Lake County Art League Celebrates 90 Years

Born in 1934, the Lake County Art League will be exhibiting art and the league’s history throughout 2024

In 1934, at the peak of the Great Depression, unemployment was 20%, many were discouraged and more were wondering how the nation could survive this.

Seven Waukegan women instead wondered how to use this time to promote the knowledge and appreciation of art. They started the Lake County Art League to that end.

In a 90th anniversary celebration of that notion, the art league shows how fine art has since become a meaningful thread in the fabric of Lake County and northeast Illinois.

In 2024 the art league invites even more people to experience the joy of appreciating art and the making of that art.

The public can attend free monthly Lake County Art League meetings that include a guest artist demonstration, and they can see the Art League’s six art shows this year.

The two most popular of the Art League’s shows have for 90 years been in the spring and fall when a guest artist critiques 20-40 pieces of art, and then awards ribbons.

Lake County Art League 2024 Shows

• Spring Membership Show and Critique at College of Lake County in Grayslake, May 1-29,

• Critique at CDC’s Robert T. Wright Gallery of Art May 20

• Show at Starline Factory gallery in Harvard, June 7-28

• Show at Antioch Fine Art Foundation gallery, Aug. 1-29

• Show at Adler Arts Center in Libertyville, Sept. 6-28

• Show at Starline Factory gallery in Harvard, Oct. 4-25

• Fall Membership Show and Critique at Waukegan’s newly restored Carnegie Library,

• November dates to be announced

The Lake County Art League also has frequent outdoor sessions of drawing, painting and photographing Lake County landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes.

This program, called plein air, was started in 2006. The events are free and open to all skill levels and mediums. RSVPs are unnecessary; just come if you have time.

Little guidance is provided at these plein air events, but you learn mostly by watching and experimenting. Later you can crop your work to find patterns, contrasts, ironies, expressive strokes and intermixing that somehow seem to work.

Look at your plein air art years later, and you will see energy you never noticed, and that you have fearlessly broken composition rules you never knew existed.

Instead of learning by attending art events, though, you might simply join one or even two art leagues. There are about 15 art organizations in Lake County alone.

These groups of artists happily provide the time, skills and imagination it takes to help others experience the art, art friends and personal growth that they have long enjoyed.

In art leagues you find a diverse and gregarious bunch of men and women who love to talk about art. The guest artist demonstrations are helpful and inspiring. Most members enter shows more to share their art than to sell it. They compete in critiques to find an objective measure of their skills.

Organizations ask you to pay dues, of course, but in its 2024 anniversary year, the Lake County Art League asks new members pay only the 1934 dues of $2.50.

Not everyone in an art league calls themselves an artist. Many members join because they are curious. Maybe they liked to paint as a child or maybe they like to doodle. But they learn, they grow and they find satisfaction in their work. Then they call themselves artists.

A common experience is that many return to a youthful art success as older adults after family and career. But now they have life experience, and they soon find they want their art to reflect that. They want to share their insights.

Lake County Art League event dates, times and details will be posted on its website at, or one can follow the art league on Facebook.

Questions should be directed to Chris Tanner at, or Deb Edmunds at

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.