“Cecilia and I have been friends since we were 11,” says Kristin Mikrut of her childhood friend, Cecilia Lanyon, who she met in an art class when they were in middle school.
“This wasn’t your typical art class for kids,” adds Cecilia. “It was very serious, where we were treated like adults.” From that moment on, Kristin and Cecilia’s lives were often interconnected, even when their paths took them to different high schools and separate colleges. “We stood out because we were the two only self-proclaimed artists we knew,” Cecilia says. The duo reunited last year.
“We realized when we got home that we were in similar places in our lives,” says Kristin, who had pursued art history and studio art at Colorado College, while Cecilia had majored in account planning and advertising at the San Francisco Academy of the Arts. “We were out of school and had been working for a few years, and we were both in transition, looking for what’s next,” Kristin adds.
After much discernment and hours of research, Kristin and Cecilia realized that there was an opportunity to re-invent the local art scene. “Lake Forest was very attractive to us because there’s a great appreciation for art here. And, unlike [Chicago], this city isn’t overrun with galleries competing with one another,” Cecilia says. Then one day, the two came across the space that now houses re-invent.
“It’s amazing that we got this space,” explains Cecilia. “It used to belong to a florist, also an artist, who left us their work tables in the back.” Re-invent aims to blur the lines between artists, curators, and consumers, combining three separate, but connected, art experiences under one roof: • The Fine Art Gallery is made up of 1,500 square feet of white-canvas space and features rotating 4–6 week exhibits for sale by major local, national, and international artists.
The Studio features 1,400 square feet of well-lit, vaulted ceiling studio space for rental to local artists, as well as dedicated program space for community art workshops and classes for all ages. To date, all the individual studios that are available for artists to rent are in use.
The Retail Shop showcases an ever-changing array of gifts, décor, and fashions created by independent artists and creatives from “down the street and around the world” in a wide variety of mediums. Customers will find an exciting new source for handmade goods—from wall art and standing display pieces, to jewelry, scarves, and fashion accessories, to children’s gifts and artist-made clothes, home furnishings, and garden art, too. The store also carries EcoOptions green and cause-related items, plus an art supplies section.
“We like to think of ourselves as forward-thinking and forward-planning, but always open to the new opportunities that present themselves,” says Cecilia, marveling at the artists who have walked through re-invent’s doors since their grand opening in May. Kristin and Cecilia relish the challenge of showcasing both local and international talents.
Re-invent’s opening exhibit was the renowned and much loved McMahon family from Lake Forest. Then, later this summer, Shota Kawahara, a noted Japanese muralist known for his vibrant colorful landscapes, will be in residence at re-invent, displaying his art, working in studio, and staying with a Lake Forest family.
“We’re not quite sure where this adventure is going to take us,” says Kristin. “But we are going to continue moving forward and evolving until we no longer think that’s a good idea.”
It’s hard to imagine that ever happening.
Re-invent is located at 202 East Wisconsin Avenue in Lake Forest. To learn more, visit reinventlf.com.
— Ann Marie Scheidler