The Century Walk Corporation

Newest Century Walk mural a time machine

October 30, 2005 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Tim West

Naperville circa the late 1960s is now on view every day in our city.

On Thursday evening, the latest, and to my mind most impressive, piece of artwork in Century Walk was dedicated in the alley next to the AnamArt Gallery at 103 S. Washington St.

The mural, which covers the side of the building across from the art gallery, depicts the buildings one would have seen had he or she walked on Jefferson Avenue and Washington Street in the 1960s and 1970s.

Artists Marianne Lisson-Kuhn and Liza Netzley-Hopkins have faithfully re-created the appearance of several downtown buildings, though they took some necessary artistic license by placing buildings next to one another that are or were on different streets. After all, they only had one wall on which to paint buildings that were in various locations in the downtown.

Soukup's Hardware, which was at the southeast corner of Washington and Jefferson and remembered by old-timers as a place where owner Frank Lisjak could find anything the customer wanted hidden in some nook or cranny of the crowded store, is depicted a couple of storefronts down from the old city hall on Jefferson.

Trudy's Flowers is there, too, along with Broeker's department store. Remember that Broeker's had its own version of "green stamps"? My wife swears we still have a couple of those books of stamps somewhere in the house.

Strolling by the mural, you'll see Clyde Netzley, Lisa's dad, depicted reading a copy of the long-defunct Clarion newspaper.

Then there is the Naper Theater, which cleverly is depicted as showing the 1973 film "The Way We Were." There's a 1964 Mustang parked on the street in the front of the theater.

For those of you who don't remember the theater, it was on Jefferson Avenue where the antique mall is now, which is why the floor on the mall is pitched down slightly as you walk toward the back.

The next time you are in the mall, as you walk toward the back, picture it with the aisle down the middle and seats on either side and the way the floor is makes sense.

At the far end of the alley, near the parking lot, the Naperville Woman's Club predominates, with Dorcas Toenniges and Shirley Baumann seen in front of that former church building.

Outside Soukup's, Brand Bobosky can be seen as an artist, painting street scenes.

Bobosky is the head of Century Walk, which went in with Joan Hennessy of the AnamArt Gallery to get the mural funded and finished as the 25th piece of art for Century Walk. By the way, the 26th and 27th pieces are coming later this year. Bobosky said the 26th is going to be about Naperville's service clubs and the 27th will be of the late developer and philanthropist Jim Moser and former Mayor Chester Rybicki, in celebration of the private and public partnerships that have helped build Naperville.

At the dedication, Bobosky said of the mural, "This is a way to remember our history and do it through art."

One interesting way to view the mural is to go into the art gallery and look at it through the gallery's side plate-glass window.

Not only do you get to be a little farther away from the mural than you can get by standing in the alley, but it gives you an interesting sense of the juxtaposition of old and new Naperville.

Seeing the mural through the looking glass of an art gallery in a new building that was only dedicated earlier this year is a way to appreciate both what Naperville has been and what it has become.

By the way, after you look at the mural from the inside of the art gallery, check out the artwork within. The pieces are all very carefully selected by Joan Hennessy and the others involved in the gallery, and what impressed me most was the wide range of artistic styles offered.

The gallery also sponsored several pieces of the United Way's public art this summer and gave a temporary home and a reception for the major pieces that were too delicate to go outside. In every way, these folks have indeed been good Naperville citizens.

For me, pondering the pieces of this great mural makes me both nostalgic for what downtown Naperville was like when my family first moved here in the late 1960s and really pleased to see how our city has turned out.

One last thought.

The teamwork that Marianne Lisson-Kuhn and Lisa Netzley-Hopkins demonstrated in working hard on this mural this summer apparently suffered one minor rift -- a difference in the taste in music they would listen to as they painted in the alley.

As Lisson-Kuhn put it, "I had to put up with reggae music. I'm more of an Eric Clapton person."

That notwithstanding, the result was sweet music nonetheless.

Commentary Editor Tim West's column is published on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Contact him at west@scn1.com or (630) 416-5290.


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