Art & Wine Walk

Art & Wine Walk

It’s time for a little Sippin’ & Shoppin’ in the Oak Park Arts District!  Come to our first annual Art & Wine Walk! on Saturday, Dec 16 from 3-7pm.  It’s the perfect time to treat yourself to some wonderful wines, magnificent art, delicious hors d’oeuvres and great holiday shopping – all in the historic Oak Park Arts District!  We are thrilled to be partnering with a local gem, Anfora Wine Merchants for this inaugural event.  Support artists and local businesses all while treating yourself to a fun afternoon out.

Tickets are $40 and include a wine glass, complimentary tastings throughout the participating locations, a wine tote, box of water, and a bottle of wine to be picked up later at Anfora Wine Merchants!  There will also be small bites, music, and sales throughout the Oak Park Arts District businesses.  Get your tickets now before this event sells out. Check In for the event will be at Laura Maychruk Real Estate at 911 S Lombard Ave.  

Shopping Local never tasted so good.

Sponsored by Byline Bank

Attendee Event Terms & Policies:

  • All ticket-holders must be of legal drinking age (21+). ID’s will be checked at check-in.
  • There are no refunds or credits.
  • This event takes place rain or shine.
  • All tastings will take place within the businesses on the route. A final route map will be provided at check-in. Businesses listed on the route are subject to change.
  • Servers will not serve anyone who appears intoxicated. Participants must empty their glasses before exiting each establishment. Each stop should provide a container for you to dispose of any samples that you do not want to finish. Open container laws strictly prohibit consumption of alcohol outside of our designated participating locations. You are liable for any punishment or fines should you fail to adhere with the law.
  • By buying tickets you acknowledge compliance with these terms.


What’s Blooming on Harrison is May 20th

What’s Blooming on Harrison is May 20th

By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe

What’s Blooming on Harrison has become Oak Park’s largest street festival.  This year’s event is on Saturday, May 20, and runs from 11am to 7pm.  The Craft Beer Garden and Main Stage will operate until 9pm.  Presenting sponsors Byline Bank, Mosaic Counseling & Wellness, Oak Park Apartments, and Oak Park Bank will help ensure the festival’s success.

Started in 1999, the festival has grown and now includes an art fair, entertainment stage, craft beer garden, kiddie carnival, and silent auction.  Over 100 booths will line Harrison Street from Humphrey to Highland.  Among the vendors are several Oak Park Arts District businesses as well as other local artists, non-profit organizations, and commercial businesses.

Carey Carlock, the co-founder of presenting sponsor Mosaic Counseling & Wellness, had this to say about the event, “We will have members of our team meeting and greeting and chatting up mental wellness.  We will have face painting and mental health awareness bracelets, stickers, and stress balls. … As an integrated therapy practice, we fervently believe in healing through the arts.  We are proud to have four art therapists and two dance movement therapists on our team.”

The festival’s Main Stage will have various groups performing throughout the day.  Described as a “wildflower bouquet of local musicians,” the stage will have family programming from 11am-2pm, followed by the School of Rock Show Team, Dozen Buzzin’ Cousins, David Singer, Summer Drive, and then headliner The Crombies at 7:45pm.  “Get your dancing shoes on!” said Annette Coffee, the Oak Park Arts District Marketing Coordinator.

This year’s Beer Garden will have craft beer from Kinslahger Brewing Company.  “We are thrilled to have Kinslahger beers at What’s Blooming this year.  It’s awesome to have such an amazing brewery that is such a great neighbor!” said Trevor Toppen, festival committee member and owner of Val’s halla Records.

Food vendors will include Oak Park Arts District favorites Buzz Café, Mora Oak Park, Taco Mucho, The Happy Apple Pie Shop, and Trattoria 225.  Other food options will be available too, including Babygold Barbecue and Candycopia.

For families, the kiddie carnival rides won’t disappoint.  Tickets are $1.25 each or a book of 20 will be available for $22.  Each ride costs three tickets.  Although tickets are cash only, there will be an ATM available.

New this year is a silent auction that will be set up in the Oak Park Arts District Business Association tent.  Items available include artwork from Steve Fischer, Karen Schuman, Janice Elkins, Kim Humphrey, Marion Sirefman, Ann Viernes, Ken Reif, and Mimi Comerford.

This year’s What’s Blooming poster features a rendering of an original piece called “Surrounded by Grace” by local artist Annette Zwierzchowski Donlin.  The painting is a very personal one by Donlin that she created after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I turned to my art to help heal not only my body but also my spirit.  [The painting] helped me understand that life is about moments and trying to really be present in the moment we are in. … I thought about all my ancestors, our Creator, all the positive energy I have around me.  It was a creation of prayer for me; a meditation of optimism, beauty, and God’s grace … inviting all into my soul to help me heal,”said Donlin.

Festival committee member and local resident Mimi Comerford was thankful for the help of their volunteers, “So much goes into making this festival happen and we are grateful for all the help we get from our community.  Without our volunteers we could never make this happen.”

Admission is free.  For more information about What’s Blooming on Harrison, visit the Oak Park Arts District website at

Who is NEW in the Oak Park Arts District!

Who is NEW in the Oak Park Arts District!

By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe

It’s spring in the Oak Park Arts District!  The weather is getting better every day and it’s the perfect season to check out some of these businesses that have opened in the last few years.  If you haven’t been on Harrison Street in a while, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Valdo’s Barbershop

Valdo Leon first started barbering as a child when he cut his uncle’s hair in exchange for being allowed to take over the kitchen on Sundays.  It’s been more than thirty years, but he finally realized his dream of having his own shop when Valdo’s Barbershop opened in September 2020 at 128 Harrison Street.

After years spent in the military, barbering, working for UPS, and then back to barbering, Valdo became fixated on opening his own barbershop.  He took his wife’s advice and drove down Harrison Street one day after dropping his son off at school.  “I started seeing multiple storefronts that were available and checked out each one to see what would best accommodate my needs.  I hit 128 and thought, ‘This is it.’”

Valdo is known for his versatility and can manage anything from a basic gentleman’s cut to the tightest fade and graphics.  And while many people tend to forget that esthetics are taught in barber school, Valdo believes that it’s time to highlight those services.  “We’re losing that essence in modern barbering.  People get caught up in being a chop shop.  There are very few barbershops that offer pampering services.”

Purple Sun Arts

Ann Viernes recalls loving both science and art from a young age.  “I can remember in kindergarten always wanting to paint on the easels, but I don’t think I ever actually did it.  I was very, very shy.  But all through school my two loves were science and art.  The gifts I always got from my parents were things like a microscope or art supplies.”

Anne chose to study biology in college and worked at Rush University Medical Center for more than 30 years.  After several years of retirement, Ann took a sabbatical to contemplate her next step.  “I went up to my hometown of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, with all my painting supplies and stayed for ten days right by the lake.  Then, when I returned, I was walking through the Arts District and I saw this space for lease and I thought, ‘This is it.  I’m not in healthcare anymore.  I’m an artist now.’”

Anne opened Purple Sun Arts at 142 Harrison Street in the fall of 2020.  The name was inspired by her love of  “purple sun glass.”  In addition to her paintings, Ann makes jewelry and greeting cards.  She also sells some of the vintage glassware and jewelry that she has collected for years.

Taco Mucho

As a child growing up in Indiana, Ron Aleman loved watching his mother and grandmothers in their own kitchens.  After college at Purdue University, Ron worked in sales.  But he had always really enjoyed cooking and was considering culinary school.  It was the events of September 11, however, that gave him the push he needed.  “Life is too short,” Ron told himself, eventually graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago.  It took twenty years, but in August 2021, Ron opened his own restaurant, Taco Mucho, at 220 Harrison Street.

When asked what he hoped for for the business, Ron said, “We want to be a casual, neighborhood taqueria—a place parents can bring their kids and a casual date-night spot with great food and cocktails.  We see Taco Mucho as an extension of our home and want you to feel like a guest when you come in to eat.”

The menu is focused on tacos that are all served on handmade corn tortillas.  They also offer nachos, tortas, bowls, and quesadillas.  Sides including “abuela’s” rice and beans round out the menu.  Taco Mucho is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30am to 8:00pm and also offers carry-out and delivery.

Steve Fisher Arts

For years, Steve Fisher’s art studio had been in the basement of his home behind the Friendly Tap in Berwyn.  “I’d been thinking of getting a dedicated studio space, and I finally said, ‘If not now, when?’” said Steve.  “But I needed a place that was as quick to get to as my basement.”  That “place” ended up being 301 Harrison Street where Steve opened shop in the fall of 2022.

Steve has been painting since he was a child and was particularly influenced by his family’s visits to the Art Institute of Chicago.  He always liked the Impressionists, and then, in the mid-1960’s as he was about to start high school, Steve took in his first Picasso exhibition.  “It was a wake-up call.  I walked from one end of that show to the other and back again.  From then on, my art was never really the same.  Before, I had done the kind of art kids do to get a pat on the head.  After, I went my own way.  The experience opened doors for me.”

Steve compares his work as an artist to a physicist working on equations on a giant blackboard.  “They start with a hypothesis and different ideas.  But then things start to mesh.  That’s what I do with my artwork; I push things around until my ideas crystallize.”  While Steve uses his new space as a studio, he also plans to display a rotating collection of paintings that will be available for purchase and to have tie-ins with Arts District events.

2023 WOW! Women Owned Works Event

2023 WOW! Women Owned Works Event

By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe

Each year in March, the Oak Park Arts District celebrates Women’s History Month with WOW! Women Owned Works.  Gail Coughlin of Elevate Creative (321 Harrison Street) was inspired to start the event in 2017 after President Trump’s inauguration and the subsequent Women’s March.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to celebrate all the women-owned businesses in the arts district—the most of any business district in Oak Park,” said Gail.  “It was not a happy time and I wanted to bring something positive to the neighborhood.”  Yellow was chosen as the signature color for the event.  “It’s happy and cheerful.  It’s bright and attention-grabbing,” said Gail.

This year’s WOW! Women Owned Works event will be held on Saturday, March 18, from 11am-4pm and will feature a variety of sales and promotions.  Yellow decorations will indicate which businesses are participating.

The Oak Park Arts District is proud to be the home of many women-owned businesses.   Here are some of their stories:

Maryann Woods, Niravadhi Services/Problem Solvers, 17 Harrison Street

Maryann was always a curious kid who liked to take things apart and then put them back together again.  Growing up in a missionary household, she spent a lot of her summers in India where she always spent time with the children.  “I had a huge passion for kids and for a long time I wanted to be a pediatrician,” said Maryann, “But in the end, I decided to become a teacher.”

After leaving her teaching job during the pandemic, Maryann started tutoring and doing custom design work.  She incorporated her business as Niravadhi Services.  “My parents are from India and Niravadhi means ‘several’ in Sanskrit.  So my business name literally means ‘several services’ which is perfect because I’ve always been a jack-of-all-trades.”

More recently, Maryann combined her passion for STEM and her love of teaching into Problem Solvers (the education services arm of her business) where she offers STEM programming to elementary and middle school students.  For more information on Maryann and her businesses, visit and

Dima Ali, Dima Jewelry Atelier + Boutique, 41 Harrison Street

Dima was born and raised in Baghdad and came to the United States in December 2002 just three months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  Although she has a master’s degree in Family Law, Dima could not practice after immigrating.  She worked on and off doing English to Arabic and Arabic to English translation, but after having her children, Dima focused on being a mom.

It was the 2016 election and the subsequent Muslim Ban which ignited her passion for activism.  “I am culturally Muslim and the former president’s attacks on immigrants and on Muslims made me feel that I needed to do something.”  Dima had always enjoyed making jewelry, but she lacked the self-confidence to think that her pieces were good enough to sell.  She wanted to make a difference and so she started donating her jewelry to causes she cared about.

“People loved my work and I started getting orders.  I wanted to support a cause so I chose to donate a percentage of my sales to RefugeeOne,” said Dima.  Bit by bit, her sales increased until she realized she needed a separate studio space which she opened last year.

For WOW! Women Owned Works, Dima is planning a sample sale and deep discounts on soon-to-be retired styles.  She’s also working on a fresh spring line full of bees and butterflies.  For more information on Dima and her business, visit

Kim Humphrey, Bead in Hand, 145 Harrison Street

As a child, Kim was taught to do things with her hands, but it wasn’t until she was a mother with young children that she started beading.  “I had little kids and I needed something that didn’t talk back and didn’t move and it really fit the bill,” Kim said with a laugh.

Although she can’t pinpoint the date, Kim thinks she started patronizing Bead in Hand within a few years of their 1993 opening.  She took a few classes and was soon working at the store on weekends.  As her kids got older, she was able to add more hours.  When the then-owner announced that she was planning to retire and wanted to sell the store, Kim worried what it might mean for her future.  “I loved the shop, the customers, the beads, my job, all of it.  I didn’t want that to change.”  And so ten years ago, Kim took a leap of faith and purchased the store.

For WOW! Women Owned Works, Bead in Hand will host a staff jewelry show on March 17 and 18.  On Saturday, yellow glass bead strands will be 15% off and customers will receive a grab bag when making a purchase of $25 or more.  Visit for more information.

Noelle Allen, Slowfire Ceramics, 907 S. Lombard Avenue

Noelle is a tenured professor at Dominican University where she runs the sculpture and ceramics department.  And for years, she also exhibited her work in galleries and museums.  Then, during the pandemic, Noelle started offering private lessons out of her home studio.  “I put a call out on Facebook and advertised that I would accept children who were neurodivergent.  Some of my students had mental health concerns and really needed to get out of the house.  My studio was a safe space that was cozy and intimate.”

Before long, she couldn’t accommodate everyone with private lessons and so she formed small group classes and hired another teacher, Alice Arreola-Perez.  Alice trained at Dominican and had worked with Noelle as an artist assistant for several years.  Within eighteen months, Noelle was employing several teachers and the business had expanded into all kinds of art in addition to the wheel throwing and handbuilding that started it all.

Last year, she was looking to expand and added a second location on Lombard.  Although the business is called Slowfire Ceramics, Noelle wants people  to understand that they have a lot of different offerings.  The new location has classes and camps for children, tweens, teens, and adults in disciplines including ceramics, painting and drawing, and fiber arts.  For more information including class schedules, visit

Carley Carlock, Mosaic Counseling & Wellness, 215 Harrison Street

Carey believes she was born to be a therapist.  “I believe in recovery and healing and I’ve always been a good listener,” she said.  In 2008, she started working at Riveredge Hospital, the largest psychiatric hospital in Illinois.  She resigned as CEO in 2021 to focus on establishing a clinic that would focus on quality integrated therapy in her own community.

“The calling kept pulling me—psychiatry and therapy within one team; creative arts therapy and traditional talk therapy within one team.”  That call led her to be the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mosaic Counseling & Wellness which opened a flagship office on Harrison last year.  For Carey, a key to integrated therapy is psychiatry and therapy under the same roof with providers that will “actually talk with each other.”

To help make mental health care accessible and affordable, Mosaic is in-network with several insurance companies.  “If we are not in network, then I try to refer people to places that will take their insurance.  And I always say, ‘If you don’t get a call back, then call me back and we will troubleshoot together.’”  For more information, visit

Show up everyday and work hard – the journey to creating Maychruk Real Estate

Show up everyday and work hard – the journey to creating Maychruk Real Estate

By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe

Laura Maychruk became a real estate agent in 1993.  And now, thirty years later, she is achieving a long-realized plan of opening her own brokerage, Maychruk Real Estate, located above Buzz Café at 905 S. Lombard Avenue in the Oak Park Arts District.

Shortly after graduating from college in Pennsylvania in 1991, Laura married her husband Andrew, loaded up a U-Haul, drove to Oak Park, and moved into an apartment.  She started looking for a job and landed at the Chicago Tribune.  Laura and Andrew eventually bought a house on Lombard Avenue and all was well until Andrew was laid off.  “We were freaking out,” said Laura.  “We had a $900 mortgage payment and didn’t know how we were going to pay it.”

Laura had grown up around family who were real estate developers which made her think that she could give it a try.  “I don’t know what makes me think this stuff.  I thought, ‘I know how to cook,’ and so I opened a restaurant,” laughed Laura.  “I guess I’m just really confident in my abilities.”

In 1993, you could get a real estate license in a weekend.  And so she did.  Laura worked with Century 21 and sold real estate during evenings and weekends.  “I sold a house a month the first year.”  The next several years were busy ones.  Laura and Andrew relocated for a time to Washington, D.C., and then they moved back to Oak Park and opened Buzz Café in 1998.  Then, the first of the Maychruks’ four children were born.  Real estate had to take a back seat to everything else going on in Laura’s life.

By 2005, she was ready to jump back in.  Serendipitously, Laura met David Gullo of Gullo & Associates.  “I told him that I still had to run Buzz and so the only way our working together would work was for him to move his office above the restaurant and he agreed to do that.”  Their affiliation continued until last month when Laura opened her own brokerage, Maychruk Real Estate

When asked why she decided to go out on her own, Laura answered, “My business was growing exponentially.  I was ready for something new, but I didn’t want to go to one of the big offices in town.  Offices have rules and policies that I didn’t want to hassle with.”

More importantly, Laura said, “Real estate agents are in competition with each other whether they are in the same office or not.  Information is extremely powerful.  You might know one thing that nobody else knows and that could lead to a sale.”  She didn’t want to risk what joining a local office could mean for her business.

While this move to her own brokerage is a big deal for Laura, for her clients nothing will really change.  “My territory is hyperlocal.  Just Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Park.  I’m an ambassador for this area and I love, love, love this area.  I love teaching people about it and sharing my community with them.”  Laura stays connected to her clients long after closing.  “My clients get to benefit from my thirty years of experience.  I know the history of the area and I know what’s going on now. Well after they’ve moved in, my clients text me and ask, ‘Who can I call for this or that?’”

As to the type of clients she is looking for, Laura has no preference for buyers or sellers.  “I appreciate both and I like keeping my business even between them because when I’m working with sellers I want to be able to tell them what buyers are looking for.  And vice versa, for my buyers it helps to know what sellers are experiencing right now.”

Laura’s life is chaotic, but she loves it.  “I get up early, between 4am and 6am.  I do emails and paperwork until about 8am when I go to Buzz where I’ve taken on the role of general manager.  After the lunch rush, around 2pm, things slow down at the restaurant and I spend my afternoon and evenings meeting with clients and taking them to showings.”  She tries to get to bed as early as possible before starting it all over again the next day.

For now, Laura doesn’t plan to bring any other agents into the brokerage.  “My plan is just to do the same thing I always do—be the best real estate agent that I can be for my clients,” said Laura.  “Show up everyday and work hard.  That’s my life in a nutshell.”

Laura and Maychruk Real Estate can be reached at 708-205-7044 or by emailing [email protected].