Geneva plows a canvas for teens' creativity

  • This plow blade looks ready to gobble snow in Geneva.

      This plow blade looks ready to gobble snow in Geneva. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

  • Geneva High School student Julian Desens paints a snowplow blade. The city agreed to let five plow blades be decorated by graphic arts students.

      Geneva High School student Julian Desens paints a snowplow blade. The city agreed to let five plow blades be decorated by graphic arts students. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

  • Kelly Huber paints plants on a seascape on a Geneva snow plow blade, as part of a Geneva High School art class project.

      Kelly Huber paints plants on a seascape on a Geneva snow plow blade, as part of a Geneva High School art class project. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/19/2015 4:32 PM

A little whimsy, courtesy of the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission and Geneva High School, may make winter a little more bearable while giving teenage artists a very public canvas on which to display their work.

Students in two graphic arts classes have decorated the blades of five snow plows. Instead of the usual boring utility yellow, the streets will be scraped by colorful depictions of an undersea scene, a giant mouth and a Geneva High Viking, among others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The idea was proposed by commission chairman Tim Vetang, art teacher Al Ochsner said.

Allie Steele learned about the importance of advocating for your idea. "I wanted to do something Blackhawks related, but I did not speak up about it," she said.

Instead, her team thought of famous movie one-liners, which led them to "Save Ferris!" from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Their plow featured the phrase, and a representation of the Chicago skyline.

Tyler Venditti voted for painting over the phrase and trying again. "It looked like a gang wrote on it," he told the group.

Ochsner said some students wanted to do something Chicago Cubs related. He cautioned them against that, given the plows will be seen in winter. "The Cubs are either going to be a sore spot or old news" by then, he told them.

The fact that the plow blades will be seen all winter, by potentially thousands of people, was also a big incentive to do their best, Ochsner said. The students will be reminded how satisfied they are -- or not -- with their work as they see the plows around town for months.

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Students worked in teams to come up with, and execute, the work.

"So far they have been really collaborative the way I hoped," Ochsner said two days into the project.

The students had to figure out perspective, such as how much better the snow-eating plow would look if the top lip of the plow were incorporated to the design. They also learned practical lessons such as time management; one team was frustrated when they went to paint more details on their plow and discovered they couldn't because the under layer hadn't dried yet. There was also management of resources, as the supply of Rust-Oleum paint, brushes and vinyl gloves allotted was finite. And they learned about producing art on a deadline. They only had five days to complete the project.

"It's (art study) always about solving a problem," Ochsner said.

It's not the first time Ochsner's students have done public art. Last year, they participated in the city's "Art on Fire" fire hydrant decorating contest.

And another project will be seen by Pace bus riders on Randall Road. Two students' works are being chosen to be displayed as special prints for two bus stops. Their work could be displayed as long as six years, Ochsner said.

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