Wait Until You See What I’ve Got!

It was a cold and blustery night in Chicago last evening. The forecast had been so bad that many schools notified students and their families that they would be closed for the day, before the snowstorm started. Many guests at the regular Tuesday Night Supper walked in chilled and bundled head to toe in coats, scarves and gloves, understandably weary from facing the elements all day.

But not Kurt J. He walked into the Tuesday Night Supper with his jacket open, snow covering his hat and his face wet with melting snow. He smiled from ear to ear and his eyes were full of joyful expression as he walked up to the ASV volunteers near the doorway. He threw his arms open wide and said, “Wait until you see what I’ve got!” as he placed his camera down on the table. Kurt continued, “I just finished my roll of film today, taking pictures in the snow. You would not think there were great things to see today but there were. There really were. I can’t wait to see my pictures. I can’t wait for all of you to see my pictures.”

The volunteers quickly replied, “Kurt, we can’t wait to see them too.” And they meant it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mark Your Calendars For The 2013 ASV Photo Exhibition

Save The Dates: The 2013 ASV Photo Exhibition will take place on Friday, June 7th, from 5-7pm and on Saturday, June 8th, from 1-3PM in Vincent Hall of Catholic Charities headquarters, 721 N. LaSalle Street in Chicago.

Seventeen artists already have chosen the prints they will feature in this year’s exhibition. Included are brilliant photos of some of Chicago’s world-famous landmarks, some taken from engaging new angles never seen before in the ASV program. Also included are gorgeous moments of birds in flight over a frozen, glistening Lake Michigan, vibrant still photos of flowers and foliage, with color and detail that virtually leap off the page. You also won’t want to miss seeing one especially-intriguing, incredibly imaginative photo of Chicago, taken from the inside of a subway train. And there is much more yet to come!

The photographers this year have shown a sincere dedication to achieving bold, new standards for creative success. Their zeal is contagious and it sets the stage for a high-impact exhibit that will raise the bar on what can be achieved this year.

The 2013 ASV Photo Exhibition on June 7th and 8th: “Eleven Years Developing Film, Talent and Hope.” Please join us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ASV Update

The “After Supper Visions” program continues to gain momentum this month. Last evening, seven artists turned their disposable cameras in, to be developed. Another five artists got to look at their prints, just back from being developed. Over a dozen artists have chosen their final prints that will be enlarged and framed in anticipation of the ASV 2013 Exhibition on June 7th and 8th.
With more dinner guests participating than ever this year, this eleventh annual exhibition promises to be the largest and most impressive yet. Longtime volunteers continue to marvel at how this year’s photographers are capturing some of Chicago’s most famous landmarks in new and innovative ways. As one volunteer recently said, “That’s what makes this program so unique. The sky’s the limit, as ASV artists challenge themselves to new heights of creativity each year. Even in these grey days of winter, the prints coming back for the artists are amazing. Just beautiful photographic artwork.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Incredible Winter of Discovery For ASV Artists

Many people lament this time of year, with daylight at a minimum and the prospect of warmth at least six weeks away. But for many ASV artists, this is a fantastic time of year, to capture the peace, serenity and beauty of winter, and of life, on film.

More cameras are being turned in each week and, as the film comes back, the photographers eagerly sit down to see their prints and start selecting what photos they would like to feature in the ASV 2013 Exhibition, on June 7th and 8th. (Photographers who are new to the program choose three photos; returning photographers choose four.) Catholic Charities volunteers have the greatest admiration and respect for the camaderie that spontaneously emerges, as the artists share their photos with one another, offering encouragement and practical suggestions on how to take creative, original photos.

Ray B. is an artist who has been part of the ASV program for five years. He is one of the most accomplished photographers in the program, and he is one of the most generous, always willing to offer his time and support to new artists. Ray has created an impressive portfolio of his work, and he is a true inspiration to others, in the way that he challenges himself to new levels of creativity each year. Just look at the image below, one of Ray’s newest photos that he has allowed us to share with you today. It is a thrill for everyone involved in ASV to watch artists like Ray find their artistic imagination and innovative intuition through the lens of their cameras.

wine glasses

Poet Robert Frost once said, “You can’t get too much winter in the winter,” and we agree. We applaud the ASV aritsts who are making this winter a time of immense discovery.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ASV Year In Review

As New Year’s celebrations begin around the world today, the ASV program of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago pauses to reflect on how it has evolved over the past decade, and summarize the developments of this year:

“Ten Years Developing Film, Talent and Hope”                          2003             2012

Number of artists participating in the photo exhibition               17                59
Number of gallery shows                                                                      1                   3
Number of photos taken                                                                    408            1,416+
Number of photos framed                                                                   51                200

Over the past ten years, 245 artists have sold over $100,000 worth of photos; more than 23,000 photos have been taken. Hundreds of lives have been changed. Some artists have earned enough from the program to put security deposits on apartments, begin to pay tuition at community colleges, buy a computer and become employed as photographers.

The goal of the program continues to be providing an opportunity for Tuesday Night Supper guests to find enjoyment and satisfaction, while earning income as they develop their creative talents as photographers. Those who attend the photo art exhibition each June also benefit from meeting the artists and discussing photography, and life with them. The intention is for ASV to be a positive, uplifting experience for all, from the time the disposable cameras are handed out in September through the completion of the exhibit each June.

In 2012, there has been an inspiring surge in the number of business leaders in Chicago’s corporate community that have purchased ASV prints for display in their homes and in their professional lobbies, conference rooms and personal offices. ASV artists also have been very grateful for the compensation they receive from the increased sale of online note cards and holiday cards featuring their artwork.

Those who visit this website regularly comment that they are particularly moved by the “Quotes From The Artists” page (see above).

Fr. Wayne Watts agrees about the universal appeal of this program. He says, “Appreciating art, finding interesting, beautiful things in the world and helping others help themselves. This is what ‘After Supper Visions’ is all about. These are things people everywhere can believe in.”

As ASV concludes “Ten Years Developing Film, Talent and Hope,” we thank the many individuals and corporate sponsors who have supported this program over the past decade, and look forward to the many possibilities for growth and discovery that still lie ahead. ASV is one of hundreds of programs that Catholic Charities has operated for 95 years, affirming the dignity and talents of every person, helping them strive for self-sufficiency.

We invite you to stay with the ASV website into the New Year, as the 2013 ASV Exhibition approaches (on June 7th and 8th) and as our online sale of note cards and photo prints continues. Happy New Year!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Christmas In June

In this season of good will and charity, we would be remiss if we did not share a story of great generosity that occurred in the ASV program this year. In fact, you might say that Christmas came in June, because of a tremendous act of kindness towards the artists in the 2012 ASV Exhibition.

Hundreds of art enthusiasts from all over Chicago came to the ASV photo exhibit on June 22nd, and one was especially inspired. Maril Gagen MacDonald, founder and CEO of Gagen MacDonald communication consultants (gagenmacdonald.com), strolled through the gallery and was deeply moved by how striking and beautiful the photography artwork was. She recalls, “I spoke with many of the artists at the exhibition and thought to myself, ‘How articulate and full of possibility each one of these artists is!’ This program is a beautiful example of human possibility.”

Ms. Gagen MacDonald was so impressed that she bought one print (at $100 apiece) from each of the fifty-seven artists in the show.

When asked why she decided to extend herself so charitably, Ms. Gagen MacDonald says, “I simply had a real desire to affirm what each of the artists was doing. I wanted to honor each person who had put himself or herself out there.” She continues, “What impressed me most was the fact that something as simple as a disposable camera inspired so much creativity in someone. The photos I saw at this exhibit were quite comparable to anything I see in other galleries around the city.”

Ms. Gagen MacDonald was especially affected by one of the conversations she had. “In one case,” she remembers, “I spoke with an artist who took a picture of geese near a pond. He told me a remarkable story about the photo. He said he was in a complete state of despair…he was just staring at the geese…and he remembered he had the (ASV) camera in his pocket. He said to me, ‘Snapping that photo snapped me back into life; snapping that photo made me intentional and with purpose about the rest of the photos that I took.’”

“When you think about it,” Ms. Gagen MacDonald explains, “the After Supper Visions program is really a metaphor for our own lives; we each have the power to do something meaningful every single day. We just have to choose to see it that way. The artists have trained their lenses around what is good or thought-provoking…they have put a shine on what is good in the world and their photos inspire us to do the same.”

Maril and Katie 005

Maril Gagen MacDonald, with Catholic Charities Project Director Katie Tuten

Catholic Charities and everyone associated with ASV is profoundly grateful to Ms. Gagen MacDonald, for her extraordinary support of the artists and this program.

If you are considering making end-of-the-year donations to worthy endeavors, please consider the “After Supper Visions” program. A great deal of progress has been made over the past ten years, but for many ASV photographers, managing the most basic aspects of everyday life continues to be an enormous challenge. Donations can be sent to Kathy Donahue, Catholic Charities, 721 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60654, or contact Kathy at kdonahue@catholiccharities.net. Checks should be made out to Catholic Charities. Thank you very much.

The ASV Year In Review, coming Monday.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ASV Photo Team Member Jody O’Connor Honored By Catholic Charities

ASV Founding Member Jody O’Connor was honored recently at the 95th Annual Meeting of its Board of Advisors of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Ms. O’Connor, a wife, mother of six, owner of Jody O’Connor Photography and Board of Advisors member, was given the Dennis F. Kelly Award by Monsignor Michael M. Boland, Administrator, President and CEO of Catholic Charities, for her extraordinary dedication to the ASV program. She has been coming to the Tuesday Night Suppers for ten years, working with supper guests and other volunteer members of the ASV Photo Team to create the ASV Photo Exhibition each June. Ms. O’Connor’s warmth, sincerity and expertise in photography have helped hundreds of Catholic Charities clients discover their creativity, grow in confidence and develop their talents as photographers.

Named after the first president of Catholic Charities, the Dennis F. Kelly Award is given periodically to a member of the Board of Advisors in recognition of his or her outstanding service and witness to the mission of Catholic Charities as active lay women and men in the Church.

All who work with Ms. O’Connor truly are inspired by her, and wish her the heartiest congratulations on receiving this award.

photoJody O’Connor, with her husband Matt at the 95th Annual Board of Advisors Meeting.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Holiday Season Brings Joy, New Photos To The ASV Program

The ASV program continues at a busy pace throughout the holiday season. New artists are  welcomed in to the program each week, while some artists have already turned their cameras in, after taking their full roll of film, so the photos can be developed. As the pictures come back, and the ASV volunteers start to sit down with the artists, to look at them together, wonderful new things have happened. In one case, Jody O’Connor was amazed to see how creative one returning artist was this Fall. Jody explains, “This artist said to me, ‘I tried very hard to take your suggestion and challenge myself to see things differently and take new kinds of photos.’ And he really did! He took some incredible shots of the Chicago Marathon, he has a beautiful photo of the Chicago river,with the cityscape behind it, and he took a breathtaking still-life floral photo. It is fantastic to see how far he has come as a photographer.” The volunteers look forward to seeing what all  the artists capture on film, now and into the New Year.

CCTuesdayNightDinner121112 001

ASV Program members Maureen Kelley (left) and Katie Tuten look over photos with a photographer in the program.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sagence Group Inc. Purchases ASV Photos For Use In Its New Office Decor

ASV photos continue to have a growing impact in the corporate community of Chicago. The most recent Chicago business purchasing a collection of ASV prints is Sagence Group Inc., a management advisory firm with an international client base that focuses on assisting clients with managing their data as an asset (sagencegroup.com).

Sagence Group generously purchased fourteen ASV prints, in varying sizes, and recently held an Open House for its employees, where the prints were unveiled. In a letter describing their new office space, and their experience with the ASV program, Chief Executive Officer Bruce Quade and Partner Marisela Lawson explain, “We knew we wanted the art to have a connection to Chicago and the community. The artists from After Supper Visions have captured images of Chicago that are unique, engaging, and professional. Our employees and clients have all commented on how much they appreciate the pieces.” Leesa Quade, wife of Bruce Quaid, adds, “I cannot express how beautiful they (the prints) look. We are thrilled to have the ASV prints as part of Sagence’s collection.”

The artists behind the fourteen prints were all compensated for the sale of their artwork. In addition, the ASV program now has even greater visibility in downtown Chicago. Our sincere thanks to the Management Team of Sagence Group, for its great generosity, seeing the beauty in the ASV artwork, and affirming the artists’ confidence in themselves.

sagence group


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Students Inspired By ASV Artists

Three students from the University of Notre Dame visited the Catholic Charities Tuesday Night Supper recently. They interviewed three artists and gathered information about the ASV program, as part of a class assignment for a Film Studies class they are taking. They were especially inspired by photographer Amie D., who was willing to share her photos and discuss her experiences in the ASV program, while she sketched beautiful artwork on a blank piece of paper. What a talented artist Amie is! Best wishes to Nicole, Erin and Elizabeth (seen here with Amie) as they continue their own work in Film Studies and art.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment