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By Anna Lothson
There's certainly no one way to depict Oak Park, especially through the eyes of an artist.
Downtown Oak Park started a tradition last year of commissioning a local artist to create three pieces of original, two-dimensional, art that "captures the spirit of Downtown Oak Park." Last year Oak Park resident Sallie Wolf, a watercolor artist who operates Calypso Moon Studio in the Harrison Arts District, was selected.
This year, the group chose Chicago artist Matt Pleger, an oil painter, to be the group's choice to represent DTOP in its marketing materials to showcase the best dimensions of the district. His work will be reproduced on light pole banners and incorporated into DTOP's collateral pieces throughout the rest of the year.
In describing his vision of Downtown Oak Park, Pleger wrote: "Subway stations, storefronts, parking garages, alleys, doorways: common scenes that are dulled by focus on the destination rather than the peripheral view. While exploring Downtown Oak Park, simply stopping to look at what others busily walk past opens so many visually arresting avenues and easily whets the appetite for further exploration."
The artistic call went out to artists and schools in the Chicago metro area and more than a dozen submissions were received. Portfolios were reviewed by the DTOP staff and selection chair Karen Morava, owner of Careful Peach Boutique.
Pleger's work focused on the iconic Lake Theatre, a simple portrait of the upgraded Marion Street near the CTA tracks and a scene on North Boulevard.
"It's interesting to see our downtown district through the eyes of artists," said Max Williams, executive director of DTOP. "We're excited to see Matt's work throughout Downtown Oak Park."