Chicago road trip: Lillstreet Art Center + SOFA

Here’s an introduction to the textiles studios at Lillstreet Art Center, which is now located on Ravenswood Avenue in a former 3-story “gear shop.” It’s a lot like a re-purposed 1930s junior high school space. Lillstreet started out about thirty years ago, strictly as a ceramics facility on Lill Street, featuring teaching space and studios for ceramists. The move to Ravenswood coincided with an expansion to a facility with metalsmithing, lampworked glass, printmaking, painting, textiles and kids’ art classes. Ceramics is still the main focus. The facility also includes a sales and exhibition area, plus First Slice, a great cafe with great food and profits going to support homeless youth meals.  I have been eagerly following Lillstreet Blog for some time, enamored with its focus on screen printing. Here you’ll find pictures of this facility, introduced by head of textile area Camille Canales.

SOFA is the Sculptural Objects Fine Art Exposition, this year paired with INTUIT, the outsider art museum plus galleries. Major collector galleries exhibit at SOFA, and one has the opportunity to look at work commonly found in American Craft and other magazines. I hadn’t been in several years, and the level of creativity is always astonishing. I also sat at the Surface Design Association information table, which was located in front of the Corning Glassblowing Demo booth, very informative, very impressive and great theater.

Below: the sewing workshop at Lillstreet- Camille is my guide.  
Camille is using pins to secure a runner to a table, in preparation for later screenprinting. I encouraged her to work as she answered questions- this was a time free of students in the dye and print studio.





Screenprinted curtains (above) and clothing (below)


It’s rare to have a workshop with so many fabric screens. I was in heaven!
Below, Camille’s screenprinted embroidery sampler, upon which students then practice certain embroidery stitches


above: pattern pieces. 
below: menu at the Cafe Slice. It’s time now to order pies for Thanksgiving! I purchased various pieces of pie plus their squash soup to take to my overnight host and good friend, and everything was super tasty.


Above: re-arranging jewelry displays in the Lillstreet Studio gallery. 
Below: I followed the many bike routes on my way back to Oak Park, through Wrigleyville.


Historic stained glass from Chicago producers, stunning examples of old and new, inside the corridor on Navy Pier. Very worth seeing.






Above: I had seen so much art at SOFA, that when I stepped outside, I was struck by the materials, color and textural contrast of this light post base. 
Below: SDA Area Representatives Linda and Darcy


Above: SDA President Candy and friend and fellow volunteer Ann attending tothe SDA informational table at SOFA, with the swatch collection

Above: a fantastic grouping of photos of Utah plus oversized ceramic sculpture by fellow Iowa City resident Gerry Eskin.  Below: stepping out towards my car, surface design is everywhere…