Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Mount Prospect have all pretty much missed the boat.

Niles is just getting on the boat. Rosemont is already paddling as are cities around the country like Lubbock, TX, Wichita, KS, and St. Joseph, MO.

The time is now that these three local and other Northwest suburbs start moving on the subject of beautifying their communities and triggering local thought and conversation with public murals.

We’ve brought this subject up before in Des Plaines. Some interest was shown, but not much. On the other hand, Rosemont has been creating murals throughout their community and using local talent to get it done. Some of the muralists have been students from Maine West High School. A common theme in Rosemont is to blend colorful local messages with global art to brighten the day of the thousands of visitors to the village and its residents.

Much to my delight, Des Plaines’ new Mayor Andrew Goczkowski said this week that he is totally behind the idea of creating and displaying more public art in Des Plaines, especially murals. Years ago Des Plaines embraced the display of pieces of sculpture around the city. The pieces were leased from artists and eventually had to be given back. Not so for murals.

“Public art can be an important way to build communities,” said Goczkowski. “People have brought this up to me on more than one occasion. We could use public art downtown for people who eat and congregate. I think we should look into doing it. It’s not like the cost is dramatic and the art could last for years.”

The mayor’s right. So, let’s get moving. What’s the hold up?

In my view it’s the existence of a leader. Someone’s got to champion the benefits of people living in Des Plaines and passing through who happen to see something beautiful or controversial. Remember the Picasso in downtown Chicago? When it first appeared in 1967 people were aghast. Today, Chicagoans are proud of the unique treasure created by Pablo Picasso. Since its inception more than 50 years ago it’s been the subject of conversation after conversation about its meaning and purpose. The talking hasn’t subsided. Neither has the name Chicago on peoples’ lips.

In neighboring Niles, the community has launched a public mural program, much to their credit. Currently it consists of decorating in colorful fashion public benches. That town is on the right track. In contrast not much thought about murals that add color and conversation in the community is happening. The same goes for most nearby communities.

Des Plaines is home to one really superb mural. It’s located on the side exterior wall of the downtown Des Plaines History Center. One, however, is not enough. The mold of doing nothing mural-wise was broken with that art work. Now’s the time to take the mayor’s advice and get rolling.

What a wonderful change blazing colorful murals would make for towns like Park Ridge, Mount Prospect and Des Plaines.

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