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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Lincoln Square’s New Ainslie Arts Plaza Getting Its Vibrant Mural This Week

Andrea Jablonski is painting her mural on the ground at the plaza near the McDonald’s at 4844 N. Lincoln Ave.

Artist Andrea Jablonski (left) and Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) at the Ainslie Arts Plaza Nov. 3, 2020.
alex v. hernandez/block club chicago
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LINCOLN SQUARE — Neighbors passing by the new Ainslie Arts Plaza will see artist Andrea Jablonski painting a mural there this week. 

The new art is part of a plan to transform the triangle-shaped block that sits just east of the McDonald’s at 4844 N. Lincoln Ave. into a new pedestrian plaza. 

Jablonski typically paints murals on walls, so her design for the ground of the new plaza is something that people won’t be able to take in all at once unless they see a picture of it from above.

That’s why she wanted to rely on simple design elements that are beautiful but can be experienced at any angle. 

Credit: alex v. hernandez/block club chicago
Artist Andrea Jablonski paints the Ainslie Arts Plaza Nov. 3, 2020

“The design itself I took inspiration from different traffic signs,” Jablonski said. “There’s a lot of round shapes, a lot of squares, crosses, and arrows that you can see.” 

She initially sketched out the design Monday using chalk. Since then, she’s painted it in using traffic paint typically used for road surfaces.  

The design uses groupings of squares and circles to create distinct spaces for picnic tables set up to allow for social distanced gatherings.

“People are more than welcome to come out here and visit and say ‘hi’ while I’m painting,” Jablonski said.

Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) and city leaders announced the project in August as part of the Make Way for People initiative. 

“It’s only been a number of months to get to this point, which I bet from the city standpoint is like light speed in trying to get something like this done,” Vasquez said. “But it’s happening thanks to having weekly meetings making sure we’re hitting milestones. This will give people a glimpse of what we want to do on the rest of Lincoln Avenue.” 

For decades, the stretch of Lincoln Avenue north of Lawrence Avenue has been a fairly sleepy area in comparison to the bustling, cobblestone neighborhood center just southeast. 

Since getting elected, Vasquez has sought to turn the north side of Lincoln Avenue into the Lincoln Avenue North Arts corridor, with murals and housing for artists to bring vibrancy — and hopefully, commercial and community interest.

“McDonald’s finished resurfacing the lot so we have brand new asphalt here. It’s awesome because this is like a new canvas for Andrea to work with,” Vasquez said. 

Over the summer neighbors were asked to weigh in on what the future of the plaza could look like. They said they wanted lounge seating, parking for food trucks, heat lamps, shade from the sun, experimental lighting and movie screenings at the plaza. 

“We already have some of the planters installed, and by next week we should have picnic tables, some seating and some of those other items up,” Vasquez said. “We still need to finalize which type we’re going to use because winter is coming, right?”

Credit: Teska Associates, Inc.
Rendering of Ainslie Plaza.

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