One of a Kind Show


Art that Makes a Statement: Get to Know These One of a Kind Makers

03 . 15 . 2022

With the wide variety of fine artists exhibiting at the One of a Kind Spring Show, you are bound to find something that resonates with you. We spoke with four Spring show artists about their work, their artistic process, and more.

Splitting her time between Chicago and Nashville, artist Lydia Cash embraces a sense of freedom and irreverence in her large scale abstract and figurative paintings.

What led you to become an artist?

Lydia: I've loved to draw and create ever since I was a small child. I never dreamed that I could make a career out of painting. It seemed like such a far-fetched idea, so I figured I would give architecture a try. While enrolled at Auburn University, I switched my degree to Art. After graduation, I had no clue how to put my art degree to use. I eventually became the Art Director for a screen printing shop in Alabama, where I created digital designs for t-shirts and created the films for the printers. In 2013, I was ready for a change, and decided to move to Chicago with the hope of turning my art into a career!

Where does your inspiration come from?

Lydia: My paintings start with a color palette. I love to travel, and I get a lot of my color palettes from traveling. My husband is used to me walking up to walls wherever we go and taking photos of interesting colors and textures. My favorite city in the world is Rome - the dusty pinks, oranges, and earth tones. I see the colors first, and everything else second.

When you're not painting, how do you spend your free time?

Lydia: I'm also a singer! I released an album last year that I co-wrote with my husband, who is a full-time guitarist and musician. We perform together as a jazz duo and occasionally work on board cruise ships for 2 to 3 months at a time. We are pretty much always "working", though it doesn't feel like work!

What are you most excited to bring to the Spring Show this year?

Lydia: I'm working on a new series of large abstracts that are especially bold and will surely make a statement in any space. I can't wait to share them!

Mike Baker is an award-winning fine art photographer based in the Chicago area who aims to elevate the ordinary with his work. Two of his greatest passions in life are travel and photography. An art of observation, photography is creative outlet that allows Mike to capture interesting subjects in an ordinary place, transforming it into something extraordinary.

What inspires you as a photographer?

Mike: I'm particularly drawn to black and white imagery and have been inspired by many fine art photographers mostly because they go beyond taking snapshots by adding their own vision, adding a certain uniqueness to their work.

Like a painter who uses the canvas, paint, and brushes to create his/her interpretation of a scene, so does the photographer who uses the camera, lenses, and editing tools to create their vision. Both are visual artists.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

Mike: Years ago when he was in elementary school, my son painted Big Ben Great Bell, the iconic striking clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London. It's actually quite impressive for an eight-year old and still hangs in my home today!

What are you especially excited to bring to the Spring Show this year?

Mike: My two great passions are photography and travel, so I'm looking forward to bringing new works shot in Cuba and Paris to the Show.

Betsy O'Neill's creative process is informed by her lifelong affinity for exploring and learning from nature. Her paintings evoke a grounding connection to nature, which can open up a dialogue with others about the conservation and preservation of the beautiful places that we all share.

Tell us about your paintings.

Betsy: My paintings are largely inspired by the Great Lakes and the landscapes that surround them. I use thick, vibrantly colored acrylic paints on canvas. I paint both outdoors and in my home studio. I started painting in high school and finally, later in life, after having my third child, I really decided to put my heart into creating and showing my work to the world. I truly believe that my job is to make the world a more beautiful and joyful place with the painting of nature in beautiful colors!

When you're not painting, how do you spend your free time?

Betsy: My family comes first - they are truly my greatest passion in life. My husband and I have three kids. They have amazing hearts and all kinds of hobbies and dreams that we enjoy supporting. I like to cook, garden, keep bees, take our doggies for walks, and dream about where to travel next!

Is there a handmade possession you most treasure?

Betsy: I love collecting functional pottery. I have some favorite mugs that I hardly dare use because they are just so cool!

Is there anything additional you would like to share?

Betsy: Being a full time artist is one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs I've ever done. In the beginning I actually took on a night job as a waitress to help fund show fees and buy art supplies! I'm so incredibly grateful for all the people who continue to support and encourage me!

Candace Hunter (chlee), is a Chicago based artist who creates collages and paintings with which she tells stories. Through the use of materials from magazines, vintage maps, cloth, and other reused materials, she offers viewers a glimpse of history and admiration of the beautiful.

Tell us more about the work you're bringing to the One of a Kind Spring Show.

chlee: The work I'll be presenting at the Spring Show are all collage-based works from the ongoing series, BROWN LIMBED GIRLS. This series began at the beginning of the "Shelter in Place" edict that was ordered at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I created these new works that presented Black girls and women in a place of joy, friendship, and love.

The City of Chicago chose two from the series to grace billboards for its COVID-19 Awareness program. The "girls" have since been presented at wildly successful shows in New Orleans and Oakland, graced the cover of two new books and were shared in the latest issue of the Obsidian Literary Arts Journal. These colorful collages, of acrylic, vintage wallpapers, magazine cut-outs and other ephemera now sit in a variety of private and corporate collections.

Where does your inspiration come from?

chlee: I draw inspiration from history, the desire to find and create equity, and even yellow roses. I am also inspired by our beautiful Lake Michigan!

When you're not working on your art, how do you spend your free time?

chlee: When there is free time, I enjoy having brunch with my girlfriends and thinking of the next big thing!

What handcrafted possession do you most cherish?

chlee: A wire sculpture, a la Alexander Calder, that my beloved niece made for me when she was in high school. She is now one of the most highly respected engineers in her field in the country. It hangs from the ceiling over my computer work area.

Visit these outstanding artists and more when you visit the 6th annual One of a Kind Spring Show!