When you’re spending a lot of time indoors, inspiration can be hard to come by. However, sometimes it just takes a car ride around the neighborhood to find it.
Jean Magee, who lives in the 1000 block of Mapleton Avenue in Oak Park, was driving down the street where her niece lives when she saw a mural with a rainbow and the words “LOVE” and “BLM” painted on the street.
Her niece, Emily Tague, is an art teacher at Irving Elementary School and created the piece with the people on her block. Having seen the message on the road when she was driving, Magee started thinking about what her fellow neighbors on Mapleton could do in the same realm.
“When I drove by [the mural], I was just entranced,” said Magee. “It was so pretty and striking, and when I was coming back from south Oak Park, I stopped by it again and took pictures. I emailed Emily to see if she was OK with us doing something similar.”
Tague was not only open to sharing her concept with Magee but even provided the leftover paint, brushes and other supplies.
“I was very excited that [the block] inspired [Magee] to do the same thing,” said Tague, referring to the mural. “I think we are all looking for positivity in different ways. [Tague and her neighbors] did this three years ago and since it was fading we decided to paint over it. We wanted to spread a positive message.”
Ten days after Magee had pitched the mural idea to her neighbors, 10 pride flags that had been displayed along Magee’s street were stolen. While that wasn’t the reason why they created the mural, the message of it amplified.
“Yeah, it definitely felt [more powerful] after that incident,” said Magee. “People felt like it was a great response to that even though it hadn’t started out that way.”
The neighbors had agreed to paint the mural during their block party, but when the day arrived, only a few people initially came out to start on the mural. As Magee and others laid down the white latex primer and chalked out the design, everyone started to come out to participate.
“It was definitely a ‘if you build it, they will come’ moment,” said Magee.
Ten children and 15 adults worked for almost eight hours to complete the mural. It was similar to Tague’s piece, with the messages “LOVE” and “BLM” painted in similar positions.
Magee said the color schemes and patterns were different from Tague’s, but overall it was a nice homage to what her niece did.
“[Emily’s] rainbow was much better than mine,” said Magee, laughing. “We did add ‘Mapleton 2020’ on the bottom of it as well, but, yeah, the rainbow was a bit wonky since I am not the artist that Emily is. People were saying it was a little ‘Sergeant Peppers-y.'”