Old Irving group to dedicate new mural
by BRIAN NADIG
The latest viaduct mural commissioned by the Old Irving Park Association features 70 landmarks from countries representing the home country’s of immigrants who live in the area.
The association plans to unveil a mural titled "Positive Babel — The world lives, works and plays in Old Irving" during a dedication ceremony 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Union Pacific Railroad viaduct at Irving Park Road and Keeler Avenue. The association has had murals painted on 11 viaduct walls since 2003.
The new mural, which was completed on July 28, consists of "a skyline scene which integrates important buildings from many countries — countries that represent ethnic origins of our diverse Old Irving Park community," association president Marlena Ascher said in a statement.
Independence Park resident Tony Sparrow developed the concept for the mural, which runs along the north and south walls of the viaduct and which includes the pillars. The mural covers about 720 square feet.
"Tony’s team of artists were pretty diverse in their ethnic heritage as well, so they especially appreciated the surprise and joy of pedestrians and motorists who stopped to thank them for transforming the viaduct and to gasp at the countries represented," Ascher said.
The Eiffel Tower in France, the "Christ the Redeemer" statue in Brazil, the London Bridge in England, the Palace of Culture and Science in Poland and the Great Pyramids of Egypt are among the landmarks depicted in the mural.
"Any one who resides or visits Chicago knows our varied neighborhoods are often designated and denoted by nationality," Sparrow said in a statement. "Old Irving Park bucks this common neighborhood-by-ethnicity label as it is truly is a melting pot where just about every culture from the world is represented.
"Old Irving Park’s combination of unique architecture and varied population drawn from many cultures is what led to me presenting a concept that features architectural landmarks found throughout the world on a field of blue taken from the city flag of Chicago."
The title of the mural is based on the "Tower of Babel" story in the Bible in which God thwarted plans to build a tower to heaven by causing those who were building the tower to speak different languages so that they could not understand each other. Ascher said that Sparrow chose the name "Positive Babel" because he feels that through art "we speak the same language."
Other viaduct murals sponsored by the association are at Kostner and Berteau avenues, Irving Park and Kolmar Avenue, Pulaski Road and Avondale Avenue, and the east and west walls at Keeler and Irving Park. One of the murals reflects the history of the area.