The Village of Oak Park announced Friday that it’s looking for artists to spruce up the crumbling concrete walls of the railroad embankment stretching along North and South boulevards.

Village hall is calling it the “Community Mini-Mural Project” and plans to choose eight artists to paint eight different murals at different points along the concrete near Oak Park Avenue.

Each artist chosen will receive $500 for materials and another $500 upon completing his or her mural, according to a village press release. Only paint can be used for the cement canvases, which can be as tall as 6 feet and as wide as 11 feet. A panel from the local arts community will decide who gets to actualize their visions.

The village is accepting applications at its Web site,, or at village hall, 123 Madison. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m., April 20. Winning artists will be notified on May 5.

Village Manager Tom Barwin hopes individuals and organizations in the community will sponsor the art projects to help minimize costs. Oak Park had previously planned to hire an artist to paint a mural near Oak Park Avenue, but the project was killed in 2008 to save the $18,000.

If the experimental mural contest works, the village could try it again at other junctures along the train tracks.

“As we try to work our way out of this recession, we’re just trying to do something to bring some optimism, color and smiles to people’s environments,” Barwin said.

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