Remnants and Remains: New Works by Elaine Miller at BAC 

By Kristin Boza 

Beverly/Morgan Park artist Elaine Miller is showcasing her latest works in “Remnants and Remains” at the Beverly Arts Center, Simmerling Gallery, 2407 W. 111th St. Miller’s passion for the natural world seeks to encourage others to enjoy and take care of the natural spaces around us. Her exhibit revolves around four mural-sized paintings based on the vegetation and landscape of the Dan Ryan Woods. The exhibit runs through Nov. 8 and is open Mon., 4 to 8 p.m. and Tues. through Thurs., 4 to 6 p.m., and admission is free. 

Miller became inspired by the Dan Ryan Woods during her daily walks there with her dog. She also completed a series of similarly-themed billboards in 2018 through a grant received from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events aimed at promoting the Dan Ryan Woods. The billboards, located along Western Avenue, void of any words, instead focusing on the beautiful landscape right in our own backyards 

“These billboards were like anti-advertising and meant to show people how much we are inundated with advertising,” Miller said. “I got the idea for my new exhibit from the billboard project to further this message that we should think more about reconnecting our society with the natural world and the importance of our urban forests. 

Four 8foot by 10-foot canvasses are installed in the Simmerling Gallery, along with ten smaller works that further explore the intersection of urban and natural spaces. Each of the large pieces corresponds to a different season and time of day in the forest; spring is in morning light, summer at noon, fall is late afternoon, and winter is night.  

The paintings are first composed using acrylic paint, and Miller then uses her reference photographs to complete the paintings in oil paint. Each piece took anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete.  

“The seasons and time of day demonstrate how the change of seasons coincides with the circle of life,” Miller said. “It’s a very emotional response to nature and our ecosystem and the work is meant to make people aware of climate change and how we are impacting our environment. I hope people will start to wake up and realize that this little scrap of forest preserve is really important and we need to care for it. My work is about how we’ve lost our connection to nature to our own detriment. 

Miller’s work is also displayed during this year’s Alt Walk at Oak and Bloom, 9909 S. Walden Pkwy. 

Find out more about Elaine Miller’s work at 

September at Beverly Arts Center 


Beverly Arts Center (BAC), 2407 W. 111th St., welcomes art and film audiences, and students of all arts media to visit in September.  

Women’s Work, a group exhibit of works by ceramics artists Widad Albassam, Lori Bartman, Malika Jackson, Christine Liz LaRue, Dawn Liddicoatt, Charlotte Mays, Mary Cat Tepper, Tran Tran and Cheryl Williamson, has been extended to Sept. 20. On Fri., Sept. 25, 6 to 8 p.m., Remnants & Remains, an exhibit of works by Elaine Miller, opens and continues through Nov. 8. Both exhibits are in the Simmerlng Gallery; hours are Mon. through Fri., 12 to 6 p.m. Admission is free.  

BACinema will screen “Central Standard,” Fri., Sept. 25, 7 p.m., in the Baffes Theatre. The film compares the education experiences of five Chicago area 8th grade students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. As a lens to consider educational issues facing the nation at large, the drama for this film turns on admission to Chicago Public Schools’ 10 selective-enrollment high schools. Tickets $8, $7 for BAC members.  

BAC is hosting a Film Study Workshop featuring weekly movies and lectures in four themed sessions for ages 18 and up. Screenings will be in the BAC Studio Theater, Wednesdays, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 16. Movies range from “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930) to “Dances With Wolves” (1990) to “The Hurt Locker” (2009). Persons not enrolled in the workshop can drop in to see movies for $10 per film.  

The BAC’s 11-week School of Fine Arts fall session begins Sept. 14. Both in-person and virtual options are available for classes across a variety of visual and performance arts. Visit for a complete list of courses and online registration. 

For information on all programs, exhibits and classes. Call 773-445-3838 or visit 

Words and Music at Beverly Arts Center 

Experience the art of the story and the beauty of music this month at the Beverly Arts Center (BAC), 2407 W. 111th St.  

On Fri., Aug. 7 beginning at 7:30 p.m., people from the LGBTQ community tell their personal stories for OUTspoken Hosted by Chicago comedian Elizabeth Gomez, virtual event features storytellers Nancy Burkholder, Sydni Chiles, Steve English, Kim L. Hunt, Archy Jamjun and Murphy Row. OUTspoken is a Chicago collaborative celebrating the art of storytelling to share authentic stories, with each teller identifying as part of the LGBTQ community or an ally. The group is committed to inclusion, recognizing people’s commonalities while celebrating their differences. Tickets: $15 ($13 for BAC members).  

Music Mondays live concerts in the BAC courtyard continues with a line-up of local favorites: 

Return2Soul performs R&B and soul music, Aug. 3; classic rock duo The Blend plays Aug. 10 and 31; Steve Haberichter and Friends offer an evening of folk and bluegrass Aus. 17; and Caliente Old School plays soulful sounds with a Latin groove Aug. 24.  

The suggested donation for Music Mondays is $5. Bring lawn chairs; masks required for bar service.  

For more information on these and other BAC offerings, visit or call 773-445-3838.  


Bishop Named BAC Artistic Director 

Carly Bishop has been names the new Artistic Director at the Beverly Arts Center (BAC). Bishop started at the BAC in 2012 as teaching artist, and has worked as Director of Summer Arts Camp and the Director of Outreach.  

As Director of Outreach and Interim Director of Education, the BAC’s in-school and community outreach program has expanded into over 40 schools serving more thanr 12,500 children and adults in Chicagoland.  

Ed Laginess, BAC Board President said, “Carly has served the BAC wonderfully for many years. Starting as a teaching artist, her passion and energy to support the arts and each student who steps foot through our doors is remarkable. That drive has helped her promote positive change in the organization and we are thrilled to have her help lead our artistic vision.” 

A professional actor, playwright and director/choreographer, Bishop holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Illinois. She has worked at theatres across the country including the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Grand Ole’ Opry, McCarter Theatre Center at Princeton University, John F. Kennedy Center and the National Theatre.  

Bishop’s original plays have been produced at the Altarena Playhouse in San Francisco, the National Theatre in Washington DC, Raven Theatre in Chicago, and Limelight Theatre in Saint Augustine, Fla. She also worked as the resident choreographer at Moraine Valley Community College.  

BAC Hosts Fund in the Sun Online Auction


Get your towels and swimsuits ready for the Beverly Arts Center‘s first ever sunglassesoptional fundraiserthe Virtual Beach Ball online auction. June 17 through 27, you can support the BAC by bidding on items that include vacation packages to tropical lands, prestigious sports memorabilia and one-of-a-kind Chicago experiences. The fundraiser will culminate in a live, online arts demonstration on June 27.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the BAC to close and cancel events, including the annual gala. The Virtual Beach Ball is a chance for the organization to raise funds to bring programming to the community and support the arts while maintaining social distance. 

“With everyone being at home during the shelter in place, we’re noticing just how important the arts are,” said BAC Marketing Manager Andrew SutherlandWhether its listening to our favorite songs, streaming a new show or movie, or getting relief from painting, the arts have kept many of us sane during a stressful time. 

During the pandemic, the BAC has been offering social media entertainment and online classes. “Our goal is to keep providing inspiration to our community. The proceeds from the Virtual Beach Ball will go a long way in keeping the arts alive during this difficult time,” Sutherland said. 

The Virtual Beach Ball auction will offer items from The Shedd Aquarium, Koval Distillery, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks, Elite Island Resorts and more. 

The Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., has been an integral parts of local arts and entertainment since it was founded in 1968, providing a wide variety of arts education for all ages, gallery exhibits, concerts and plays.  

For more information on the Virtual Beach Ball auction and to view items, visit 

BAC Announces Cast for Love Letters 

BAC Announces Cast for Love Letters 

The Beverly Arts Center’s upcoming production of Love Letters will feature a pair of Chicago theatre veterans. In the two-person play, Debra Rodkin will perform the role of Melissa and Rob Frankel the role of Andy. The play runs Thurs.Feb. 13 through Sun., Feb. 16 in the Beverly Arts Center Studio Theatre, 2407 W. 111th St. 

“Love Letters” is the story of two childhood friends whose lifelong correspondence begins with birthday party thank-you notes and summer camp postcards. Romantically attached, they continue to exchange letters from their school years through the twilight of their lives. Each letter makes it clear how much they really meant and gave to each other over the years—physically apart but spiritually as close as only true lovers can be. 

Debra Rodkin is a long-time member of Redtwist Theatre, appearing in “Six Degrees of Separation, “The Realization of Emily Linder,” “Equus, and “Cripple of Inishmaan” and more. Other Chicago credits include “Crossing Delancey” (MadKap), “The Rose Tattoo” (Shattered Globe), “Vieux Carre” (Raven), “Eleemosynary” (Aston Rep), “Beau Jest” (Big Noise Theatre), “Rabbit Hole” (Buffalo Theatre Ensemble), “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” (NightBlue Theatre), and “The Brother” (Hancock Productions/Film Acres). Debra has also done a zany Webisode for True Blood” (HBO). 

Rob Frankel is a native Chicagoan but has performed in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, North Carolina and Michigan. He works by day as a tutor teaching test prep, English and speech. By night, he is a veteran actor of over 90 plays. Chicago area credits include “Bloomsday” (Remy Bumppo), “For the Loyal” (Interrobang Project), “Laramie Project” (Aston Rep), “Moon Over Buffalo” (Brightside Theater), “The Rainmaker” (BoHo Theatre), “True West” (Shattered Globe), “Light Up the Sky” (Citadel Theatre), “A Christmas Carol” (Metropolis Performing Arts), “Be My Baby” (Steel Beam Theatre), and more. Most recently he performed as the Narrator for the Lake Forest Symphony Orchestra’s production of “Peter and the Wolf.  

The second production of the BAC’s Season of Inclusion series, “Love Letters” explores the values of diversity and equity on stage. The production is part of Chicago Theatre Week 2020, a celebration of the rich tradition of theatre-going in Chicago during which visitors and residents can access value-priced tickets.  

Tickets to Love Letters are $24 ($22 for BAC members). Also available is the Theatre Season Flex Pass for $120 which provides theatre-goers six tickets to use any way they like over the course of the Season of Inclusion. Purchase tickets by phone at 773-445-3838 or online at 

New Exhibit Decodes Hidden Messages 

By Grace Kuikman 

What could hip hop writes and quilting have in common? Each of these art forms can convey hidden messages. Hidden Messages: Decoding Secrets, a new exhibit opening Fri., Feb. 7, 6 p.m. at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., will reveal through paint, dance and fabric, how the secret languages of symbols, letters and movement connect these wildly different genres 

American history quilts by Beverly/Morgan Park artist Dorothy Straughter and dance and hip hop writes (commonly called graffiti) by Chicago artist Poppin Chuck Bledsoe tell stories using symbols. They first met about three years ago at the Stony Island Arts Bank, and soon after, both artists had their work in a show at the Dorchester Art & Housing Collaborative. “From that grew the realization that our art forms worked together and shared hidden messages,” Straughter said.  

A member of the Beverly Arts Center’s Diversity Committee, Straughter proposed an interactive exhibit, showcasing one art form that people think of as a homey folk art and another that many people think of as an urban street culture. Both are strongly rooted in African American traditions. 

According to Straughter, the symbols stitched into quilts that were used to guide runaway slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad can be linked to centuriesold Andikra symbols from West Africa that held and conveyed special meanings 

When first introduced to the hidden messages in Underground Railroad quilts, Straughter was inspired to research this history. Through the symbols sewn into quilts and painted like simple decorative elements on barn and buildings, valuable information was shared to keep people safe and help them on their journey to freedom. 

A self-taught quilter, Straughter combines her passion for African American history with her remarkable skill to create quilts rich in symbols and stories. The large quilts depict images often steeped in negative stereotypes, yet beautiful because they are crafted in saturated colors and intricate patternsStraughter’s Underground Railroad quilt will be on exhibit at the BAC, and Straughter will provide detailed information on the history connected to each pieceHer quilts have been exhibited throughout Chicago at galleries and art centers as well as museums. 

Poppin Chuck has been in the hip hop world since the 1970s, and is a master of the hidden messages painted into the colorful, explosive tagging known as hip hop writes, as well as hip hop danceAccording to Straughter, the people who built the hip hop culture were outliers who used dance and art to express themselves, create identities and communicate with other outliers.  

There’s a difference between “writes” and “graffiti,” Straughter said. “The word ‘graffiti’ has a bad connotation,” she said. “[‘Writes’} is just a style of writing their name so friends knew they were there.” Bledsoe’s impressive work can be enjoyed and interpreted in the exhibit.  

The unique movements in hip hop dance evolved from a variety of dance forms including the soft shoe, tap dance and even the Lindy Hop. As part of the exhibit, people will view videos of various dances, get a sense of the physical art hip hop, and try to follow some moves using footsteps on the floor as their dance instructor. 

As part of the exhibit experience, the BAC will host two special events. “Decoding the Secrets,” a free artist talk by Dorothy Straughter and Poppin Chuck Bledsoe, will be held Fri., Feb. 21, 6 p.m., and will include a “quilt flip” (Straughter’s American history quilts have related images on both sides). BAC hip hop instructor Chris Nasadowski will lead a Hip Hop Workshop and Dance Battle Fri., Feb. 28, 6:30 p.m.$10.  “Hidden Messages” continues at the BAC through Mar. 8.  



Neighborhbood Notes – Events for January 2020

The Ostrega-Uhl Project will present a recital of Mozart and Musicals Sat., Jan. 11, 3 to 4:30 p.m., Beverly Branch Library, 1962 W. 95th St. The recital will feature Mozart’s famous “Piano Quartet in G” as well as string quartet arrangements of his famous operas from the 18th century, and string quartet arrangements of works from musicals of the 20th century, including selections from “The Sound of Music,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “West Side Story.” Performers include Brian Osrega, violin; Stephen Uhl, piano; and guest artists Don Galat, violin; Emma Strohbusch, viola; and Brian Gaoma, cello. Free and open to the public. Info: 312-747-9673.

As part of their monthly wellness seminar series, Beverly Therapists presents “For Couples: Shifting Communication Patterns,” Sat., Jan 11, 3 to 5 p.m., 10725 S. Western. Kanosha Leonard, LCPC will lead participants in an open discussion about communication in their relationships, define primary and secondary emotions, and learn an emotionally-focused approach to communication. $10 per person. Registration required:

The Beverly Morgan Park Community Choir is recruiting new members for the 2020 season. Music pick-up is Sun., Jan. 12, 3:15 to 5:15 p.m., Immanuel United Church of Christ, 9815 S. Campbell. Rehearsals begin the following week, and the 10-week season culminates with a concert Sun., Mar. 29. Now in its 21st season, the choir was founded by the Beverly Morgan Park Community of Churches and is composed of about 60 singers. No audition is required; male voices especially welcome. Info: or

Longwood Writers Guild, a critique group for creative writers, will meet Mon., Jan. 13, 7 p.m., BAPA Community Room, 11109 S. Longwood Dr. Bring a piece in progress to read for productive input, or write from a prompt. For more information or to get the prompt, email

The new Rotary Club of Beverly/Morgan Park, Mt Greenwood will meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, and invites interested people to attend and learn more. The Jan. 14 and 28 meetings will be held at 6:15 p.m., BAPA Community Room, 11109 S. Longwood Dr.

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service  at the Dan Ryan Woods will be held Mon., Jan. 20,  12. To 3 p.m. Volunteers age 10 and up will meet at the visitor center, 87th and Western, and help on stewardship projects such as removing invasive plant species from the woodland habitat, as well as outdoor and indoor activities to make the day fun. Community groups, school groups, families and individuals are encouraged to participate. If weather permits, there will be snowshoes for people to try out, a fire outside to warm up with and hot chocolate.  Groups of 5 or more people  are asaked to register in advance, and waivers need to be signed, so minors must be accompanied with a group or their guardians.  Info:

Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., is offering Winter Days Off School Arts Camps on days when CPS schools are closed: Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20; End of Quarter 2 day, Jan. 31; and President’s Day, Feb. 17. Camps are open to children age 5 through 12, and activities include workshops in dance, music, theater and visual arts. Each camp is $42 per child ($38 for BAC members), with pre-camp and after care offered for additional fees. Info: 773-445-3838 or

The League of Women Voters of Chicago-Far Southwest Side Group will meet Wed., Jan. 22, 7 p.m., 9904 S. Damen Ave., to discuss the Chicago City Budget.  The League is a non-partisan organization that provides informal discussion of current political, social and economic issues.  Public welcome.  Info: 312-939-5949, 773-233-1420 or

Mother McAuley High School senior Kathryn Alvarez has been awarded a Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship. Alvarez is a graduate of St. John Fisher elementary school and caddie at Ridge Country Club.  At McAuley she is enrolled in honors and AP classes, and participates in the National Honors Society, Science National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society. The Chick Evans Scholarship Foundation, sponsored by the Western Golf Association, has awarded nearly 11,000 scholarships for full tuition and housing college scholarships to hardworking caddies with limited financial means since 1930.

Congratulations to Tommy Harris of Beverly/Morgan Park, who was awarded a Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Bungalow Award for landscape design. His award-winning yard and gardens can be viewed on CBA’s website,  The annual Awards were created in 2005 by the Chicago Bungalow Association, with the generous support of The Driehaus Foundation. The Driehaus Awards honor the creativity and efforts of homeowners for the work they’ve done in interior and exterior renovations, restoration, and landscape design.

Congratulations to Brother Rice High School class of 2020 students and Beverly/Morgan Park residents who have been recognized as Illinois State Scholars. The scholars and their elementary schools are Henry J. Barsch (St. Barnabas), John R. Dolan (St. Barnabas), John M. Eastman (St. John Fisher), Ryan J. Kopale (St. John Fisher), Michael P. Nelligan (St. John Fisher), and Jeremy J. Zemgulys (Sutherland).

Congratulations to Earl Sean Simpson of Beverly/ Morgan Park, who is celebrating his 101st birthday on January 9th. Mr. Simpson served as Private First Class in the United States Army during WWII in a segregated unit, 696th Port Company (Transportation Corps), and has lived in Beverly since 2002.



Give the gift of a great night out 

By Talie Leeb 

Declutter your gift-giving this holiday season with by giving tickets to one – or all — of the upcoming offerings from the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Maybe throw in a gift certificate to a local restaurant to make it a full-on night on the town, neighborhood style!  

The Second City: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Sweater, Dec. 28: Laughter is the best medicine, and nothing chases away the holiday blues quite like The Second City! This is the perfect gift for just about anyone, aspiring comedians and holiday grumps alike.   

Heartsfield, Sat., Jan. 11. These popular performers are a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n roll, and a whole lot of fun! At $22 a ticket, this is the perfect stocking stuffer for the classic rock aficionado in your life.  

Marrakesh Express, Sat., Feb. 1: Is there someone in your life who remembers fondly the long, wet weekend they spent at Woodstock? They can capture some of that magic with a performance by Marrakesh Express, the premier Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover band.  

Love Letters, Feb. 13-16: The BAC theatrical season kicks off with this poignant epistolary love story, and what better gift for a theatre lover or budding thespian than the BAC Theatre Season Flex Pass? Pass recipients will choose six performances from the BAC’s upcoming season, with shows like “Next to Normal, Shakespeare’s “a Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Mothers and Sons” and more. 

Get information and purchase tickets at the BAC, by calling 773-445-3838 or online at 


Roy DIblik Garden of Living Art to Be Dedicated at BAC 

When Roy Diblik spoke at a meeting of the Garden Club of Morgan Park/ Beverly Hills in spring, the Baffes Theatre at the Beverly Arts Center was teeming with people eager to hear what he had to say. Diblik wrote the book on perennial gardening, and avid gardeners throughout Chicagoland know him for that book  “The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden” — as well as for his work planning and planting some of the city’s most beautiful gardens. Diblik is the plantsman for the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park, and the gardens at Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Now, at the invitation of the Garden Club, the plant expert has designed and helped to plant the Roy Diblik Garden of Living Art at the Beverly Arts Center. The garden will be dedicated Wed., Sept. 18, 10 a.m., in the BAC courtyard, 2407 W. 111th St. Diblik will attend the dedication.  

“We were astonished when he accepted [the club’s speaking invitation] and he was astonished with our turn out to hear him speak,” said Barbara Gyarmathy of the Garden Club of Morgan Park/Beverly Hills. “He was so taken by the warmth and enthusiasm . . . he offered to design and help us plant the new garden that is now at the BAC.  It is beyond imaging that someone of his caliber would do this!” 

Diblik returned to the BAC in early August to work alongside members of the garden club to plant the garden that he designed around the core ideal of sustainability.  

“We planted everything based on Roy Diblik’s advice, making sure that the garden has four-season interest,’” Gyarmathy said. “We will be planting something new every season and maintaining the garden throughout the year.”  

The garden was designed using all perennials and native plants that were selected for sustainability in an urban setting as well as for their beauty beauty. BAC patrons will enjoy watching this garden grow! The plants are all relatively mature, about three years old, and include hydrangeas, alliums, echinacea, salvia and sesleria, a perennial grass. 

With 35 years of knowledge growing traditional and Midwest native perennials, Diblik specializes in visually appealing and sustainable gardens that are easy to maintain and provide interest during all seasons. He is a partner in Northwind Perennial Farm, Burlington, Wisc., and according to his bio on the website, “believes that gardens should be thoughtful, ecologically directed emotionally outreaching and yet very personal.”  

The Garden Club of Morgan Park-Beverly Hills was established in 1926 as a way for community members to share a passion for gardening. Over their club history, members have helped to establish many community gardens and develop a love of planting and nature among area gardenersClub volunteers have tended Beverly Arts Center gardens as part of the BAC’s ground beautification initiative since 2012.