The Arts of Life

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Charity of the Month


Our July charity, The Arts of Life, uses visual and performance art as therapy and skills training for the developmentally disabled.

We believe art is for everyone. Founded in 2000, The Arts of Life was the first certified program in Chicago to provide employment opportunities – in the arts – for adults with developmental disabilities. They’re set on making art-based learning and expression available to all.

The Arts of Life has 2 studios: one in West Town and one on the North Shore of Chicago. Their city-based location happens to be a stone’s throw from Flowers for Dreams, and when we stopped by for a tour last month, we were floored by the breadth of amazing work being created there, including these imaginative pieces below.

The Sun: America the Beautiful
by Amanda Gantner      

Monet’s Water Lilies
by Laura Greenberg 

Dave, a resident artist (and comedic genius) led us around the studio that day, starting with the front room, which serves as a revolving gallery space. Its walls showcase a wide variety of art styles and genres – from abstract sculptures featuring webs of hot glue to colorful yarn art and still-life paintings of hunting dog, all the way to superhero comics. It’s obvious every artist is equipped with endless creativity and ambition. And each has developed their own clearly-defined, unique aesthetic.

The resident artists showcase their work beyond the studio walls as well. Most notably, they partnered with Starbucks to display in 14 locations throughout Chicago last year. Proceeds from these partnerships and shows filter back into the studio, funding the purchase of supplies, overhead costs, and securing future opportunities for exposure and employment, such as a booth at the upcoming Wicker Park neighborhood fest on July 29th and 30th.

We’re huge fans of the great people who serve the artist community, the amazing artists themselves, and the well rounded programming. Amazingly, their coursework doesn’t start and stop with visual art alone. We learned about morning yoga, art history courses, band practice (mostly punk rock!), and performance art demos from local professionals which are all critical staples of the program.

At the end of the month, we’ll be joining their Art on a Hot Tin Roof fundraiser event. It’s a rooftop party taking place at Bottom Lounge on July 29th. The event is inspired by the concept of live art, so artists will be creating in-the-moment paintings of the cityscape view onsite, from the Bottom Lounge rooftop. There will be food, drinks, music, and a silent auction as well.

We’d love to see many from our Flowers for Dreams community attend, consider becoming a member, and learning other ways you can help us empower and support the amazing artists from The Arts of Life. For more, we encourage you to visit artsoflife.org today.