Evanston-Review.com

June 29, 2010 By admin

June 17, 2010
By J.T. MORAND Staff Writer
Bill Lilly stopped making a poster of his favorite band Def Leppard to talk about his tornado painting, “Killer. (Midnight Tornado) (F5),” which is mostly black and gray, except for the blue roof, yellow windows and red door of a house and the red lightning bolts crackling down from the black and gray sky.
Appropriately, it was painted on a window.

Artist Jenny Kominsky, who is influenced by Vincent Van Gogh, painted her version of “Starry Night” for the Arts of Life Summer Exhibit.(Joe Cyganowski/for Sun-Times Media)
Jenny Kominsky works on a painting at the Arts of Life studio in Glenview, which opened last January.
(Joe Cyganowski/for Sun-Times Media)
Marianne Wehr, an artist with the Arts of Life, works on a pastel piece in the organization’s new Glenview location. The Arts of Life brings artists with and without disabilities together to form an artists community.
(Joe Cyganowski/for Sun-Times Media)
Bill Lilly admires his tornado painting being held by Denise Fisher, co-founder and executive director of The Arts of Life. The painting is part of the 10th annual Arts of Life Summer Exhibit in Glenview.
(Joe Cyganowski/for Sun-Times Media)
Lilly, 37, smiled when he said it will be included in the Arts of Life 10th annual summer exhibit on June 19 at the organization’s new studio in Glenview.

“I love knowing about weather,” Lilly said about the inspiration behind the tornado painting. “I love creating stuff.”
The Arts of Life is a pair of non-profit studios in Chicago and Glenview for artists with developmental disabilities. Their mission is promoting self-respect, inspiring artistic expression, building community and developing independence through participation in the fine arts. Artists without disabilities come in to help and work alongside the Arts of Life artists.
Since 2001, the Arts of Life has had an exhibition every summer to showcase the artists’ works. It’s grown from just 10 artists and some appetizers the first year, to between 60 and 70 pieces by 35 artists, a concert, a play, lawn party games, an auction, a raffle and an old-fashioned cookout this year at the Glenview studio, which opened in January.
“We wanted to showcase this location,” said Denise Fisher, co-founder and executive director. “It marks the success of our program.”
The idea was, and still is, to create an artist community that fosters personal growth by having artists share in decision making processes and take ownership of the facilities. When artists have been with the Arts of Life for a month, the program director helps the artists set goals and develop an artist’s plan.
“We use art as a way for people to advocate for themselves,” Fisher said. She added that the name of the organization reflects that. “We were trying to capture a name that spoke to the whole person and the potential art had to help people explore their environments and express themselves. We also wanted to express our idea that anything you do as an individual is your art, that you can find art in anything.”
The art in the summer exhibit sells for between $10 and $400, depending on size, materials used and framing. Fisher said the money goes back into the program, to pay for each artist’s monthly stipend regardless of whether they sell anything.
“We don’t want people to feel like they have to create something marketable,” she said. “Because the community piece is so important to our studio, we want to make sure everyone has the same opportunities.”
The artists, at the very least, are becoming well-versed in their discipline.
Jenny Kominsky, 19, explained that one of her paintings in the exhibit is a reproduction of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
“I like the way he paints with lines in all different directions,” she said. “He’s laying his emotions out in the painting.”
The emotional release is why she likes to paint.
“I get to put my emotions in painting, and I get to see them,” she said.
Fisher would like to start music and performance arts programs, like those at the Chicago location, in Glenview, to provide a more well-rounded offering of the arts.
That’s music to Lilly’s ears, which are partial to the Def Leppard song “Overture” on the band’s 1980 album “On Through the Night.”
“I would love to sing Def Leppard songs,” he said.
The Arts of Life Summer Exhibit6-9 p.m. June 19 at The Arts of Life, 1963 Johns Dr., Glenview. $30 in advance, $40 at the door. (847) 486-0808, www.artsoflife.org.