"I believe there's a lot of creativity naturally in children," Page said. "Artists are the real leaders. They come up with the ideas that make our quality of life better."
And so he's organizing a first ever children's art contest for South Loop kids at his Printer's Row Dental offices. Well, seeing as how anyone up to the age of 18 can compete, maybe it's not strictly a children's art contest, but Page is hoping to attract more than a few entrants before Aug. 26 submissions deadline. The rules are simple: entries must be no larger than 11-by-17-inches. Otherwise, have at it--though you've only got three days from the publication of this paper to get the piece over to Page's 707 S. Dearborn office.
Following the deadline, Page plans to put all of the pieces on display--passerby will be able to see the works in a street-level picture window--and to open judging up any and everybody in the neighborhood. Resident art critics will have until Sept.15 to cast a ballot for their favorite piece, be it a five-year-old's scribbled rendition of a family portrait or a teenager's technically precise study of the Chicago skyline.
Prizes for first-, second-, and third-place will be handed out at a Sept.22 party.
And while some might wonder if pitting a high school art student's work against a toddler's is a trifle unfair, Page said that, in his experience, age and skill don't necessarily determine the winner.
"You wouldn't believe what kids can do when they create," Page said. "Some of the little kids come up with the things that are so cute. It all depends."
That he's planning on handing out a scooter as first place, however, might suggest Page is expecting more youthful submissions than he is from the area's creative teen set. (Art supplies and a Toy R Us gift certificate round out the prizes.)
Actually, Page hopes he won't be the one handing out the prizes--while browsing in an art store recently, he mentioned his art contest to a fellow art lover who, in turn, suggested Page get Mayor Daley's wife Maggie, a well-known patron of Chicago's art scene, to do the honors.
"That would make it a big deal," Page said. "I think Printer's Row is an up-and-coming neighborhood, and I'd like to get the mayor and his staff involved and looking at the area."
Though Page admits he lacks any guarantee that the leaders of Chicago will show an inkling of interest in his local art show, the event is already giving Page's nine-year-old daughter, Sara Schneider-Page, her own taste of leadership. Page thought allowing her to enter the contest would present a conflict of interest so, instead, he put her in charge of it. She designed and sketched the fliers (with a little coaching and help with spelling) and stands out in front of the dental office asking passers-by, "Do you know any children that would like to be in our art contest?"
A one-time jewelry designer, Page said he was an artist before he was a dentist and the draw of art has never left him. In fact, he said it was the intricacy of dental work, and its similarity to jewelry-making, that drew him to this field. And shortly after going into the teeth business in 1985, he started sponsoring art contests. That was on the Northwest Side and the contests went on for eight years. Now that he's hung a shingle in the South Loop, he's looking to get back into the art game.
Acknowledging that finding local kids to participate could prove a challenge, Page said he's confident his daughter's efforts will pay off.
"I thought that [not having many young kids in the neighborhood]
"I don't care where the kids come from," Page added. "I just like to see as many kids get involved as possible--a big group of artists having fun together."