STREATOR – The City of Streator and North Central Illinois (NCI) ARTworks recently dedicated the new Heritage Park Vintage Wall in downtown Streator.
The Heritage Park Vintage Wall is a three-story, three-dimensional streetscape blending different aspects of downtown Streator in the 1920s, with names of actual businesses from that era, including a theater, bakery and soda fountain, beauty shop, clothing store, and law office. The scene also features vehicles and people in period clothing.
A dedication included remarks by Streator Mayor Jimmie Lansford; remarks by City Manager Scot Wrighton; installation creator and artist Ray Paseka who owns Westclox Studios in Peru; and NCI ARTworks President Chris Coughlin.
Also featured was a showing of several pieces of art created by Paseka and each of the local artists who apprenticed with him to create the Heritage Park Vintage Wall: Rachel Brisbois, Kathleen DeJong, Julie Jenkins, Jaime Neely, Rebecca Reed, Marlee Thiesinger and Amanda Weygand, along with a display of vintage cars of the era, organized by alderman Ed Brozak.
The Heritage Park Vintage Wall transforms an unsightly wall in downtown Streator into an eye-popping, unique work of public art. The exposed brick wall has been visible since the City demolished a collapsed building there in 2004. The City commissioned Paseka to create and erect the installation that measures 50x80 feet and includes more than 125 aluminum panels (4x10-feet each), hand-painted to appear three-dimensional, and attached to a steel grid anchored to the wall. Painting panels and building the grid began in June, with installation begun in September.
Streator City Manager Scot Wrighton estimates the total project cost to be $100,000. The City allocated $76,000 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds budgeted for the improvement of the central business district. Phase 1 funded the masonry work, attaching a steel grid, and installing the painted aluminum panels to the grid. Phase 2 will complete landscaping around the art and the park when the installation is complete and will add backlighting to realize the artist’s vision of the buildings appearing to be occupied at twilight. Streator has partnered with NCI ARTworks and its Silo Pathways Project to raise $20,000 for Phase 2.
"Streator will now have a unique work of art on a truly grand scale to backdrop an expertly landscaped corner and complement the City's ongoing downtown revitalization efforts,” Wrighton said. “The artwork both stabilizes and enhances the appearance of the wall and Heritage Park. It will celebrate our community's heritage, make an old eyesore pleasing to look at, and serve as a cornerstone of similar regional arts projects."
He added, this installation, in addition to 16 new wall murals planned for the downtown area in 2018 by Walldogs, will provide downtown Streator with a unique destination for travelers and public art enthusiasts.
“The Heritage Park Vintage Wall beautifies the community and will be a destination for people to see and appreciate this amazing piece of art that we believe is the first of its kind anywhere,” said Chris Coughlin, president, NCI ARTworks.
Heritage Park is at 222 East Main St. (IL-Rte 18) at Monroe St., two blocks west of IL-Rte 23, and one block south of City Park.
NCI ARTworks supports and is expanding the arts community in LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam Counties through artistic collaboration, educational outreach, and art space development. The Heritage Park Vintage Wall is the first in a series of public art installations under the ARTworks’ Silo Pathways Project to create and facilitate a regional installation of curated works of public art as a distinctive tourist attraction and as an artistic pathway that connects communities and the scenic countryside. Visit www.nciartworks.com.