Re-Invent: Changing the Way People Choose and Use Art

Re-Invent: Innovative Art Project in Suburban Chicago

Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

 School friends Kristin Mikrut and Cecilia Lanyon have joined forces to open Re-Invent, a gallery/artist workspace/art supplies store in the leafy Chicago suburb of Lake Forest.

Cecilia Lanyon (left) and Kristin Mikrut at Re-Invent, Lake Forest, Chicago Illinois, USA.

The stated aim of Re-Invent is to change the way people choose and use art and Mikrut and Lanyon have transformed a former florist shop into a wonderful space to exhibit and foster a raft of artistic forms and encourage creative pursuits.

Three painters and a jewellery artist are currently renting studio space at the back of the gallery and there is also one space available for a resident artist as well as community art workshop space.  

Mikrut and Lanyon are in the process of developing their workshop schedule to encourage community art involvement.  They are also opening up their space for event rental and for local artist to host art workshops of their own as well.  Ideas such as yoga in the gallery, music live drawing, documentary Tuesday’s, bookbinding workshops, children’s art seminars are a few ideas among Mikrut and Lanyon’s big plans for their unique space. 

Two painters and a jeweller are currently renting studio space at the back of the gallery and there is also one space available for a resident artist.

Re-Invent showed the work of three generations of the McMahon Family covering the artistic legacy of artist-reporter patriarch Franklin McMahon, his son Mark McMahon, who documents Chicago life in a similar style to his father as well as sculptor Carolyn, glass designer and painter Meryl, metal sculptor Drew, installation/ furniture designer Elise.

Franklin McMahon: Politics in action: McMahon’s depiction of John F. Kennedy winning the Democratic nomination for President

Mark McMahon “Oak Street Beach”

Franklin McMahon: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton

The multi-generational exhibition shows life in the Chicago region and political and social developments in the United States over the lives of the artists from the perspective and interpretation of the McMahon family, all of whom hail from the Lake Forest area.

On display at Re-Invent are several Franklin McMahon originals, prints and original paintings of Chicago scenes by Mark McMahon, as well as works by Carolyn, Meryl, Drew and Elise McMahon.

Franklin McMahon died in March 2012, so the exhibition is a tribute to a great local artist and features a video installation documenting his life and work through his art.

Franklin McMahon Originals at Re-Invent

Chicago Scenes by Mark McMahon at Re-Invent

Metalwork by Drew McMahon at Re-Invent

The next exhibition at Re-Invent opens on July 13. The artists in this exhibition were selected mostly through their affilitaion with the Ragdale Foundation, a residency program located a half a mile from the gallery.  Artist and exhibition curator, Regin Igloria, selected them based on his interactions with the artists, all of who defined ideas of place in their work. The exhibition is titled “Such Places” and is a creative interpretation of “going, getting there, being stuck in between, moving forward and finding value within.”

Re-Invent also sells art supplies and artworks by local artists on a commission basis. A broad array of regional creative talent is on display and available for purchase at the shop; metal sculptures, mobiles, stylish handmade children’s clothing and soft toys, jewellery, furniture, retro clothing, and accessories, scarves, lots of paintings and there is even a large dinosaur made from recycled vintage model-T parts on offer. The local art-supplies shop recently closed, so Mikrut and Lanyon took up the challenge to also sell art and craft materials, which should keep the creative people of Lake Forest well satisfied.

Art Supplies on Offer at Re-Invent

Mikrut and Lanyon state their innovative retail outlet “…offers green and cause-based products, limited-editon gifts, artworks, décor and fashions by independent artists and creatives…plus art supplies,” which pretty much sums up all on offer in their funky emporium. Their aim is to, “blurr the line between the curator and the consumer and fuse art with product.  We want people to know who made what they are buying and feel good about supporting independent artist, craft and craftsmanship.”

Looking for a Gift? Re-Invent has Something for Anyone.

Shota Kawahara, a painter from Japan, is preparing to show his work at Re-Invent on August 17. Kawahara studied visual art at the prestigious Kyoto University in Japan and is currently a resident artist at Re-Invent. His acrylic works are nature-inspired, abstract, bright, vibrant, colourful and very, very happy…a Kawahara on your wall will bring much joy into your home and the messages in his intricate work will keep your mind active forever.

Shota Kawahara Re-Invent Resident Artist 2012

Shota Kawahara Re-Invent Resident Artist 2012

Mikrut and Kawahara met in New Zealand in 2010 when they were both resident artists at the LivinginPeace Project in Karamea on the West Coast of the South Island. The artists formed a friendship that has culminated in a collaboration in the United States whereby Mikrut and Lanyon have offered Kawahara an opportunity to develop his talent and bring his unique creative style to the people of Lake Forest. In return, Kawahara will will demonstrate the potential of the Re-Invent artspace to bring creativity and artistic flair to the affluent, but rather staid Chicago suburb. 

Feel free to contact Kristin and Cecilia at to get involved.  If you are an artist who wants to show or sell your work or have any question’s regarding workshops or space rental they would be more than happy to help.

Artists Kristin Mikrut and Shota Kawahara at Re-Invent Lake Forest, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Re-Invent Gallery

Re-Invent: 202 E. Wisconsin Ave Lake Forest Illinois: Phone: 224.544.5961

About LivinginPeaceProject

Paul Murray is the founder of the LivinginPeace Project. Paul originally from Australia, but have been living in New Zealand for 14 years. Before that he was in Japan for a decade working as a journalist. He met his wife Sanae in Japan and they married in 2008.
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