Lead artist Dustin Harris, second from right, helps kids from the JWF paint their summer mural project.                        Photo by Maya Kosover

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Two independent mural projects from the Justin Wynn Fund and McGaw Y summer camps are in the works as a way for Evanston children to contribute to their community through long-lasting art.

Justin Wynn Mural

The idea of the Justin Wynn Fund (JWF) mural came about when organization members wanted to celebrate the fund’s 25th year, said program director Elaine Clemens.

The JWF was created in 1987 when 9-year-old Justin Wynn died in an accident. At an early age, Justin had exhibited leadership qualities which the fund has tried to encourage in Evanston’s youth.

“Each faculty [from District 65’s 12 elementary schools] is invited to pick two fourth-graders who show strong sportsmanship, citizenship and leadership,” said Ms. Clemens. “These kids are then invited to be part of the Justin Wynn Leadership Academy, where their leadership qualities are encouraged and developed.”

Lead artists Dustin Harris and Lea Pinsky worked with the children throughout the fall to compile their ideas for the mural, Ms. Clemens said.

“Just like they worked as a team to come up with the ideas for the mural, they will work as a team to paint the mural and celebrate our 25th year,” she said.

At the end of June the children came to Mr. Harris and Ms. Pinsky’s home where the artists talked with them about painting murals – how much paint to put on the brushes, the different kinds of strokes, and how to paint slowly and carefully within the lines. After that, they spent two hours a day working on the mural.

The mural shows images of “moving forward, looking up, and growing onwards,” said Ms. Clemens. “We want to let the community know how our organization is involved with the growth of our children and their involvement in the community.”

The warm-colored mural depicts children helping the elderly, working at soup kitchens, playing basketball and taking care of pets. It is surrounded with imagery of upward movement and growth, such as an arrow, a ladder and many floating bubbles.

Gustavo Sanchez, an artist and installation contractor with the Chicago Public Art Group, will work with Mr. Harris and Ms. Pinsky to apply the finishing touches on the mural as well as continue with any maintenance it may need in the future.

The mural was painted on five panels of plywood and will be installed with concrete screws. Ms. Clemens is waiting for Metra to give official approval for the mural’s location, which is planned for the northwest end of the Metra viaduct at Church Street and Maple Avenue.

McGaw Y Mural

More than 350 children from the McGaw Y summer camps have helped paint another new city mural, targeted for the north side of the Greenwood Street viaduct.

Children ages 2 through 14 painted. Toddlers used finger paint to contribute to the grass image and the older kids were in charge of the larger-scale pieces.

“We want our middle school kids to get involved in a project so that 10 years from now they can walk by it and say, ‘I did that for the City of Evanston,’” said the Y’s School Age Director Kenzi Huelskoetter.

The location for the mural was specifically chosen to be walking distance from the Y, she said.

Earlier this year, artists submitted proposals for the mural that highlighted the facets of the Y’s summer day camp programs, including “relationship-building, outdoor activities, crafts, sports and fun,” said Ms. Huelskoetter.

The mural has three main themes: grow, learn and play. It depicts cartoon-like children playing outdoors, riding bicycles, playing basketball, reading books, painting pictures and playing instruments. The name of the camps and the Y logo are included in the mural.

Colin Grimm and Enzo Moscarella, lead managing artists for the project, outlined the sketch for the children to fill in. They will supervise the painting and organization throughout the summer.

The project was put on hold for a time because of the heat wave that hit earlier this summer. Mr. Grimm and Mr. Moscarella say they plan, however, to put the finishing touches on the mural by the end of August and intend to visit the site every three months after completion to perform maintenance if needed.