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Arts and The Community

swing statue

The arts have the ability to influence or change a life, to portray joy as well as tragedy. Beauty can be seen in a thing as simple as a blade of grass or an unexpected smile. Visions of the world’s conflicts stir emotions and unite nations. All of these common feelings and experiences can be communicated by way of a variety of media. Whether an artist chooses to paint, sculpt, perform, or even take a picture, a message is conveyed that speaks to the masses.

The Northbrook Art Commission has worked to encourage a vibrant art community within the Village. The year 2002 marked the birth of the Commission when then Village President Mark Damisch founded the organization in an effort to establish Northbrook as a presence in the world of art. The creation of this entity acts as an outlet for local and national artists to present their creations to the public.

Chairman Judy Hughes, who has been serving as the chairman of the Arts Commission since its inception, along with a group of commissioners share in the dedication to see that the mission of this group is carried out.


These individuals believe that the arts bring out the best in a community and help people appreciate the world around them. Northbrook Art Commissioner Marvin Glick noted, “Appreciation for the arts goes hand in hand with an educated and cultured community.”

Commissioner Laura Jacobs said, “Art shows you different ways to look at the same thing. It encourages higher thinking levels, such as math and physics, and it helps you think outside the box, so it helps you think about the bigger issues in life.”

Indulging in the arts provides a welcome diversion from the stresses of everyday life, connects people of the present with those of the past, and ultimately lies at the heart of any community. Commissioner Julia Miller said, “The arts are stimulating and are an escape. I draw to relax or I’ll go to the garden with my camera…it replenishes the soul.”

Both independently and together with other community coalitions, the Commission sponsors and initiates a plethora of programs, classes, exhibits, events, and much more. Exciting ways to become involved include watching movies, admiring and analyzing paintings, attending musical concerts, not to mention frequenting live performances, fashion sculptures...the list goes on. Commissioner Chris Laughlin expressed “Without the arts you are just existing. With the arts you are living. It just makes you feel better.”

comedy/tragedy masks

One of the newest and most popular annual events introduced by the Commission takes place in July. Art in the Park, just a year old, has garnered quite a following, drawing in crowds from both near and far. This fine arts festival features works to buy and view, a generous food spread, a number of exhibits, and other amusements, all nestled within Village Green Park.

Also held in the park, Gig on the Green strikes up three Tuesdays in a row during the balmy month of August. The sounds of swing melodies waft through the warm breeze and the notes of jazz bop along on rays of sunlight. Local food vendors impart tasty grub to attendees.

The Village comes together each January to participate in Northbrook Originals. This annual exhibit showcases the artistic talent of both professional and novice artists. Both groups benefit from the opportunity to display their art for the viewing pleasure of residents and visitors alike.

October features the Artist Open Studio Tours where the public follows a mapped out journey, taking them to the homes and studios of local artists. Also in October, featured works can be found throughout businesses in the downtown area, as well as in the Village Gallery in the Northbrook Village Hall.

art tent

The catalog of offerings made possible by the Northbrook Arts Commission grows year by year. The membership also continues to increase. From just a few members back in its founding year, the number now totals over 130. Commissioner Terry Luc notes, “There are several well-known artists and theater producers who had their beginnings in Northbrook. The arts, theater, great music — it all inspires people.”

The Commission is attempting to break into the world of television with a 30-minute spot on NCTV-Channel 17. The show consists of a Northbrook Arts Commissioner interviewing a featured artist, discussing their experience and work.

The Commission is also looking to offer a series of painting workshops taught by a well-known number of artists and teachers. A community musical performance may also be in the works, which will headline young area musicians, allowing these budding performers to get a feel for being on stage in front of an audience.

A number of other organizations and groups beyond the Arts Commission, also exist. The Northbrook Public Library is host to many endeavors including films, musical shows, and historic presentations and humanities programs. The YMCA and Northbrook Park District offers instruction in the arts to young people with an interest in honing their skills. The Park District also sponsors a theatre program and the talented Y’All Come Choir.

The Northbrook Symphony Orchestra continues in great style, celebrating its 29th season providing unique and creative programming while engaging their audiences from both the stage and the podium. Founded in 1980, the NSO not only performs beautiful symphonic music, but also invests time in its outreach program, which includes performances for local schools, senior groups and appearances at major community-wide events. The Northbrook Melodeers Choir has proven itself able as well, named for five years as the International Sweet Adelines Champion Chorus.

Commissioner Maureen Fallows exclaimed, “Whether making art or enjoying art, it hits your soul and it is important to everybody!” Come to Northbrook and experience the cultural mecca made possible by a population of gifted individuals.

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