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Praise for Katherine's work ...

Katherine MADE our party a success! Her interactions with the adults and children were as fantastically silly as the drawings themselves and within minutes a crowd gathered around her as she worked. That same crowd stayed all evening, laughing, joking with her and begging for more! Thanks again Katherine, you were fantastic! --Juliet Bond, Mudlark Theater. 2010

Everyone enjoyed you and it was most kind of you to stay into the evening.... You are great fun.....Hope to enjoy you again in future......Katie Franz, Park Ridge Art League.2010

Katherine Hilden has been the hit of my last several parties ... in fact, I'm now having some people respond to invitations by asking "Will Katherine be there?" Her ability to zero in on personalities and expressions is uncanny, and her drawings are hilarious without the mean streak that some caricaturists seem to thrive on. (She even made me look skinny, so how can I not like her?) Watching her work is a great conversation starter. Invite her to your next party-- and make room for a long line!
--Kathy O'Malley, WGN Radio.2010

Katherine's incredible talent and great connection to people added so much to our benefit evening. She amazed people and added an extra dimension of fun to the event.
--Valerie Niskanen, Director North Shore Art League, Winnetka.

Thanks so much for helping to make my party a success. Everyone seemed to really get a kick our their caricatures.--Rose Marie Houston. 2007

Your references were so enthusiastic about you--I feel like your being there is going to take an event I have dreaded and turn it into something really fun. Thanks so much.--Judy Rosenbaum. 2006

Sincere thanks for helping make my 40th birthday party a wonderfully memorable event. Everyone is still talking about what a great job you did! I couln't have been happier with your contribution to the evening.--Robert Feder. 2006

Thank you, we all enjoyed your talent.--Roger G. Staedtke, Rotary Int'l. 1995

Thank you so much for providing such a wonderful addition to our golf outing. Everyone enjoyed your efforts and my wife and I have already put our picture in a frame. You're great.--Judge Frank Rhode, Jr. 1995

On behalf of the Wellness Center, I would like to thank your for participating in our annual stress reduction event, Stress Buster Days. The drawings you created for the students and our staff were wonderful! Judging from the long line waiting for you, I can safely assume that the students also thought your work was great! Once again, thank you for your time and creativity.--Joann Alonzo Franck, MPH, University of Illinois at Chicago. 1994.

Thank you for doing a wonderful job for the residential hall. The residents loved your drawings, as seen by the long waiting list.--Esther H--Estheuck. 1994

Everyone loved it. They loved the detail of all the little extra items. My wife nearly was critically ill several years ago, and so this type of gift is extra special. She mentioned that, on her deathbed, she would be thinking about this picture. So...I guess she liked it.--Eric Chesak, about a drawing done from photos of his wife.2004

Many thanks for your artistic contribution to our holiday party last Thursday. Clearly you were the hit of the party and added to a most successful event.--Michele Schowenbrod, Cedar Hill Wealth Management. 2004

The Lake County Sheriff's Deputies enjoyed your art, humor, and banter. Thank you for being part of our 25th anniversary celebration. My wife and I enjoyed seeing you again and have now added your latest drawings to our previous two.--Perry Tarica. 2003

Thanks again for the wondrful work you did on our bride & groom. I forwarded the email version to the sister of the bride and she loved it! I'm looking forward to seeing the hard copy and thanks again for your wonderful work.--Michele Hoffman, about a drawing drone from photos.2003

On behalf of the LaSalle Banks Chicago Marathon, please accept our thanks for your participation in the Fifth Annual Dominick's Youth Ruh. Your presence at the race was essential to our event. We look Forward to working with you again.--Jane Dunker, Dominick's Youth Run Coordinator, 1999

Thanks to your talent and creativity, the caricatures added a lot of enjoyment to the evening; our employees are still talking about their distinguishing features.--Lynda L.Cundary, Manager HR, Land O"Frost. 1992

We were greatly impressed by the enthusiasm you brought to your Arts Explosion presentation. Your participation really helped make this activity a genuine success, and we very much hope that you will consider participating again another year.--Carolyn Stopka, University of Chicago Laboratory School. 1992

I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude for your professionalism and har work; you made a valuable contribution to the overall success of this project. I look forward to working with you again where I will expect repeat performance. Until the next event...Thanks again.--Kimberly DuShane, Jam Productions. 1991

They loved you! The client gave you some really great reviews. Thank you so much for everything. Christmas events are coming up so I'm sure we'll be talking with you soon. Look forward to working with you again.--Julie V. Hoffman, Events Inc. 1991

Thank you for your assistance in providing our office with the booking of Katherine Hilden as our first activity during ourWelcome Back Picnic on Friday Sept 21. She did an EXCELLENT job! The students absolutely LOVED her work! Many are anticipating her return to our campus--which loks like a good possibility for next year. Once again, thank you for your time and assistance.--Erica Glynn, Director Campus Activities, Mundelein College, to Scott Bass at ARIO Professional Artists. 1990

Our customers loved your work, and I will feel free to recommend you to anyone.--Harriet Connally, Dry Storage Corp. 1990

Thanks in part to your contribution, Art Explosion '90 was a great success! We appreciate the time and effort you took to share your talent with us, and we hope that experience was favorable enough that you would consider returning another year.--Jennifer Walton, University of Chicago Laboratory School. 1990

Thank you again for the effort you made to create your caricature. I felt you well deserved the extra money we sent over and above the amount we had agreed to. I'm sure we will need your talents again simetime. --Barry J. Waterman, ACME Springkler Service Co. 1989



...and stories from Katherine

We're all cousins here

The family is getting together to celebrate mom and dad's fortieth wedding anniversary. It's kind of a mom and pop's restaurant too, with knick-knacks on the windowsill. I arrive extra early to make sure I'm all set when the guests of honor arrive, since it's a surprise, and by the time they walk in I've already drawn three people. The ambiance is great from the start, but once Jennifer has some food and drink, I know that half my work is taken care of. Jennifer happens to be sitting right behind me and Jennifer loves to gossip about her family. This means that as soon as someone sits down to be drawn, Jennifer leans over my shoulder and gives me the dope on this character, who sometimes gets to hear her input and sometimes not. She spares no one, not even her parents. It's all in good fun, of course. I'm sure of that, since the cousins -- "we're all cousins here" -- also know how to talk back to Jennifer. Thanks Jennifer, I couldn't have done it without you.

Floating in the dark

This event has been the cherry on my summers for the past ten years. A publishing company invites a boat-full of clients and sails them on Lake Geneva, WI, for three hours. Music from the islands, food from heaven, and laughter over those caricatures is what they get to enjoy. Oh, and the dark. Because soon after we board we enjoy the inevitably spectacular sun set and then we're in the inevitably spectacular dark. Very few lights from those mansions on the shore. It is simply magical.

" We're the last people in the world to let you down."

The cemetery was in the family's possession for 150 years and just about all the luminaries of Chicago history are buried there, but it's time to pass it on. It's a big piece of real estate and the sale calls for a big celebration. How do you do this? You get a two-story suite at the Ritz-Carlton, a sumptuous dinner with very old wine, and, well, you get that caricaturist. The host is the heir to the family fortune. He has a "IV" after his name. The guest list is comprised of the accountant, an opera singer, the cemetery office staff, and half a dozen gravediggers. What I remember most are the arias, the imitation of Nixon from the balcony, a reviving shoulder rub from the host himself, and--the jokes the gravediggers told me because I asked for some gravedigger jokes.


A large insurance company is holding the annual picnic way out from the city where the grounds are dotted with lagoons and there are pony rides for the kids. With so much fun in store for us, we waste no time getting started and we're still there at sun set. I'm booked for four hours, but am asked to stay and stay and stay another hour. I draw for eight hours, people bring me nibbles, and I love every minute. Someone digs up some twine and clothes pins, strings the twine back and forth in the park pavilion, and pins the caricatures up for everyone to see and comment on. A sight to see.


is what I hear at kids parties. It's an afternoon bar-mitzvah in an elegant Italian Restaurant and I tuck my act into an alcove that will shelter me on two fronts from excessive youthful enthusiasm. Perfect: the light is good and the line can only form one direction. And form it does. In the first hour I draw twenty kids. I'm besting my record. The line moves so fast, it's barely a line. I tap my foot to the Kletzmer beat, hum along with the jazz, and--I can't remember, did I take a break?--in three-and-a-half hours I have drawn 56 people. I see some kids throwing back their heads with laughter when they see the caricature. I see some jaws drop: oh-my-god. But mostly I'm told that I'm like totally awesome.

Presenting Mr. and Mrs.

Really, that's what I heard as the guests arrived in their white bow ties and formal gowns, because the 18th century "drawing" room I worked in was just off the foyer, which was the size of Connecticut. There was plenty of amusement throughout this mansion (the music from the ballroom reached every room and I know there was a fortuneteller somewhere), but they came to sit on that 18th century settee to be drawn and to laugh uproariously. What else could they do? Just because you're wearing a tux doesn't mean I can't draw you in your boxer shorts, the ones with the red polka dots. And that elegant strapless number can easily be replaced by something your mother wouldn't approve of.

Then they drew ME

We're under a white tent in the evening at a suburban Marriott. Some personnel directors have come together to celebrate their wit and wisdom--as well they should. These people know something about partying, not putting on the image of partying, but getting down and doing it. How did they do it? Kept it simple. Brought a boom-box and their own favorite tapes, ordered a buffet and a caricaturist who interacts with people. That's all we did that night: they danced with personal abandon and I drew them, all forty-eight of them. We got along so well that towards midnight there was nothing left to do but to turn the tables: they drew me.

Adopt me, please

Sunday, June 28, 2009. I just got back from a family get-together in Mundelein. I was set up in the unfinished addition with a view of the pond in the back yard. They were celebrating Mom's birthday. Mom is long gone, but the twelve siblings and their children and grandchildren still celebrate mom's birthday every year. I got to spend an afternoon with fifty congenial people, drew most of them in a way that pleased them (and me, that's important), had two plates full of their cakes and pies and felt the unusual desire to get adopted. This is new. I meet lots of congenial people in the course of my work and often wish I could have extended conversations with many of them, but the wish to be adopted into their family circle, this has not happened before today. Just one more thing. Get this. A few weeks ago a heron discovered the pond in the back yard-a heron!-and developed a taste for the fish frolicking in there. Day after day, the heron would swoop down and scoop up some fish, about a hundred and twenty fish in the course of a week. For this gathering today everybody was asked to bring a fish to put in the empty pond. How can you not love these people! And dogs, have I mentioned the dogs? There were at least twelve dogs there, all charming and cuddly, even to someone like me who generally has no trouble at all staying away from dogs. Can you hear my pleas, you people in Mundelein, adopt me! Have I mentioned the food?










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