WEST RIDGE — Last year, West Ridge neighbors voted to set aside $100,000 for a new art installation at the Budlong Woods Library branch. Now it’s time to pick some artists to complete the work.
Murals, mosaics or a type of sculpture will be attached to the east facade of the library at 5630 N. Lincoln Ave. Once the city finalizes its design, it could be fully installed by fall 2022.
Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th), the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Budlong library staff hosted a meeting Tuesday where neighbors could lean about the timeline and how neighborhood feedback would be incorporated into the art installation.
Neighbors voted to allocate ward money for the project during the participatory budget process, Vasquez said.
“We kind of see [the art installation] as an anchor to help activate the space,” Budlong librarian Tom Stark said.
In June, the city will ask artists on its Chicago Public Art pre-qualified list to submit a letter of interest for the Budlong project.
An advisory panel will create a shortlist by July. Those finalists will then be commissioned to submit a design proposal to be reviewed in August and September. About $5,000 of the project budget will be used to pay the finalists.
“During the design development phase, while the finalists are developing their designs, community members will have an opportunity to meet the finalists and learn about their work to date and share input about the library and the community to help inform the finalists as they create their design proposals,” said Joanna Goebel, curator of public art with the cultural affairs department.
The final design will be selected sometime between October and Summer 2022.
The east facade of the library faces a courtyard and the intersection of Lincoln and Bryn Mawr avenues. After the installation is finished, Stark said library staff want to use the courtyard to host more events or even add a garden there.
“We’ve used it in the past on an ad hoc basis for crafts and maybe showing a movie,” Stark said. “The space is almost 20 years old now. As the alderman and his staff know, spaces don’t just naturally maintain themselves. They can get a little tired. And this space is really crying out for public art. It’s a blank canvas and a really excellent opportunity to put something that thousands of people will notice.”
Neighbors can submit feedback to the 40th Ward about the mural by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The art installation is part of an ongoing effort from Vasquez (40th) to reinvigorate the northern stretch of Lincoln Avenue.
Last month, the alderman announced a $15 million plan to upgrade what Vasquez has dubbed Lincoln Avenue North, stretching from Western to Catalpa Avenue. Under that plan, sidewalks will be widened, crosswalks improved, green space added and an arts district created.
The improvements will be paid for using TIF funds secured by Vasquez with support from the city’s departments of planning and development and transportation.
The Lincoln Avenue North effort — kicked off last year with the Ainslie Arts Plaza — is part of more than $30 million in public projects coming to the ward in 2021.
“Since taking office, many of y’all have seen one of our priorities is revitalizing our business districts,” Vasquez said. “This is another component of that, pun intended, it’s a bookend to what we’re working on here.”
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