(credit: Lillstreet.com)

Lill Street Art Center
4401 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
Office/Gallery hours
Mon. –Thurs.: 10 a.m. -7:30 p.m.
Fri-Sat.: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Lill Street Art Center is comprised of a long-time community of artists and students working together in Chicago. They’ve come a long way through the years – from a converted horse barn to a beautiful former gear factory on Ravenswood. The center offers amazing kids classes, fun-themed kid’s camps, family drop-in workshops and adult classes in seven different departments: ceramics, metalsmithing & jewelry, painting & drawing, printmaking, textiles, glass, and digital arts & photography.

There is something for everyone in the family at Lill Street. And, as a musician, I can truly appreciate that Lill Street Art Center is very supportive of the arts. They offer an artist residency program, gallery, studio space, education, and an outreach program. The First Slice Café, which is also committed to feeding the hungry of Chicago, is located in the lobby/gallery of the Art Center, so you don’t even need to pack a lunch!

Photo Credit: Heather Earnhart

Kidstreet classes and camps

Classes run from 5 to 10 weeks and range from $75 – $220
School’s Out 1-day camps (offered most federal holidays): $85
Summer camps run one week either full or half-day and range from $110 – $295

For the past two summers my daughter has lived in heaven during her summer art camps at Lill Street. She chose “Puppeteers,” “All things messy” and “Clay and Multimedia” for her camp themes, and they were all amazing. They created and decorated their own finger-puppets, a personal stage (complete with movable backgrounds), and presented a show for their families on the last day of class. In “All Things Messy,” Jackson Pollock day was the highlight of the week where the kids learned about the artist, then were able to try their own hand at “Jack the dripper” style painting by slinging paint onto their canvases on the ground. Clay and Multimedia never failed to produce some creative pieces of pottery or recyclable art on a daily basis.

Family Workshops

Offered most Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Side-by-side Clay $10
Age 5+ drop-ins $35
Age 10+ drop-in $55

If you can’t commit to an entire class or camp, then try spending one Saturday morning creating clay side-by-side as a family. This drop-in workshop is for adults and children ages 2+. For the older kids, adults and children age 5+, there are themed drop-in workshops where you can create Thanksgiving platters together, plush monsters or clay ornaments and menorahs and even lighted clothes for kids age 10+. All drop-in workshops are priced per person and reservations are recommended but not required. So why not call ahead and avoid disappointing your kids? You will all enjoy this time of creativity together.

(credit: Heather Earnhart)

Adult Classes and workshops

First-time artist classes range from $165 – $190
Standard 10 week classes range from $330 – $360
One day workshops are approximately two hours and $35
Crash courses are One day and approximately 4 hours long

Right now you can take advantage of the Groupon offer and get a complimentary Digital Arts and Photography crash course, or apply the value ($120) to a 5 or 10 week Digital Arts and Photography class. With so many offerings, it can be hard to decide what to take. Lill Street offers a “First-time Artist” program where you can sample different mediums in brief 4 – 5 week classes, with no experience and no pressure. You can try pottery, embroidery, printmaking, portrait drawing, jeweler classes, glass, and more. There are also many different one-day workshops you can attend, from sculpting to bracelet making, that don’t require a long-term time commitment.

First Slice Cafe

First Slice Café
4401 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640

If you love food and helping others, then consider becoming a shareholder in the First Slice Café. Your subscription will give you weekly convenient home-cooked, but restaurant quality meals, and will help fund the same high-quality meals for people in need. Or if you prefer, you can volunteer at the First Slice community kitchen where you will help prepare and serve a hot meal to over 100 people in the community. The cafe also offers standard café fare and ready-to-bake pies. And you can put your mind at ease if you order lunches for the summer camp, because they come from First Slice and are top quality, and loved by the kids.

Heather Earnhart is a free-lance musician living with her husband and two kids in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Read more of her work on the ChiTown Parent Blog.