Lake County Community Foundation celebrates 15 years with charity art party

  • Highwood artist Mark McMahon, left, and Miah Armour, executive director of Lake County Community Foundation, hold the Lake County map McMahon created for the stART Something Lake County Warehouse Art Party. The event celebrates the foundation's 15 years of philanthropy.

    Highwood artist Mark McMahon, left, and Miah Armour, executive director of Lake County Community Foundation, hold the Lake County map McMahon created for the stART Something Lake County Warehouse Art Party. The event celebrates the foundation's 15 years of philanthropy. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Lake County Community Foundation is featured in the Lake County map created by Highwood artist Mark McMahon.

    Lake County Community Foundation is featured in the Lake County map created by Highwood artist Mark McMahon. Courtesy of Mark McMahon

  • Highwood artist Mark McMahon will be one of the artists featured at the Lake County Community Foundation's community celebration on Nov. 10. The stART Something Lake County Warehouse Art Party celebrates the foundation's 15 years of philanthropy.

    Highwood artist Mark McMahon will be one of the artists featured at the Lake County Community Foundation's community celebration on Nov. 10. The stART Something Lake County Warehouse Art Party celebrates the foundation's 15 years of philanthropy. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Artist Mark McMahon, right, chats with Executive Director of Lake County Community Foundation Miah Armour at his Highwood studio. McMahon's art piece depicting the Lake Forest Market Square, on floor, will be one of those featured in the foundation's community celebration in November.

    Artist Mark McMahon, right, chats with Executive Director of Lake County Community Foundation Miah Armour at his Highwood studio. McMahon's art piece depicting the Lake Forest Market Square, on floor, will be one of those featured in the foundation's community celebration in November. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
By Abby Scalf
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 10/18/2018 6:41 AM

Since 2003, the Lake County Community Foundation has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by generating awareness and building philanthropic and charitable funds to help Lake County's most vulnerable residents.

Come join the celebration as the foundation celebrates 15 years of philanthropy by hosting stART Something Lake County Warehouse Art Party on Saturday, Nov. 10.

 

One of 30 community foundations in Illinois, the Lake County group has awarded more than $5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations within a variety of service areas, said Miah Armour, the foundation's executive director.

Last year, recipients included the Mano a Mano Family Resource Center to support immigration legal services, outreach and community services; Words on Wheels to build its educational tools inventory; the Northern Illinois Food Bank to address food insecurity; and the Equestrian Connection to support a non-mounted mental health program.

While the foundation and its donors are proud to celebrate this milestone, Armour acknowledges they are still establishing a philanthropic presence in Lake County.

"Based on the needs we see in Lake County, we've just sort of scratched the surface in terms of how we can build a stronger Lake County through collective philanthropy," she said.

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"I think the community foundation has done some amazing work and made an impact, but the problems and issues in the county are ever evolving and ever changing, so we're looking at the future and ensuring there is a permanent charitable legacy in Lake County for generations to come."

To celebrate the anniversary, Armour said the group wanted to show how philanthropy and art connect and can bring communities together. The event also is a chance to showcase the diversity of artists and the creativity that comes across Lake County, she added.

"There is something unifying around creating a stronger sense of self for Lake County, so that is why we chose to bring philanthropy and art together this way," Armour said.

A Lake Bluff warehouse will be transformed to host this party, where guests will be able to interact with and purchase work created by a group of Lake County artists.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The first artist to get involved was Mark McMahon, a lifelong Illinois resident whose family members have been known for their artwork and their contributions to community service.

McMahon has created pieces that capture the essence of communities, including Glencoe, Winnetka and Lake Forest. It was after seeing these works that Armour commissioned him to create an original picture of Lake County that will be unveiled at the party. Creating a map of the county, he acknowledges, was a daunting task -- what he likes to call a puzzle.

"You have to simplify it. You have to solve a problem. It's sort of a mind game you're playing with yourself to make it work," he said.

Crisscrossing the county, McMahon took pictures along the way to capture places he found that serve the communities, including Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Rosalind Franklin University, the new Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County and the Lake County Fairgrounds.

"As you're going, you're finding things and following the important roads and seeing things, and there are things that pop up, like Tempel Farms and Old Mill Creek," he said.

Armour said the vision was to create something that unifies and excites people about living, working and raising their family, as well as supporting those in need in Lake County -- that's the story McMahon's work tells.

"Lake County is over 700,000 people. We have our fair share of wealth and our fair share of issues, problems and people in need, whether it's better access to health care, better access to food or a safe place to live," she said. "To me, that's what this represents. It's a way to communicate how we're all in this Lake County together."

McMahon will be among a handful of diverse artists, representing a variety of media to participate in the Nov. 10 party. Armour explained some artists will create new pieces at the event and others will bring previously created pieces -- all that will demonstrate their interpretation of Lake County.

The artists' work will be auctioned off, and proceeds will benefit the Robert F. Reusche Operating Endowment, also known as the Forever Fund. Armour explained this endowment will serve as the organization's engine, helping to fund its work in the form of community leadership and building relationships with partner nonprofit organizations.

"We feel it's important to show the community, as a public charity, we're not just raising money for today or grant making for next year. We're looking to raise the profile of collective philanthropy across Lake County over the long term," Armour said.

To learn more about the Lake County Community Foundation and the Nov. 10 event, visit www.lakecountycf.org.

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