Oak Lawn resident Clayton J. Beck III displays his work of art accompanied by the model at the first unofficial event for the Acorn to Oak Studios at the Pilgrim Faith Church campus. Beck will be on hand to moderate the first official session to be held Sunday at the church. (Supplied photo)
Oak Lawn studio wants to be haven for artists
By Joe Boyle
An acorn may be the symbol that inspires the Oak Lawn community to unleash its artistic talents.
The first official session of the Acorn to Oak Studios will be presented from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, in the north wing of the Pilgrim Faith Church campus, 9411 S. 51st Avenue, Oak Lawn.
Participation is limited at this event. However, residents who are interested in attending future sessions can call 708-620-4263 or visit www.acornoakstudios.com.
An information event was held in November as a means to introduce the concept to the village. A second session followed for children that was called “Create with Santa.”
One of co-founders of the studio include Andrea Zumhagen, whose six children have been involved in various Oak Lawn programs. She encourages youngsters and teens to become more involved in the arts.
“I know what we can do at Acorn to Oak Studios will be just as impactful in our community,” Zumhagen said. “When I speak with other parents, we all want this for our teens. I know the kids will love it, too.”
Former Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury and Linda Vorderer, who has served as a commissioner on the village’s Arts Commission and is the wife of current Mayor Terry Vorderer, are the other co-founders.
Bury, who served two terms as mayor beginning in 2013, graduated with an art degree in the 1980s and wasn’t sure what to expect after completing her studies.
“I did not expect a big art community but I did not expect zero,” she said. “We have a lot here with our dining experience and the visual arts. But as for art, not that much.”
She received her doctorate in optometry in 1995 and owns Complete Vision Care in Oak Lawn. Bury believes that this new project will allow for children, teens and adults to express themselves artistically.
“With COVID, we have seen a lot of kids having problems relating to each other,” Bury said. “The chance to work in groups will help them.”
Bury said that she and Linda Vorderer helped develop the concept of the Acorn to Oak Studios.
Zumhagen has been a resident of Oak Lawn for nearly 10 years and will focus on art and music programs for grade school and high school students.
“This is something that it is very dear to our hearts,” Bury said. “All of us had this dream.”
Linda Vorderer spearhead Oak Lawn’s “Acorns on Parade” art project back in 2016. Her paintings are on display throughout the community, including at the Stony Creek Clubhouse and the Oak Lawn Village Hall. She serves on the board at the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood.
“I hope I can entice and encourage people to come and enjoy art, not because you are good at it, but for the sheer joy of creating,” said Vorderer, who has taught art from kindergarten through high school, including at the former Queen of Peace High School.
Vorderer added that art should be fun and should be social. The name for the studio stems from the Acorns on Parade that featured works of local art that were in the shape of acorns and could be seen throughout the village.
“We are social beings and we create better together,” Vorderer stressed. “We want to develop these groups.”
Zumhagen said that the group would welcome sponsors for specific classes.
“I want to have a teen center where kids can focus and learn to give back,” Zumhagen said.
Oak Lawn resident Clayton J. Beck III, a noted artist, will be on hand Sunday to provide direction and answer questions. He grew up in the village and attended St. Gerald Elementary School and graduated from St. Laurence High School. He has conducted workshops for artists throughout the country, Europe, Australia and Asia.
“I’ve wanted to start something like this in Oak Lawn for decades,” Beck said. “I am excited about the opportunity and can hardly wait to see the beautiful things that come from having a center like this in Oak Lawn.”
Bury pointed out that members of Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ need to be thanked for their cooperation for allowing the not-for-profit art organization to begin. The studios are being established in rooms that were once used for preschool.
“I’ve been talking to Linda Vorderer about this for a long time,” Bury said. “I just want to give Pilgrim Faith a shout out. I had my eyes on this space for some time.”
The co-founders also pointed out that the Acorn to Oak Studios is open not only to Oak Lawn residents but anyone interested in art and music. The costs of events and various projects are reasonable, Bury said.
“We’re really excited,” Bury added. “It’s been a lifetime dream.”
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