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updated: 5/15/2014 5:35 PM

Newest Mundelein public art project to focus on utility boxes

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  • Holly Kim

      Holly Kim

 
 

Proponents hope a new public art program will bring a splash of color to downtown Mundelein.

Three utility boxes will get makeovers through the project, with costs covered by the village. Trustee Holly Kim, a public-art enthusiast, is heading the effort.

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"Residents want public art," Kim said. "It doesn't necessarily have to be a statue. (They) just want art all over town."

This week, the village board chose Kim to lead a four-member committee that will select artists and approve designs for the boxes. Joining Kim on the committee are local residents Linda Doyle, Susan Peterson and Dakotah Norton.

The utility boxes chosen for the project control traffic lights and are owned by the village. All are on Seymour Avenue, between Hammond Street and Route 176.

The effort was launched as a test program, but it could expand, Kim said.

"If residents really like them, we'll add more boxes," she said.

Kim hopes the boxes will be redecorated in time for the town's festivals and public gatherings this summer.

Dawn Jenich, Mundelein's communications and marketing manager, is among the program's supporters.

"It's a great initiative," Jenich said. "I think it has a great potential to enhance the downtown and the community as a whole."

Norton, a local musician, is excited about serving on the committee. He hopes to see designs that use bright colors and attract attention.

But he also wants designs that have messages and aren't merely pretty.

"I'd like to see something that encourages discussion," Norton said.

An application process hasn't yet been developed, but anyone interested in submitting a design can email Kim at hkim@mundelein.org.

A similar project was launched this month in downtown Skokie.

Officials commissioned artists Art Baltazar and Kurt Wood to repaint the downtown's fire hydrants with comic book-inspired designs.

Projects like this create a nice visual for pedestrians, said Baltazar, of Streamwood. They also give people a new reason to visit a town.

"It makes them the cool kid in high school," said Baltazar, who co-owns the Aw Yeah Comics store in Skokie.

Mundelein has dallied with public art before. In 2000, then-Trustee Bruce Campbell donated a painted, fiberglass cow to the village. Inspired by Chicago's Cows on Parade art program, the bovine was displayed at various locations throughout the village.

Mundelein's Fremont Public Library had a display of miniature painted cows, too.

Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove and Long Grove also have had public art programs.

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