Fresh Air

A Virtual Art Exhibition of Chicagoland Nature

Artists from Project Onward present Fresh Air, a virtual exhibition featuring Chicagoland natural treasures, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods and sites within the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Fresh Air captures the human yearning for connection to the outside, after months of shelter-in-place in Illinois and around the country.

“I enjoyed painting a natural landscape. The piece I made captures the serene peace of an early morning,” said participating artist Fernando Ramirez.

Prior to the spread of COVID-19, the artists of Project Onward, a nonprofit studio and gallery for professional artists with mental and developmental disabilities, visited Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods and the Trailside Museum of Natural History in Thatcher Woods to find inspiration in nature. This collaboration gave them an exciting opportunity to bask in the natural surroundings, learn about local wildlife, and experience close-up encounters with the animals on site. It was a memorable experience that fueled the creation of Fresh Air, a collection of artistic interpretations of Chicago’s habitats.

“The Forest Preserves of Cook County is excited to be partnering with Project Onward and the Brushwood Center on this exhibition inspired by our local forest preserves. We hope people take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to experience nature in their own homes and that the work of these talented artists serves as an inspiration to explore nature through art,” stated Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Brushwood Center, host of the online exhibition, hopes that the artwork will encourage viewers to consider the importance of local nature for both human health and ecological health.

“Research shows that time outside is essential for human health, particularly in the midst of this pandemic. Visiting forest preserves and parks actually increases our immune system strength and emotional resilience, in addition to providing critical habitat for plants and wildlife,” says Catherine Game, Executive Director of Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods.

Featured Artists:

Steven Albecher · Franklin Armstrong · Alfred Banks · Dijon Barrett · John Behnke · Cherylle Booker · Ken Bortman · Louis Demarco · William Douglas · Safiya Hameed · Jason Harris · David Hence · Adam Hines · David A. Holt · Michael Hopkins · Janno Juguilon · R.J. Juguilon · Coral Kappel · Blake Lenoir · Molly McGrath · Allen McNair · Jack Moore · Jacqueline Cousins Oliva · Fernando Ramirez · Luke Shemroske · Ryan Tepich · Ricky Willis · Sereno Wilson

For information on purchasing one of the pieces, click on the linked titles. 50% of proceeds will benefit Project Onward.

Sunset by the Stream by Fernando Ramirez
Sunset by the Stream by Fernando Ramirez
Small Bird by John Behnke
Sunny Field by Luke Shemroske
Walk in the Woods byAllen McNair
Owl in flight by David Hence
Owl in Flight by David Hence
Winter Trees by Jason Harris
Winter Trees by Jason Harris
Serene Stream by Louis Demarco
Serene Stream by Louis Demarco
Red Fox by Cherylle Booker
Red Fox by Cherylle Booker
Red Fox by Bill Douglas
Red Fox by Bill Douglas
Lotus Flower by Sereno Wilson
Lotus Flower by Sereno Wilson
Local Waters by Bill Douglas
Local Waters by Bill Douglas
Fox by David Holt
Fox by David Holt
Early Spring by Jason Harris
Early Spring by Jason Harris
Eagle in the Calumet Region by Blake Lenoir
Eagle in the Calumet Region by Blake Lenoir
Brushwood by R.J. Juguilon
Brushwood by R.J. Juguilon
Birds of Illinois by Adam Hines
Birds of Illinois by Adam Hines
Birds in the Trees by Bill Douglas
Birds in the Trees by Bill Douglas
Nature's Balance by Stephen Albecher
Nature’s Balance by Stephen Albecher
Illinois Waterfall by Dijon Barrett
Illinois Waterfall by Dijon Barrett
The Forest by Safiya Hameed
The Forest by Safiya Hameed
Turtle by Blake Lenoir
Turtle by Blake Lenoir
Gray Squirrel by David Holt
Gray Squirrel by David Holt
Trailside Nature Museum by R. J. Juguilon
Trailside Nature Museum by R. J. Juguilon
Owl in Flight by Alfred Banks
Owl in Flight by Alfred Banks
Pink Bunny by Luke Shemroske
Pink Bunny by Luke Shemroske
Tree Woman by John Behnke
Tree Woman by John Behnke
Flying Owl by Franklin Armstrong
Eden of the South Shore by Blake Lenoir
Coyote by Alfred Banks
Winter Scene by Janno Juguilon
Winter Scene by Janno Juguilon
Snowy Trees by David Hence
Snowy Trees by David Hence
Sea Turtle by Bill Douglas
Sea Turtle by Bill Douglas
Raccoon by Ryan Tepich
Raccoon by Ryan Tepich
Mamma Goose by Bill Douglas
Mamma Goose by Bill Douglas
Winter Scene by Jason Harris
Winter Scene by Jason Harris
Frog by Jack Moore
Frog by Jack Moore
Eagle Family by Blake Lenoir
Eagle Family by Blake Lenoir
Dragonfly by John Behnke
Dragonfly by John Behnke
Deer in the Snow by Coral Kappel
Deer in the Snow by Coral Kappel
Deer by John Behnke
Deer by John Behnke
Cardinal by Bill Douglas
Cardinal by Bill Douglas
Brushwood Center by Ricky Willis
Brushwood Center by Ricky Willis
Birds Singing by Louis Demarco
Birds Singing by Louis Demarco
The Snowy Owl by Molly McGrath
The Snowy Owl by Molly McGrath
Turtle by Blake Lenoir
Turtleland by Blake Lenoir
Spring Morning by Ken Bortman
Spring Morning by Ken Bortman
Horned Owl by Michael Hopkins
Horned Owl by Michael Hopkins
Trailside Museum of Natural History by Ricky Willis
Trailside Museum of Natural History by Ricky Willis
Owl in Tree by Franklin Armstrong
Owl in Tree by Franklin Armstrong
Oh! by Luke Shemroske
Oh! by Luke Shemroske
Illinois Native Wildflowers by Adam Hines
Illinois Native Wildflowers by Adam Hines
Hawk by Coral Kappel
Hawk by Coral Kappel
Bird by John Behnke
Bird by John Behnke


Presented in Partnership by:

About the Partners:

Project Onward

Project Onward is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit studio and gallery for professional artists with mental and developmental disabilities. Project Onward supports the professional development of artists with exceptional talents and challenges, ranging from autism to mental illness and provides these artists with workspace, materials, professional guidance, exhibition opportunities and access to markets to sell their work and advance their careers. Learn more at www.projectonward.org.

Forest Preserves of Cook County

Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.