Lake Forest Art Pop gallery adds life to downtown shops

  • The storefront of the new Art Pop gallery in Lake Forest.

    The storefront of the new Art Pop gallery in Lake Forest. Courtesy of Alison Tompkins

Posted9/13/2021 12:02 PM

During the pandemic lockdown, gifted artists in the area around Lake Forest and Lake Bluff were busy creating beautiful works of art.

Unfortunately, the shows and other events where artists could display their works had been canceled, and the artists had no way to sell their works. As a way to help artists and bring some additional excitement to downtown Lake Forest, an idea for a volunteer gallery was born.


Lake Forest Art Pop is a pop-up gallery staffed by volunteer artists and run as a not-for-profit venture housed in unused storefronts in the downtown area. The gallery was the brainchild of three local artist organizations: Artists on the Bluff, the Deerpath Art League and the Artisan Guild in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff.

The gallery concept started with staging of art in empty retail windows and grew to an actual gallery in a retail space provided by a landlord who had empty shops. Art Pop volunteers created a gallery look in the empty spaces in order to have an appropriate way to showcase the talent of the local artists.

The gallery has moved once in downtown Lake Forest so far, and the group hopes to continue in the current location at 724 Western Ave. through the end of 2021.

Artists range from seasoned professional artists to amateur artists with exceptional talent.

"Last year we faced a bleak environment for art in our community, and the experiment to team up with local businesses to fill empty space has really created an exciting opportunity for artists and the community," said Sandie Bacon, a well-known muralist and painter, and a leader of Artists on the Bluff.

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Every few weeks the gallery will feature artists with a unifying theme for the show. Volunteers oversee the gallery from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday each week, with new shows featuring new and repeating artists.

The Art Pop exhibitors are a diverse group, some who are new to art and others who are seasoned professionals. Colorful abstract paintings in acrylic by artist Denise Mortensen brighten the gallery. Budding new artist Joey Hartman, a surgeon and oil painter, will present the first show of his career, while pro Phillip Ross, a well-known graphic designer and photography artist, will be presenting works that have been viewed all across Chicagoland.

Bacon's murals grace stores and business walls in several local areas, and Juliana Purcell Sheehan, also a participant in Art Pop, has her art in shows all over the country.

For more information about the show and Art Pop, visit or contact

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