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ABC7 In Your Neighborhood: Lillstreet Art Center

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Whether you're a professional artist or you're just trying something new, the Lillstreet Art Center in Ravenswood has dozens of classes in the visual arts to peak your interest.

Pottery students spend extra time finishing their projects as their teacher, Karen Avery, works alongside them.

"One of the hardest things for people to do is to spin the clay fast, and at this point, speed is your friend," said teacher Karen Avery.

Avery is head of the ceramics department at Lillstreet Art Center, which was founded in 1975 with the goal of encouraging growth in beginning and advanced artists.

"Our success is taking someone who knows nothing about art, or very little about art and comes here and becomes obsessed," said Bruce Robbins, founder and CEO of Lillstreet

Over the years, Lillstreet has grown in space and scope, building on its original focus of ceramics.

Lillstreet has added departments like metal smithing and jewelry making, painting and drawing. There is also digital photography.

Dozens of classes are offered each day and with 22 classrooms and more than 50 studios, it's the largest visual arts center in the Chicago area.

Robbins says members are encouraged to come in any time and the atmosphere is like an extended family.

"It's been a real interesting mix of beginning and advance students and there's a lot of mentoring going on and people being inspired by other people," Robbins said.

There's something for everyone in the family at Lillstreet. Classes for kids as young as 2 are popular.

They can tap into their artistic sides at an early age by exploring different mediums in a relaxed environment.

"I guess they just feel that creativity that's happening within the building and I think that's really exciting for them to see people who are not just kids being creative," said Melanie Brown.

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