The Century Walk Corporation

Naperville parade mural shows 'happy people, family values'

July 21, 2014 — Source: Daily Herald — Author: Justin Kmitch

Scenes of happy people enjoying a parade will linger in downtown Naperville long after the city's Labor Day procession wraps up.

The "Naperville Loves a Parade" mural is set to be dedicated after the physical procession concludes, so the families, dogs and business people it shows, posed as if they're watching floats go by, will be here to stay.

"We wanted to convey the smiles and the joy of the parades we have in Naperville," lead artist Dodie Mondero of Orland Park said.

The mural has been four years in the making, developing as Mondero and fellow artists Marianne Lisson Kuhn and Adela Vystejnova have outlined, painted, layered and perfected the images of people who have paid to be included. Located along the south wall in an alley called "Rubin's Way" west of Main Street between Gap and Talbot's, the mural aims to evoke a Norman Rockwell style.

"Because of Naperville being a tight family oriented community, I always relate it to the paintings of Norman Rockwell with happy people, family values," Mondero said.

The mural stands to be the 47th piece of public art completed by the nonprofit group Century Walk Corp. since it was founded in 1996. Brand Bobosky, Century Walk chairman, said artists should have the painting -- and its 300 people, 100 buildings and multiple dogs, balloons and even tractors -- 95 percent complete in time for a dedication ceremony on Labor Day.

"Even if half of the people that are on the mural showed up, that would be a lot of people," Lisson Kuhn said.

Once the mural is dedicated, Century Walk plans to improve the alley by repaving it, adding a decorative canopy or arch above it and possibly closing the alley to traffic and putting in benches.

Closing the alley would allow people to view "Naperville Loves a Parade" in color on the south wall and "Parade of the Century" in black and white on the north side.

"Since we have this art there on both sides of the buildings, we would like to see that it's tranquil, safe and that people are able to stop a bit and enjoy what they see," Bobosky said.

Among the artists' favorite scenes within the mural: a dog riding in a wagon, a boy blaming his brother for taking a bite of his hot dog, a man left in a chair while his barber watches the parade, two people drinking beers in an Irish pub, Lisson Kuhn painting an image of her family's farm and a police officer writing a parking ticket to Mondero.

Community members and businesses paid between $400 and $3,000 for their image or company name to be included, raising $220,000 for Century Walk, Bobosky said. Two Korean sisters, a Filipino family and people of Indian and Palestinian descent are shown in the mural, and a few additional people are painted just as "faces in the crowd."

Still to be finished is an extra element with a "Where's Waldo" twist. Bobosky said Mondero will paint the image of Naperville resident Greg Haldeman 15 to 25 times, hiding it in spots such as dollar bills, help wanted signs, balloons or newspapers so people can play "Where's Halde" while viewing the painting.