West Elm, the national furniture chain that just opened a new branch in Oak Brook Mall, is hosting a “Meet the Makers” event Saturday that will feature work by artists from American Artworks gallery in Forest Park.

It’s part of West Elm’s commitment to support handmade crafts and artwork created by American local artists.

“We are focusing on hand-made work created by local artisans,” said West Elm assistant manager Rachel Bushman.

As the store — part of the Pottery Barn chain — prepared for its grand opening a couple of weeks ago, Bushman and her colleague Shannan Polen stopped in Forest Park on a scouting trip to look for locally created artworks and crafts.

“We stumbled into American Artworks and started talking to [owner] Lisa Dodge and realized she has everything we need right here.”

Dodge has run the gallery since 2010 and has always had a commitment to local artists. She currently exhibits the work of 72 local artists.

Seven artists will exhibit their works at West Elm tomorrow.

“I think it’s great because it’s going to be all new customers for us,” Dodge said. “People go to Oak Brook who aren’t necessarily venturing all the way to Forest Park. I told my artists to pass out your cards.”

Potter Gina Robbins, of Oak Park, works in Forest Park said she appreciates showing her work at American Artworks.

“I do figurative pottery –it’s not just coffee cups – so it doesn’t really fly off the shelves,” Robbins said. “Lisa is flexible and supportive and so easy to work with.”

Judy Steed, a stained-art glass artist from River Forest will bring some of her mirrors, as well as individual pieces she’s created. “I want to have things at different price points,” she said.

“Lisa told me [Bushman and Polen] saw the work in the window of the gallery,” Steed said.

Forest Park Watercolorist Lin Beribak said she appreciated the chance to work with Dodge.

“If you work the art shows outside, you can destroy your frames lugging things back and forth, and you’re at the mercy of the elements,” Beribak said.

Other artists will include Christine Rommel and Mandy Adamick from Chicago, Fred Potter from Riverside, Sean Gallagher from Berwyn.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...