A letter from the Board of Directors

December 10, 2011 By vincent-uribe

Happy Holidays from the Board of Directors for The Arts of Life! We hope you had a wonderful, healthy 2011, and wish you continued happiness in 2012.
On January 3rd, we will celebrate twelve years of providing high quality, innovative service to 50 adults with developmental disabilities. I believe strongly in the core values with which Denise and Ronnie formed The Arts of Life and it has been an amazing experience for me to watch both studios grow using our model of collective decision-making. Each artist that joins our program challenges our model and moves us forward with their unique views and creativity. It has been a pleasure for me to help continue our mission of creating an artistic culture for both people with and without disabilities. I continue to be both encouraged and motivated by the artists in our community who have taught me how strong the need is for an environment that is open to both learning from all of its members and growing to represent everyone equally.
This is a really exciting time to be a part of The Arts of Life and, as this year comes to an end, we are proud to share a few highlights from our community.
We started the New Year with a bang by exhibiting a large-scale installation in Washington DC at the John F. Kennedy Center.We were one of three organizations commissioned to create an installation in celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s inauguration. Five of the artists involved in the project traveled to Washington DC to see their artwork displayed in the Hall of States. It was an incredible honor and an amazing experience for everyone. What a way to start the year!
What’s been going on at the Chicago studio?
Our Chicago studio has been working together to expand their mediums and membership. With seven new artists set to join in January, the Chicago studio will be at capacity for the first time in our twelve years!
This year, Chicago expanded on our Kinzie Corridor Arts Association (KCAA)by showcasing collaborations between our artists and community artists at the KCAA Gallery. In 2012, we will continue partnering with community artists to host a First Friday exhibition series.
The artists also expanded their mediums to include horticulture and have partnered with the Monarch Community Garden to help work the land and learn the process of sustaining a garden. Our community also created sculptures that are now permanent exhibitions in the garden. Our goal is to have our own piece of the garden next spring to grow plants that we will use to start a small culinary project. We are working to acquire indoor planters to start on herbs and other plants.
This is Chicago’s second year as Artists in Residence at the Lindblom School of Math and Science.Two of our artists along with two facilitators have taken on the roll of Arts Educators and are spending one day a week teaching art classes to the special education department. KCAA Gallery will host a show of their work in the spring. Our goal is to secure funding to offer Arts Education to other special education programs that, like Lindblom, have lost their arts funding in their special education curriculum.

It has also been a VERY exciting year for The Arts of Life Band. In March, they released their second album Around and Around, a limited edition download card and t-shirt as part of their record release show at the Hideout in Chicago. At the release party, the band premiered their first music video for the original track Shark Attack and got everyone dancing! The first week in November, The Arts of Life Band and Jean Wilson, one of the band members, were the cover story in the Chicago Reader!
What’s been going on at the North Shore studio?
The North Shore studio continues to grow and change based on the needs of the artists in our community. We welcomed twelve new artists last year and we continue to introduce our studio and model to new families each week.

This year we launched the North Shore Music Ensemble (NSME) that showcases our artists’ musical talents and gives them the opportunity to collaborate with each other and community musicians. Their first performance will be part of our Winter Spectacular on Thursday December 15th at 7:30pm. This will be part of an ongoing quarterly exhibition and NSME performance at our North Shore Gallery. Our goal is to continue to grow as musicians and invite more community musicians to collaborate with us and inspire greater learning.
We also launched the North Shore drama program.They are never short of ideas and enthusiasm and we are looking forward to seeing their first performance at our Awards Show in February 2012. Our goal will be to continue to work together to develop this program and work with the NSME to create original productions.
We are also very excited about our Transition project where we offer high school students who are going through transition an opportunity to work along side our artists as an introduction to working in a professional arts community. This year we are working with Evanston Township High School and continue to be impressed with their students’ creativity. We hope to continue to grow this program and offer it to other transition programs to help students make an educated choice about their futures.
Introducing our new Blueprint Program!
This innovative program began when one artist asked us to help her in other areas of her life. She wanted to be an artist but also wanted to volunteer and eventually find a part time job to split her time between studio arts and other work. Working with the initial artist helped us recognize this need within our community and we decided to offer this opportunity to our artists who are interested in other life skills. We currently support three artists in both our studio arts program and within their homes teaching them a variety of skills from public transportation, budgeting, owning their own coffee business, volunteering and potential work skills.
Over the next month we are going to showcase The Arts of Life artists, families and friends on our website, social media and through letters like this one. Our artists and friends have helped us build a supportive, creative and unique environment that we are so proud to be part of. For the next month, they will share how The Arts of Life has changed their lives. Please join us in celebrating twelve years of exceptional and innovative work! It is because of people like you that our work is possible.

Your gift starts today
Tax-deductible donations:

Help us maintain two 6,000 sq/ft studios + galleries in Chicago and the North Shore. We want to be at the center of creativity in both of our neighborhoods and look forward to continuing to engage the community through exhibitions in both of our galleries.
Support 50 artists grow professionally while also developing their skills of independence, self-advocacy and teamwork; and
Sustain one of the most dynamic art studios for people with disabilities in the nation. The size of your gift is less important than the gift itself. Please lend your support and know that every single dollar makes a difference.

Show your support with a gift HERE

On behalf of the Board of Directors, the staff and artists, we thank you so much for your support.
Best wishes,

Bronwyn Kelly President, Board of Directors