Area gets mural, improvements to park
by BRIAN NADIG
The recent installation of a mural near the entrance of Ashmore Park, 4807 W. Gunnison St., has led to the park getting a beautification facelift.
On Sept. 21 volunteers painted play equipment, picked up trash and spread new mulch and Fibar chips throughout the approximately 1/8-acre park, which is west of a railroad embankment. Fibar is a soft material that is commonly used under climbing apparatuses at parks.
The cleanup occurred on the same day that Arts Alive 45 held a dedication ceremony for its new "Hep Cat" mural which was painted on a viaduct on the west side of Cicero over the summer. A portion of the mural stretches around the corner onto Gunnison near the entrance to the park.
The 80-foot-wide mural depicts a cat whose wide grin consists of piano keys. Tony Sparrow, the mural’s creator, recently completed the "Positive Babel" mural on a viaduct at Irving Park Road and Keeler Avenue.
Arts Alive member Cyd Smillie said that during the painting of the mural, several residents approached the artists and expressed concern that Ashmore had become neglected, with overgrown bushes and other maintenance needs. A dead tree fell from the railroad embankment onto a car belonging to one of the artists.
The concerns were then brought to Alderman John Arena (45th), who worked with several city agencies to provide material and tools for the residents to use during the cleanup of the park, Smillie said. The cleanup, which lasted about 5 hours, has helped to store the park’s reputation as "a hidden gem," she said.
The park, which was named after longtime Chicago Park District employee John Ashmore, was built in 1977. The park district acquired the property in 1974 after residents contacted the "Action Line" of the former Chicago Today newspaper and said that the neighborhood needed a playlot.