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The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

Evanston Made allows local artists to display their work and connect with each other

Lucy La Fond

Back in 2014, Lisa Degliantoni was volunteering for the Evanston Arts Council when she noticed a problem in the community. There were no programs that introduced people to visual artists or offered studio tours.

Studio tours provide artists with the opportunity to show people around their studio and display their art. Tour members can make connections with the artists and purchase their artwork. 

Lisa jumped into action alongside other volunteers to set up studio tours to showcase the work of various artists and makers in Evanston. From there, the program Evanston Made was born.

Nine years later, Evanston Made is thriving. The nonprofit membership-based arts organization has over 450 members and hosts year-round programming. According to Degliantoni, her goal for the organization was “just to make sure that people met and knew who the artists and makers were in the community as opposed to just recognizing their art.” It is evident that Lisa was able to achieve just that.

Evanston Made has an array of programs throughout the year. Some events are just for members, while others are open to the public. A few of these events are the Makers Market, First Saturdays, and Member Mixers.

The Makers Market is where people can purchase work directly from the artists who created it. It takes place on the 5th floor of the Maple parking garage, and hundreds of vendors come to sell their goods. They sell clothing, jewelry, paintings, ceramic work, candles, and so much more. The first ever Makers Market was in 2019 and it has continued to be an event that occurs numerous times throughout the year.

First Saturday events are hosted by Evanston Made and take place the first Saturday of every month. They are intended to bring members of the artist community together. This can be through an exhibit on display, an art class, an introduction to small business owners in Evanston, homemade items that are for sale, or a meal or drink that can be shared. For example if people go to the cafe, Pour, at 528 Dempster street, on the first Saturday of a month they can help donate to Evanston Made, as well as having a treat from a charming small business. After someone enjoys a drink, snack, or meal there they can mention “First Saturday” because 10% of sales will go to Evanston Made.

An Evanston artist, weaver Amy Gabbert, had an experience at one of the organization’s events that changed the way she viewed her work.

“The first Evanston Made show that I did after 15-20 years of not showing art in a gallery setting gave me some confidence with my personal artwork, and it was then when I decided to make the transition from making art to selling art,” remarks Gabbert.

Member Mixers are another event that occur monthly, and they intended to bring together the members of Evanston Made. They take place at a variety of locations in the Evanston area. At these meetings people can promote their artwork or business, introduce upcoming shows or classes they have, and form a connection with other artists.

“Like my friend Fran Joy said 10 years ago, she knew four artists in Evanston and now she knows 400,” remarks Degliantoni.

Amy Gabbert also speaks on her benefits from the community, “Some of my good friends now I would not have met if it had not been through Evanston Made. It’s pretty unique, and I think it’s a good testament to what can happen when you provide an opportunity for people,”  she mentions.

For months, artist Sherry Smith has also been focusing on the artist community in Evanston. She runs the First Saturday free sketching workshop at the Sketchbook Brewery that is hosted by Evanston Made. When discussing the bonds artists have made due to this event, Degliantoni commented, “Now we see groups of people becoming friends, learning who each other are, cross-disciplinary, at all different ages. It’s a really interesting mix of people.” Evanston Made has created an outlet for artists with various crafts to meet each other, and find others who have the same passion for creating.

Another aspect of the organization that is highly valued by Evanston Made is inclusivity.

“We make joining very easy and accessible, not only from a price [standpoint] We make the organization programs and events for everybody.” states Degliantoni.

The process to become an official Evanston Made member is very easy. Simply go to their website, select “join”, and then the Evanston Made team reviews your request. What is great about this review process is that they aren’t making you apply to get in, and they aren’t looking for a portfolio. They are assessing your level of expertise to best support you. This means people of all ages and stages in their artistic journey can join. Artist June Ahleman says to “Just reach out to Lisa Degliantoni or Liz Kramer through their website, they make the art environment not scary.”

June Ahleman joined as early as sixth grade and explains that, “[Evanston Made] cared the least about my age. When I joined I was in middle school and they had discounts to make joining accessible.”

Ahleman’s passion for art started at a young age and the support Evanston Made provides for emerging artists is one of the reasons she decided to join.

“Ever since I was little I have really wanted to try as hard as I can to get my name out, and Evanson Made gives artists so many opportunities to do that,” says Ahleman.

Evanston is already a thriving art community with sculptures, murals, and more, and the fact that Evanston Made can take talented artists to the next level is astounding. Ahleman’s latest work includes detailed portraits of her subjects and their identity, ranging from 4 x 8 feet tall. Her solo exhibition focuses on exploitation through objectification which is when an artist takes one aspect of their subject’s identity like their race or sexuality and paints that, only focusing on the subject’s appearance and not the rest of their identity. She conducted interviews with her subjects prior to painting them to make sure to include all aspects of their identity in her pieces.

From starting as a sixth grader to her own solo exhibitions Ahleman has grown a lot throughout the years with Evanston Made. 

“They’ve witnessed every stage of my art getting better,” she notes.

The time dedicated towards Evanston Made also helped teach her commitment, “I’ve realized more recently that you get out of it what you put in. If you attend the events, you will meet more people,” Ahleman states.

With all the benefits both Gabbert and Ahleman have experienced throughout their years, they have tremendous appreciation for Lisa Degliantoni.

“Lisa is a powerhouse. She is someone who is such a fantastic advocate for artists in the community and she goes out and makes things happen. In Evanston we are so lucky to have her,” Gabbert declares.

With Evanston Made turning ten years old next year, Lisa Degliantoni already has a goal to celebrate that huge milestone.

“We want to make a very inclusive, affordable, accessible headquarters where a lot of things can happen for a lot of members of the community, not just our members, not just the artists we work with. We really want to be a headquarters for making, showing and selling art.” Although this dream has yet to be put into action, there is no doubt that Lisa and her amazing team at Evanston Made will work to make it happen.

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Stella Davis, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Stella Davis (she/her). I am a junior, and this is my third year as a staff writer for the Opinion and Art and Entertainment section. I love being a part of The Evanstonian because I enjoy writing about topics I am interested in while working on improving my writing skills. Beyond The Evanstonian, I am on the cross country and track team, as well as a member of Emerge and the Community Service Club. Outside of ETHS, I like to spend time with friends, bake, and watch TV.
Rory Lehman, Digital Staff Member, Staff Writer
Hi, my name is Rory Lehman (she/her/hers) and I am a writer for Arts and Entertainment and a videographer for the Social section. I am a freshman and I am really looking forward to my first year working on The Evanstonian. I have loved to write since a very young age, and after writing for my middle school’s newspaper I knew I wanted to continue to strengthen my journalism skills in high school. Beyond The Evanstonian, I play on the ETHS Girls Frosh Tennis Team, and am a member of Student Council. In my free time I love to channel my inner Rory Gilmore and read, write, and go to coffee shops with friends!
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