There are plenty of creative artistic talent happening in McHenry County and where a dynamic husband and wife artistic team are nurturing, economically valuable art communities.
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Joe Isacson photographed by Heidi Allen
Joe Isacson is a mixed media, conceptual artist that has performed and exhibited in numerous venues in the Chicago area, including the celebrated Randolph Street Gallery. Keith has studied at Columbia College, Chicago and Apicius, Florence, Italy. He has experimented with a wide range of materials, such as found objects, fused glass, sheep’s hair, bees’ wax and exotic woods.
Kathleen Sullivan Isacson photographed by Heidi Allen
Kathleen Sullivan Isacson is a visual artist and art director living northwest of Chicago. She has intensively studied and worked in the creative process for most of her lifetime. Her paintings have won awards and reside in private and public collections. Previously, Kathleen was editor and creative director for the arts and literary journal, the Miserere Review. She has taught as Literary & Arts faculty for the Karitos Arts Conference.
Both Kathleen and Joe have been intimately involved and creative in the arts since their childhood. Together they currently design large-scale fine art installations and lead a team of visual artists at Willow Creek Crystal Lake, Illinois. They also curate local and national art exhibitions.
The Isacson team embraces each other’s strengths which increase their enthusiasm and synergy. Working on numerous projects, may it be design large-scale fine art installations at Creek Valley or brainstorming on one of their group or solo exhibitions, the close collaboration process opens up more creative possibilities. Their successful creative collaboration process working on smaller exhibitions for over a decade has open up opportunities, in the last five (5) years, for them to curate larger fine art and artisan art projects.
Creek Gallery crowd scene photographed by Steve Yoon
What was the reason behind launching an art gallery at Willow Crystal Lake?
“First, Joe and I were asked to curate a show for in-house artists at the church. But when the opportunity arose for us to organize a large art show in Willow Creek church atrium, we thought, why keep this to ourselves? Let’s invite artists from the community to show their work in our space. Let’s do it without fees, no strings attached and celebrate them. And thus, Creek Gallery was born.”
What has been your biggest motivating factor in curating art exhibitions?
“Educating the general public as to what art can be.”
“Mostly providing opportunities for the great artists around me to exhibit – there’s so much talent in McHenry County and the Chicago area! Kathleen feels that being an artist has assisted in her creative process. It’s also very true that curating shows helps her evaluate her own work with a stricter, more critical eye. She can’t think of a particular hindrance in her professional career, but the most difficult aspect can be the jury process of selecting artists. The jury process is a necessary part to have a cohesive exhibition and narrowing the artwork down to what is appropriate for show is always regrettable because we care about the artists personally.”
Tell us about the artist community in your area? Galleries? Art Festivals?
“We are a tight-knit community overall. There is always something going on in our county and here are two examples. The Lakeside Legacy Arts Park has 1st Friday openings each month. We will have a curated national show there on October 2, 2015. Woodstock’s historic square has the Old Court House Arts Center, which we are curating a show for in early 2016. We have a call for artists for the Old Court House Arts Center going on now.” The Isacson team is collaborating year around to ensure valuable exhibition opportunities; networking and support are available for the Northwest artist communities. “
Are there any other types of art projects you work on together?
“We often create art installations for Willow Crystal Lake’s large atrium area, ranging from a third-world experience to 25 ft. hanging structures. Often we are the lead designers as we lead a team to develop and implement large-scale projects to transform a space.”
Tell us about one of the important accomplishments in your art careers?
“When we encourage a new artist to move forward and see them develop over time.”
“Also helping to equip artists with practical art business skills so they can thrive. It’s so great to see a need in the community and find a way to meet it.”
What are your future plans?
“Artists have asked for more opportunities to exhibit, learn and we want to provide them! Right now on the calendar, we have 2 projects we are very excited about: Dangerous Lullabies: October 2016 National Exhibition. Don’t miss the opening night of this show; it’s going to be delightfully eerie. Artists from across the country have conspired to fill a historic mansion with paintings, sculptures and fine art creations, which examine the beauty found in the ashes of terror and the magnetic pull things disturbing, on-edge or dark. Opening night is the first Friday of October (Oct 2, 5-8pm) in a historic mansion located in Crystal Lake.”
“Future So Bright: Jan/Feb 2016 We have an open call for a national exhibition of traditional & new media called Future So Bright which will be in the Old Courthouse Arts Park in Woodstock, IL. The call is open through Oct 5. “
For more information regarding art shows, artist lectures and upcoming exhibitions of Joe and Kathleen Isacson please visit them at http://xculturearts.com
Dan Addington artist lecture (below) photographed by Joe Isacson