'The Grove' mural opens in the Glen Ellyn pedestrian underpass
On Thursday, Jan. 12, the public art committees for the College of DuPage and Glen Ellyn hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Glen Ellyn Taylor Avenue pedestrian underpass tunnel mural, "The Grove."
The project at 518 Taylor Ave. is sponsored by the College of DuPage, The JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation, and the Village of Glen Ellyn.
"The concept for the mural reminisces the forest or 'The Grove,' of Prospect Park, what was once Glen Ellyn of the late 19th century," said artist Juan De La Mora. "The thousand-acre Grove was made up of many trees -- including red, white, black and bur oaks -- as well as hickory, chestnut, ash and others. It spanned both sides of the DuPage River from St. Charles Road on the north to Hill Avenue, roughly following Hill to Forest and along that line north again to St. Charles.
"Today, Glen Ellyn continues to value its trees and its benefits to its community," De La Mora said. "The mural is intended to engage the public by inviting them to pass though 'The Grove,' from both sides and experience from below nature's four seasons and its influence on the change in skies and tree canopies year after year."
Among the attendees at the official opening of this project were artist Juan De La Mora; Diana Martinez, chair of the COD Public Art Project and Glen Ellyn Public Art Committee; Glen Ellyn Village President Mark Senak; Arts DuPage director Debbie Venezia; and members of the Glen Ellyn Art Committee.
For more information on the COD DuPage Public Art Project, visit theccma.org/codpubart.
The Glen Ellyn Taylor Avenue pedestrian underpass tunnel, constructed in 2018, is 91.5 feet long and 12 feet in diameter. The College of DuPage Public Art Committee had solicited proposals from around the country for the public art work to be installed in the tunnel.
They received more than 60 submissions from around the world. The committee reviewed all of the submissions and decided on seven proposals. Following a period of public input, the village of Glen Ellyn selected three finalists from that group. The final decision was left to the community and more than 2,000 voted on De La Mora's as the winning design. "The Grove" was created with acrylic paint and encompasses every square inch of the tunnel.
De La Mora describes himself as Chicago-based self-taught multidisciplinary international artist with a background in architecture.
Per De La Mora, "My work ranges from the context of the street to museums, new buildings, festivals, large facades and installations, to workshops and lectures directed to students. It often focuses on a critical view of social and cultural commonalities, by referencing relationships between nature and mixed media art. While I use a variety of materials and processes in each project my methodology is consistent. The subject matter of each body of work determines the materials and the forms of the work. During research and production new areas of interest arise and lead to the next body of work."
The partnership behind "The Grove" is a result of the COD DuPage Public Art Project proposed by Diana Martinez, director of the McAninch Arts Center, and approved by the college's board of trustees in October 2020 with the goal of initiating public art events and art installations throughout DuPage County.
Martinez proposed the idea in an effort to build public art committees in cities throughout DuPage County.
The idea of the project was inspired by the announcement by COD President Brian Caputo of the Arts, Culture and Community Engagement Pillar of the college's 2021-26 strategic long-range plan.
The College of DuPage Public Art Committee partnership with Glen Ellyn kicked off with the September 2021 installation of the Tony Fitzpatrick murals.
Additional projects have included October 2021 "Chalk the Walk" community initiative featuring art by 3D award-winning chalk artist Nate Baranowski and, most recently, the traveling installation "Glen Ellyn Letters"created by Juan Chawuk unveiled this past November. COD is selecting another town to partner with for two years with the goal that the established committee in Glen Ellyn will continue on its own. For more information visit theccma.org/codpubart.