This is the second installment of our interview series with the talented folks that make up our Board of Directors. If you missed the first, go back and read Roxy Piersanti’s. She’s a kickass CPS arts teacher and champion of IPaintMyMind’s mission.
Josh Hoekwater is another superb part of our core team, and our next featured interview. He is a Chicago transplant and digital agency leader, who contributes to our site design, as well as advising on our growth process. Josh is passionate about access to quality arts education for all.
Lillie Therieau: What about IPaintMyMind’s model resonates with you the most?
Josh Hoekwater: It truly is a model where everyone on the wheel of impact really benefits. Artists actually get paid for their work, businesses benefit from a great service and high-touch customer service, and teachers and students obviously benefit from the free exhibitions and curriculum support provided. The fact that our primary revenue source is self-sustaining, rather than going hat in hand to wealthy donors or relying on grassroots microdonations to stay afloat, I think makes us unique and really sets an example for other non-profits
Lillie Therieau: What is the most challenging part about working for a non-profit?
Josh Hoekwater: As a volunteer board member, it’s just hard to juggle with the rest of my family and career responsibilities. I see so much potential for where we can take this and for the impact we can have. But for all of us, time is the most limited resource, which means we all try to be really smart and focused on the things we’re best equipped to do to support the organization and move us forward
Lillie Therieau: What’s your relationship like with Chicago? Have you/do you currently live here? What do you love about the city?
Josh Hoekwater: I’ve always had a ton of love for Chicago, but cumulatively, I’ve only actually lived here for 7 years of my life, having spent most of my childhood in Grand Rapids, MI, and the first 12 years after college in Boston. Since moving back here in 2014, I’ve just developed such a deeper appreciation for the city and all its flavor. There’s so much to love about the city. I love eating all over the city — from taquerias in Rogers Park or Pilsen to Jimmy’s sausages to Parson’s or Mini Mott in Logan Square.
Before the pandemic, I also loved getting out for music, sports and theater. I share Cubs season tickets with a bunch of other folks and I try to get down to see a couple White Sox games when my Red Sox are in town and whenever there are soccer matches at Soldier Field, we try to go. We get out to see shows as often as we can — from Northerly Island to the Vic to Thalia Hall to Rosa’s Lounge. We also spend a lot of time exploring different parks and forest preserves around the city and spend lots of time at the beach in Rogers Park.
Lillie Therieau: What do you wish your art education had looked like as a child?
Josh Hoekwater: I was actually really fortunate to have grown up in a school where art education was part of the curriculum throughout. My art teachers — Mrs. Klaasen in elementary school and Mrs. Potts in high school — definitely cared about teaching us different techniques and mediums and were very encouraging. Especially in high school, I received a lot of encouragement to pursue art seriously and strongly considered art school before ultimately deciding to study music. That said, I went to private, religious schools for most of my childhood, and there was not much (if any) emphasis on diversity of perspectives and representation. So I think that was probably the biggest thing lacking in my art education.
Lillie Therieau: How did you come to be an IPMM board member?
Josh Hoekwater: Evan and I met when my folks owned a coffee shop around the corner from his house and my mom set us up on a blind date of sorts not long after I’d moved to Chicago. We hit it off and became friends and, over time, I found myself more and more drawn to the IPMM mission. I was also looking for a way to be more actively involved in something I cared about outside of my work.
I really decided to try and be more actively involved with IPMM soon after I went to one of our last gallery shows we had at the Green Exchange building. It featured work by Jay Ryan, alongside prints that kids had made when he’d done a workshop as well as the letters from the kids that said things like “it made me believe in my dream” or “I never knew art could be so cool”. That brought tears to my eyes because I realized how much arts access — something I’d taken for granted my whole life — can really impact the trajectory of a kid’s life. So I jumped in — Ev, Brian and I discussed whether it made sense for me to come onboard as a board member and I was officially added in January of 2018.
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