Creative Showcase

 Friday's Showcased Artists


Website | Facebook Threshold to Hope, Inc. is a local nonprofit dedicated to offering hope and healing through the power of art to those who can least afford it. They offer "pay what you can" art classes two days a week at the Creativity Center and one day a week at a local homeless shelter, Home Sweet Home Ministries. Art can be relaxing, stress relieving, energizing and life changing.
        In addition to creating art, Threshold to Hope also offers instruction on how to frame and present art for exhibition and sale. They offer opportunities to exhibit and hold popup sales as often as possible. However, the current restrictions due to Covid19 have seriously diminished these possibilities.
Threshold to Hope not only offers art opportunities, but also gives a safe and inviting place for budding artists to socialize and grow in their skills. One artist expressed her gratitude for this organization by saying “I love the safe, nurturing environment of Threshold to Hope. It is a fun place where I learn every time. I’m grateful to keep my art spirt alive through a community of like minds.” Another had this to say, “I’m an elderly lady. I had not painted a day in my life until Threshold to Hope happened. Now I have painted for fun, excitement, stress relief, laughter and friendship. I’m so glad I found Threshold to Hope.”
        Nora Zaring is the Director and main artist at Threshold to Hope. She gives instruction in both acrylic and oil painting as well as jewelry making, card making, mixed media, and crafts. Nora is a self-taught artist that has loved all things creative all of her life. Her earliest memory is of drawing birds from a bird book while her mother and grandmother played Scrabble. At the age of 40, Nora expressed her desire to learn to paint. So, her husband, Dave, watched their two boys while she went out and took oil painting lessons. She had a 12 year run of following the same teacher to various locations to take classes. She later took the skills she learned and began teaching at the local homeless shelter, Home Sweet Home Ministries. Through this she saw just how important art could be to a person. She watched as people who learned they could be creative also became more involved in working towards their own independence.

Website | Facebook That Art Studio is a home-based business located in Bloomington-Normal, IL, offering year-round youth art classes in a variety of 2D and 3D media including painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and ceramics. "At That Art Studio, we view arts engagement as an inspiring outlet for charitable work and believe that artmaking can be a tool to empower, enrich, uplift, and address community needs. In addition to our art classes, offer a FREE outreach program called, Creative Change Art Boxes. Check it our here"- owner of That Art Studio, Kayla Hueneburg.

Thursday's Showcased Artists | Facebook Uptown Dance offers dance lessons primarily in ballet in a nurturing and professional environment.  Uptown Dance is an inclusive school, we believe there is a spot for everyone at the barre ages 2 through adult.  We are located in the heart of Uptown Normal in a historic building at 114 W. North St.

"I loved dancing and thought there was nothing I could love more...until I started teaching dance...and the joy, confidence, and creativity I was able to inspire was so amazing to me. I taught for over a decade in Ohio at Ballet Western Reserve and was relocated to Normal Illinois...and while having pizza in Uptown I spotted an upstairs Office for rent...and the rest is history. Dance has been my life...It'st my outlet....but sharing it with others, there is nothing better....I once had a student leave me a note that read, "Thanks for making me special" , I doesn't get better than that does it? I consider myself just a door to the "art of dance" the rest the kids do themselves I just lead and direct....I believe everyone has a place there no matter what....dancing is good for the soul..."-Jennifer Pirtz, owner of Uptown Dance. |  Facebook  "My name is Darcey and I am the owner here at the Next Step Dance Studio. The studio has been a part of the Bloomington/Normal area for 11 years. We have had the honor of impacting so many lives over the past 11 years and I am so thankful for all of our dance family's. I began dancing at the young age of 2 and quickly realized that dance was my passion. I knew that I wanted to grow up and some day own my own dance studio. In 2009, I followed my dreams and opened The Next Step Dance Studio. We believe in providing fun and educational classes for all ages and levels. We feel that it is important that each child is given personalized attention and proper instruction. We know that every child is different, which means their goals are different. We believe in family and unconditional support for everyone who chooses to call our studio home. I believe that a Creativity Center is 100% needed in Bloomington/Normal. Expressing creativity is so important for not only children but also adults. Creativity challenges your mind and enhances your brain. Without creativity, ART would not have made an impact on our world and history as it has done so far. The creativity center would give children and adults the freedom to express and help define them as individuals. " - Darcey Sunken

PIPE DREAM SALON Facebook | Instagram Sarah J. Fleming(she/her) is originally from Central Illinois. Her work throughout the years, has been described as whimsical, feminist, and subversive, involving a wide array of materials and media, from traditional paintings to laser-cut wood and acrylic, vintage magazine cuttings and recycled materials, often adding a 21st Century awareness to Atomic Age aesthetics.  

In 2019, Gavin Lee (he/him) joined PDS as a collaborator and maker. Originally a portrait painter from Northern England, Gavin works mostly in wood and resin, fusing natural textures and materials into intentional and functional forms, focusing particularly on clocks and tables. 

Both artists have donated their time and talents to organize fundraising art auctions in the community, and both regularly donate work to benefit causes they care about.  

Artist’s Instagram for past work/behind-the-scenes/personal experiences : Sarah - @sarah_j_fleming, Gavin -@artbygavinlee 


Darrell's Website | Facebook | Music Producer and Musician

Doctor Darrell Looney is an Emergency Medicine Physician. He grew up in Detroit and has been playing violin since the age of 9 and middle school. In high school, he chased his focused jazz, and returned to us 1st love playing the violin upon completion of his medical training and after moving to New York. In August of 2010 with his wife doctor Woodhouse and his son Darrian (who also enjoys making music as well as animations) they moved to Bloomington Illinois. Doctor Looney continues to write, perform music, and collaborates often with others both locally and over the Internet. Doctor Looney has appeared as guest violinist on several recordings for various genres of music. "My main focus is writing Funk/Jazz tracks with a violin lead. The goal is to primarily keep an uplifting, positive vibe on each composition. My main instrument is the violin but I also play some keyboards and bass guitar."

"Locations such as the Bloomington Creativity Center will be very necessary because it will serve as a creative hub where collaboration and innovation of the arts will be fostered. Creatives of all ages and backgrounds will be able to gather together to experience eachother's ideas and share creative input."


Music Producer and Audio Engineer | Instagram | Jeff Pitzer has always had a love for music. A native of Bloomington, he pursued that passion at Indiana University earning two degrees, one in Commercial Music Business and the other in Audio Technology. Jeff then spent the next twenty-two years working in the music industry in Nashville as audio engineer and music producer. Being involved with a wide variety of musical projects, he built up a credit list that includes artists such as Elton John, the Backstreet Boys, Amy Grant, Kathy Lee Gifford, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle and many others. His engineering work has been heard on Grammy and Dove award nominated albums, numerous audio books, and various television shows and commercials. In today's digital age, Jeff continues working with recording artists from all around the world out of his home studio here in Bloomington, IL.

"I would have loved to have access to a Creativity Center when I was growing up in Bloomington-Normal. In addition to being involved in theater productions in school, I was very involved in music with an interest in music production. I remember using a 4 track tape recorder to produce a "song" when I was in high school. Having access to an actual recording studio would have been a dream come true and helped accelerate my career as a music producer and engineer."

Wednesday's Showcased Artists


Meet our last spotlight artist of the day, Christopher Whitacre from the band Karats Gold! Karat's Gold is Metal/Hardcore, specifically Mathcore, meaning they switch up key signatures frequently. "Karat's Gold's crushing riffs and primal speed deliver a harrowing listening experience. At times frenzied and chaotic, KG's tracks evolve organically with refreshing melodic clarity." Listen in to the track, "Klaatu" on YouTube.  Karat's Gold on Facebook and @KaratsGoldBand on Instagram.




Emily's Website | Facebook | Instagram     Emily Hope is a smiley singer/songwriter, guitarist, and ukulele player currently based in Bloomington-Normal, IL. She performs songs from a variety of genres (pop, country, classic rock, folk, etc.) as well as her own originals at a variety of bars, restaurants, coffeehouses, festivals, and events throughout Illinois, Iowa, and even Atlanta, Georgia. She believes whole-heartedly in music's power to inspire, encourage, and enact change. Above all, she values music with a message and strives to write songs that people can relate to. "A Creativity Center would greatly benefit Bloomington-Normal because it would give creatives a chance to express themselves and expand their skillset, no matter what their art form may be. I'm all for spreading a positive message, and I think this Center could make a positive impact on not only the artists' lives, but each person who encounters their artistry. Let's use our talents for good! "


Meet Chris Clemens, a singer/songwriter, producer and performing artist! Check out his music at! Facebook


Facebook | YouTube 

During the pandemic, Chad and Jennifer created Grafton Road as a way to promote a sense of joy and comfort for people during this difficult time. "Grafton Road is the culmination of two individuals in unwavering love who met through music in 1990. We believe in the incredible power of music and its ability to connect and promote positivity...Music and creativity is the one true thing that binds us all." - Chad and Jennifer

Chad & Jennifer Goviea are also a part of the band Firestorm.

Firestorm is based in the Decatur, Illinois area that covers great songs from many different genres from classic rock, new country, pop and new rock. "The wide variety of music allows us to play many different tastes in music to keep you up dancing!" Check out their upcoming events at Firestorm Band Rocks on Facebook.


Tuesday's Showcased Artists


Facebook | Instagram Isha Gollapudi was born in Bloomington IL. She goes to Normal Community High School. She mainly works in acrylics and oils. She participated in both youth mural projects during 2018 and 2019 , one of the mural won the Bloomington City Beautification Award. She is a published artist in 2 of the celebrating art books. Isha designed the Little Free Library boxes made out of upcycled newspaper boxes. This was for her completely student led volunteer group and is going to be one of the 2021 leads. She was nominated for the YICU service award in 2019 and 2020. She also showcases her paintings at the Community Cancer Center 3 times a year and she has done this for 3 years. Her latest work 'Healers are Heroes" , presented to the healthcare professionals, is being showcased at St. Joseph Medical Center. She is currently working on a piece for chairs 4 change auction.

"In order to achieve what you want you must be willing to let go of the comforts that come with being complacent. You must strive for discomfort if you want to reach your goals. “To become a butterfly you must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar” - Winnie the Pooh There is something so beautiful about nature. We are so in awe of flowers and birds, of leafs and trees despite the fact that The flowers are ruffled and bent Yet we still adore them The birds sing just off key Yet we hum along The leaves are ripped Yet we smile at the red, yellow, and greens The trees grow crooked And we say they have character If only we treated ourselves like this With such admiration In such awe .... When we take away our defining features we are left with an empty canvas something that lacks us. We may not be perfect but no one is and when the standard of beauty is no longer perfect but happy only then will we ever be satisfied with ourselves!"-Isha 

Dreams 2 Create Website | Facebook   LizBeth Ogiela-Scheck is an artist who paints in oil and plays with pen, brush & ink. She occasionally ventures into clay, other sculptures. Her works are styled in the abstract, non objective, and Expressionistic styles. She composes from her experiences, her dreams and visions as the subjects for her works. She has a love of bold, vibrant colors and strong contrasts. Sometimes the art is the ACT of creating the painting. LizBeth creates in order to visually express what and how she feels, thinks, and sees from an internal view. Her work can be viewed primarily in person at her studio/gallery in Bloomington, IL. She welcomes you to come visit her there or your regular visit here is much welcome as well. In addition to her artwork, LizBeth is the mother of three. She volunteers in the arts community as co-chair of Art Circle of Bloomington-Normal and a board member of the Area Arts Round Table and is a supporter of committed young artists. It is through this work that she helps bring creation and arts to the community at large.

"I create artwork in oil, ink, and acrylic that reflect my vision of the internal world interacting with the external. My paintings are meant to be felt with the eyes, seen with the heart, and touched by the soul. These paintings often are meditations on nature and spiritual reflections interpreted through vibrant, high contrasting, colors and organic shapes in order to evoke a reaction and internal dialog."- LizBeth





Liz's Instagram 

"I have been a part of Bloomington/Normal for about twenty years. I love living here. There is always something fun to do or take part in. Many of my creative journeys have begun through my church at Trinity Lutheran. At home we enjoy music and spend many evenings doing karaoke. Although it’s only the three of us in our house, we have a large extended family through church, homeschool, art and civic engagement.

I create artwork in oil, ink, and acrylic that reflect my vision of the internal world interacting with the external. My paintings are meant to be felt with the eyes, seen with the heart, and touched by the soul. These paintings often are meditations on nature and spiritual reflections interpreted through vibrant, high contrasting, colors and organic shapes in order to evoke a reaction and internal dialog." - Liz McGinn


Joann has spent many years teaching music and also the study of visual arts. She is now a full time artist with a studio in downtown Bloomington. She works with shaped wood paintings with acrylic and oil, on canvas, and on metal. To learn more about Joann and her studio, go to her site: or her facebook: Joann Goetzinger Studio and Gallery.

 Jacalyn's Website | Facebook 

"I started my photography business to show others a view into my creative mind, and I hope to inspire others to follow their dreams into uncharted territory to achieve what can be possible if you just take the leap.  I took the leap and I never knew what was on the other end, and I am so proud of where I am and who I have become.  I want to inspire as many minds as possible to see that there is beauty in the smallest things in this world that everyone may walk past.  It is the eye of an artist that can capture the smallest of things.

Creativity is always needed, not just in Bloomington-Normal, but in everywhere. It is a form of self expression, that sometimes is never shown due to fear of judgement or criticism. We as artists need to be the example that expressing emotions through art is the most beautiful thing an individual can create since it comes from your mind, creativity and soul."- Jacalyn

Monday's Showcased Artists


Anisha is a Junior at Normal Community High School. She's a member of the Student Council, FBLA, and Key club. Art has been part and parcel of her life for the past 13 years. She painted a traffic utility box at the intersection of Jefferson and Main street in the year 2017. "The Girls world expo" organization awarded her as "The Girl of Merit" for the year 2018 for her contribution to the community through art. Anisha showcases her artwork twice every year in the "Community Cancer Center" through the "Art circle of Bloomington."

Also, she participates in the art fair held by IOAA every year. In the year 2016, she happened to visit a visually challenged school in India, and she was moved by looking at the plight of the children to an extent where she yearned to aid them in any minuscule way possible. She sold her artwork for a local restaurant and earned $1000, which she contributed to the school. The principal and the children of the school aspire to have one of Anisha's artwork done in Braille, to showcase at their school. She's in the process of learning Braille to fulfill their wish!

Facebook | Instagram 



"I sign my work D. Ella which is my furst initial and middle name. I am a mixed media artist and I love learning and trying new things. The two mediums I work in primarily are watercolors and acrylics. I enjoy teaching Art as well. I am a member of IOAA art gallery and coop in downtown, Bloomington."

"I believe having a place to create would be wonderful. To me Art is two fold process and product. The process can be introspective, healing and liberating. The end product is a result of that. People need Art so they can express their feelings, thoughts, and emotions."




Clara- "My favorite genre of art is visual art more specifically painting. The mediums i like to use while painting are water color and oil. My favorite movement of art is Impressionism, like Claude Monet, because of the mixing of realistic sceneries with a more skewed view."

Addy-"My favorite type of art has to be performing arts, but more specifically musicals. I enjoy that musicalscan range from one about an historical event like Hamilton to classic musicals like sound of music. I also like performing in musicals. Although i have a like bit of a stage fright, i like performing musicals with other people and making something that people can watch and enjoy!"


My name is Eileen Backman, and I am 52 years old, and a mother of one nineteen year old boy, and two grown stepsons. My husband and I moved from New York City to Bloomington in 2001, and have loved building our life here. My husband, soul mate, and love of my life, is an attorney in sole practice here in town, and for the past 18 years, I have assisted him as his paralegal and office manager. About 5 and years ago, I became a certified kettlebell instructor, and opened my Just Kettlebells training studio in the basement of our law office where until Covid hit, I ran small group and personal training sessions. I now do a couple of classes a week by Zoom which will have to hold us over until there is a vaccine! When my son left for school in fall of 2019, I filled the gap by renewing my renewing my passion for art. My husband says I am now a little obsessed with art (obsession is in my nature), but I think I am just very passionate. I look forward to growing into the Bloomington art community! | Facebook 


"Art is Soul. I always feel like that. In. My dark days or bright days I turn to my creativity. Out of 350, one of the female landscape photographer in this world. My art let it be a photography or a fluid artist is my expression. It is that process of creating something satisfying appeals me a lot. I forget my sorrows, pains, memory of dark days and go to this wonderful world call an ART."

"As an photographer I love to capture all aspects of Nature - landscapes, flowers, animals, birds. I love to create the metal wall art with my photographs. As an painter, I do acrylic fluid artwork."When you are buying an artwork from me, you are buying more than an object. You are buying 100s of hours of failures and experimentation. You are buying days, weeks and months of frustration, and moments of pure joy. You are not just buying a thing, you are buying piece of my heart, part of my soul, a moment of my life. You are buying my unspoken language and feelings expressed thru this art piece. Most importantly, you are buying me more time to do what I’m passionate about. Art is my soul. Art is part of my life without which I do not know how I’ll handle my life. Art helps me to heal, overcome my pains, the things I’ve lost in my life. Art helps me to connect to inner me, it connects to Mother Nature, it makes me calm and happy.

Photo by Vandana Bajikar  Photo by Vandana Bajikar



For questions about this campaign, contact Development Manager- Cara Spence (309) 434-2763.

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