Community Spotlight: Lisa Caplan

“It is through art, and art only, that we can realize our perfection.”—Oscar Wilde There is beauty in everyday life, but even more so when seen through the eyes of a true artist. It’s in the curve of the path in a public park, the sway of a flower petal, the shadows in an alley. Loosen your focus, art is all around you. As least, that’s how it feels for Chicago native and prominent ‘out’ artist, Lisa Caplan. It may have taken more time for the grit and grumble of the urban sprawl to inspire her the same way nature does, but she came around. Like most artists, Lisa is continuously evolving and pushing the envelope of beauty.

Beginning with figurative work at a young age, she has tried her hand (and excelled) in iron work, oil painting, mixed media screen work and large installations. If some of her art triggers a feeling of déjà vu it’s probably because you saw her work splashed across the CTA train entrances and shop fronts during Chicago’s first Pop-Up Art Loop in 2010. In the first year of this incredible installation, Lisa was invited to join other artists in helping to beautify the decay that closed and vacant storefronts lend to a cityscape. Since that first year, Pop-Up Art Loop has expanded to include some very big names in the art world (i.e. Ed Pasche).

Lisa is constantly finding inspiration all over the globe, from volunteering to study petroglyphs in Nicaragua to the open lands of Montana to the mystical city of Bangkok. She constantly challenges herself and rises to new heights; quite literally. After a show at the Creative House inspired by Toyota in our city, marketing members from their sister space in Thailand were so impressed by her pieces that they invited Lisa over for a show. She was the first American ever invited, and the expectations were huge. With 35 foot ceilings and no permission to hang work on the walls, Lisa came up with the ingenious idea of creating a massive tipi installation made from local materials such as colored mosquito nets and bamboo…to be built on site. The piece made headlines and a serious impact.

As time passes, Lisa looks to continue her growth. When asked how she decided to become a career artist, Lisa replies: “I didn’t wake up and say ‘I want to be an artist’, it was just something I always did, and never stopped.” As a child she remembers constantly drawing on all kinds of surfaces, indiscriminately painting walls and scribbling on paper. After joining private classes to further her technique in high school, she studied art at Boston College. Gradually, her oil paintings turned into other creative mediums and she took off. Recently, a true appreciation of all things as art has sunk in. The design of a cityscape, the placement of parks and trees, the wild and manicured flower beds; everyday life is actually just semi structured art. This new mentality has pushed Lisa to enroll in Harvard’s Graduate School of Design this upcoming fall to pursue yet another medium: landscape architecture.

Before she begins this next big adventure, though, she wants to pay tribute to the city that has helped nurture and encourage her. She is gathering a collection of roughly 30 pieces, most of which were created during her time here, and showcasing them for us all. A variety of her talent will be on display; spanning oil work, screen imagery, and iron work. She is hoping to leave us with a small sampling of what she has been able to gain here. Lisa Caplan is an amazing talent, and a true inspiration. Come show your support for a fellow Chicagoan, a fellow LGBT community member, and a fellow appreciator of all things beautiful. We could all use a little more art in our lives. Join Lisa and as many friends as we can fit for a proper farewell to our fair city.

Event Details:

SATURDAY July 28th, 4:00p-8:00p
210 N. Racine, Chicago IL 60607
FREE for everyone
Light snacks, beer, and wine provided but feel free to bring whatever else you want to drink with you!
All artwork is for sale

For more information on the artist:

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About Leah Schein

Leah is a born and bred Chicagoan, and considers herself extremely fortunate to be raised by amazing liberal parents in Logan Square. Coming from a long family history of equality activism, the crazy world of politics feels like home to her. Her upbringing allowed her to fully appreciate her love of tacos, and provided the support needed to be independent and insane. She is a happy survivor of the public school system, all the way through her undergrad years, culminating with a BA in anthropology. Her love of travel and all things adventurous led to the pursuit of a Master of Science from sunny ol’ England, where she happily grasped a conservation degree and ran off to live in a number of rain forests to research nocturnal primates. Through the amazing diversity she was fortunate to be raised amongst, she has an unwavering appreciation of all cultures and peoples, and has used this to form the foundation of her outspoken support of civil rights. You may have seen her running around Boystown/Tuna town over the last decade, or at events she volunteers at for the Human Rights Campaign. It’s possible you spied her at the Silent Film Festival. That strange woman getting into a wrestling match in the leaves on Foster Ave beach at 3am…that definitely wasn’t her. She couldn’t be more excited about sharing her love of science, and it’s role in our daily lives, with the community she loves. Nerds are cool, people. They drink martini’s too.


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