Mural Adds Vibrancy to Main Street

Mural-2015
Multiple artists have worked with the Renaissance Park Community Association NFP (RPCA) and Muir Omni Graphics to create a collaborative mural and art project on West Main Street.

As part of the collaboration, there is now a colorful 12 by 78 foot mural painted on the side of the Muir Omni Graphics building at 909 and 911 West Main Street.

The project also includes six large-scale artist-designed panels placed on the front of the building. The panels are printed on weather-resistant material, using state-of-the-art technology, via a new Muir Omni Graphics printer.

The public art piece, which focuses on community, diversity, and representation of local artists, was created in an effort to increase the walkability and overall perception of the West Main Street neighborhood.

“Murals and other forms of public art are elements that can make a huge impact on the overall look and feel of a neighborhood by introducing new colors, shapes, and concepts that increase the visual interest and memorability of the space,” said RPCA board member Nick Viera.

Members of RPCA began to plan the West Main Street Mural project in June of 2014. Andrew Muir, President of Muir Omni Graphics, has used the building where the mural is located for years as a printing press and warehouse. When presented with the public art concept, Muir was very open to the idea of hosting the project on his business’s building.

From there, RPCA created a public art committee, with RPCA board member and West Main business owner (The Art Garage) Jessica Ball as the committee’s chairperson. This is RPCA’s first public art project.

“The Muir family was very positive about the idea of bringing public art to this neighborhood, and very eager to help,” said Ball.

Some of the contributing artists expressed interest in the project through a city-wide artist call-out, and others have worked previously in the West Main
Street area through the Art Garage or RPCA. Each individual provided submissions of their work for approval by the project organizers. RPCA was then required to get a Building Permit from the City of Peoria for the mural, since it is considered an exterior alteration to the building.

“The City of Peoria has been very helpful and supportive of this project. I believe that the city understands the benefit of public art in its community”, said Ball.

Contributing artists for the painted mural include the following individuals: Angie Jo Goudie, Jonathan Gonzalez, Natalie England, Keith Wilson and Kreative Worx, Brenda Gentry, Shannon Slaight-Brown, Jessica Benassi, Alec DeJesus, and Connie Andrews.

Renaissance Park Community Association Mural Update

Renaissance Mural 2The mural on the side of the Muir building is nearing completion. There are just a few small touch ups that need to be added and we expect that part of the project to be finished by November 1.

The second part of the project will involve installing six 6×6 foot panels on the front of the building, featuring artworks by local artists.

This project is being sponsored by the Renaissance Park Community Association and we are exceptionally grateful to Andrew Muir for giving us the use of his building for this project, Main Street Car Wash for being so accommodating while we were working, to Jessica Ball from the Art Garage for leading the project, Nick Viera from the University East Neighborhood Association for handling all of the technical and permit issues, and artists Angey Goudie, Shannon Slaight-Brown, Keith Wilson, Connie Andrews, Jessica Benassi, Jonathan Gonzalez, Brenda Gentry, Natalie England, and Alec de Jesus for their contributions.

The Art Garage is hosting a gallery opening on November 7 (First Friday) which will feature art from the mural contributors. In addition, when the entire project is finished, we will host an unveiling/ribbon cutting, which everyone is encouraged to attend.

 

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Latest from Renaissance Park

Submitted by Jessica McGheeRenaissance Park-2

In May of 2014, after four years of regularly taking on projects, but being rather loosely organized, the Renaissance Park Community Association (RPCA) decided to incorporate as a not-for-profit and work towards becoming a 501c3. We brought in two mentors to help us navigate that process – Jennifer Brewer Zammuto, who works for the Caterpillar Foundation, and Jon C. Neidy who works with both the United Way and the Acorn Equality Fund. With their advice we were able to move forward in completing our goal. RPCA is now a fully insured, not-for-profit, 501c3. With this status, we now become eligible for grants and fundraising opportunities, which would be put right back into the West Main corridor.

Recently, The Renaissance Park Community Association began working with The Peoria Police Explorers, a group of young men and women ages 14 – 20, who hope to someday become police officers themselves. They’ve come out into our community on their own to conduct clean-ups, and also join us for our monthly clean-ups. We’re very excited to be working with them!

In recent months, in addition to our clean-ups, we’ve been working with local businesses to make minor facade improvements to their property – scraping windows, painting rusty posts, painting doors, etc. We’re also working with local property owners to take tours of their empty storefronts so that we can photograph them and help to promote them in an effort to get new tenants here.

In September or October of this year, we hope to have started and possibly finished a public art project on the white Muir building on West Main. This project will include one large, multi-artist mural on the side of the building, as well as interchangeable art panels on the front of the building. Jessica Ball is the owner of The Art Garage on West Main and is the leader of our public art committee. She’s been working with the city, Andrew Muir, UE Neighborhood Association resident Nick Viera and various local artists to make this happen. 

On August 2, members of the Whiskey City Collaborative hosted an event called “Better Block” at the corner of Main and Sheridan. Members of the Renaissance Park Community Association, Start-Up Peoria and Bike Peoria volunteered to build outdoor furniture, place plants and barricades, put up temporary crosswalks, temporary outdoor seating and fill the empty storefronts with tenants for the day. The idea was to showcase what this corner could look like if our sidewalks were wider, if people were able to cross the street safely in multiple spots within a mile long stretch of road (instead of just one spot), if we had more greenery, if all of the businesses were full.

We also hosted live music and theater in the community garden all day. We were delighted to see the amount of families who came out to picnic in the garden and to just enjoy walking along West Main, taking in the shops and sights.

Renaissance Park-1Every Wednesday at 5:45 p.m., members of the community association meet at a West Main business for dinner or dessert. Anyone is welcome to join us – we’ve found that these dinners not only help to support our local business community, but they’ve also strengthened the relationships we have with our neighbors, many of whom we did not know until we sat down to dinner with them. We put notifications out on both twitter and facebook each week regarding which restaurant we will be visiting that week.

We continue to meet at 4:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month, in the 600 block of West Main. We have the formal portion of our meeting from 4:00 to 4:30 p.m., and the community service portion from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Anyone is invited to come to our meetings and take part in our activities – they’re actually a lot of fun!

Twitter: @RPCApeoria

Facebook: facebook.com/renaissanceparkcommunityassociation

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The Renaissance Park Community Association

Renaissance Park

Submitted by Jessica McGhee

The Renaissance Park Community Association is a hybrid association, consisting of business owners, property owners and residents of West Main Street in Peoria, Illinois, from University to North Street. The Renaissance Park Community Association conducts neighborhood clean-ups on the first Sunday of each month, (starting at 4:00 pm and meeting at Blue – 619 West Main Street) sponsors and organizes the community garden by Sheridan/Main, and actively works to better West Main Street, to bring more business and traffic to the area and to help create a walkable and safe community.

Membership is open to anyone over the age of 18. Membership dues are $12 per year, plus a commitment of 12 service hours per year towards association projects. Their first clean-up of the year was held on April 6th and brought together more than 30 volunteers. A second clean-up took place on April 12th, working with both Bradley SERVE and the University East Neighborhood Association, to cover 7 blocks of West Main Street, and surrounding blocks, from University to Sheridan. Councilman Chuck Grayeb was in attendance. The association is expecting to begin shooting a promotional video for West Main Street Businesses. Their website can be found at: peoriarenaissancepark.com

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