CHICAGO (CBS) – It's a space where artists can work, relationships can grow, and chickens can fly the coop.
CBS 2's Joe Donlon took a ride out to Compound Yellow in Oak Park to see why it's one of Chicago's Hidden Gems.
Donlon: "People walking by here, driving by here look and say, 'What is this?'"
Laura Shaeffer: "Yes. That's my favorite question."
It's hard to just pass by Compound Yellow on Lake Street in Oak Park. The art space is everything the name implies.
"Yellow" is easy to understand, but what about "Compound?"
"It's a lot of things at different times," Shaeffer said. "It is an art space, but it's also a kind of school. It's a playground. It's a farm."
There's also a prairie garden and regular exhibitions.
"We have something called Sideyard Sounds, an experimental sound and music series," Shaeffer said.
She added, "The vision was that we could bring all these things together and create this kind of art compound."
Compound Yellow is a place to peacefully work for artists like Amanda Harth, who uses quilting to express herself and her heritage.
"This is quilt mapping," Harth said. "What I'm doing is pretty much creating the look of what this quilt will look like in the end, creating a rhythm."
Harth heard about Compound Yellow from friends and said it's a lifesaver.
"It's hard to find a space as an artist in the City of Chicago, a space that will work with you, share resources with you, provide space when you need it, that's not gonna charge a lot of money," she said.
Shaeffer and her husband bought the place in 2016 after spending years in various art venues in Hyde Park.
"We hadn't been planning on moving, but we kinda fell in love with the space," she said. "It seemed like there was everything we needed on one piece of property."
That includes the house where Shaeffer and her family actually live, but they're not the only residents there.
They include their "beautiful" chickens.
Shaeffer: "You see one is out over there. That's Huevos."
Donlon: "That's OK?"
Shaeffer: "She's our escape artist. She's always getting out. It's not OK, but she doesn't care."
Huevos, Peeps, and Spike live in a chicken coop that Shaeffer and her kids built. But it seemed like Huevos didn't like to spend much time in there.
"Oh well," Shaeffer said as Huevos waddled away again."
Here's a fun fact: chickens like to climb trees and then fly the coop, literally. It gave Shaeffer a chance to tell CBS 2 how much all of the work helps her build a community around art.
"My passion is connecting people and connecting awesome projects around the city, artists with each other," she said. "I think when people make things together and learn together, then they build authentic relationships."
Meanwhile, back at the chicken coop, it seemed like Huevos had been a bad influence on one of her buddies.
"Here comes Peeps. No, you know better!" Shaeffer said as she closed the coop.
Shaeffer said the vibe at Compound Yellow is purposely "slow." When people ask her about it, she says it defies the classic elevator speech. They like to say they take the stairs.
To learn more about this Hidden Gem, visit compoundyellow.com.
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