After School Matters (ASM) is a non-profit organization that educates youth and adults in five areas: Science, Visual arts, Technology, Performing arts, and Culinary. One of their programs, gallery37, provides job training through out-of-school and summer sessions. The current First Lady, Mrs. Daley, and Lois Weisberg collaborated to form the original concept in 1991. By focusing on mentoring and developing kids from underserved communities, gallery37 has experienced phenomenal success, achieved national recognition, and has witnessed its model implemented in other cities across the U.S. Participants are called apprentices and earn an income for their eight-week commitment. Interviews by industry professionals are held over several days. Applicants submit resumes, and, if necessary, bring in portfolios for review. Over 4,000 students participated citywide this past summer.
On September 14th, participants were rewarded with a Friends & Family Reception. Students and their guests previewed all of the performances in dance, jazz, vocals, ballet, theater, and Hip Hop. The Eighth Annual After School Matters Gala was held at the Skyline Ballroom of McCormick Place West on September 15th. In addition, the culinary students served and the tech37 team assisted the production crew. One of the apprentices from the visual arts summer program is Marcus Anthony. He is a high school student, one of many who was featured at their annual Gala.
Marcus started drawing cartoons at the age of 7. He would sketch the settings and develop entire story lines for the characters of books he would write in elementary school. His painting talent became apparent once he began classes at Unicoi Art Studio in 2006. Everything is sketched first in pencil and then painted with acrylics on canvas. The artwork has included paintings of landscapes, still lifes, animals, and flowers. That same year, he sold some of the items at the annual Arts & Craft Fair organized by DuSable Museum. Marcus also attended Marwen, another non-profit organization that provides visual arts programs to kids, to further develop his artistic skills.Since then, he has sold items at six other events, including the Christmas Bazaar at the Irish American Heritage Center and the Holiday smART Show at the Flat Iron Building. His paintings for ASM, Cityscape with Marina Towers and Fruits, Apples, Oranges and Grapes, sold for $700 and $525, respectively, at the Gala. WGN-TV News, one of their media partners, covered the event and Maggie Daley spoke about the future. Marcus appears in the video after 52 seconds.
The photos below of his earlier work demonstrate Marcus Anthony’s use of color, control with his paintbrush, and how he illustrates light & darkness. Please leave some comments. Isn’t it time we spread the word about teenagers involved in good, constructive activities in the city? Not all teens are mixed up in crime. For nineteen years, gallery37 has provided opportunities, inspiration, workplace skills, and culture to those who needed a creative outlet. After School Matters and gallery37 are located in downtown Chicago.