Open Center for the Arts Executive Director Omar Magaña presents their plan for a mural on Damen Avenue alongside Gabriela Juarez at the Wednesday, September 4, meeting of the McKinley Park Civic Association.

Arts Group Pitches Damen Viaduct Mural to Civic Association

Published September 6, 2019

At its meeting on Wednesday, September 4, the McKinley Park Civic Association hosted a presentation by the Open Center for the Arts, which is looking to bring a mural project to the neighborhood. The viaduct on Damen Avenue just north of Archer Avenue is targeted for an overhaul with original art and a community message, said Open Center for the Arts Executive Director Omar Magaña.

"The design shows the legacy of the cultures that have passed through McKinley Park," Magaña said. This will include the area's original Native Americans, Polish and German immigrant populations drawn to work at the Chicago Stockyards, and today's big cadres of Hispanic and Chinese-American residents, he said.

Public Art Track Record

Magaña pointed to his group's successful implementation of other mural projects in Chicago, notably the Chicago Resilience mural under the viaduct passing over California Avenue at 19th Street near Douglas Park. The Chicago Resilience mural is indicative of both the creative approach for the Damen Avenue site, as well as the broad community engagement that comes together to implement these mural projects, Magaña said.

In addition to a visual depiction of local cultures, the Damen Avenue mural is planned to contain a "ribbon" passing through the design and containing community members' and neighbors' names that participants can write themselves, Magaña said.

The Open Center for the Arts also plans to present their project at the upcoming McKinley Park Development Council Meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 18, at Kristoffer's Cakes, 1735 W. 35th St., Chicago.

Tax Help, Senior Bus and Youth Outreach

Additional presenters at the McKinley Park Civic Association meeting included a representative from the office of Cook County 7th District Commissioner Alma Anaya, who provided information on their free property tax appeal services, and Vernalynn De La Rosa of the McKinley Park Underage Drinking & Other Substance Abuse Coalition (McK-UDOS), who updated attendees on the coalition's youth outreach over the summer.

Illinois 2nd District State Representative Theresa Mah also attended the association meeting to update attendees on next week's Senior Fest Bus. This service, sponsored by Mah's 2nd District office, will provide free rides downtown to Chicago Senior Fest on Thursday, September 12.

The next McKinley Park Civic Association Meeting is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 2, at the McKinley Park branch of the Chicago Public Library, 1915 W. 35th St., Chicago.


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