On July 26, the Berwyn Public Arts Initiative ( BPAI ) unveiled the latest in its series of public muralsthis one commissioned from internationally acclaimed muralist Merlot for the downtown Depot District in out Berwyn Ald. Jeanine Reardon's Third Ward.
In collaboration with Berwyn Arts and Music ( BAM ), the BPAI is commissioning public art works throughout the city, with the goal of creating community, celebrating the power of art and revitalizing Berwyn's business districts. The newest piece at O'Brien the Cleaner Inc., a 50-year-old family-owned business at 6915 W. Stanley Ave.
Reardonwho is married to Berwyn Unity Lutheran pastor Julie Boleyn and moved to Berwyn about a decade agowas among those who spoke at the dedication, addressing the power of public art and Berwyn's welcoming atmosphere. "I moved here because my wife was hired to be a pastor here. It was a huge deal, because it wasn't a huge deal. People just accepted us," Reardon said.
While BPAI leader Norman Alexandroff ( who spearheaded efforts to create Chicago's Wabash Arts Corridor ) and the BPAI board are commissioning art in public spaces throughout Berwyn, Reardon has donated her city council expense account to creating public art at a neglected train underpass on Oak Park Avenue.
BPAI's leadership includes Alexandroff, Rob Kowalski, Berwyn Development Corporation Board Member/Dwellings Real Estate owner/skydiving enthusiast Melissa Kowalski; School District 100 Board Member/Solace Divorce Mediation owner Jen Mitchell; and BAM Founder and Outta Space owner Aaron Mitchell.
In addition to Berwyn, Merlot's art can be found in Hong Kong, Denmark, Chicago and Bloomingdale.
For more info about the BPAI, visit BerwynPublicArtsInitiative.org .
Photos and text by Catey Sullivan