Brandace Cloud is a professional artist based in Wilsonville. She has a studio there and in Staunton. Cloud works in a variety of media, but specializes in photography and clay.

ILI: How long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion?
BC: I have been making [art] most of my life, although I never realized that making [art] could be a living. My dad always encouraged me to work hard and make lots of money. But he also, through his actions and through his words, told me to find something I love to do. He worked hard his whole life working jobs he never really loved, so that our family could have a big fancy house and lots of things. While going through college I went through several different career choices. I tried for electrical engineering, computer programing, business, and then graphic design. I received my associate’s degree in Graphic Design from Lewis and Clark Community College and was still trying to make lots of money, but found that art was what I really loved to do. I continued on to Webster University, where I figured I could still make money while taking photographs. I continued on that path until my final year when I took a clay class. The first day of class, I realized THIS was my calling. I was a potter. I was meant to play with dirt and fire. I have been a potter for six years now, and I’ve never looked back… never again doubted what I wanted to be.

ILI: Illinois has been factored into your work in the past. What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you?
BC: Illinois is a major factor in my work through the images I put on my pots. I live in rural Illinois, where my “natural” landscape is plowed fields and stray trees. When I wondered what to decorate my pots with, it was intuitive to adorn my pots with images inspired by this landscape. In my tiny town of 600, my house sits on a dead-end street where owls live and play. These creatures also make their way onto my pots, but now have been abstracted to those parts of the animals that intrigue me the most – their eyes, their ever-searching, seeking eyes. What I learned from Webster was that as an artist I need to always be paying attention, always looking, always searching. Now the owl eyes float in a field of color, ever-searching, looking, wondering. My work would not be this, if not for my home in rural Illinois.

ILI: What do you like about Illinois?
BC: The thing that I love most about Illinois is the landscape that inspires me.

ILI: What is your favorite medium to work in?
BC: I am a potter at heart. Although I can work in other materials, clay is my passion.

ILI: What artist inspires you and why?
BC: I am inspired by the artists around me. I feed off the creativity of my friends and those that make [art] around me, including my students! I teach art to kids as young as two years old, all the way through adults. The kids that I teach are unafraid of working, of creating. They are fearless. They make art for themselves. That is an inspiration.
If there is one professional artist that truly inspires me, it is Susan Bostwick, an artist that I admire and work closely with. She is a fellow potter, and Susan has taught me so much about how to be a successful artist through her optimism and joyful approach to art. Her work can be found at

ILI: Where can people view or purchase your work?
BC: They can find it online on my website,, on Instagram at and Facebook at

Brian TeeThe Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is launching a Zika virus awareness campaign with actor Brian Tee, known as Dr. Ethan Choi on the television series Chicago Med.

Tee, who recently welcomed a new baby girl into his family, is hoping to raise awareness on the public health concerns of Zika virus and what people can do to prevent the infection of unborn babies who may suffer birth defects.

First identified in Africa in 1947, Zika virus is a mosquito-borne infection that has spread significantly across the world since the first reported case in Brazil in 2015. For most people, Zika is a very mild infection and isn’t harmful. However, Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Consequently, infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.

Inspired by his role as a doctor on Chicago Med, and as a new parent, Tee will star in television and radio commercials with information on preventing Zika-related birth defects and the importance of preparing for and having a healthy pregnancy.

The Zika virus education campaign will air the commercials statewide in cooperation with the Illinois Broadcasters Association (IBA) Public Education Partnership program. They will broadcast on more than 200 radio stations and IBA member television stations.

For more information on Zika virus, go to

6547321591 1fea729a9d bAs Americans all over celebrate National Hot Dog Day, Chicagoans know that to truly celebrate the day, you have to do it with a Vienna Beef dog.

The origins of Vienna Beef go back to the 1890s when Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany emigrated from Austria to Chicago. When the Columbian Exposition came to Chicago in 1893, Reichel and Ladany sold hot dogs to the many visitors.

The next year, they opened a storefront in Chicago’s Westside on Halstead Avenue. Reichel and Ladany also began selling their hot dogs to other restaurants throughout Chicago.

During the Great Depression, people selling Vienna Beef began advertising that their dogs had a “salad on top”, what we now call the Chicago Dog. A Chicago Dog is a Vienna Beef dog with mustard, relish, tomato, pickle, onion, hot peppers and celery salt. No ketchup!

Today, Vienna Beef dogs are made in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago with annual revenues over $100 million. For more information about Vienna Beef, click here to visit their website.

For a list of places you can find a good hot dog on National Hot Dog Day, check out this article.

Blaire CloydBlaire Cloyd is a Springfield-based painter who leads paint parties for adults and children at local businesses in Springfield and the surrounding area.

ILI: How long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion and if so, tell us about it?

BC: I truly believe that I was born with Art in my soul. Since I was young, I have always had a creative eye and absolutely loved producing work. I consider myself lucky because I had a critical support system. My parents, siblings, friends, and teachers were constantly encouraging my creativity by encouraging me to enter contests, take classes, etc. I came to know that Art was my passion in high school, when I became more aware that there is, and always will be, a future doing this; whether it be a career or even a side-hobby. Art always advances, and that fascinated me.IMG 0645 This led me to Illinois College, where I studied Studio Art/Education. I have zero regrets about studying Art as a major. I learned and grew drastically in knowledge and as a studio artist. Art leads to many things, and for me it led to happiness, which is why I continue to produce today.

ILI: Illinois has been factored into your work in the past. What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you?

BC: There is a certain comfort someone feels about the place they were born and raised. The best way for me to describe my feelings about my home state is the compare them to being in a long-term relationship. There are highs and lows, but ultimately, you love your partner through thick and thin. And, you always come back because they are your rock; where you feel the most comfortable. Without them, you wouldn't be where you are today and there's an appreciation that comes from that.

IMG 0647ILI: What opportunities does Illinois present to local Illinois artists?

BC: I currently do adult/child paint parties in Springfield, and I have had tons of support from local businesses allowing me to come in, teach a class, and enjoy the food and drinks. To name a few: Burger Bar, Always After Five, Trail's End Saloon in Curran, Mario's in Chatham, Driftwood, and Rivertown Coffee and Wine Corner in Beardstown. Without the support of these local businesses, I wouldn't be able to do what I do.

ILI: What do you like about Illinois?IMG 0644

BC: Illinois is my "home sweet home." My family, friends, and my art knowledge all stem from here. This place fueled my artistic fire. 

ILI: What is your favorite medium to work in?

BC: I am a sucker for acrylic paint. I love instant gratification, and working with acrylic gives me that. It dries quickly, and is very easy to work with. The water-based nature helps the paint go farther than just what's in the tube. It's also fairly inexpensive, so I am able to create more for less.

ILI: Where can people view or purchase your work?

BC: I have a Facebook page called Paint Party by Blaire. I do everything from paint parties to canvas paintings, pallet paintings, and face painting. Basically, if you want something created, I'll get it done.

IMG 0646ILI: What artist inspires you and why?

BC: Banksy. I have been obsessed with this artist since college. The mystery behind this person is absolutely fascinating. Research Banksy and you'll understand why. (It's worth it.) "Balloon Girl" is my favorite piece. She's even tattooed on my arm.

Frank Lloyd Wright portrait

America’s most celebrated architect would have celebrated his 150th birthday this week. Frank Lloyd Wright, who was a leader in the Midwestern Prairie School style of architecture, was born June 8 in Richland Center, Wisconsin.

After attending the University of Wisconsin for a short time, Wright moved to Chicago. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the potential for development in Chicago was limitless. The Chicago that Wright moved to was filled with grimy neighborhoods and crowded streets, making Wright determined to find work.

After many interviews Wright found work as a draftsman for Joseph Lyman Silsbee, a prominent architect who designed buildings in Syracuse, Buffalo and Chicago. Silsbee was founding member of the Chicago and Illinois chapters of the American Institute of Architects. After for working for Silsbee, Wright worked for the firm of Adler & Sullivan.

Wright worked at the firm until 1893, leaving to open his own practice. In 1896, Wright moved his office into the Steinway Hall Building, sharing the space with three other architects. Wright and those architects would form what is today known as the Prairie School style of architecture.

The Prairie School complemented the Chicago area. The one- or two-story houses often had open floor plans, natural materials like wood and stone, built-in cabinets, strong horizontal lines, low-pitched roofs and ribbons of windows.

Wright would design more than 50 houses in this style, including the Arthur Heurtley House in Oak Park, the Nathan G. Moore House in Oak Park and the Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo.

Wright would pass away in 1959. Following his death, most archives of Wright’s work was stored at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Wisconsin and Arizona.