Caring Arts

Our Artists
Our Artists
Caring Arts artists are all top professionals in their field. We train them to work with cancer patients in a hospital environment, and they are also required to  complete Volunteer Training at each facility.

“Your artists treat children like they aren’t sick, which I believe is healing in itself.”

— Renae Garcevic, cancer patient’s mom

“I'm glad we are better able to utilize your artists’ talents. The kids love painting and quite a few adults have gotten involved as well. The clinic can be such a long day for these families and your connection with them helps them get through. I really appreciate your organization. You help create another dimension for our families when they are at the hospital.”

— Sarah Karela, Oncology Social Worker
Comer Children’s Hospital

Petar Kecenovici, cellist    
Cellist Petar Kecenovici teamed up with Bill Syniar to perform music for adult cancer patients as part of the Caring Arts Foundation’s programming. He performs on alternating weeks at Rush Cancer Center and at University of Chicago Hospitals, as well as for many of the foundation’s events. Hailing from a musical family in Romania, Petar has studied music since the age of 3. His mother is a concert cellist there and his maternal grandparents are choir masters in Hungary. Petar came to the United States in 2003, first moving to Florida, to continue his studies. Petar has toured and performed with such notable artists as Andrea Bocelli, Dennis DeYoung (Styx), Randy Jackson, Jordin Sparks, and Clay Aiken, as well as with groups Cheap Trick, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Steamroller, il Divo and many others. He has performed at Downtown Disney in Orlando and for Broadway shows “The Lion King” and “The Color Purple.” Since moving to Chicago in 2011, Petar has been bandleader for Classical Blast, a quartet which performs classic rock music on classical instruments.
  Petar Kecenovici
Ellen Lustig, caricaturist & fine artist    
Ellen Lustig has worked with the Caring Arts Foundation since 2003, facilitating art projects weekly at Children’s Hospital and leading special craft workshops for adult patients at University of Chicago’s Radiology Oncology unit. She began drawing caricatures professionally at age 16. Ellen entertains as a caricaturist at corporate events, cruises, nursing homes, children’s hospitals, and charity functions. Engaging, personable, and witty, she is quick to strike up a rapport with her subjects to put them at ease. The results allow for a fun-filled, often times hilarious experience for all. As a result of her many years in this profession and multifaceted artistic skill, she is considered one of the top caricaturists in the Chicago area. She studied art formally at several art schools and universities across the country. Ellen has exhibited paintings and sculptures in national galleries and group museum shows and was interviewed on a Chicago tv talk show where she discussed her art. Along with her caricature business, she also paints custom murals, which vary from whimsical children’s rooms to Trompe L’oeil illusions and architectural painting. She was sponsored by the Caring Arts Foundation to create a mural for Gilda’s Club Chicago’s Outreach Facility at the Creticos Cancer Center on Chicago’s north side. Currently, Ellen has a puppet making business where she creates caricature hand puppets from a photo.
  Ellen Lustig
Jordi Pedrola, painter    
Jordi Pedrola was born in the city of Barcelona, Spain. He attended the University of Barcelona, graduating in 1992 with a degree in Fine Art, and later studied under a fellowship at the Winchester School of Art in the south of England. He spent a summer in Venice and Padua studying the medieval murals of these Italian cities. An international internship awarded by the John David Mooney Foundation brought Jordi to the U.S. in 1995. He was also awarded a Loredo Taft Fellowship in 1996. Jordi has exhibited his paintings in Spain, Italy, New York, Chicago and the west coast. His work was part of a 2006 special exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry entitled, “The Abstract Mind: Art Exploring Individuals Living with Mental Illness.” His paintings are part of the permanent collections of The Molins de Rei Museum in Barcelona, Valencian Government Museum Collections, The Khalif Burj Tower in Dubai and The Muskegan Museum of Art. He has been featured in major design Magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. Our first working artist, Jordi has worked with Caring Arts since 2001. He was awarded the Foundation’s Mary L. Weigand Award in 2010 for his outstanding work with cancer patients of all ages. Jordi facilitates painting for the Caring Arts program at Lurie Children’s Hospital; University of Chicago Hospitals; Rush University Hospital; and at Gilda’s Club Chicago.
  Jordi Pedrola
Bill Syniar, guitarist    
Since 2002, Bill Syniar has performed interactive music weekly for pediatric cancer patients at Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s Hospital) on behalf of the Caring Arts Foundation. He uses humor and music to engage the children, and has inspired a number of them to take up, or continue, their own musical studies. In 2012, he began partnering with cellist, Petar Kecenovici, in performing music for adult cancer patients at Rush Cancer Center and University of Chicago Hospitals. A bass player and songwriter from Oak Park, Bill co-founded the Chicago-area recording group Tantrum in 1978. The band performed at major arenas and toured extensively across the U.S., producing three albums on the Ovation label. He later joined Alan Hewitt & 88, an all original pop band that made two appearances on the nationally syndicated television show “Star Search” during its premier season. Bill then toured with Scotti Bros. recording artists, Survivor. He also played bass on Survivor’s “Too Hot to Sleep” and their “Greatest Hits” albums. Today Bill is bandleader for the popular Chicago R&B band, R-Gang. R-Gang was the official Chicago Bears band and has performed regularly at White Sox, Cubs and Bulls games, as well as for major corporations, fests and private events throughout the region. Bill also is a published songwriter. He has co-written music for the Doobie Bros., songs for former Kansas vocalist Steve Walsh and for rock bands Mecca, White Cross, and others. He has played bass on countless recording projects.
  Bill Syniar
Photos to Remember    
Caring Arts Foundation volunteers—and family photographers—Ray, Sharon, and Jennifer Weigand, of Photos to Remember, have been capturing the smiles and spirit of children living with cancer since 2011. With 75 collective years of experience behind them—Ray and Sharon have been interested in photography for 35 years and Jennifer for five—the trio are skilled in warming up even the most camera-shy subject, producing captivating photos. The Weigands generously share their expertise and love of photography with the Caring Arts Foundation by setting up an impromptu photography studio each quarter at Lurie Children’s Hospital (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital). This family of photographers operates each makeshift studio like a fine-oiled machine: Jennifer takes most of the photos; Ray, the technical specialist, manages set up and post processing; and Sharon keeps the three of them organized while orchestrating posing, producing props, and eliciting smiles. When they’re not helping children and their parents escape the reality of living daily with cancer, Jennifer and Sharon continue their love of working with children as pre-school teachers. Ray is a quality assurance (QA)/quality control (QC) manager at a manufacturing site that supplies chromatography supplies to a wide range of industries. Ray and Sharon have 4 other children, in addition to Jennifer, and are proud grandparents. “Working with children, especially those at Children’s Hospital, is a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Our goal is to allow the children and their parents to escape the reality of their situation, if only for a moment.”
© 2016 Caring Arts Foundation, all rights reserved