By Carolyn Brode, executive board member of the Waukegan Arts Council
What a difference a year makes! Come celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Dandelion Gallery in Waukegan!
I first wrote about two Deer Path Middle School teachers opening an art gallery in Downtown Waukegan in the Gazebo News last spring titled “Art in Waukegan? Really?? Really!”. This weekend the Dandelion Gallery, founded by Deerpath Middle School teachers Michelle Miscenic-Patch and Emilie Dieck-Correa, celebrates its first anniversary as part of the monthly ArtWauk!
Just one year ago these two artists boldly took an empty storefront on the south end of Genesee Street and transformed it almost overnight into an art gallery. Together they cleaned, knocked down walls, painted, put up track lighting, and hung their own artwork for that first show appropriately called “Preludes”. They opened the doors to standing room only patrons. Soon after they formed an Artist Co-op that has grown from ten members to a stable of nearly 30 artists!
“Michelle and I knew we were on to something very unique and exciting”, states Emilie.
The Dandelion itself grew first to side by side storefronts, then jumped across the street to a new space over twice the original size.
In June they realized the thrift shop across the street was vacating and quickly contacted the owner. He too felt their passion and vision and worked with them to literally raise the ceiling, paint and hang track lighting, while Michelle’s brothers built moveable walls. By August they were open in the new expanded space. Each month they take every last piece of art off the walls, spackle, paint, and hang an entirely new show.
These young women are constantly on the go, artists teaching full-time with young families, and now manage a growing art gallery.
“Ask a busy person to get something done, and it will get done,” says Emilie. “What it boils down to is that Michelle and I are both artists. We got together and came up with an idea, a concept that would allow us to be artists again. We wanted to be able to exhibit our work on a regular basis, find other artists in the area who were also looking for a place to display their work, and give Waukegan a new twist by supercharging the downtown with ART!”
A year later The Dandelion, true to its name, has spread its seeds…and artists and artistic minded people are starting to set down roots in Waukegan!
Spawned by the birth and expansion of this one art gallery the block of South Genesee is now full of new tenants for the first time in years. On March 15th, The Dandelion is hosting the Introductory Reception for the newly formed Waukegan Arts Council. This new arts movement has caught the attention of the Chicago Arts movers and shakers. The honored guest for this reception will be Ra Joy, Executive Director of the Illinois Arts Alliance. Come meet Mr. Joy and fellow artists and supporters of the arts. All are welcome!
As the gallery’s name implies, within a year’s time other art galleries have sprung up along the street. One of the newest, Urban Edge, is a cutting edge modern art gallery envisioned by fellow artist David Motley, Director of Public Relations for the City of Waukegan, and creator of Artwauk.
Curator and Lake Forest resident Vickie Marasco states, “This weekend Urban Edge features urban art with Chicago graffiti artist Hugo and live performances by hip hop dancers.” The street now offers two theaters, the beautifully restored Genesee Theatre and the contemporary Clockwise Theater, as well as new restaurants including Big Ed’s and the new Fiamico around the corner on Sheridan Road and Grand.
These two gallery pioneers, Emilie and Michelle–together with many other visionaries with a dream to transform downtown Waukegan–have started a budding arts-centric movement!
Their mantra? “If you dream it and believe in it, it will happen!”
Come help them celebrate this weekend and see what they have accomplished so far! A beautiful evening to stroll the galleries, sip wine, meet the artists, and hear free music in several of the venues!
–March 15,2012 Waukegan Arts Council Introductory Reception, 7 to 9 p.m.,
Dandelion Gallery, 109 S. Genesee Street. Complimentary refreshments
–ArtWauk (Every third Saturday of the Month), 5 to 10 pm., including a St. Pat’s celebration on March 17 where the Waukegan River will be dyed green at 5 p.m.!
ArtWauk festivities include:
–Galleries open including Urban Edge, 220 Clayton Street
–Genesee Theater features Bella Cain with Special Guest Mellencougar 7 p.m.
–Clockwise Theater presents featured play “Palmer Park” 8 p.m. clockwisetheatre.org
–Valet parking and free parking
Freelance writer Carolyn Brode is the former Performing Arts Manager at Gorton Center and currently serving on the Executive Board of the Waukegan Arts Council