The mural under the Metra Tracks on Greenleaf Street has been restored over the past few months thanks to Emily Felts, a sixth-grader entering Nichols Middle School this fall, who decided on the restoration as a project to earn a Bronze Award for Girl Scouts. With the help of her mother, Susan Felts, Emily enlisted the help of Jim Parks, the original designer of the mural, and Gay Riseborough, Chair of the Public Art Subcommittee of the Evanston Arts Committee.
The original 45-foot-long mural was painted on the underpass about 12 or 15 years ago with the support of many local business and organizations, Mr. Parks told the RoundTable. He drew the outline of the mural on the underpass, and many people in the community pitched in and helped with the painting. The mural contains images of many people of different races, reflecting the diversity of the area, and of many homes, representing homes in the neighborhood, he said.
Over the years, the mural “suffered very little graffiti,” said Mr. Parks, but portions deteriorated due to water damage. The restoration has for the most part kept the original design, but made the colors brighter, he said, adding, “I’d like to get another 10 years out of it.”
The restoration took five sessions, three or four hours each. Emily said she, fellow Girl Scout Julia Durham, and her mom helped out at each session. Other Girl Scouts in her troop, including Sophia Petrof, helped out as well. At times passers-by picked up a brush and pitched in. Mr. Parks led the effort, teaching kids how to mix colors and providing some pointers on painting.
Ms. Riseborough, at one time a portrait artist, helped throughout the project and, among other things, touched up faces on the mural. She said it was important for the murals in Evanston to look good.