Gray dusty-looking clouds, an unpleasant dampness in the air, there’s a cold chill in the wind that never gives a reprieve for those outside. That’s what it should have felt like. But the sounds of rain pattering on the sidewalk and the skidding of tires on wet asphalt was drowned out. I heeded no sounds of sirens or of disconcerting chatter and fits of cigarette-induced coughing. I saw no stoic men in blue or sad dirty faces or the frail forms of old women outside hurrying to wherever they were going. There were all inside, away from the cold chatting and laughing at a common thing to behold. All I heard and saw was the common love for art. This weekend was the annual Beverly Art Walk, a one-day event that brings together the local artists of the Beverly area and the greater community of Chicago.
Here in Chicago, the arts scene is very much alive, and Beverly is no exception. Artists working in oils, others in ceramics and others working with what they’ve found lying on the sidewalk all coming together for a whole day showing their practice in a massive open reception for all to see. A stone’s throw away from Saint Xavier University, the Beverly Art Walk was a sight to behold. Packs of people hopping onto the trolly on a scenic route through the major parts of the Beverly area with stops at the studios and homes of many prominent local artists.
One such artist I met was Dalton Brown, a prolific black artist whose primary theme in his works is “seeing and feeling.” Working in oil paints, he began dabbling with broken glass due to his background. The picture above is of one of his portraits. What first caught my eye was that it was done in broken glass he collects. The glass is from alcohol bottles which are a meaningful part of the piece since he said the portraits were of members of his family who were or have dealt with alcoholism. He had a lot of good advice for fellow artists: He said it’s not enough that an artist paints or does their craft; they also have to be able to “see and feel” what it is they’re doing. Without that passion for art, it will show in the quality and the heart of the heart.
Here at Saint Xavier, we didn’t have that problem. While renowned for our education and nursing programs, SXU has a thriving and well-respected artistic community of which I am part of. For the past three years, SXU has had its own gallery location to showcase the art of current students, alumni and of prospective high schoolers. It was a wonderful thing to see professors from the University and members of the community come and support us and the school and those hopefully soon on their way to join the SXU community. We probably had a good 300 people come through over the course of the day. We had a huge wall, which we left blank for anyone and everyone to come and leave their mark. Children barely able to walk and elderly folks in walkers and canes all came together to create art filled with more than skill but heart. The most meaningful part of the whole event for the SXU Gallery, in my opinion, was being able to talk to the high schoolers, the fresh faces on the block, and learn about their art endeavors, see where they were coming from in their mindsets and give them tips. For now, it is done. But the future is unknowable and uncertain. I just hope to see those fresh faces on campus here at Saint Xavier.