The Oak Park Area Arts Council has announced its second round of winners for its 2019 mini-mural project, and Oak Parker Joe Abboreno was chosen to paint the mural the group is dedicating to the late Val Camilletti.
Camilletti was a beloved figure in Oak Park for decades as owner of Val's halla Records, a music store located at 723½ South Boulevard for more than three decades before moving to 239 Harrison St. in 2006.
Shortly after Camilletti's death in 2018, Oak Park residents aimed to have an honorary street sign installed on South Boulevard for the late record purveyor, but the Oak Park Board of Trustees denied the request, instead choosing to commission a mural.
The Oak Park Area Arts Council, which commissions 20 murals per year along Union Pacific Railroad retaining wall along North and South boulevards as part of its mini-mural project, specified that one of the murals would commemorate Camilletti.
"She really touched a lot of lives," Abboreno said in a telephone interview.
Abboreno, who grew up in Oak Park, said he bought his first record at Val's halla. The album was "Through the Past, Darkly" by the Rolling Stones.
Abboreno said music has played an important role in his life, and he enjoys listening to music while he's making art.
Much of his work is done in a cartoon style and has a whimsical nature, drawing on imagery found in fantasy and science fiction. Abboreno's most notable local project was completed earlier this year – a sign for the Berwyn-based store Reel Art Collectibles.
The building-length mural at Reel Art depicts a three-eyed snaggle-toothed monster eating popcorn and drinking a soda.
"I have fun with my art, and the art I create, I want to make people smile," Abboreno said.
Abboreno takes the same joyful approach with his design for the Camilletti mural. The design was inspired by music poster art from the 1960s, similar to the work of renowned artists like Peter Max.
He also gave credit to Wednesday Journal, noting that the image of Camilletti is based on a photograph published in the newspaper in 2012.
"You can almost hear her laugh with that smile," he said.
As Abboreno began working with the idea of Camilletti as a rock poster, the idea evolved to depict her as a pop-art piece. And now, he said, "I'm really excited to paint this thing."
Abboreno said he plans to begin work on the painting in mid-August, noting that he wants the final work to be perfect.
"In the back of my head is, 'Don't screw this up. Don't screw this up. Don't screw this up,'" he said.
It is the first time Abboreno has submitted artwork for the mural project, which has commissioned dozens of works of art over the last several years.
"I think it's a really great program," Abboreno said. "It's taking this rusted out concrete embankment and adding some color and life to it. The art styles vary so much that it's a melting pot."
Though Abboreno is likely to get the most fanfare for this round of murals, nine other artists also will see their creations displayed along the railroad tracks over the next few weeks.
The winners of this round include Sean Archer, Carmen Cervantes, Maurice Costello, Sydney Isley, Laura Lynne Kubicek, Kathy Osler, Pam Seatter, Marion Sirefman and Emma Vejcik.
See more about the mural project on the Oak Park Area Art Council's website at oakparkareaartscouncil.org/causes/mini-murals.
Answer Book 2019
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