Saturday, July 16, 2005

Park District WPA Murals Undergoing Restoration

My feeling is that one of the best things any community can do for itself is protect, restore, and add to its public artwork. So, when the Park District recently announced that they're moving ahead with a $350K restoration project of their WPA murals, I found myself thinking that this city gets a lot of things right.

The Trib ran an article on the restoration project earlier this week:

(Beatrice) Braidwood's mural, like 17 others in the Sherman Park fieldhouse, was thick with soot and varnish. Worse off are the murals that have split with cleaving plaster underneath. Others were subject to vandalism.

The Park District is expected to approve $188,000 in matching funds Wednesday for a restoration project that will require thousands of hours of labor and cotton swabs to remove decades of decay and repair damages.

There are 58 murals in 11 Park District fieldhouses. The Chicago Conservation Center, which has nearly finished a similar but more extensive restoration of murals in the city's public schools, has raised corporate and private funds to match the city's contribution.
Our murals really are a joy to see. I'm going to make an effort to take photos of some of my favorite to share with you. I couldn't find a comprehensive website, but this book is considered one of the main reference books on Chicago's murals. Even though the descriptions are brief, the color reproduction is solid.

Also, it's relevant, I think, to note that LaSalle Bank was one of the corporate sponsors who stepped up to the plate with some money to make this happen. The others weren't mentioned in the article, unfortunately.

Here is the list and locations of the WPA murals in Park District buildings.

Here is a brief background story on the earlier mural renovation in Chicago's Public Schools written by one of the main women behind it, Heather Becker.

2 comments:

Diane said...

I grew up near Palmer Park, used to ice skate there every winter. The book you cited doesn't mention those murals, but I hope they will be saved, if they are still in existence.

Jennifer said...

Here's an excerpt about the murals from the Park District's website:

"Palmer Park became part of the Chicago Park District in 1934, when the city's 22 independent park commissions were consolidated into a new unified system. Later that year, park district art director James Edward McBurney created three murals for Palmer Park as a Works Progress Administration project funded by the federal government. The three are: "Native Americans," "explorers," and "Dutch settlers." McBurney painted other notable Chicago murals at Wentworth School, Tilden High School, and Woodlawn National Bank."

Maybe you could start a "Friends of Palmer Park Murals" organization and help restore them?? Thanks for stopping by.