The Oak Park Area Arts Council (OPAAC) has ended another successful year of its summer teen arts employment program, Off the Wall (OTW). The program is available to young artists, 16-19 years old, who would like the opportunity to work with professional artists on a major public arts project and earn a paycheck while doing so. This year the 12 OTW apprentices continued work on a bricolage mural that was started last year titled, “It’s About Movement.”

OPAAC would like to thank all of our employees who worked in the program this year:

Apprentices – Jerrett Crosby, Mark Hester, Eric Irizarry, Drew Linne, Thea Petergal, Mia Salamone, Stefan Schwarz, Brian Stratton and Mike Thomas;

Senior Apprentice – Tricia Richert;

Assistants – Emily Whitehead and Caleb Woods.

You did a wonderful job and this year’s mural addition titled, “It’s About Movement and the Wonders that Motion Awakens,” is truly spectacular. We would also like to thank our two master artists from the Chicago Public Art Group, Carolyn Elaine and Sonata Kazimieraitiene, for leading our apprentices through the six-week process and training them on how to create public art. OPAAC is indeed fortunate to have both Carolyn and Sonata working for us the past three years.

As is always the case for a project of this size, there are a number of partners to thank for their support. A very special thanks to: the Village of Oak Park; Jonathan Ellwanger, principal at Beye Elmentary School; Jack Lanenga, assistant superintendent for operations at Oak Park & River Forest High School, and the building/grounds team; Bill Hamilton, Ridgeland Commons director, Park District of Oak Park; and Wednesday Journal.

The arts council would like to encourage the community to go and take a look at this fantastic mural. It is located on the railroad wall at Lake Street and Scoville Avenue, adjacent to the OPRF High School south athletic field. Be sure to walk up close to the wall. We know you will enjoy and appreciate the mural and all of the talent, time, thought and energy that went into its creation. Enjoy it.

One more thing: Work on the mural will continue. OPAAC plans to complete the mural in the summer of 2008.

Camille Wilson White
Executive director, Oak Park Area Arts Council

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