Espresso Palette owner Dustin Courtright (from left); artists, Jason Milne, 19, of Blue Island; Alejandro Garcia-Gonzalez, 19, of Robbins, Michael Lagunas, 19, of Alsip; and Tim Dougherty, Adult Transition Program Special Education Teacher for District 218 at a reception held on February 25 at Espresso Palette in Chicago Ridge. (Photos by Kelly White)
Espresso Palette in Chicago Ridge hosts D218 art show
By Kelly White
As a young artist, Jason Milne, enjoys spending his free time building his talent.
“I grew up in a huge family, so getting some time to myself was difficult; but, whenever I did I
always loved to draw,” Milne, 19, of Blue Island, said.
Milne attends the Adult Transition Program at District 218. The program serves 18–22-year-old adults with disabilities from Eisenhower, Richards and Shepard, focusing on life and vocational skills that students continue to work on after high school.
“While they’re training me for a future job, I work on some of my paintings there,” Milne said.
Milne, who loves nature and brining scenery into his paintings was proud to showcase his work at Espresso Palette, 5730 W. 111th Street, Chicago Ridge, alongside two other artists also from the Adult Transition Program, Alejandro Garcia-Gonzalez and Michael Laguna.
“These three young artists are some of the kindest, hard-working, and talented young adults that I have ever had the pleasure of teaching,” Tim Dougherty, Adult Transition Program Special Education Teacher, said. “I am lucky enough to be able to do what I love for a living, and I have always tried to help the young adults that I teach to find something they love or something that they are interested in and go after it. These three love their artwork, and they really love to learn.”
The students’ work will be on display at Espresso Palette through March 11. An opening event was held on Friday, February 25 featuring live music from Eisenhower’s school band.
“Whether this turns out to be a full-time business for them, a fun side-job, or just a healthy outlet for them to express themselves, only time will tell; however, they are giving it everything they have, and having fun every step of the way,” Dougherty said.
Work for the projects was done both during school time and at home.
“I have absolutely loved seeing the looks on their faces when they show staff and peers their completed pieces of artwork,” Dougherty said. “A few days ago, Jason brought in a piece of artwork that he completed at home for this project. After unwrapping it in the front of the room to show his classmates, his fellow artists and every single person in that room was on their feet clapping and cheering for Jason. It was truly an amazing moment. I am so very proud of them and all of my students as everyone has helped to support and encourage them in their journey.”
Kerry McNicholas, Adult Transition Coordinator suggested reaching out to local coffee shop, Espresso Pallet, about displaying some of the students’ artwork.
Espresso Palette owners, Dustin and Erika Courtright, said he was happy to be a part of the project.
“We wanted to open a place that connects local artist with the community,” Dustin Courtright, of Oak Lawn, said.
Courtright did just that by opening up Espresso Palette in April of 2021, that not only serves coffee, tea, beer and wine, but also showcases local talent. The couple chose Chicago Ridge for his location because of the community feel and potential to grow. This is the first show held for District 218’s Adult Transition Program.
“This art show is a chance for three great artists to share their work with the community,” Courtright said. “I can appreciate the work these artists put in to make this showing happen and we are excited to have their work displayed. It’s a pleasure for use to host this event and we hope to inspire more local artists.”
Featured alongside Milne were nature artist, Alejandro Garcia-Gonzalez, 19, of Robbins and landscape artist, Michael Lagunas, 19, of Alsip.
“I realized I love making art when I was three years old,” Garcia-Gonzalez said. “I started by drawing my favorite characters from TV, movies, cartoons, and video games. Lately, I am inspired by painting nature scenes and landscapes on canvas. I love using my creativity and artistic skills to make people happy. The supportive people in my life have helped me to gain the confidence to build a business of sharing my artwork with the world.”
“As far as I can remember, art has always been a big piece of my life. You can say it is my biggest hobby,” Lagunas said. “My biggest supporters in life have helped me gain confidence in building a business out of my artwork.”
In The Adult Transition Program, educators focus on helping young adults like these develop the skills, knowledge needed to positively prosper within their communities while having a happy, healthy adulthood.
“This means we address academic needs, life-skills, positive recreation and leisure activities, social-emotional needs, and vocational skills,” Dougherty said. “Through this project, Alejandro, Jason, and Michael have built strong relationships, friendships with each other which has built up their self-esteem. They have gained confidence in their capabilities. This has done amazing things for their social-emotional statuses.”
Through this experience, the students have gained academic skills while working on budgeting and pricing activities related to their artwork.
“They are taking the artistic skills that they have obtained throughout their years in school and transferring those skills to explore a positive outlet for them to express themselves,” Dougherty said. “They are learning that this could become a great business for themselves, a possible side-business to help supplement their income one day, or simply be a healthy outlet for them to express themselves. Finally, they are learning ways to access their community in positive ways.”
Landek to retire from Illinois Senate
Porfirio will take his place on the ballot By Bob Bong In a move that had apparently been in the works for at least a month, Democratic state Sen. Steve Landek will not run for re-election in November. Lyons Township Trustee Mike Porfirio, a close ally of Landek since his days as his chief of staff in Springfield, is…
Fan Fest returns to Oak Lawn Library
By Kelly White Comic lovers of all ages joined forces this weekend and came together at Oak Lawn Public Library’s annual Fan Fest. The fest at the library, 9427 Raymond Ave., is a pop culture celebration and free comic book day. It provides an opportunity for the community to come to a local event without…
Huge turnout for meeting on Wolf Road widening in Indian Head Park
By Carol McGowan A crowd estimated at more than 150 packed Lyonsville Congregational Church in Indian Head Park last week to hear about plans to widen Wolf Road. The plans have been in the works since 2020 and call for Cook County to widen Wolf Road from 79th Street to Plainfield Road. Most of the…
More Wolf Road, Joliet Road overnight closures coming
Temporary, overnight lane closures are scheduled next week on Wolf Road and Joliet Road at the Tri-State Tollway to accommodate bridge beam removal for the reconstruction of the I-294 bridges over Joliet Road and Wolf Road in Indian Head Park. On Wolf Road, scheduled overnight lane closures will include intermittent full closures, each lasting 15…
Police investigate Palos Hills shooting
From staff reports Palos Hills police are investigating a shooting that occurred at 7:40 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4, in the 10700 block of Roberts Road. Police said they and paramedics of the North Palos Fire Protection District answered a call of a man shot. They found a man wh0 had suffered a gunshot wound…
‘We are Eagles’ author shares stories in Evergreen Park
By Kelly White Author and award-winning journalist Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk, is proudly sharing the stories of strong immigrant women. Tomczyk discussed her new book, “We Are Eagles: Inspiring Stories of Immigrant Women Who Took Bold Steps in Life Through Literacy,” on April 21 at the Evergreen Park Public Library, 9400 S. Troy Ave., Evergreen…
Irvin gaslighting GOP voters
By Rich Miller Almost every weekday since the beginning of February, the Richard Irvin campaign has sent at least one press release to reporters about a host of issues, from crime to taxes to corruption to former House Speaker Michael Madigan to, well, you name it. Last week, however, the Irvin campaign was conspicuously silent…
Senator Muñoz steps down
Future son-in-law has clear path to succeed him By Tim Hadac State Senator Antonio “Tony” Muñoz (D-1st) whose district includes all or parts of Garfield Ridge, Archer Heights, Brighton Park, McKinley Park, has suddenly withdrawn from his re-election race. No reason was offered, but in a statement he said he plans to continue “supporting the…
‘We have to protect ourselves’
Women push back against crime By Tim Hadac Years ago, a woman taking firearms training was a rare sight, at least compared to the number of men enrolled. But with spikes in crimes like carjacking, robbery, battery and more, women are increasingly found at gun ranges and in firearms classes—so much so that sessions just…
Emily Pruim, a scholar with a bright future
By Joan Hadac Your correspondent in Clearing and Garfield Ridge (708) 496-0265 • [email protected] Spring is the season when, among other things, we celebrate the young people of Clearing and Garfield Ridge, their achievements and their future plans. It’s a wonderful and refreshing part of my duties to report this kind of good news. This week,…
ANALYSIS: Where does the GOP governor field stand on abortion?
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] Perhaps the biggest news affecting state government this week came not from Springfield but from Washington, D.C. That news was an unprecedented leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade. That case’s precedent protects access to…
UPDATED: Fitch, S&P announce Illinois credit ratings upgrades
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Fitch Ratings on Thursday raised the state of Illinois’ rating for general obligation bonds two notches, to BBB+, while S&P Global Ratings on Friday upgraded state bonds by one notch. That means all three major credit rating agencies have updated Illinois credit by two notches in…
Ceremony honors officers killed in the line duty
By GRACE KINNICUTT Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – As rain steadily fell in Springfield Thursday morning, there was a somber feeling among the law enforcement officers and elected officials that gathered at the Illinois State Library to honor 11 fallen officers killed in the line of duty in 2021. “I have a heavy heart…
Audit finds IDPH failed to intervene in early days of LaSalle Veterans’ Home outbreak
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – A new report from the state’s auditor general found more fault with the Illinois Department of Public Health in its response to a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at a state-run veterans home than was found by a previous watchdog report that investigated the matter. A November 2020…
Fitch raises Illinois credit rating two notches
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Fitch Ratings on Thursday raised the state of Illinois’ rating for general obligation bonds two notches, to BBB+, making it the second rating agency to do so in recent weeks and marking the fourth time the state has received a credit upgrade in the last year.…
CAPITOL RECAP: Lawmakers react to leaked draft abortion decision
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois Democrats warned of an “end to the constitutional right to privacy” if a leaked U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade becomes finalized as precedent. “It means women who lose access to the full suite of medical advances…
Illinois has tangled history with abortion despite recent liberal push
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – A leaked draft of an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision that could overturn the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade reignited a political debate over whether access to abortion is a constitutional right or something that can be regulated by the states. The draft opinion was…
Illinois lawmakers respond to leaked Supreme Court abortion decision
By GRACE KINNICUTT Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois Democrats warned of an “end to the constitutional right to privacy” if a leaked U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade becomes finalized as precedent. “It means women who lose access to the full suite…
Pritzker signs bills aimed at easing teacher shortage amid data suggesting progress
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker signed a package of bills Wednesday aimed at easing the state’s shortage of teachers and other education professionals, even as a new report shows Illinois just added a record number of new teachers to its ranks. Speaking in the library of Springfield High…
$309 million available through federally-funded mortgage assistance program
By GRACE KINNICUTT Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker was joined by the Illinois Housing Development Authority and local elected officials in Chicago Friday to promote the Illinois Emergency Homeowner Assistance Fund for struggling homeowners. Overseen by IHDA, the emergency assistance fund is funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act and…