Participants drew inspiration from animal artifacts.

Bright yellow leaves from a gingko tree wrapped around a maple twig make a fine paintbrush. So do sprays of pine needles. Young and old discovered ways to mingle natural beauty with human creativity at “Art in Nature,” one of the many programs of the month-long community art event, “The Big Draw Evanston.”

This one, on the morning of Oct. 15, took place at the Ecology Center and was aligned with the center’s mission of connecting people with nature. Participants could take a walk through the Ladd Arboretum, just outside the doors, to draw their inspiration, or could check out the pets and pelts in the new classroom.

Jennifer Drake said making the leaf-stick paintbrushes with the children was “something fun to do.” Sarah Price said she had taken her children to participate in making a peace flag at Curt’s Café. That event, the one at the Ecology Center and others she had attended, she said, “are similar in that they bring community members together to do art.”

The Big Draw Evanston is this community’s foray into a worldwide community-art program that started in London more than 10 years ago and now exists in more than 25 countries around the globe.

Elory Rozner, event founder and producer of The Big Draw Evanston, greeted visitors to the Ecology enter on Oct. 15 and showed them various ways to connect and create. 

“I think it’s nice to see people being willing to come out to a public space, to be in community, to make art and to have conversation,” she told the RoundTable.

Erika Doroghazi, program coordinator at the Ecology Center, said about 35 people had come to the event by halfway through the morning. “We’re happy to see people out,” she told the RoundTable.

One thing that Ms. Rozner said has been surprising is “who comes to any given program.” As an example, she said she expected that about 90% of the attendees at The Big Draw event at the Evanston Art Center would be children, but the converse was true. “About 90% were adults.”

“Every organization participating in The Big Draw has waived its fee. That’s 25 free programs,” Ms. Rozner said, adding, “The organizations have designed thoughtful programs, diverse programs that really understand their [prospective] audiences. … It’s nice to be in a community where that can happen.”

The Big Draw Evanston continues through Halloween at various places throughout the community.

An interactive calendar that shows the times, dates and places of the events can be found at

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...