LAKE FOREST — Kristin Mikrut and Cecilia Lanyon met in an art class in Lake Forest when they were 10 and formed a strong connection over art.
Fourteen years later they opened Re-Invent Gallery in downtown Lake Forest, bringing their passion for art to their hometown. And five years after that, on December 2014, 2016, Lanyon and Mikrut closed Re-Invent. During their five-year run they produced more than 100 art exhibits ranging from the works of local students to international artists who came not only to display and sell their creations but also to teach.
“It’s been five years of bringing art to Lake Forest,” said Mikrut. “The art business is a tough business.”
“We came to a decision to close down,” added Lanyon.
Though their retail operation is gone, art will not totally disappear from 202 East Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Lake Forest.
Along the way, Mikrut and Lanyon made part of their space the home of Artists on the Bluff, a cooperative of artists in different media who previously exhibited in the Lake Bluff train station. The group will still occupy space in the gallery.
“Creativity will remain here in some way,” said Lanyon. There is also a photography studio that will stay.
At 29, Mikrut and Lanyon said they have a lot of empty space on their canvasses that they intend to fill. Mikrut said art will be part of her future, though there is uncertainty.
“It’s an untold story,” said Mikrut. “It might be in Chicago. I’m going to keep investigating.”
Lanyon started a gallery in a restaurant in Chicago a little over a year ago, and she intends to do more. The restaurant operation offers a unique combination of art and food.
“The menu changes with each exhibit,” Mikrut said.
One exhibit at Re-invent featured work of students from schools in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff — both public and private. It was part of their effort to promote art in the community.
“We like working with community organizations,” said Mikrut. “We’ve worked with Ragdale and the Deer Path Art League and there’s Artists on the Bluff.”
Before Mikrut and Lanyon opened Re-Invent, Mikrut met Shota Kawahara, a Japanese artist who wanted her to manage his shows in the United States. After opening Re-Invent, she brought Kawahara to Lake Forest. He did more than create.
“He just set up shop,” said Mikrut. “He created and worked with people.”
One show particularly memorable for Lanyon and Mikrut was when they displayed the work of Kay Waltman. Waltman is a 93-year-old Lake Forest artist who has done much more than paint, according to Lanyon.
“There is no limit to what she can do because she has no fear,” said Lanyon. “She is a Lake Forest legend. She’s in her 90s and full of life.”