Painter to capture Grayslake, Illinois history in new public art project

If you see a woman painting iconic sights around Grayslake in the coming weeks, there's a chance you're witnessing Mary Haas at work on a new public art project.

Haas is painting 20 small landscapes which will be displayed together to form a collage that acknowledges the history of Grayslake and Illinois.

The project, titled "From Prairie to Village," was organized by the village and the Grayslake Arts Alliance and coincides with Illinois' bicentennial.

Haas was among many artists who vied for the assignment.

"She submitted a fantastic collection and proposal and we're very much looking forward to it," Mayor Rhett Taylor said last week when Haas was officially selected. "It's very, very nice and I hope this starts a strong tradition of the arts and public art here in Grayslake and that we can continue this partnership."

So far Haas, a Waukegan resident, has painted the Lake Street Metra station, the Grayslake Gelatin factory smokestack, a bridge in the Rollins Savanna and several other spots.

On Thursday she asked firefighters to pull one of the trucks out of the Grayslake Fire Station so she could paint it. She updates her Facebook page when she is out in the community painting.

Haas will be paid $5,000 from the village.

Ernest Schweit, the president of the Grayslake Arts Alliance, said the final product will be unveiled on Nov. 23 at the alliance's art show and sale during the tree lighting. He said the paintings will hang outside the council chambers in village hall.

"I think it's going to be great for the village," Schweit said. "I hope it will bring a lot of notoriety to the community and will hopefully help establish Grayslake as an art center for Lake County."

The arts alliance, a nonprofit organization, has grown since it was established two years ago and now has 40 members and puts on four art shows a year. Schweit said the long-term goal is to have an arts center in downtown Grayslake.

Mayor Rhett Taylor, left, poses with artist Mary Haas, second from left, as well as Grayslake Arts Alliance members Ernest Schweit, Maureen Fisher-Rivkin, Donna Bogosh and Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum director Michelle Poe. Photo by Leslie Armstrong, Grayslake Arts Alliance
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