The West Chicago Cultural Arts Commission has named Chicago-area artist Linda Schmitt the Audience Award winner for the 2021 Artistic Banner Exhibition titled “Take Flight.”
Schmitt received the most online votes in the People’s Choice poll, which included a total of 23 original works of art transferred onto 30 x 60-inch vinyl banners installed on Main and West Washington streets from May to September of this year.
The winning banner, titled “Taking Off,” features a watercolor study of a graceful blue heron throwing water from its feathers as it soars higher and higher above its resting place. Schmitt explained his inspiration for the piece in a statement included in his juryed exhibition submission, “The image of ‘Takeoff’ shows above the challenges of life in the new and exciting possibilities that the year 2021 Reserve.”
According to Heidi Kuahrich, chair of the West Chicago Cultural Arts Commission, the banners have become one of the summer highlights in West Chicago, and the People’s Choice Award is an occasion for residents. and visitors to show their appreciation to the artists for their contribution to the streetscape community. “It’s enriching to see how our dynamic artists from near and far interpret the annual theme. Personally, I love to see the community get involved in the art by commenting on their favorites online and in the city, although the overwhelming comments are often ‘it’s so hard to choose’.
Schmitt is a seasoned artist, experienced in various media and artistic subjects. Currently, she is focused on expressing the unique beauty and scientific details of native plants and birds through her pen and watercolor work, studying under the guidance of renowned botanical artist Heeyoung Kim. A member of the Mayslake Nature Study and Photography Club, she heard about the West Chicago exhibit through the DuPage County Forest Preserve, which has helped the city promote the call to art.
Schmitt takes inspiration from the real botanical life of 30 acres of family farmland that she and her husband recently returned to the meadows, a brilliant study of native pollinating plants, grasses, and the beautiful creatures that follow. She documents the growth of the prairie, both scientifically and artistically, and she is excited to share her rich studies of the flowers, birds and animals that visit her land. See Schmitt’s work at www.westchicago.org.
Other recent accomplishments include: membership in the Kentucky Watercolor Society (2021) and the Missouri International Watercolor Society with recent exhibition in Barcelona, Spain (2020); an individual display case at the Indian Public Library, Darien, Ill. (2020); jury exhibitions at The Red Barn in Valparaiso, Indiana and at the McCord Gallery and Cultural Center in Palos Heights, Ill., (2019); and various additional prizes, including an audience prize, in smaller rooms and classrooms.
Schmitt will be honored at a future city council meeting, where she will be presented with her award-winning banner by Mayor Pineda and representatives of the Cultural Arts Commission.
The theme for the 2022 Art Banner Exhibition has been announced as “Renewal”. Calls for art will be launched shortly and Commission members are extremely excited about the prospects for the creative new year and how local and regional artists will respond to the theme.