Not to add any pressure to a young artist creating her first outdoor mural, but Century Walk Corp. President Brand Bobosky thinks the current "Parade of the Century" project in downtown Naperville could be the most popular piece yet.
Muralist Adela Vystejnova Gardner recently finished the first phase of the two-sided mural, just off Main Street between Jackson and Jefferson avenues, and plans to begin the second part Monday morning.
The four-color silhouette mural starts at Main Street and stretches 100 feet west with scenes from early 1900 parades that continue to progress through time until the present.
Monday morning Gardner will be the first of a team of artists led by Diosdado "Dodie" Mondero to begin the corporation's 39th Century Walk piece directly across from the parade mural.
The second mural will be full-color and feature 130 feet of people watching the parade as it marches west. And the corporation intends to sell faces, allowing anyone to have their likeness portrayed in the crowd for a yet to be determined fee.
"If you're walking west with the mural, you're in the parade and if you're in the parade, you're looking at the crowd," Bobosky said. "This thing is going to be huge. I already think it's going to be bigger than (the Dick Tracy sculpture the corporation installed on the Riverwalk last year)."
Gardner began the four-color mural in October and put the finishing touches on it in mid-December, often wearing several layers of clothing and huddling around a space heater to keep warm.
"I've never been painting outside before but if you love to do something, you shouldn't care what conditions you work in," the Czech Republic-born artist said Thursday. "It is more difficult to work in this weather but you do what you have to do so I put more layers on and go to work."
Despite the conditions, even her harshest critic approved of the finished product.
"This mural is not arranged in a way that allows me to have a favorite part. Everything needs to flow together to work. I like it all because every part is different," she said. "I'm very hard on myself but I really like this mural. I really do. It turned out very, very beautiful."
She'll have the heater back out with her Monday but expects the adrenaline of starting the second piece and excitement of working with Mondero will keep her warm.
"I'm extremely excited to get started on the other wall because we're going to paint a lot of expressions and detailed faces," she said. "It's going to he a huge undertaking but I am prepared and feel I am ready."
The Century Walk Corporation is banking on Gardner and her talents for nailing detailed expressions because it intends to use the second piece to generate revenue to fund the project.
Bobosky said he thinks between 250 and 350 people will be willing to pay as much as $1,000 to be part of the mural and have their likeness painted as parade spectators. Sponsorships also are being sought from business-owners who would like to see their company likeness included in the background of the mural.
"We believe there's value there because this is going to be permanent," Bobosky said. "I still believe people will walk by this every day and check to see who they know or can recognize."
The corporation hopes to have a pricing plan for the individual portraits and business likenesses in place by Feb. 15.
Century Walk was created more than a decade ago to create public outdoor art to celebrate Naperville's history and heritage.