Ahh, the dream of the do-it-yourselfer: So many of my inexperienced yet ambitious friends talk about going solo when painting their kitchens or redesigning their condos. I belong to that bunch, and tried my hand at painting my own place with so-so results. I hoped to feel a sense of accomplishment, save some bucks and learn something new, which I did. But I also ended up with some splotchy spots and uneven edges along the ceiling, a glaring mess to the trained eye.
I definitely learned that if your budget allows, a professionally painted wall or room will look and feel completely different than a beginner's attempt at a deceivingly difficult job.
Daylene Christensen is one of those young, experienced painters and muralists whose focus on self-realization and contentment comes through in both her personal art and in a kitchen that needs a lift. She believes in the power of your surroundings to affect your daily happiness. Christensen has taught painting and drawing for six years and now works independently all around the city and suburbs. We met for Tea @ 3 at one of her favorite places, Handlebar, and Christensen enlightened me with a clear view of her Chicago.
If I were to come to your neighborhood, where would you insist I visit?
I live on the way West Side, so there's not a ton of places to go. But Caffe Italia has the best espresso I've ever had in Chicago; it's a blend of Colombian, Italian and Romanian beans roasted right there in the cafe. It's a European-style cafe so there's no regular coffee, just the serious stuff.
Best Chicago-related advice you've ever given?
It's just too cold to swim in the lake until September. People swim way too early in the year, and so I always try to tell them to hold on, wait a while, and it will be so much better at the end of summer.
Favorite place to see an art show?
There are always so many new galleries coming up, so I try to explore them all and not be too narrow. 40000 is a great new gallery and Donald Young remains a longtime favorite. I'm also a devotee of Rhona Hoffman Gallery and moniquemeloche.
Who do you know that our readers should know?
There are so many great artists in the city: Kerry James Marshall is one amazing example. I studied advanced painting with him at UIC. Also Janell Cox, the Assistant Director at Moksha Yoga, has taught me so much. She's also a sketch comedian who has performed with Dry Hump Sketch Comedy.
Drink that proves the wonders of alcohol, and your favorite place to drink it?
I prefer just a glass of great wine and nonsmoking alternatives like Vintage Wine Bar on Division. I'm also a fan of the bar next to Letizia's, Enoteca Roma Winebar.
Favorite vegetarian restaurant in town?
Handlebar, which also has a great little bar and has been smoke-free since it opened; they make amazing collard greens. I also love Karyn's Raw on Halsted.
After a long day of work, where do you unwind?
I do yoga at Moksha Yoga. I've been working there just under a year but have been practicing yoga about two years for two hours every day; it's a huge part of my life.
Contact Daylene for custom paint jobs at: dchrist79 at hotmail.com.