and the other with balloon twisting.   

As a Chicago Park District cultural center, Ridge Park offers rich and dynamic programming that will be highlighted throughout the art fair and festival. The John H. Vanderpoel Museum Gallery is located in the fieldhouse through the Chicago Park District’s Arts Partners in Residency Program, which unites artists and communities in Chicago’s parks. The gallery hosts a world-class collection of Impressionist paintings and other late 19th and early 20th century paintings and works on paper. Ridge Park Art Fair attendees will have the opportunity to take guided tours of the Vanderpoel Museum, as well as of the park facilities and ceramics studio. 

Information about the Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival is available at For more information, contact Irene Testa,, or Mary Jo Viero, 


‘What Makes You Healthy?’ Display Showcases Works by 3rd Grade Artists 

‘What Makes You Healthy?’ Display Showcases Works by 3rd Grade Artists 

To coincide with National Hospital Week, Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH) sponsored an art contest, “What Makes You Healthy,” for third grade students who attend school within LCMH’s primary service area.  

National Hospital Week 2019 celebrated hope and healing, and the hospitals, health systems and women and men who support the health and well-being of their communities through dedication and care from the heart.  

More than 310 entries in the “What Makes You Healthy” came from 14 area elementary schools including Christ the King, Keller Gifted Magnet, St. Cajetan, St. Christina and Vanderpoel Humanities Academy. One winner was selected from each school to have their artwork on display through summer at the hospital, 2800 W. 95th St.  

“Living a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong journey, and we are committed to providing education for all ages to help us all make more informed, healthier life choices,” said Kathleen Kinsella, Chief Operating Officer at LCMH. “The contest is a creative way to initiate important discussions about healthy living, and to enjoy the artistic talents of our local children. We hope the community will visit the hospital to see their great work.”   

Contest submissions ranged from colorful images of fruits and vegetables and various forms of exercise and sports, as well as activities and themes that were specific to the student, such as listening to music, walking their dog, helping the homeless and laughing. 

Art Comes to Life at Gathering d’Arts 

Art Comes to Life at Gathering dArts 

The Beverly Arts Center (BAC) and Chicago Alliance of Visual Artists (CAVA) come together to present a new fundraiser, Gatherings d’Arts, Sat., June 15, 6 p.m. at the BAC, 2407 W. 111th St. A VIP reception will start at 5 p.m. The event will feature the opportunity to interact with artists as they work on pieces that will be auctioned to art lovers that evening. 

Proceeds from Gatherings d’Arts will support the promotion of local artists through the BAC and CAVA, a not-for-profit organization committed to fostering the talents of Chicago-area artists age 50 or older, and to provide scholarships at the BAC.  

Gathering d’Arts attendees will spend the early part of the evening visiting with participating artists as they create, learning more about each artist’s creative process, watching as the works of art come to life and deciding which of the works they would want to take homeAt the end of the evening, guests will enjoy the fun of bidding on the masterpieces they’ve witnessed being created.  

Live music from guitarist Allen Bishop, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres are also being offeredMost of the participating artists specialize in acrylic painting. 

International talent will be on display with Gathering d’Arts painters hailing from Australia, Mexico, France, and right here in Chicago. Artists showcasing their skills at the event include Shefali Khanna, Kurt Mitchell, Lucienne Scanlon, Kathie Huddleston, Marcus Alleyne, Turtel Onli, Susan Flanagan, Patrick Thompson, Erik Sorenson, Jim Pryzdia, Jeremy James, Tia Etu, Sara Peak Convery, Stephanie Bieniek, Margaret Johnson, Christian Thompson, Chava Mancera, Kendall Hill, Amy Roach, Didier Nolet, Nicholas Decker, Karen Duffy, Susan Bennett, Colette Wright Adams, Dorothy Mason, Lily Johnston, Richard Pociask, Vicky Tesmer, Jen N. Jessen Lunt, Kathleen King, Sarah Kayode, Andrew Pace, Sue Wrzesinski, Carole Kaufman, Gloria Nehf, Robin J. Carlson, Rolanda Hudson, Fiona Craig, Joseph Baranski, and Greg Mejia.  

Also participating are members from Project Onward, an organization that supports the professional development of artists with exceptional talents and challenges, ranging from autism to mental illness, and provides these artists with workspace, materials, professional guidance, exhibition opportunities and access to markets to sell their work and advance their careers. Project Onward artists showcased at the event will be Elizabeth Barren, Ruby Bradford, Michael Hopkins, Michael Bryant, and Fernando Ramirez. 

Tickets to Gatherings d’Arts are $60 for VIP or $50 general admission. Tickets/info: 773-445-3838 or 

BAC Exhibit Commemorates Centennial of Black Sox Scandal 

BAC Exhibit Commemorates Centennial of Black Sox Scandal 

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Black Sox scandal when eight Chicago White Sox players threw the 1919 World Series. To commemorate this infamous incident in baseball history, the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., hosts artist Thom Ross’ exhibit, “The Black Sox – A Century Later,” in the Simmerling Gallery. The event opens with an artist reception Thurs., June 13, 6 to 9 p.m., and continues through July 21. Admission to the exhibit and reception is free. 

The Black Sox scandal shocked the Major League Baseball world when eight members of the Chicago’s South Side team intentionally tried to lose to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate. Although the players were acquitted, they were banned from professional baseball.  

“The Black Sox – A Century Later” immortalizes this event with watercolors on paper and acrylics on canvas. The series gives a visual overview of the many different people involved, from the baseball players to the gamblers, team owners and sports writers. Included in the installation is “Field of Dreams” photo option so show attendees can pose for photos wearing replicas of 1919 Black Sox jerseys and ball caps alongside Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Buck Weaver and Eddie Cicotte. The exhibit will be enhanced with augmented reality, using the phone app RealityX2 to provide further background on the art with just a picture. 

Thom Ross is an artist, historian and baseball-fan based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is known for painting, book illustrations, and installation art featuring life-sized cutout figures depicting famous people and historical events. His subjects typically include cowboys and battles in the American Indian Wars. Ross has illustrated over 20 books, including “Baseball: America’s Diamond Mind, a history of baseball. 

For fans of baseball, history and the movies, BACinema will screen “Eight Men Out, the film chronicling the events of the Black Sox scandalstarring John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, and Christopher Lloyd, Wed., June 19, 7:30 p.m. in the BAC Baffes TheatreMovie tickets are $6 and can be purchased at the box office, via phone at 773-445-3838, or online at 


Greek Mythology Takes on New Life with ‘Flight’

“Flight, a musical written by Chicago playwright and compose Michael Potsic, will premiere at the Beverly Arts Center (BAC), 2407 W. 111th St. the first two weekends in May.  

Based on the Greek myth the Flight of Icarus, “Flight” re-imagines the classic cautionary tale through the eyes of the carpenter Daedalus, his wife Aeden, and their son Icarus. Potsic has written a soaring score for his play, which examines the truth that to live and love comes with great risk. 

The run is part of the BAC’s Black Box Theatre Series, and will be staged Sat., May 4, 7:30 p.m., Sun., May 5, 2:30 p.m., Fri., May 10 and Sat., May 11, 7:30 p.m., and Sun., May 12, 2:30 p.m.  

The show is directed by Erica Elam and choreographed by Gloria Mwez. 

Michael Potsican alumni of the Beverly Arts Center theatre programsaid that experience “sparked my love of acting and theatre, but also was the major catalyst for writing.” Past performing credits include Rent (Paramount Theatre), Parade (Writers Theatre), A Christmas Carol: The Musical” and Assassins (Kokandy Productions). He has contributed music and lyrics to AlphaBet Soup Productions and The Second City His debut children’s pop album, Michael‘s Music Machine, is available on iTunes, Spotify and CDBaby. 

Erica Elam is the Chicago Artistic Director of the critically-acclaimed musical improv company Baby Wants Candy,” with whom she co-wrote and directed the premier production of the sold-out hit musical “Thrones!” at the Edinburgh Fringe FestivalElam has led improvisation workshops at Dartmouth, Stanford, Notre Dame and University of Chicago, and for companies including Google and Facebook.  She improvises regularly with Baby Wants Candy and The Improvised Shakespeare Company, and has performed at theatres that includeThe Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Northlight, Court, Peninsula Players, The Kennedy Center, and The Second City, where she is faculty. 

Choreographer Gloria Mwez has worked with the Beverly Arts Center, Fear Experiment, Matter Dance Company, The Modern Marvels Dance Company, Movement Revolution Dance Crew, Perceptual Motion Inc., and Simantikos Dance Chicago. She created That Untitled Project which facilitates workshops, events and performances for movement artists in Chicago and St. Louis.  In 2016, Mwez was voted runner up in the Chicago Reader Poll for best choreographer. 

The Black Box Series showcases new works by Chicago playwrights in the BAC’s black box theater, an intimate space that offers flexibility in staging innovative shows for audiences of 75 or less. The final show in the series will be staged in August  

Tickets are $22 or $20 for BAC members, and available at the BAC box office, via phone at 773-445-3838 or at

Grappling With A Luminous Doom 

Five artists meditate on the mystery, magic and beauty of our planet, and the impact of our growing detachment from nature’s wisdom in “Grappling With A Luminous Doom, an exhibit hosted by the Beverly Area Arts Alliance at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., opening Sun., Mar. 3, 2 to 4 p.m.  

The exhibit continues to Apr. 7, and reflects the disconnect between “modern” societies and nature that has led to the decline of important ecological habitats and biodiversity that sustain the earth.  

Artists whose work will be on exhibit are Brian Ritchard and Elaine Miller, both residents of Beverly/Morgan Park, and Sharon Bladholm, Victoria Fuller and Jennifer Cronin.  

“My work has always revolved around the intersection of art and nature,” wrote Brian Rirchard. I am passionately interested in how humankind sees and interacts with the natural world, and how the age-old genre of landscape painting can be updated and reinvigorated. 

Ritchard, a landscape painter with over 20 years of studio and exhibition experience, does deep research on focused subjects to inform his work. For ten years, his paintings documented the explosive growth of wind power across the Great Plains states. His recent explorations along the Colorado River have taken him to Lake Mead, the giant artificial reservoir created by Hoover Dam.  

“Here in the middle of the Mojave Desert, the melted snow that comprises the Colorado River is collected and politically allocated in the form of hydroelectric power and water for the entire American Southwest,” Ritchard wrote. “Lake Mead has been evaporating and losing replacement volume since the 1980s, leaving the distinctive “bathtub ring” that indicates previous highwater marks on the ancient landscape.” 

Ritchard spent many weeks in 2018 out west making site studies and painting watercolors. The intensive work inspired the artist to expand his palette and learn how to paint new landforms, textures and spaces. The resulting oil paintings are being completed in his Beverly/Morgan Park studioand will be debuted in the BAC exhibit.   

“Nature, its tragedies and its glories, has always exhilarated and reassured me,” wrote Elaine Miller. “In my practice, I try to celebrate the magnificence of the natural landscape and to record our impact on it.”  

Miller sees her work as a way to connect people to an earlier time when people were closer to the natural worldand to document the destructive results of indifference. “This exhibit is about is trying to connect people to nature and to an understanding of the huge losses we are experiencing through climate change and habitat degradation,” Miller wrote.   

Miller is fine artist who paints murals (you can see her work in the parking lot at 95th and Longwood Drive). She worked for many years doing backdrops for commercial photographers and painting sets for films and commercials. Since moving to Beverly/Morgan Park, Miller maintains a in studio in historic Blue Island. 

Sharon Bladholm works in a variety of media including cast glass, bronze and ceramic sculpture, as well as printmaking and works on paper. She has run Opal Glass Studios since 1983, and has completed many commissioned pieces for galleries and museums, as well as public art installations at the Garfield Park Conservatory, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux, France.  

Jennifer Cronin’s starkly real paintings and drawings explore what it means to be human.  She recently traveled to a remote Native Alaskan village where she documented the effects of climate change.  Her new work is inspired by her trip and our changing planet. 
Cronin has exhibited widely in the Chicago area, as well as nationally and internationally.  She has been featured in many publications and earned numerous awards.  Most recently, Cronin has been awarded a grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation to support the development of her new series of work.   

Victoria Fuller is a sculptor, painter and natural science illustrator. She has studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, Parson’s Paris Program (France) and earned a graduate degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has appeared in galleries, museums and public spaces Internationally. She is best known for Shoe of Shoes, a large-scale shoe-shaped sculpture composed of thousands of aluminum high-heels in front of Brown Shoe Company, and for her large scale sculpture, Canoe Fan, made from canoes forming a fan shape. 

“Grappling With A Luminous Doom” is curated by Carla Winterbottom and Sal Campbell. The exhibit is open during Beverly Arts Center open hours in the Simmerling Gallery. Admission is free. The name of the exhibit is taken from the poem “Sleeping in the Forest” by Mary Oliver.  

Party Celebrates Wirtshafter Exhibit at RHS

Ridge Historical Society (RHS) is so thrilled with its exhibit of works by the late Ethel Wirtshafter featuring her fabulous batiks, they’re putting on a party to draw neighbors in to see it!  On Fri., Feb. 8, 1 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., the doors will be thrown open and all welcomed. 
If you appreciate history, color and design, this exhibit is a must-see,” said RHS Historian Linda Lamberty.  Ethel spent more than half her near century of life here, where she was for over 45 years a prized and beloved teacher to countless children at the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association at Ridge Park Field House. 
The exhibit – a rare opportunity to see so many of Wirtshafter’s exquisite works gathered together – runs through Feb. 24 at RHS, 10621 S. Seeley. Art lovers who can’t make the Feb. 8 party can call 773-881-1675 or write to schedule a tour.  

Castle Series Presents Concerts, Storytelling

The Castle Concert Series—aimed at raising money for maintenance and restoration of the historic Givins Castle located at 103rd and Longwood Drive—continues with three February engagements in two different venues. 

Eddie Holstein blends folk, blues and guitar with history and his special brand of humor Sat., Feb. 2, Heritage Gallery, 1907 W. 103rd St. A favorite of Chicago audiences for more than 40 years, Holstein grew up on the South Side and got his start at the legendary folk music bar, the Earl of Old Town. 

Kathleen Keane, a world-renowned multi-instrumentalist, Irish singer, songwriter and composer, performs Sat., Feb. 16, Givins Beverly Castle, 10244 S. Longwood Dr. Keane’s virtuosic tin-whistling and fiddle-playing earned her musical appearances in hit movies, including “The Road to Perdition,” “Backdraft” and “Titanic.” A performer with Gaelic Storm, she is considered by many one of the world’s finest Celtic fiddlers. 

Beverly/Morgan Park resident David Boyle shares impromptu personal stories to correspond with drawings created by Elgin-based artist Chris Palm Sat., Feb. 23 at the Givins Castle. The show is called “To Be Determined” because Boyle won’t know which stories he’ll tell until the audience decides which drawings they prefer. This show won the Audience Favorite Award at the 2017 Elgin Fringe Festival. 

Thanks to a generous gift from Beverly/Morgan Park resident Dean Miller on behalf of his late wife, Martha Swift, the historic Givins Castle and Heritage Gallery serve as venues for the concert series through May. Swift grew up in the community and once headed the language department at Morgan Park Academy.  

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and performances begin at 7 p.m. A $20 donation is suggested with proceeds going toward maintenance of the Givins Castle. For more information, call John Devens, 773-719-7059. 

Know Your Neighbors: Photographer’s Work on Exhibit at Cultural Center

By Abby Johnson

Cecil McDonald, Jr. fell in love with photography in college. He was in his final year of undergraduate school studying Fashion Merchandising when he signed up for an introductory class as an elective to pass the time. He’s been hooked ever since.

McDonald, a resident of Beverly/Morgan Park for more than two decades, now works as an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago, the same school from which he received an MFA in Photography. His work has been showcased both nationally and internationally in galleries in Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, New York and Haarlem, Netherlands.

Last year, McDonald released “In the Company of Black,” a book of photographs featuring African-American subjects whom he describes as “extraordinarily ordinary”— educators, artists, administrators, business owners, teachers and students.

“Cecil McDonald Jr.: In the Company of Black,” photographs from the book, will be on exhibit Jan. 19 to Apr. 14, Chicago Cultural Center 78 E. Washington St. Admission is free.

“These people are an important part of society’s framework,” McDonald said. “They need to be seen!”

The 144-page book began as a small project in 2007 when McDonald started to photograph his friends and family in attempt to showcase the difference between his fellow African-Americans and the African-American lifestyles portrayed to society.

“We are fed images of two types of black people: the megastar athlete and the poor man who can’t support his family,” McDonald said. “In reality, most people don’t fit into either of these categories.”

Soon, McDonald began taking photographs of strangers, too. But it wasn’t until several years later, while completing the Artist-In-Residency program at Light Work in Syracuse, NY, that McDonald was hit with the idea to create a book.

“I saw other residents trying to turn their work into books,” he said. “So I thought ‘hey I should try that, too’”.

McDonald presented the idea to his former teaching assistant Matt Austin of Candor Arts, an independent art book publisher based in Chicago.

“He said ‘let’s do it, let’s try it,’” McDonald said. “So we did, and the response has been overwhelmingly supportive.”

The book features an introduction written by Tempestt Hazel, a former student of McDonald, and was nominated for the 2017 Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Award. Last month, a selected portion of the photographs featured in McDonald’s book were on display at Illinois State University Galleries. The same exhibition will be showcased at the Chicago Cultural Center in January.

For McDonald, the photographs are the most important part of his recent journey. They tell a story that challenges the roles designated to African-Americans by our cultural landscape, he said. While McDonald is humbled by the success of his book release, he believes it’s the photographs themselves that have the potential to make the biggest impact.

In fact, McDonald hopes the photographs never return to Chicago. Why? Because the whole world needs to observe them, to understand their symbolism.

“These images need to be seen,” he said. “Everywhere.”