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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

New Mural Outside Bucktown-Wicker Park Library Brings A Piece Of Rural Illinois To The City

Artist and architect Sam Marts designed the mural to be an ode to the corn industry in Illinois.

Neighborhood leader Darien Hallagan, right, and artist and architect Sam Marts stand outside a new mural in Bucktown.
Hannah Alani / Block Club Chicago
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BUCKTOWN — The rear of the Bucktown-Wicker Park Chicago Public Library is getting a corn-themed makeover.

“Illinois Landscape,” a 10-foot-by-90-foot mural, was installed this week on the library’s north-facing wall. The piece overlooks Bucktown Green, 1724 N. Wilmot Ave.

The Bucktown Community Organization, a neighborhood group, has been working on the project since July 2018.

The $15,000 mural was funded in part by the BCO, the Wicker Park-Bucktown Special Service Area No. 33 and community donations.

At 10 a.m. Saturday neighbors will celebrate the unveiling of the mural alongside a staffer from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).

After more than two years of work, neighborhood leader Darien Hallagan said he’s proud to finally see the mural come together.

“I never thought that we would get here,” he said. “It feels really, really good. I’m glad that we’re here.”

Credit: Bucktown Community Organization / Provided
A 90-foot mural from artist and architect Sam Marts has been installed in Bucktown.

Sam Marts, owner of Bucktown-based Sam Marts Architects & Planners, created the mural. His design was inspired by the idea of bringing the Illinois rural agriculture landscape — cornfields — into the middle of the city.

“Chicago history, with railroads and [the] Board of Trade, all that stuff is about corn,” Marts said. “They still tell the corn prices every morning on AM radio.”

Unlike most murals, Marts’ work is not painted onto the building’s facade. Marts designed the mural digitally and printed the artwork onto weather-proof vinyl sheets. The mural was then fitted to a wooden frame installed by Chicago Signs.

The method is relatively new, Marts and Hallagan said, and is less expensive and requires less maitenance than painting over brick. Plus, if neighbors ever decide to swap out the design, that’d be easy to do, Marts said.

“It’s exciting to have it here,” Marts said. “I think it’s going to be a great year-round improvement to the park, to add color and excitement to the park all year round. Whether there’s snow, sun or rain.”

Hallagan said the neighborhood leaders are still trying to raise money to cover remaining costs of the mural. Without a traditional Bucktown Garden Walk due to coronavirus, the ability to fundraise this year was limited, he said.

Learn more about the project and contribute to a GoFundMe Fundraiser here.

RELATED: This Weekend’s Bucktown Garden Walk Offers Virtual Walking Tour, Front Porch Concerts

Learn more about BCO here.

Credit: Darien Hallagan / Provided
From left to right: Craig Swiathowski and Mike Cupfer of Chicago Signs; architect and artist Sam Marts; Nathan Mason of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; Tony Inacay and Cameron Nesse of Assets Information and Services; Carlos Salgado and Miguel Lopez of Chicago Signs.

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