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

Frank Barbalace, guitarist
Frank performs music each week at Northwestern’s Lurie Cancer Center and at Prentice Women’s Hospital’s Maggie Daley Cancer Center. Frank is a long time Chicago area guitarist, known for his work with local bands Jinx and Trillion. In addition to working with Caring Arts, Frank teaches guitar and continues to write music. He lives in Chicago with his wife and son.
  Frank Barbalace
Katy Gillan, violinist    
Katy Gillan, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, moved to Houston, Texas, and began playing the violin at the age of six. After graduating from Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Katy moved to Boston, MA to continue her music education. Katy received her Bachelor of Music Degree and Graduate Performance Diploma in Violin Performance from The Boston Conservatory. While in Boston, Katy played with the Boston Ballet Orchestra, Emmanuel Music of Boston, and The Orchestra of Indian Hill. In 2008, Katy moved to Lubbock, TX, and was Associate Concertmaster of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra from 2008-2009. In 2009, Katy moved to Midland, TX, and from 2009-2012, she served as Principal Second Violin in the Midland Odessa Symphony and Second Violinist in the Permian Basin String Quartet. In 2012, Katy relocated to Illinois where she is currently teaching and performing. Katy is a private violin instructor at Neuqua Valley High School and Addison Trail High School. Katy performs with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Renovo String Orchestra, and Cloud Gate String Quartet.   Katy Gillan
Elen Lustig, artist    
Ellen began drawing caricatures professionally at age 16. She entertains as a caricaturist at trade shows, corporate and private events, cruises, nursing homes, children’s hospitals, and charity functions. Engaging, personable, and witty, she is quick to strike up a rapport with subjects, putting them at ease. Ellen studied art formally at several art schools and universities across the country. She has exhibited paintings and sculptures in top national galleries and group museum shows. Along with her caricature business, she paints custom murals., from whimsical children’s rooms to Trompe L’oeil illusions and architectural painting. Currently, she also has a puppet making business where she creates caricature hand puppets from a photo. Ellen also plays piano, performing at Kingston Mines and other venues in Chicago. She has worked with Caring Artist on and off for many years, providing healing arts and craft projects for oncology outpatients.   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
Olivia Ports, singer-songwriter    
Olivia is a singer/songwriter and guitarist from the western suburbs of Chicago. She has been a patient and advocate at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital since 2015, where she was first introduced to Caring Arts. She has served as a member of the hospital’s Kids Advisory Board and an advocate for the Immune Deficiency Foundation, where she spoke at our nation’s capitol in Washington, D.C. Her passion lies in helping others discover their creativity through the healing aspects of music and the arts, just as she has.    Olivia Ports
Brooke Rogerson, artist    
Originally from the Seattle area, Brooke studied art education at College of DuPage before moving to Pennsylvania. She has a special interest in Japanese art, culture and animation. She returned to the Chicago area in late 2017 and began working with Caring Arts soon after.   Brooke Rogerson
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), as well as at other hospitals for adult patients. He uses humor and music to engage patients, and has inspired a number of children he’s met to take up, or continue, their own musical studies. 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. Bill later toured with Scotti Bros. recording artists, Survivor. He also played bass on Survivor’s “Too Hot to Sleep” and their “Greatest Hits” albums. He has performed on countless albums as a session bassist. Today Bill is bandleader for the popular Chicago R&B band, R-Gang, as well as for the band Classical Blast. Bill also is a published songwriter.   Bill Syniar
Lucas Wesoloski, artist    
Lucas, a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University, will be joining our team while he attends Nursing School at the University of Illinois Chicago. While at Vanderbilt, Luc served as a counselor and camp director for Camp Kesem, a nationwide community, driven by passionate college student leaders, that supports children through and beyond their parents' cancer. As a cancer survivor, he knows all too well the importance of self-expression and art in the healing process. Ever since he was a kid he has loved all forms of art -- painting, drawing, sculpting, etc. He will be helping Caring Arts while he pursues his masters studies at UIC and a his career as a Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in the Chicagoland Area.   Lucas Wesoloski
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.”
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