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Krista Coltrin
(630) 293-2200 ext. 135

City of West Chicago

475 Main Street
West Chicago, Illinois 60185

Artists of The Awakenings Project Raise Awareness of Mental Illness through Creative Exhibits at Gallery 200 in February

"A Collaboration of Newer Works" Opening Reception
Gallery 200, 200 Main Street, West Chicago
Friday, February 3, 2012

    Award winning artist Peter Hallock Austin was inspired from a very young age to explore different media as outlets for expression and experimentation in art, including printmaking and drawing to woodworking and sculpture. This sculpture is titled "Destiny".  
West Chicago, Illinois: January 30, 2012 - Artists of The Awakenings Project present "A Collaboration of Newer Works" as the Featured Artist exhibit on display throughout the month of February at Gallery 200, 200 Main Street in West Chicago.

What started as The Awakenings Art Show has since evolved into The Awakenings Project, a not-for-profit grass-roots initiative whose mission is to assist artists with psychiatric illnesses in developing their craft and finding an outlet for their creative abilities through art in all forms.

The idea was first conceived as an activity of the national Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Illinois. Robert Lundin, a board member at the time, thought the show might increase ambition and self worth for the artists and provide education on psychiatric disorders to the viewing public. With the help of Trish Evers, a professional artist, Irene Lamb O'Neill, an art gallery co-owner and others from the artistic community, the show became a reality in 1997.

Interest in the program increased and, eventually, the group needed a home. The first "working studio" was opened in Glen Ellyn through a donation from Evers. More recently, the studio space was moved to its current location at 164 Division Street #415, Elgin, Illinois. The drop-in studio provides space for classes, workshops, interaction and camaraderie, as well as limited gallery space.

The evolution of The Awakenings Project has grown to include literature, music and drama as well as visual art. Art in all forms is thought to provide healing for those suffering with psychiatric illnesses and provide persons with a purposeful and optimistic creative outlet.

A free Opening Reception on Friday, February 3, 2012, from 6:00 9:00 p.m. at Gallery 200, will include light refreshments, entertainment by member poets and musicians and an opportunity to meet the artists.

A sampling of works will be represented in "A Collaboration of Newer Works", including a variety of mixed media works by current and former members, including such artists as:

  • Irene Lamb O'Neill
  • Sean T. Lamb
  • Robert K. Lundin
  • Mike Rudis
  • Peter Austin
  • Sandra Jo Mazurek
  • Kurt Precourt Taecker
  • Christine Salisbury Poncin
  • John Rakow
  • Mandy Rakow
  • Trish Evers
  • Ben Beyerlein
  • Anton Witek
  • Grant Bell
  • Jeffree Hansen
  • Bobbie Heien
  • Julie Hough
  • Gerard Uribe
The public is also invited to enjoy a free evening of popular and original music as well as poetry performed on Friday, February 17, 2012 from 7:00 9:00 p.m. as part of Local Music Night at Gallery 200/STUDIO, 203 Turner Court, West Chicago. Local Music Night Does Poetry: Poets and Musicians of The Awakenings Project are the guest artists with the evening culminating in an open mic session. Free refreshments are provided. Any musicians interested in being part of this or future events, should contact Mandy Rakow at

Gallery 200 is a cultural initiative supported by the City of West Chicago and the West Chicago Cultural Arts Commission, and is one more reason West Chicago was named an Illinois Arts Friendly Community in 2007. Gallery 200 is open Thursday and Friday from 12:00 - 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. For more information, including a complete list of current art classes, call (630) 293-9550 or visit

Irene O'Neill made "Searching for the Light" by painting on various misshapen pieces of broken glass and pressing them on paper.
Kurt Taecker (1953-2010) considered painting a means of survival. This mixed media piece is titled "Splash of Light".
Trish Evers Cobb (1949-2000) helped to establish The Awakenings Project and was committed to visual arts and education throughout her life. This piece is titled "Queen of Fools."


West Chicago is a diverse, family-oriented community with a rich cultural mix and a proud heritage. It is the first Illinois community established by the railroads and continues to be a convenient transportation hub served by three major rail lines, Illinois' third-busiest airport and three state highways. West Chicago offers award-winning schools, a growing industrial park and convenient access to parks, shopping and restaurants. For more information, call Rosemary Mackey, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, at (630) 293-2200 x 139.

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