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Local Artist Will Turn Eyesore CTA Viaduct Into Community Mural

Local artist and Edgewater resident Cara Feeney is adding a splash of color to the community this month, readying the red line viaduct on Ardmore Avenue for a 10-foot-by-50-foot mural early this summer. She’s doing so with the help of Seamus Fitzgerald. MuralPhoto_4

He’s an Edgewater resident and director of The Overhead Project, a non-stock group that provides micro funds and financial consultation to community organizations. The two assembled an independent team of skilled workers and collaborated with 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman and the Chicago Transit Authority to secure, prep and bring a little life to the neglected space.

“Seamus and I have been planning this mural for about a year now,” said Feeney, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate and three-year Edgewater resident. “The design for the mural has slowly evolved and molded itself into something really beautiful over the course of this year as well.”

Inspired by the children’s book, Rainbow Goblins, which portrays vibrant imagery of flowers with paint dripping from their petals, Feeney said the mural will illuminate a rainbow of colors, humming birds and dandelion seeds spanning the entire length of the wall.

To put on the finishing touches by their mid-June deadline, Feeney and Fitzgerald are hosting a community paint day, inviting residents of all ages to take part in the mural on Saturday, May 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the space under the CTA on Ardmore Avenue. The event will allow residents the opportunity to roll up their sleeves, beautify a dilapidated space and ultimately leave their mark on the project.

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Participants will get to paint the interior columns an array of colors, submit a wish that the artists will write in hidden spots along the mural, paint large swatches of the wall, and marvel while the experts dive into intricate aspects of the design itself.

“We want people, number one, to have fun meeting neighbors and local artists in Edgewater,” said Feeney. “(The community paint day) is a chance for the community to really become involved and help change their own environment into something that they love. Kids and adults will get to spend the afternoon outside, painting and inspiring one another. Who doesn’t love that?”

According to Fitzgerald, who’s helped with a variety of different projects throughout Edgewater, the neighborhood’s family-oriented and community spirit make it the perfect location for a project of this caliber.

“We’re really creating this mural for the community,” said Fitzgerald. “What better way to do that than to actually invite kids, neighbors and like-minded artists to participate in the process. We’re excited to see what creative contributions they make.”

Feeney said all supplies — brushes, paints and refreshments — will be provided at the community paint day, but residents are encouraged to bring old brushes to share if they have them. Vignette Vignette, a new, local art studio expected to open its doors within the next few months, will also be on site at the event helping novice painters and assisting with activities.

Though this is her first mural project, Feeney is already taken aback by the appreciation she’s received from interested residents and passerby, and she anticipates the community paint day to stir up even more support.

“What is more inspiring than people who live in the neighborhood coming up to you and expressing gratitude for making a space that was once dirty and in need of repair (into) a more beautiful place?” said Feeney. “That has really been the best part of this process — being of service to the community and hopefully an inspiration.”

For more information about the community paint day or to make a donation to the project, contact Seamus Fitzgerald at seamusfitzgerald@gmail.com or Cara Feeney at cm1829@gmail.com.

[Editorial Note: The author of this piece, Samantha Witthuhn, has helped with the Ardmore mural project and maintains close relationships with both the artist, Cara Feeney, and the project coordinator, Seamus Fitzgerald.]


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