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130 Chicago Kids Paint Mural in Northside Neighborhood Inspired By San Diego Artist/Illustrator Rafael Lopez at Addison & Blue Line.

By : Anna Zolkowski Sobor , Addison/Avondale Mural Executive Committee & Vice President, Old Irving Park Assn.

 

Chicago, Illinois—it all started when one young mother got tired of trudging through a dreary, pigeon-spotted viaduct on the way to her local park.  Joanie Friedman’s hope to paint a mural at Addison St. and the Kennedy Expressway resulted in a transformation, but not only of a blank wall.  It snowballed into a cross-country, cross-cultural and cross-community effort.

130 children age 5 and older are scheduled to finish painting the 100+ foot long Addison/Avondale mural this Thursday, June 21 beginning at 9 AM.  A ceremony thanking mural designer Rafael Lopez is planned for 3 PM at the mural site.  Friday, June 22 marks a community celebration, with a group photo at 5:45 PM, and then a parade to nearby Athletic Field Park led by funky marching band Environmental Encroachment.

The mural was gridded, traced and painted in one week after a year long local planning and fundraising process. San Diego, California based artist and illustrator Rafael Lopez was welcomed at a reception at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen on June 13, 2012. He’d offered his design and one week of time to paint a mural with both experienced volunteer artists and over one hundred children on Chicago’s Northwest side.  Irving Park resident Cesareo Moreno, chief curator of the Museum, volunteered to be the Addison mural’s project manager.

Located at the intersection of the Avondale and Irving Park community areas, the railroad underpass is at the crossroads of the CTA’s Blue Line subway, the Kennedy Expressway and Addison Street.  It serves as an entry point to Chicago for hundreds of thousands of Cubs fans, as well as being a major bus and pedestrian commuter hub.

Over 500 neighbors responded to emails, a stencil on the blank wall announcing a mural and a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mural-at-Addison-Avondale/136491123111933).  They came together to organize and secure donations of time, materials, food and funds.  As a result, people who’d lived and worked in the area for years forged new friendships and alliances.  Both pedestrians and motorists have stopped to cheer on the work in progress.  The effort spilled over onto the adjoining vacant piece of land on Avondale Ave., which is being transformed into a community perennial garden.

The impact of a little paint on the wall resulted in another ripple effect.  Ineffective pigeon netting & years of pigeon waste were removed from above the viaduct’s southern sidewalk and new pigeon spikes installed thanks to Ald. Rey Colon’s (35) intercession.  Pedestrians now have a healthier and cleaner environment when walking to the bus, park or Blue Line.

The Addison/Avondale mural is the ninth community mural in the area.  The Old Irving Park Association (OIPA) has been creating murals on Union Pacific underpasses since 2004, with all volunteer design and labor.  Locations of previous nearby murals:  Pulaski at Avondale (east & west walls); Keeler at Irving Park Rd. (east & west walls); Kostner at Berteau (east & west walls) and Irving Park Rd. at Kolmar (north & south walls).  Plans are in place for creating more muralsin Old Irving Park this summer.


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