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The Independent

Frankenstone Art Center: What Are You Making?

Linda Monacelli, Copy Editor

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Chef Julia Pham and Erick Von Alroth

Photos by Linda Monacelli
The community gathers for a cooking event at the center

Photos by Linda Monacelli
Self portrait by artist Sumie Song

 

It’s ALIVE!  The spirit of art, that is. Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) alum and art major Erick Von Alroth has graced the North Park scene with his latest creation: Frankenstone Art Center (FAC).

Having graduated summa cum laude in 2010,Von Alroth believed that the surrounding communities of Albany and North Park lacked a creative arts culture, specifically, a space for artists to work collectively and engage members of the community. “It seemed obvious to me to open a creative space in a neighborhood where there was no cultural representation,” Von Alroth explained. “I was also excited by the fact that our nearest neighbor Albany Park is on the map as one of the most diverse zip codes in the country….It is a fantastic place to get many different viewpoints. People from all over stop in to talk about their experiences in the arts.”

Von Alroth has had seven years of metal smithing experience and 15 years as an artist working with various other mediums. FAC is an extension of Von Alroth’s own creative drive. “All I understand about my own creative drive is that I am fueled by a problem that needs to be solved. Somehow figuring out how to solve something is as much of the journey as solving it. If we could instantly physically create our visions, we would have a new problem to solve, and we would create something to control some of the monsters that we might create.”

FAC’s mission focuses on bringing people together through art and making arts education accessible to all members of local communities. To fulfill this mission, the center offersa potpourri of12 classes, including classes exclusively for adults, young adults and kids. Subjects of classes continue to expand, but a few subjects currently taught are metalworking/jewelry, glass working, painting and life drawing. FAC also offers workshops and hosts special events and gallery exhibits of local artists’ work.

On Friday, Sept. 28, the center hosted a meet-and-greet with Chef Julia Pham that included an expansive sampler of her creations and a dinner table discussion about sustainable food solutions and problem-solving. On Oct. 13, Frankenstone will be participating as a site for the North River Commission Albany Park culture tour. Author of the book Baxter the Bully and NEIU Alum L.D. Etherly will be holding a book-signing and mini book-making workshop on Nov. 3, from 1pm until 3pm.

Von Alroth and his team of artists, including creativedesigner Rebby Montalvo and ceramicist John Yaou, invite all to come check out their space, whether to work on their own art, learn art or support art. To artists, Von Alroth advises, “Practice your creativity and your love life will work out, as well as a lot of other things you are dreaming of. The first part of this statement comes from Andy Warhol. The second part comes from knowing creativity makes things happen. Don’t you want something to happen? Also, as an artist, there is no need to believe that old story of the sole artist working alone. Why not work with a bunch of people and make history?”

FAC would eventually like to expand their space. The team has already looked into expanding up through the second floor, but the current residents are not interested in moving any time soon. However, this is not stopping FAC from expanding into other locations to meet the needs of their instructors and students.Frankenstone Art Center is located at 3310 W. Foster, Chicago, IL, 60625. Anyone interested in using the space, taking a class or two or hosting an event may reach the FAC team by phone at 773-509-0609 or email at [email protected] Please also check out their website and blog at www.frankenstonea.com. The best way to reach them, however, is to just stop by and see what’s going on.

Von Alroth  aka Dr. Frankenstone’s take-home message for artists and dreamers is to “just try and believe. Sometimes it’s surprising how far you will get.”

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Frankenstone Art Center: What Are You Making?