I grew up in Logan Square back in the 1970s, when the neighborhood was predominately populated by first-generation Latino immigrants. My parents came here from Mexico and Guatemala.
Artists in Conversation:
CAR Dance Researcher Meida McNeal sat down with Caitlin Strokosch, Executive Director of the Alliance of Artists Communities, for a valuable discussion about how to locate dance residencies in the U.S. and internationally.
Patrizia Acerra is the founding artistic director of Premiere Theatre & Performance (PTAP, formerly the International Theatre of Chicago), a Chicago-based company dedicated to presenting director-driven performances of new works.
I’m a Chicago guy to the bone. I used to go out of my way for cheeseburgers on Maxwell and Halsted (can smell those onions now), can identify 120 BPMs from two blocks away (that’s nerdspeak for house music), and if you give me a street address, I can get you to the nearest major intersection (I worked as a messenger).
Variations, transformations, moving forward, moving backwards, stumble, climb… These words describe my life and career as an artist. I'm a painter and sculptress, but until 2004 I approached my art as a secondary occupation. I had a great deal of skill and training in oil painting, drawing, and other techniques, but no particular vision.
I'm both a “starving artist” and a musician who wears many hats: multi-instrumentalist, arranger, songwriter, and composer. I've been involved in music for more than 22 years. At the age of six, I started my musical "hat collection" by studying classical piano, and then, at age 12, discovering the trumpet. As an up-and-coming trumpeter and arranger, I unknowingly grew into some familiar shoes, having discovered more recently that I'm a relative of legendary jazz trumpeter and mouthpiece designer Charlie Allen.
How did you get started in the theater industry? Were you ever on the other side of the table?
I have always been passionate about theatre. My degree is in Secondary Education and Literature, but I took a minor in Theatre and my first few jobs out of college were all acting-related.
Dawn Gray represents many of the city’s most recognizable acting talents, responsible in part for getting Chicago actors into roles in movies such as The Dark Knight, television series like Prison Break and numerous high-profile stage productions at home and abroad. Known for her hands-on, personal approach to representation, we asked Dawn about her career, her take on the local industry, and the common pitfalls of actors looking to move into on-camera work.
I have inadvertently found a niche for myself doing commissions—creating custom, original works for a variety of people, organizations, and situations. Being a mixed media artist, I revel in finding new materials and potential fodder for collage. Commissions have provided unexpected outlets for new materials, concepts, and much-needed revenue!
If you want to build an audience, you have to put in the work. I nurse Essay Fiesta like a baby. I spend hours a week working on the series. I do all our marketing, from press releases to Facebook to the blog and newsletter. I love doing it, but it's not something that runs itself.
What is the mission of Community Supported Art Chicago and how exactly does the program work?
Community-Supported Art Chicago is a yearly art subscription service of locally produced art. Borrowing the model of Community-Supported Agriculture, where consumers invest in a local farm and get a monthly payout of fruits and vegetables, threewalls is asking people to invest directly in the arts community
I moved to Chicago from NE Ohio six years ago to get an education. And I got it. My laminated degree says so. But as I was leaving Columbia College Chicago’s journalism program, I was readily smacked in the face by the transformative climate we are all living in now.
Discovering your movement vocabulary is never an easy task. When I apply the artistic elements I have learned on my movement experiments, I try to grasp the core essence of the subject and adapt that philosophy to create my own dance.
Maybe it's a local networking event, a friend of a friend's birthday party, or just a conversation with a cab driver, but the question always comes up: “Chicago Art Leasing? How did you get into that?”
The short answer is that I needed to figure out a Plan B to pay rent once I learned that the company I was working for was going to be closing its doors.
It has always been about looking out the window. For more than 20 years now, much of my painting and drawing time has been occupied with watching what goes on outside myself. My day job is driving a cab, which provides ever-changing views. I’ve done dozens of drawings while waiting for passengers.
I am not currently living in the publishing stage of my creative writing life. I’m not submitting to publishers and magazines and polishing my collection of rejection slips. I’m not fighting with an agent, trying to figure out what my genre is. Right now I’m just generating short work for live readings, meeting other independent writers and publishers at those readings, and trying to contribute to the thriving writing community in the city.
Story? I don't have a story. I have a storage unit where I keep all the pieces of my silly life. In among boxes of books are nestled boxes of wood fragments- my own material resource of my own broken things. There is a bit of catapult in with a piece of roller coaster, an unopened letter on a sideways table saw. An inverted Plexiglas vitrine with miniature tree houses and small houseplant stump.
I have been making art continuously since earning my last art degree in 1984. Although I've had a steady career path as a fine artist, I have also embraced opportunities along the way that have enhanced my career.
I have always sought gallery representation and exhibited in galleries since my arrival in Chicago in 1986, including 12 years in
In your book, you write that "A proposal is a creative act like any other." Can you expand upon this comment?
Proposal writing takes time away from all the other things you should be doing like making art, marketing, and grocery shopping. For this reason, I encourage my students to ensure they will benefit from the process of writing a proposal or grant application, even if they don’t win.