A street scene to evoke memories of a bygone era is taking shape in Mundelein
A Mundelein business owner is sharing his fascination with the 1940s-era Chicago street scene in a big way by commissioning what will be the largest mural in town.
All week, a team of artists have been transforming the side of a two-story building across the parking lot from Luke's of Mundelein to illustrate Mike Majestic's vision.
Soon, customers, pedestrians and passersby on busy Route 45 just south of Route 176 in downtown Mundelein will be reminded of another era.
When complete, the selfie-ready scene will depict a city street lined by village-inspired buildings. A dancing couple will be front and center with a hot-dog vendor. Street musicians and other details complete the image of days gone by.
Besides realizing Majestic's dream, the 50-foot by 19-foot mural marks the first large-scale private contribution to public art in Mundelein.
"This is a big deal for the Mundelein community, as we think it is a promising sign that private property owners and not just public entities are starting to embrace and invest in the arts," said Colleen Malec, a senior planner for the village.
Luke's, a popular Chicago-style hot dog and sandwich shop, opened in 1999 and relocated to 551 N. Lake St. (Route 45) in 2014. Majestic says he began pursuing a project to transform the "big ugly wall" facing him in 2018.
"The image is a reflection of the type of food I serve, which is Chicago-style sandwiches," he said while watching the mural take shape. "We're kind of looking back and celebrating what we have now."
Building owners Kevin and Jean Walsh were on board immediately, Majestic said.
An artist was hired but died during the process. Then COVID settled in. The project was revived last fall with the commission of the Waukegan-based Dandelion Artist Alliance, a group of Lake County artists, performers and innovators.
The alliance or its members have created murals in several communities and locations, including Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills and Sunset Foods stores in Libertyville, Highland Park and Lake Forest.
"It creates interest. It gets people talking. It's a way to get art to the general public," said Sandie Bacon, a Lake Bluff resident who has been painting murals for several decades.
Shawn Killackey, a Mundelein resident involved with village arts and history, was approached by Majestic years ago to do a mural but found the job too big to do alone. A Dandelion Alliance member, Killackey made the connection.
The project began last fall when the design was finalized and a scale drawing created.
This week, a team of artists including Killackey, Bacon, Deanna Cruz, Regina "Rej" Ragans-Stauffer and Jesus Ortega primed the wall, sketched the drawing to scale, created grids and began layering a pallette of about a dozen colors like ultramarine blue and yellow ocher.
"We still have to get into the details of the people, the windows, every little thing," Killackey said Wednesday.
"We would love to be an inspiration to the rest of the community," Majestic added. "This is small business and neighboring property owners coming together as a team."
Starting with the creation of the Mundelein Arts Commission in 2016, the village has made a conscious effort to encourage art in the community.
The value of public art is hard to quantify but it's an investment that can generate interest, spark economic development and have other benefits, Malec said.
"It just adds personality to the town we didn't have before," she said.