Side Street Studio Arts employs highly experienced, professional artist-educators to facilitate all workshops, and educational classes and programs, of whom we stand by wholeheartedly. With mixed-aged classes in particular, we encourage parents of younger artists to carefully reflect on whether their young artist is able to learn and create in an environment where adult students are present. We ensure that classrooms are supervised by our talented staff of artist educators, assuring that no class or presentation consists of gratuitous, or explicitly controversial images or terminology. Art, including instruction and discussion, are subjective. Therefore, all students must understand that some classes may involve themes, terminology, visual components, and experiences that may lie outside their own personal beliefs or feelings. We at Side Street Studio Arts take this very seriously. We pride ourselves in creating safer spaces for students of all ages to work, play, and develop their process and educational pursuits. If you have questions about any of our programming that may pertain to your student, child, family, or friend, feel free to reach out to us. 


*Some classes may contain adult themes, terminology, or visual components, including but not limited to classical works.

Erin Rehberg, M.F.A., was Founder and Artistic Director of Core Project Chicago, a dance-based, interdisciplinary performing arts collective and Founder/Director of Side Street Studio Arts in her hometown of Elgin, IL.  Core Project, 2006-2016, pushed the boundaries of storytelling through artistic collaboration with dramatic, sound, media and text artists and founded the Going Dutch Festival, a celebration of the female voice in dance, music, theater, and the visual arts. Erin earned a B.A. in Journalism from Western Illinois University, studied dance technique and choreography at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC, where she was later hired the Director of Press and Marketing, and was a founding member of Kim Nofsinger’s Shelter Repertory Dance Theatre. She has performed the choreography of Stefanie Batten Bland and E.E. Balcos, and has danced with Jay-Son/Tisa Dance Company, Nicole Gifford Dance, Jennifer Sandoval and others. Erin teaches and fuses multiple dance styles and has set work on dancers attending Bucknell University, WIU, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Southern Illinois Dance Center and Prep Dance School and in schools all over the Chicago area including the Beverly Arts Center, where she directed the Summer Arts Experience-interdisciplinary arts camp. Her choreography has been produced around the United States and in China, and she has produced site-specific work throughout Illinois. She has curated a variety of inter-arts happenings, working closely with artists across the country regarding common themes. Erin earned her M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago in 2009 where she expanded her creative horizons by pursuing dance for the camera surrounding creative process and in live performance. She has been on faculty at Interlochen Center for the Arts and Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts and is currently on faculty at Middle Tennessee State University and DancEd Dance Center in Northbrook, IL. Erin was a 2010 recipient of a Chicago Cultural Center DanceBridge Residency a 2011 recipient of The Studios of Key West artist residency, and the recipient of the 2016 YWCA Elgin Margaret Hillis Award for the Arts. Since moving back to Elgin in 2012, she co-founded the Elgin Ties Dance Festival (2012-2014), has been appointed to the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, was a member of the Hemmens Cultural Center Task Force (2014-2015), and is Artistic Director of the Elgin Fringe Festival.  

Karl Jahnke - “As an artist I often feel as though I am taking the long way home. Every piece represents a different journey, provoking questions and new lessons, each fueling a desire to see what comes next. This anticipation, this discovery, is what above all else drives my art and produces works that are woven with affection and passion. Each sculpture or painting is more than a piece of art - it is an intimate reflection of a newly discovered adventure.”

Tanner Melvin, M.S., is Founder and Director of Side Street Studio Arts in Elgin, IL.  Tanner comes back to Elgin and to Side Street from an eclectic background that includes a B.A. in Theater with an emphasis in acting and design and a M.S. in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration with an emphasis in experiential education and therapeutic recreation both from Western Illinois University.  After having worked as a professional actor and designer around the U.S. and spent years in the restaurant and entertainment industry, Tanner decided to move in a new direction focusing on outdoor education and programming for both children and adults.  In 2012, he spent time at Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab, UT as a Seasonal Interpretive Specialist, and looks forward to incorporating these experiences into the education and outreach programming within Side Street. 

Doug Hanson is a photographer, artist and art educator living near Elgin, IL. Despite growing up with artist parents, he pursued a career in engineering. This interest in tangible, tactile things was reintegrated with art as he later embraced his own drawing, painting, and photography. He currently specializes in antiquarian photographic techniques which are analog, chemical in nature, and often messy. He has been teaching analog and digital photography to students young and old since 2012 and built a community darkroom at Side Street Studio Arts in Elgin to facilitate education along those lines. Much of Doug’s own photographic work is done in the medium of wet plate collodion or Tintypes. His work has been featured in multiple solo and group shows in the U.S. and has also been exhibited internationally. His work seeks to present contemporary themes in a process and technique that blends these with an altered sense of time and context. He believes in making photography accessible to all through the use of pinhole cameras, sun printing, and many other easy to approach processes.


Nick Mataragas is a director, actor, writer, producer, podcaster, and improviser, and is a graduate of the IO Chicago training center (so many things!). Nick can be heard on multiple podcasts on The DVMPE network including Memoriam Productions, SURIAL, The Last Days of Macho Man Will Shiflett, and Freak of the Week. For many years he could be seen in improv shows at The Comedy Shrine in Aurora Illinois. When not working way too much, Nick celebrates the god Dionysus, enjoys reading, and sleeps. Nick is the founder, and head of development at Memoriam Development.  


J.E. French works primarily in painting and illustration, his work is detail oriented that spans multiple bodies of work, genres, and styles from real and surreal to the abstract.

John French has a Bachelors Degree of Graphic Design and applied sciences from WestWood College. He has been working in education teaching and Instructing courses on Painting, Drawing, and the visual arts as well as private lessons since 2014. Additionally French works as a freelance artist privately and commercially, commissions including murals, faux finishes, and other Miscellaneous custom art. 


French has performed in several live painting events Elgin Art showcase Holiday show of 2015, ArtBattle Toronto Expo in 2016, Watch City Anniversary Show in 2018, Live Painting at the Gale Borden Library in 2018. Competing in the Ultimate Painting Art Battle International finals French ranks in the top 20 of 2015 and the top 8 of 2016 for World speed painting.

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