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The Mainstreet Staff

  Frankie Johnson, Director
Frankie Johnson is an accomplished artist with over 50 years of experience in oil painting and pastels.  For the last forty years, Frankie has taught drawing, oil and pastel painting at The Studio In The Woods (Wauconda, Illinois), The Studio of Long Grove and the Mainstreet Art Centre.  She opened the Mainstreet Art Centre in 1994 with a talented staff of instructors.  She conducts workshops in portrait and landscape painting at various locations such as The Clearing in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin, Dillmans in Lac Du Flambeau, Wisconsin and the Mainstreet Art Centre.

She studied art and design at the Art Institute of Chicago and William Harper College.  Through her long association with the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Art in Chicago, she has studied with distinguished artists such as Richard Schmid, David Leffel, Ted Goerschner, Ted Smuskiewicz, Clyde Aspevig and Scott Burdick.

Frankie has participated in many juried exhibitions and plein air painting competitions and won numerous awards for her paintings through the years.  Her work has appeared in shows and galleries all over the Midwest.  She is currently represented by the Fine Line Designs Gallery in Ephraim, Wisconsin. and Castle Gallery in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Frankie's paintings, including numerous portrait commissions, hang in corporate and private collections throughout the country.

Visit her website to learn more and see her artwork:  www.frankiejohnsonartstudio.com



The Teachers

in alphabetical order:

  Natalie Fuentes-Aleman
Natalie Fuentes-Aleman is a Cuban American painter who uses her art to gain a deeper understanding of her relationship to the world. She is passionate about developing her own studio practice while helping others learn the joys of art through teaching. She graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019 with a BFA in painting and scientific illustration. She has experience working with medical students to illustrate and document the architecture of the human body as the Artist in Residence at Rush Human Anatomy Lab in Chicago, IL. Much of her work also is influenced by her family and culture in Yaguajay, Cuba. Through years of practice, patience, and self compassion, her art has allowed her to create space for artistic expression and build community through connection.


Visit her website:  nataliefuentesaleman.com

  Barb Benstein

Barb Bensteinís love of art started at an early age. Mostly self-taught, she specializes in detailed pastel paintings of people and pets, as well as homes and landscapes. After working as a graphic artist for 10 years, Barb began painting full-time in 1993. Painting with pastels has always been her favorite medium. She loves the vibrancy of the colors and the richness of the texture when applied to sand paper. Barb has won many awards. Her commissioned paintings hang in Germany, Japan and Canada as well as throughout the United States.


Visit her website:  www.artworkbybarb.com

  Cheryl Cook

"Cookie" can't remember when she was not drawing or painting. Directly out of college she began her career working for Hallmark in Kansas City designing, illustrating and sculpting. After moving to Chicago she worked for ad agencies and packaging companies as well as drawing courtroom sketches for the Chicago Tribune and now CBS. Cookie loves working with fellow artists to share the lessons learned by a lifetime of study. Continually inspired by other artists makes teaching exciting and an on going learning experience for both student and teacher.

  Claire Desfor
Claire is an artist of many media; always looking to learn new processes and grow through experimentation. Claire began her studies of fine art at Mainstreet Art Center as a child, and continued to cultivate her skills through college. Having majored in sculpture at the Milwaukee Institute of Art, she currently runs a mixed-media studio practice. Claire has always been a curious learner, and now challenges herself to inspire that same dedication in her students. She has worked with people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, and looks forward to the future where she hopes to meld her passion for art, teaching, and exploration, into a strong art therapy practice.

  Jan Oswald
Jan Oswald majored in art and early childcare education.  She taught art and music at the YMCA in Highland Park and has been teaching pre-school for over 25 years.  Pursuing her love of oil painting has become a major focus in recent years.  She works regularly in her own home studio, where many paintings are waiting their final touch. Jan has been teaching drawing and painting to children at Mainstreet Art Center for several years.

  Susan Ploughe
Susan Ploughe is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, with a BFA in Painting.  She worked many years as an illustrator and graphic designer.  As a full time artist, she is represented by several galleries.  She is a member of the Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of Chicago and the Portrait Society of America.

Visit her website:  www.susanploughe.com

  Dale Popovich
Dale Popovich is an award-winning watercolorist and teacher who is passionate about capturing the raw beauty of the American landscape with the fluid stroke of a brush.  He trained at The American Academy of Art in Chicago with Irving Shapiro and was deeply inspired by this great American twentieth-century watercolorist.  Later Dale taught for many years at the American Academy of Art and the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts

Visit his website:  www.dalepopovich.com  or check out his YouTube videos

  Karen Sako

Karen Sako is a graphic designer with a BFA in Visual Communications from the Illinois Institute of Art.  While her 'real job' now keeps her busy in the realm of web design, her true love is oil painting and she spends much of her free time creating mixed media pet portraits.  Karen has been sharing her infectious love of art with students in the Chicago area for over half her life.

Visit her website:  http://sakostudios.com

  Linda Vice

Linda's inspiration as an artist arises from the idea that an artist can see something meaningful, fascinating or moving in life and can recreate the beauty or express those emotions on canvas.  She has studied and attended workshops at the Palette & Chicago Academy of Fine Arts with multiple renowned artists and instructors. She is a member of the Plein Air Painters of Chicago, former member of the board of directors at the Palette & Chisel, member of the Highland Park Art League and the American Impressionist Society.

Visit her website:  www.lindavicefineart.com

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