Artists, benefactors mingle at Lake County Community Foundation fundraiser

Showing off their skills in real time, an eclectic mix of artists created artwork for 300 people Saturday at a Lake County Community Foundation fundraiser in Lake Bluff.

The stART Something Lake County Warehouse Art Party linked established charitable donors with new generations of benefactors who got to learn more about the work the LCCF aims to continue as it enters its 16th year of serving all communities in the county.

Provided with food, drinks and live music, party guests at Saturday’s event were able to mingle with more than a dozen, mostly local creators, from street artists to sculptors, who produced art on the spot to be auctioned off during the evening.

The fundraising effort supports the LCCF’s Robert F. Reusché Operating Endowment. Known as Lake County’s Forever Fund, it’s the established legacy gift from founder and senior advisor Robert “Bob” Reusché.

Speaking of what gave rise to the foundation, Reusché’s daughter Anne said she was pleased to see people of all ages getting involved.

“My father and the other founding members were absolutely committed to inspiring philanthropy locally to address the needs and move the meter on issues that connect to poverty, like homelessness and domestic violence,” Anne Reusché said. “The organization connects those who have resources and a sense of wanting to make a difference with a mechanism for doing that locally.”

Since 2003, the LCCF has awarded $5 million in grants to nonprofit agencies, said Executive Director Miah Armour.

“I think what we need to do know is take it to the next level. We’re knowledgeable about the county’s needs because we have laid the groundwork,” Armour said. “Now we can continue to raise funds so we can meet more of those needs.”

From animal welfare, nutrition, domestic abuse, health and early learning, the LCCF’s reach is varied as it provides assistance to organizations working to impact their clients in different ways.

For the past two consecutive years, Words on Wheels, a group that provides literacy skills to infants and toddlers in Waukegan, Zion and North Chicago, has been awarded grants from the LCCF. Its founder, Beth Ragsdale, said the financial support has allowed to fill the gaps in items needed.

“We give the babies a book, a puppet, a musical instrument and bubbles. The grants allowed us to purchase more of those items to give to the at-risk kids we visit at violence and domestic abuse shelters and transitional living homes,” Ragsdale said.

Other agencies awarded LCCF grants include Nicasa, YouthBuild Lake County and the Liberty Prairie Foundation, which provides leadership and financial support for sustainable local food system development and environmental education.

Waukegan artist Mary Haas, whose landscape pieces of the beach and harbor in Waukegan, Grayslake, Door County, Wis., and the Chicago Botanic Gardens, sold quickly at the event.

“It’s been a night of good conversations in a really great atmosphere with people who appreciate art and are giving,” Haas said.

Also debuting an iconic map of Lake County that includes well-known landmarks was local renown artist Mark McMahon, who was commissioned by the LCCF to create the piece celebrating and marking the foundation’s 15 years.

The interactive warehouse art party also highlighted local eateries and breweries.

Yadira Sanchez Olson