Who We Are

HCL STAFF


STEVEN WANG

STEVEN WANG

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Steven Wang has over seven years of experience within the consumer packaged goods industry, helping Fortune 500 companies develop and grow their store brands. His passion for opera—and the desire to find ways of getting younger generations involved in the artform—influenced him to pursue his MBA at the University of Cambridge in the UK, specializing in Culture and Arts Management. During his studies, Steven produced a modern interpretation of Dido and Aeneas, and worked as a budgeting consultant for the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. After his program, he assisted the Aldeburgh Music in Suffolk on multiple consulting projects, including a revamp of their marketing message to improve their recruitment strategies for the Aldeburgh World Orchestra. Steven also holds a B.S. in Marketing (Honors) and Economics from Arizona State University.

STEVEN WANG

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

BILLIE HOWARD

BILLIE HOWARD

ARTISTIC PLANNING + ADMINISTRATION MANAGER

Billie Howard is a Chicago-based musician, educator, and arts administrator. She has over twelve years of experience working with non-profits to produce artistic programming and develop audiences across Chicago. She is dedicated to serving artists of all disciplines, helping them bring their ideas to fruition from the ground up. As a violinist and pianist, she frequently works in collaboration, often with one of her groups: NbN Trio (Fall 2012 Sponsored Artists), The Paver, a.pe.ri.od.ic, and Akosuen. She performs frequently with many ensembles including Wrekmeister Harmonies, Bobby Conn, and Chicago Composer’s Orchestra. An active session musician, she has been featured on studio recordings by American Idol winner Lee DeWyze, Grammy-nominated children’s artist Justin Roberts, and many other recording artists. She maintains a large piano studio at Concordia University where she is Adjunct Professor of Piano. Billie holds violin, piano performance, and pedagogy degrees from Northwestern University and Montana State University.

BILLIE HOWARD

ARTISTIC PLANNING + ADMINISTRATION MANAGER

REBECCA HIMELSTEIN

REBECCA HIMELSTEIN

DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR

Rebecca Himelstein is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist and arts programmer. Her work tracks cultural forms and processes understood as normal or natural through repetitive and rule driven interactions with them. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a thesis on race and gender expectations in speech speech synthesis technologies. She is a Music Programming Assistant at Comfort Station Logan square and has recently performed at Archer Beach Haus, Ballroom Projects, and is a Artist in Residence in Chicago Artists Coalition’s 2016-2017 Hatch Program.

REBECCA HIMELSTEIN

DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS


PAUL BOULIS

PAUL BOULIS

CHAIR

Paul S. Boulis is the retired President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois which serves more than seven million Blue Cross and Blue Shield members. As head of Illinois’ largest health insurance company, Mr. Boulis was responsible for all operations including Sales and Marketing, Managed Care Network Operations, Medical Policy, Contracting, Provider Affairs, Government Relations, Public Affairs and Advertising. Mr. Boulis joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois in 1984 following 11.5 years with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in various positions including management of Medicare Part A, Director of Utilization Review and Executive Director of Marketing Services. Prior to being named President of the Illinois Plan, he served as a Vice President and Senior Vice President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois’ National Division for 17 years, growing the company’s national and major accounts business to include more than 400 large employer, government and labor customers. Mr. Boulis served as Chairman of the Board of the Arts and Business Council for 4 of the 9 years he served that organization. He was also a member of the Boards of Directors of Consortium Health Plans, Dental Network of America, Health Insurance Services Corporation and Fort Dearborn Life Insurance Company of New York. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the Chicago Public Education Fund and served on the board of directors for the Griffith Leadership Center at the University of Michigan Graduate School of Public Health. He is a past member of the Associates Board of Directors of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the University of Michigan Program in Health Services Administration Alumni Association. He recently served 3 years on the Board of One Magnificent Mile Condominium Association and 3 years on the Board of Directors of Engaged Health Solutions. He served as an advisory member and chair of the advisory committee that completed the artistic installations on the 26 floors of the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. Mr. Boulis earned a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh; a Master's in Hospital Administration from the University of Michigan; and a one year Fellowship at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

PAUL BOULIS

CHAIR

ROBYN TREM

ROBYN TREM

SECRETARY

Robyn Trem is a Researcher for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She joined the Foundation in 2015 as a Program Assistant to the Arts and Culture in Chicago and the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions (MacArthur Award) programs, before moving into her current Research position in early 2016. Previously, Robyn has worked as an urban educator in Boston (Senior Fellow, AmeriCorps Urban Fellowship) and as the grants coordinator for INTUIT: the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, a Chicago arts non-profit. Professionally Robyn focuses on program development, evaluation, and grant writing; she is dedicated to work that supports understanding and ending institutional racism and urban inequality. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio and a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Chicago. Robyn is a life-long student of the arts.

ROBYN TREM

SECRETARY

CINDY BLIKRE

CINDY BLIKRE

Cindy Blikre has over 20 years of experience in marketing blue-chip brands with a career in global advertising agencies Ogilvy, JWT and Leo Burnett. She spent 16 years of her career at Leo Burnett in account management, including four years as an Executive Vice President/Group Account Director. Passionate about the power of people, creativity and ideas to drive change, Cindy is currently back at Northwestern getting a Master's in Learning and Organizational Change and is continuing to consult in the marketing space. She also has a Master's in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern and an undergraduate degree from the University of North Dakota where she sits on the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

CINDY BLIKRE

SARAH CURRAN

SARAH CURRAN

Sarah Curran is the Programming Director for the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts, where she creates multidisciplinary arts programs to align with the teaching and research mission of Stanford University. Sarah began her career in Chicago, teaching high school theater, and has worked with a variety of arts organizations, including the Tribeca Film Festival, the Martha Graham Dance Company, and the Chicago Humanities Festival. She holds an A.B. from Princeton University, an M.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University.

SARAH CURRAN

MÓNICA MILLÁN

MÓNICA MILLÁN

Mónica is an attorney in Chicago with a passion for the performing arts. For the past four years, she has served as counsel for a Chicago-based aircraft leasing company, managing all aspects of motion practice, discovery, and trial preparation for the company’s complex commercial and criminal litigation. She holds a B.A. in Politics from Princeton University, with Certificates in Latin American Studies and Musical Performance, and a J.D. from the University of Chicago. Throughout her studies, Mónica was actively engaged as a soprano soloist for the University of Chicago Motet Choir, Women’s Chorus, and University Chorus and the Princeton University Chamber Choir and Glee Club.

MÓNICA MILLÁN

KEMPE SCANLAN

KEMPE SCANLAN

As an accomplished designer, sculptor, and business owner, Kempe Scanlan seeks to address issues at the intersection of human behavior and empowerment through product design. He’s the president of KEMPE Clothing, a line of performance wear focused on healthy ways of gender expression for those who find themselves outside of the gender binary of male and female. He’s worked in marketing and nonprofit in Boston, publishing in Charleston, and conceptual design in Chicago. Kempe has a degree in economics from Skidmore College, and a master of design in designed objects from The School at the Art Institute of Chicago. He is from South Carolina and New York, but now calls the Windy City home.

KEMPE SCANLAN

KEVIN SIMMONS

KEVIN SIMMONS

FOUNDER

For more than a decade, Kevin Simmons has worked in Chicago and abroad as a program strategist, project designer, and consultant for diverse cultural, environmental, and philanthropic initiatives. A former AmeriCorps*VISTA member and Site Director for LIFT, he studied housing and education policy at Princeton University, Russian language and Slavic literature at the Nevsky Institute in St. Petersburg, holds a certificate in Conservation Finance from the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, and is an NAI-certified interpretive guide and naturalist. Institutions for which he has worked in development, communications, or program management capacities include the UNDP/Global Environment Facility, Audubon Society, ANAI, ArtBasel (Basel), and the BioMuseo, in collaboration Frank Gehry, Bruce Mau, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). He is a member of the Society for Ethnomusicology, and serves on the boards of The Foundation for National Progress & Mother Jones Magazine, Molly Shanahan / Mad Shak, Opera Omnia, and is the Board Chair of Opera Cabal.

KEVIN SIMMONS

FOUNDER

GWEN SMUDA

GWEN SMUDA

Gwen is a Software Engineer at Wellspring, a Chicago-based technology company that focuses on intellectual property management. Prior to entering software, she worked as a costumer for storefront theaters and filmmakers around Chicago, and interned at the Chicago Weaving School. In 2015 and 2016, Gwen was Chair of the 49th Ward’s Participatory Budgeting Leadership Committee, a volunteer process focused on increasing civic engagement. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Chicago.

GWEN SMUDA

ARTISTIC ADVISORY COUNCIL

High Concept Labs’ Artistic Advisory Council (AAC) is composed of an experienced panel of arts practitioners, critics, writers, and thinkers who work with our staff to guide the artistic direction of our programs. The AAC is instrumental in the selection and growth of the Sponsored Artist Program, making HCL a prime resource for artists who lack the support structures of Chicago’s larger cultural institutions. Council members also recommend artists to the program, devise creative methods and partnerships, and support occasional large-scale creative projects. The AAC provides invaluable contributions in support of HCL’s mission to support working artists and audiences.

MEGHAN MOE BEITIKS

MEGHAN MOE BEITIKS

Video, Performance, Installation

Meghan Moe Beitiks works with associations and disassociations of culture/nature/structure. She analyzes perceptions of ecology though the lenses of site, history, emotions, and her own body in order to produce work that examines relationships with the non-human. The work emerges as video, performance, installation, writing or photography depending on what arises from her process of research and improvisation. She received her BA in Theater Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she studied playwriting, acting, movement and scenic design. She has an MFA in Performance Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied Bio Art, Social Practice, Environmental Chemistry, and performance methodologies. She has presented work in California, Chicago, Brooklyn, Wales, London, Latvia, Australia and Russia. She has been a Fulbright Student Fellow in Theater to Latvia, a MacDowell Colony Fellow, an OxBow LeRoy Neiman Fellow, a Bemis Artist in Residence, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s recipient for the Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists.

MEGHAN MOE BEITIKS

Video, Performance, Installation

SARA BLACK

SARA BLACK

Sculpture/Visual art

Sara Black works broadly as an artist, artist-teacher, arts organizer, and curator. She received her MFA from the University of Chicago in 2006 and is currently Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was a founder of the artist group Material Exchange that was active in Chicago until 2010, working closely with artists John Preus and David Wolf, and has since been engaged in a number of collaborative works with artists Jillian Soto, Raewyn Martyn, Amber Ginburg, Lia Rousset, and others. Her work uses conscious processes of carpentry, wood-working, and repair as a time-based method along with inherited building materials or other exhausted objects as material. This results in works that aim to expose the complex ways in which things and people are suspended in worlds together. In the fall of 2012, Sara and her collaborator J Soto were Sponsored Artists at High Concept Labs, working on the exhibition Two Histories of the World.

SARA BLACK

Sculpture/Visual art

MAJEL CONNERY

MAJEL CONNERY

Music

Majel Connery is co-founder and Executive & Artistic Director of Opera Cabal, an arts think tank for the conjunction of academic and creative work on opera. Connery is a scholar, vocalist, actress, and stage director, and has performed with Opera Cabal and other ensembles. Current and recent collaborations include the world stage premiere of G.F. Haas’s ATTHIS with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (The Kitchen); Hong Kong Graft, co-created with Ken Ueno and Thomas Tsang (recently presented by High Concept Labs); stage direction for Kurt Rohde’s Death With Interruptions; Hecuba and Passionate Pilgrim, albums in progress co-created with Alexander Overington and Oracle Hysterical (Doug and Brad Balliett, and Elliot Cole); and the recent commission of a new opera by Sarah Kirkland Snider for Shara Worden. As a scholar, Connery holds degrees from Princeton University and from the University of Chicago. She recently served as Visiting Assistant Professor and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley, where she was also a fellow at the Townsend Center for the Humanities, and at the Art Research Center. Connery is pleased to serve on the Artistic Advisory Council for High Concept Labs, which has headquartered many of Opera Cabal’s past and current commissions, including works by Caroline Shaw, Lewis Nielson, Elliot Cole, Phyllis Chen, Ken Ueno, Teddy Rankin-Parker, and Alexander Overington.

MAJEL CONNERY

Music

RACHEL ELLISON

RACHEL ELLISON

Performance and Visual arts

Rachel Ellison is an artist, writer, and sculptor of experiences based in Chicago. She served as Manager of Artistic Planning and Administration at High Concept Labs for three years, working closely with the Sponsored Artists and Artistic Advisory Council. Currently she is focused on building Bat Sarah Press, an arts platform that aims to evaluate generative roles religion can play in contemporary life. As an artist, Rachel creates performance-events called Rehearsals for Ways of Being using strategies to rethink, recontextualize, and reperform scenes of everyday life. She has exhibited works at venues across Chicago including The Museum of Contemporary Art and Comfort Station Logan Square and in cities across the US and Canada. Her projects have been featured in Fanzine and on CBC Radio One in Toronto. She received her MFA in Visual Arts from the University of Chicago in 2012.

RACHEL ELLISON

Performance and Visual arts

MARC FROST

MARC FROST

Theater

Marc Frost is an actor, deviser, educator, and native Chicagoan. He has performed and produced work in Brazil, Ireland, Spain, the U.S.A., and the U.K. His company Theater Unspeakable has created and performed three original works, which have toured to Lincoln Center Education in New York City, the Chicago Humanities Festival, and Chicago Children’s Theatre, among other venues. The company’s work has been selected for juried showcases at both the International Performing Arts for Youth and ArtsMidwest booking conferences. Marc also serves as co-Artistic Director of Physical Festival, one of the only international festivals in America dedicated to physical theater. He currently teaches at Columbia College, The School for Theatre Creators and the Chicago High School for the Arts. He graduated with his M.F.A. in Lecoq Based Actor Created Theater from Naropa University in cooperation with the London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA).

MARC FROST

Theater

Sarah Frye

Sarah Frye

Sarah Frye is Programs Manager at the Arts & Business Council of Chicago (A&BC), a service organization that provides board and management support to local nonprofit arts and cultural groups. In her role at A&BC, she is responsible for forging institutional partnerships, consulting with clients, training consultants, developing core programs, setting strategic goals and evaluating program success. Sarah has been at A&BC since 2014, first as a Programs Assistant, then as Coordinator and now in her current position. She has experience in many sectors, formerly working in Government Affairs at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. She received her B.A. from Southern Illinois University with a major in Political Science and a post-baccalaureate degree in Dance at Columbia College Chicago. Sarah is a children’s dance teacher, avid reader, fearless traveler, arts advocate and lover of nature.

Sarah Frye

ANGELIQUE GRANDONE

ANGELIQUE GRANDONE

Theater, Performance

Angelique Grandone is an arts manager focusing on contemporary circus on the stage and in the streets. With a background in theatre making and social justice, she draws upon skills acquired in a wide variety of settings including work as a performer, a doula, a health educator, a community organizer and a production manager. She currently works with the Chicago Park District as the Program and Event Coordinator for Theatre and Performing Arts and the Managing Director of Theater on the Lake Summer Theater Festival.

ANGELIQUE GRANDONE

Theater, Performance

MEIDA MCNEAL

MEIDA MCNEAL

Performance

Meida McNeal is an Independent Artist and Scholar of performance studies, dance and critical ethnography. Dr. McNeal works with the Chicago Park District as Arts & Culture Manager supporting partnerships and programming initiatives across the city’s parks and cultural centers. She is also faculty in Interdisciplinary Arts at Columbia College Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Education. Recent performance projects with Honey Pot Performance (Sponsored Artists at High Concept Labs in 2014) include The Ladies Ring Shout, The Sweet Goddess Project, Price Point, and Juke Cry Hand Clap: A People’s History of House & Chicago Social Culture. HPP’s newest work, Ma(s)king Her, will premiere in April 2016 at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and is supported through residencies with the Arts & Public Life Initiative/University of Chicago and Propeller Fund.

MEIDA MCNEAL

Performance

JULIA A. MILLER

JULIA A. MILLER

Music

Julia A. Miller is a guitarist, composer, improvisor, sound artist, visual artist, curator, and educator. In 2013, Julia received the Meier Achievement Award, an unrestricted grant given for the work of a significant mid­career artist. Since 2014, Julia Miller and Volcano Radar have collaborated with painter Lewis Achenbach on multiple iterations of his Jazz Occurrence Series. In 2015, Julia initiated the Art of the Guitar concert series. Art of the Guitar spans the history of the modern guitar and related instruments from the Renaissance to the present, with a particular focus on the avant­ garde. Art of the Guitar is particularly concerned with a synthesis of styles and techniques, and cross pollination. Julia is pleased to serve on the Curatorial Board of the Ragdale Foundation and on the Advisory Board for High Concept Labs. Julia is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Sound at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and is Guitar Professor at Carthage College in Kenosha. Julia received a DMA in composition from Northwestern University in 2005.

JULIA A. MILLER

Music

STEPHAN MOORE

STEPHAN MOORE

Music, Sound

Stephan Moore's creative work is primarily concerned with the creation and perception of sonic environments, encompassing practices in field recording, physical programming, studio production, audio spatialization, loudspeaker construction and interactive software design, manifesting as sound installations, sound designs and scores for dance and theater productions, solo and group performance works and improvisations, and recordings. As a musician and sound engineer, he toured with the Merce Cunningham Dance company from 2004 to 2010. He was given a 2010 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for his score to choreographer Yanira Castro’s Dark Horse/Black Forest, and a 2013 nomination for his score to The People To Come. He is the President of the American Society for Acoustic Ecology, a member of the Wingspace Design Collective, and an active curator, most recently of the exhibition In the Garden of Sonic Delights at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. Moore holds an MFA in Electronic Art from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D in Electronic Music and Multimedia Composition from Brown University.

STEPHAN MOORE

Music, Sound

JAXON PALLAS

JAXON PALLAS

Multi-discplinary visual arts

Jaxon Pallas is an artist, archivist, curator, and educator primarily concerned with projects at the intersection of the personal, the popular, and the political. His collaborative, community-based projects have been produced and presented nationally and internationally. He was a Sponsored Artist at High Concept Labs in 2011, and a Curatorial Resident with the Chicago Artists’ Coalition’s HATCH program in 2014-2015. He serves as the Manager of Community Engagement and Arts Learning at the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago. His other projects include the Teen Creative Agency at MCA Chicago, and the Institute for Encyclopedic Amalgamation. He earned a MFA from the University of Chicago, BA degrees from Rice University, and certificates from NYU and the European College of Liberal Arts (Berlin).

JAXON PALLAS

Multi-discplinary visual arts

JAVIER RIVERA

JAVIER RIVERA

Theater

Javier Rivera received his BA in Theatre and Education from American University in DC. He completed his MFA in Acting and Directing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2004. As an actor some of his favorite roles include Michael Evans in Dancing at Lughnasa, the wild boy in Wildboy The Musical (world premiere), Daniel in Kissing Fidel (world premiere), and Dr. Caius in The Merry Wives of Windsor. As director he most recently tackled Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba, The Who’s Tommy, and Glengarry Glen Ross (ACTF recommended) for American University’s Department of Performing Arts. Professional directing credits include The Taming of the Shrew for Lean & Hungry Theatre (WAMU/NPR broadcast), and I Am the Gentry (world premiere, Intersections Festival, DC). Javier was awarded with the Princess Grace Faberge Award for Acting in 2003, was inducted into American University’s Hall of Fame in 2004, and received the 2014 Best Actor award at the United Solo Theatre Festival (Theatre Row, NYC) for his original one-man show, Salve Regina: A Coming of GAY Story. Javier is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.

JAVIER RIVERA

Theater

WALKABOUT THEATER COMPANY

WALKABOUT THEATER COMPANY

Theater

Founded in 1999 and dedicated to the production and development of new and arresting theatrical events, Walkabout Theater Company continues its legacy of producing the highest quality of unique performance work. Highlights from its history include The Wild (Steppenwolf Garage Rep), a sumptuous and provocative collaged deconstruction of the work of playwright Charles L. Mee and ancient Dionysian rituals that questioned the savagery and civilization within us all. The sold-out production at Steppenwolf was made possible and developed through a residency at High Concept Labs and was met with critical and artistic acclaim: “A daring, stunningly surreal ritualistic feast,” “altogether brilliant,” “a monumental work,” and “a wild ride, indeed,”. The Wild was highly recommended by TimeOut and the Sun-Times and received three stars from the Chicago Tribune, and is currently touring. A summer spectacle interpretation of The Wild, renamed Wild Summer, was presented through partnership with the Chicago Parks District Night Out in the Parks programming in August 2015. In 2014 Beach Party at the End of the World—a flash mob, guerrilla beach-party spectacle created by the Walkabout ensemble, 5 Chicago choreographers and 40 performers—performed over three weekends at 7 Chicago beaches up and down the shore of Lake Michigan. Walkabout Theater’s ensemble is comprised of ten multi-disciplinary artists that live and work in Chicago. Artists Nigel Brown, McCambridge Dowd-Whipple, Al Evangelista, Cooper Forsman, Dina Marie Klahn, Katie Mazzini, Kendra Miller, Dana Murphy, Thom Pasculli and Paul Scudder train and practice together in a laboratory theatre setting. The ensemble leads monthly Open Trainings, inviting fellow Chicago theatre artists to participate in Walkabout’s physical artistic practice.

WALKABOUT THEATER COMPANY

Theater

PHILIP WHITE

PHILIP WHITE

Music

Composer, performer and improviser Philip White works with electronics at the intersection of noise, jazz and contemporary concert music. Current music projects include R WE WHO R WE (with Ted Hearne) and duos with Chris Pitsiokos, Paula Matthusen, Bob Bellerue, and Taylor Levine. He collaborates with Ralph Lemon, Nora Chipaumire, and Urban Bush Women. His music has been released on Carrier Records, New Focus Recordings, Infrequent Seams and Tape Drift Records. It has been described as “utterly gripping” (Time Out Chicago), “bona fide evocative music” (Brooklyn Rail), and a “vibrant textural tapestry” (Wall Street Journal).

PHILIP WHITE

Music

ZACHARY WHITTENBURG

ZACHARY WHITTENBURG

Dance

Zachary Whittenburg spent ten years as a professional dancer with companies including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, BJM Danse Montréal, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. He then returned to Chicago to work as a freelance performer, choreographer, and teacher. As a reporter and critic, Whittenburg has written for numerous print and online publications, contributes regularly to Dance Magazine, is a panelist and guest speaker, and tweets @trailerpilot about contemporary culture and the performing arts. He returned to Hubbard Street in 2012 as manager of communication, currently represents the company on the Chicago Dancemakers Forum consortium (CDF), is a member of the executive committee for the Chicago Dance History Project, and has hosted Cultural Conversations and CDF Works in Progress at High Concept Labs.

ZACHARY WHITTENBURG

Dance