Patty McWilliams thinks all it takes to recover from a bad day is a good paint session.
One of downtown Frankfort's new business owners, she believes in art as a healing process. Since the Oct. 1 opening of Monkey Mind Art Studio, the Mokena resident has welcomed clients ready to embrace art as therapy.
"I'm trying to encourage people to get back to playing, " McWilliams said. "I love to teach, I love to get people to rediscover their creative side."
The studio offers art and yoga classes, ranging from beginner level to more advanced. Full class offerings can be found on Monkey Mind's website.
McWilliams arrived in Frankfort with a colorful past in art. With bachelors and masters degrees in fine arts from Governors State University, she began teaching clients out of her home seven years ago. From there, she went on to offer classes for cancer patients. She continues to work with cancer patients out of her Frankfort office and offers free art supply baskets to oncology offices in the area.
"It gives them that outlet, gets them back to playing," she said.
Through her classes, she reaches out to people of all interest levels and lifestyles. With her own children in their 20s and on their own, she needed a personal way to channel her energy.
"I'm not a cookie baker, I'm not that domestic," she said. "I needed to get out, get my own space."
Monkey Mind Art Studio also has gallery space, with a new artist on display every four to six weeks. She hopes to draw local artists to the space to garner support for developing talent.
Frankfort's supportive attitude toward the arts led her to the spot at 3 W. Nebraska St. After a meeting with Mayor Jim Holland, she was eager to become a part of the Frankfort merchant community.
"There are a lot of merchant circle groups, and a lot of positive support," she said. "They have everything already established, so I could fall right into it."
McWilliams took advantage of Frankfort's Downtown Retail Grant Program, which offers incentives for new businesses looking to move into downtown Frankfort.
The grant program is in its second year, said Zach Brown, village planning supervisor. The program offers a maximum grant of $10,000 for new downtown businesses or existing businesses expanding by 50 percent of their current size. The grant program was created through a collaboration between Brown and Downtown Frankfort Partnership.
The goal is for business owners to use the money to improve their space, making the building more attractive to any future owners or tenants, as well as appealing to current customers. McWiliams completely revamped the interior of her shop before opening, adding new trim, hardwood floors, fresh paint on the walls and a lighting system conducive to art display.
"I think I'm going to be here a long time," she said. "That's the plan."
More about Monkey Art Studios:
- Class cost ranges from open studio for $15 to intensive instruction at $35. Mask-making classes start at $35, including materials.
- Membership costs go toward the studio's free programs and to cover the costs associated with classes offered for cancer patients.
- Artist Margie Glass-Sula will be featured at the studio beginning Nov. 19.
- Applications for the Downtown Grant Program can be found on the Village of Frankfort website.