Local News

Homewood village trustee makes artwork for better focus and catharsis

Jay Heiferman, a Homewood village trustee, painted words and designs onto the bike rack in front of the Starbucks in downtown Homewood, inked a birdhouse for the Homewood Science Center and created 12 interconnected canvas paintings. 

Jay Heiferman stands in front of the downtown Homewood bike
rack and bicycle that he painted with the same design.
(Nick Ulanowski/H-F Chronicle)

For Heiferman, making artwork is something he’s always done. It helps him focus or take a break from stress – or a combination of both.

“Creativity and artwork for me is a certain level of transcendental focus,” Heiferman said, adding that he often listens to podcasts while being creative. “Other times, I’m able to just tune out and [the artwork] becomes the focus in itself.”

Heiferman said he’s “doodled” many designs during meetings. This activity didn’t distract him but instead helped him pay attention. Heiferman has held onto hundreds of pages of these drawings.

In May 2020, while stuck at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heiferman embarked on a large painting project in his garage. He installed a mechanism for swinging and dripping paint onto 12 different canvases. These paintings were made to be displayed together as one piece. 

“I discovered that the process was very slow,” Heiferman said. “Because every time you did one color, you had to basically let it dry before you could do another color. And since each piece had perhaps dozens of patterns, it took many days to do each one of them.” 

Working on this painting project daily, Heiferman said he didn’t finish until “just as the weather was getting too cold to work in my garage” in October.

“I created an outlet to express myself,” Heiferman said “Maybe I was expressing my feelings. Who knows? I’m in some kind of trance while I do the work.”

In the spring of 2021, Heiferman participated in Home Tweet Homewood, a Homewood Business Association (HBA) and Homewood Science Center event where participants decorated wooden birdhouses. 

Participants purchased the birdhouses from the Homewood Science Center. The completed birdhouses were displayed at Homewood’s Artisan Street Fair and around town before being auctioned off by the village; 70% of the proceeds were donated to Homewood Science Center and the other 30% were donated to HBA.

Jay Heiferman talks about his bike art project following the Bike the Gem ride in 2023. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

With extreme attention to detail, Heiferman added black ink and a small amount of green ink to a brown birdhouse. Part of his design featured shapes resembling a flower or perhaps a star. Words, mathematical symbols and windows, doors and stairs making a street scene in Amsterdam were inked onto the birdhouse. The rectangular shapes were smaller than a centimeter. 

Heiferman said he couldn’t bear to give up the birdhouse he decorated. He placed the winning bid and took the birdhouse back home with him. 

“I can’t give up anything,” Heiferman said. “I can’t give it away. I can’t sell it.”

When painting the downtown Homewood bike rack in the summer of 2023, his design was much more colorful. There were varying shades of green, blue, pink and orange. The same design was painted onto his bicycle.

The number 79 is painted on the bike rack because Heiferman used to live on 79th Street in Chicago, he said. 

That is the only public art project he’s worked on, but he’d love to do something like that again, Heiferman said. He said he’d love the opportunity to display his 12-piece interconnected paintings.

Heiferman also has edited countless videos of family trips and other events, both public and private, which he sees as “a deep creative endeavor.” He’s posted some of these videos to his YouTube channel.

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Most read stories this week