Art in Alternative Spaces


Black Artists Commemorate the Anniversary of Juneteenth, 1865


Ken Ellis, Alan Emerson Hicks, Fran Joy, David Niari and Cheryl Toles

on exhibition at

Devonshire Cultural Center Gallery, 4400 Greenwood St Skokie, IL 60076

 FREE Artists Reception: Saturday, June 18, 2022 (2 pm - 4 pm)


Admission to the exhibition is FREE.    


Ken Ellis

Ken is a native of Chicago and credits his interest in art to his father who taught him to sew.   Taken from news images and stories, Ken's creations have ranged from shocking historical scenes of the life of black and native Americans to Haitian voodoo, crime figures, Chicago's punk rock scene, Asian art and children's nursery rhymes.  

Having worked as a professional bartender in Chicago, Ken's recent works are dear to his heart and feature historically lessor-known actual working bartenders, going back prior to the Prohibition period, shining a light on their colorful past.

 Ken's work is exhibited around the country and was featured in Anatomically Correct's exhibition Sewing the Seeds  A Look at Violence in American History and Fairy Tale Friends in Chicago.   Ken's Bonnie & Clyde quilt from the Sewing the Seeds exhibition can be seen on the cover of Dr. Dog's "Fate" album released on July 22, 2008.  

"My early childhood was in BronzeVille, one of my earliest memories is drawing on the blank pages of a set Biblical storybooks my Ma had bought me. I attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Art from 1973 to 1975 studying Cartooning, Animation & Film Making and the School of the Art Institute in 1975/76 studying animation, I also studied writing, television production & intro. into television at Columbia College in 1976/77.  I have been drawing & painting as long as I can remember I originally painted in oils & was introduced to this medium by my x-wife Marilyn. We would use the dyes to make hand painted tee's , pillows, & baby blankets, Marilyn had some painting she had done w/ the dye which she quilted by adding a batting to the back of the painting which gives the piece a quilted/ relief effect. Working with the fabric dyes, needle & thread I feel as though I'm working WITH the piece as oppose to working ON a piece with paint, this makes me feel more at one with the piece. Most of my early pieces are portraits of historical figures, both known & obscure. Themes I've incorporated in the early pieces gangsters, musicians, black western, native Americans, freaks. Since the late 90's I've began to use different drawing styles & adding beadwork & objects to my pieces & some of the recent themes have been Haitian Voodoo, African- American Northern Migration,  I also have done a series of Fairy Tale & Nursery Rhymes and pieces based on Japanese prints."

Ken's artwork can be seen in the film " High Fidelity" & you can read about it in the book "Wild Chicago" and he appeared on a WTTW television episode.   Several of his quilts are featured in the International Review of African American Art - vol.17 #1- The Black- Indian Connection in American Art.  Ken was also featured in the film, You Weren't There, a history of the Chicago Punk Rock scene from 1977-1984.

His quilts have been exhibited in many galleries in Chicago, New Mexico, Michigan and Minnesota.  In 2013/2014, the Chicago Cultural Center featured his quilts in a solo exhibition. 

Ken is represented by Anatomically Correct Arts. More of his work can be seen online:



Madgar Evers

Fabric Dye on Canvas

20 x 19"



Diane Nash

Fabric Dye on Canvas

16  x 20"



Ella Baker

Fabric Dye on Canvas

22 x 18"




Bayard Rustin

Fabric Dye on Canvas

17 x 19"


John Lewis

Fabric Dye on Canvas

13 x 16"


Rev. Fred Shuttleworth

Fabric Dye on Canvas

22 x 20"



Stokey Carmichael

Fabric Dye on Canvas

17 x 22"



Roy Wilkens

Fabric Dye on Canvas

23 x 17"



H. Rap Brown

Fabric Dye on Canvas

16  x 18"




Whitney Young

Fabric Dye on Canvas

15 x 17"

$ 520


Fred Hampton

Fabric Dye on Canvas

20 x 18"

$ 780



Alan Emerson Hicks

Alan is a "creator of temporal sculpture".  He uses plastic from found objects and stickers to create his sculptures and mixed media pieces in an effort to show how plastics do not bio-degrade in the environment.  He received a BFA in Fine Art (Sculpture) from Illinois State University and previously taught at the Luther High School in Chicago for 7 years.   His work has been exhibited at many galleries in and around Chicago.



Boy Meets Boy, Collage, 12 x 16"  $500


Girl Meets Girl, Collage, 12 x 16"  $500



 Sun Dancer, Collage, 9 x 11"  $350


Fire Dancer, Collage, 9 x 11"  $350


Drumming at Twilight, Collage, 9 x 11"  $350


Nubia I, Collage, 10 x 10"  $400


Nubia II, Collage, 10 x 10"  $400



The Dancers, Collage, 10 x 10"  $400


The Ritual, Collage, 10 x 10"  $400



Fran Joy

Fran Joy is an artist, designer, curator, and life coach currently living in Evanston. Born and raised in southern Illinois, she moved on to New Orleans and then to the greater Chicago/Evanston area. This life experience plus ten years of residence in Los Angeles and frequent visits to New York City have flavored and colored her passion as an artist.

After studying oil painting, creative writing, and drawing at Columbia College in Chicago, Joy combined her own experimentation with the impromptu training she received from independent artists whose work she admired. Joy is known for her images on social justice, women, spirit images, iconic portraits, colorful abstract landscapes, and large designer wood screens and wall mounts. Her paintings usually begin with an acrylic base on canvas or wood followed by oil pastels, which are used with various sponges for texture, blending and intensity. The colors are usually vivid!

Joy has been featured on the cover of Evanston Magazine and has appeared in the Evanston Review and in the Chicago Tribune.

Joy completed an artist-in-residency at Garrett Theological Seminary on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus exploring themes of social justice and non-violence; it comprised four exhibitions, and two large pieces remain as part of Garrett’s permanent collection: “Violence Interrupted” and “Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.” Joy also served a residency at Garrett’s Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) focused on “Women in the Day of Trump.”

Joy curated and produced Justice for Peace, a show at Noyes Cultural Art Center that included spoken word artists, spiritual vocalists, and voter activists. She participated in the traveling Chicago/Evanston exhibit Faces Not Forgotten to shed light on young victims of gun violence. She participates in the Evanston Made group show each year. Women Speak, Joy’s exhibition and inspirational event celebrating women at the Lorraine Morton Civic Center, drew over one hundred attendees. Her social justice works were featured in the powerful Mudlark/Art of Evolution theatre production I.D.

Joy has exhibited at the Evanston Art Center, the Noyes Cultural Art Center, 1100 Florence Gallery, Curt’s Cafe, Open Studio Project, Garrett Theological Seminary, Artem Gallery, Danon Gallery, Lorraine Morton Civic Center, and Creative Coworking and her works are in private collections nationally, as well as in Canada and New Zealand.

She received the Evanston Mayor’s Artist of the Year Award in 2019 for her work on social justice and women. Joy formerly served on the Evanston Arts Council and on the board of Young Evanston Artists!.  Currently, she serves on the Evanston Public Art Committee and on the Exhibition Committee of the Evanston Art Center.

Vote II

Oil Pastel, Acrylic on canvas

24 x 20"

$ 525


Acrylic on canvas

22 x 28"


Millions of women marched to Washington D.C. the day after the inauguration of former President Trump in support of womens' rights.


Sandra Bland

Oil Pastels on canvas

18 x 24"


Sandra Bland drove down to Texas from Chicago to start a new life with a new job in a new state full of life. She was arrested and jailed for no turn signal and ended up somehow hung to death in her cell days later.


"I just need a moment…"

Oil pastel on canvas

22 x  28"


 As a sign of the times, sometimes you just need a moment to think, to reflect, to take a pause, to breathe, to be, etc.


Black Lives Matter

(one of the 3 original founders, Alicia Garza)

Oil pastel on canvas

24 x 30"


 This is my portrait of Alicia Garza, one of the three women founders of the Black Lives Matter Movement.



David Niari

Chicago artist David Niari makes drawings, paintings and mixed media artworks. By referencing romanticism, grand-guignolesque black humour and symbolism, his drawings references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.

His drawings demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. By choosing mainly formal solutions, he tries to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria, but are based only on subjective associations and formal parallels, which incite the viewer to make new personal associations.

His works are often classified as part of the new romantic movement because of the desire for the local in the unfolding globalized world. However, this reference is not intentional, as this kind of art is part of the collective memory. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, he creates work through labour-intensive processes which can be seen explicitly as a personal exorcism ritual. They are inspired by a nineteenth-century tradition of works, in which an ideal of ‘Fulfilled Absence’ was seen as the pinnacle.

His works are based on formal associations which open a unique poetic vein. Multilayered images arise in which the fragility and instability of our seemingly certain reality is questioned.




A Season

Charcoal & Pastel

48 x 30"  Giclee Print




Watercolor & Pastel

40 x 30"  Giclee Print



Fleeting Moments

Pastel & Watercolor

50 x 30"  Giclee Print




Cheryl Toles

Ms. Toles’ collection of work includes a mixture of media including oil, acrylic, batik, and watercolor. Uses of texture, relationships of color, exploration of the African American culture and its African roots, strength of human bonds through the family and sexuality, struggle for equality, and the spiritual relationship of ourselves with our higher power are depicted in her body of work.  

She received a BA in Art Education from Southern Illinois University and an MBA from Colorado Technical University.  She has been employed by the Cook County Criminal Justice System for over 30 years and currently a manager of sworn staff personnel.   She is member of Creative Artist Association (2005), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (1977), and National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (2002).

Raising a family became the primary focus for 20 years, in addition to other interests, and Art was placed on the back burner.  After having come full circle, she returned to Art with renewed passion. Currently focusing on mediums such as watercolor, pastel, charcoal, acrylic, pencil, and textiles.

She has served on the Board of Chicago's Womanmade Gallery since 2009 and served on the Board of the Creative Artist Association.  She is a member of the “Sapphire and Crystals,” a group of respected African-American female artists.   Her art has won awards and has been exhibited in many juried shows in Chicago and also in Dallas, Texas.



Mixed Media, 36 x 36"




Prayer Circle

Soft Pastel, 18 x 24"




Reigning Blues

Mixed Media, 30 x 40"




Mixed Media, 24 x 48"





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Founded in 1991, Anatomically Correct is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to showcasing works by artists in alternative spaces in a combined effort to educate, diversify, and promote community awareness of the visual and performing arts.     

This project is sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency and the Skokie Park District.


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