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Murals add diversity to city story

This year could be the biggest year ever for murals in Aurora. By the end of fall, there will be more than two dozen completed works of public art downtown Aurora. 

Jenn Evans, director of Aurora Public Art, has worked hard to hire artists and navigate through the city’s extensive mural process. 

Part of this year’s projects included hosting 16 street artists on August 28 at BOM’ DA LOT, Aurora’s first sanctioned Street Art Gallery in Public Parking Lot H at 14 Middle Ave. Artists included Rogue1, Rawfa, Flash ABC, Raven, Cres Roc, Acid, Fisk, Syms, Snagz, Decades Oner, Seize, Ill630ink, Shananagans,1 AV One, Jose Art, and Sick Bombshell.

International Muralist Rafael Blanco, an Aurora resident originally from Spain, painted a 40 foot Diversity in Technology mural at 105 E. Galena Blvd. Christopher Lucero continues to install three large-scale prints from his Calaveras of Chicago series on the east side of 36 W. Downer Pl. as seen from the West Downer Bridge. 

Local artists Pierre Lucero, Catalina Diaz, Laura Reyes, and Janice Rodriguez are currently painting a colorful mural depicting Alebrijes, magical animals from Mexican Folk Art, on the BNSF viaduct wall along East New York Street, under the railroad bridge. 

In August, six new traffic cabinet murals were added to the existing dozen utility box murals installed throughout downtown in 2018. This year’s artists included Raul Rodea, Thuy-An Nguyen, Ali Cantarella, Josh Schultz, Teresa Feihn Millies, and Elizabeth French. Each box design portrays architectural elements from downtown. 

In October, Evans will bring Judith de Leeuw from Amsterdam to Aurora to paint the soon-to-be renovated Nickels Beilman Park that is referred to by city staff as “Skinny Park.” 

Public art is also a big focus of Aurora Downtown’s Streetscape committee, which funded the utility boxes along with their second gateway mural this summer. The Unity Mural on the east side of Mangkuk Restaurant at 210 E. Galena Blvd. was completed by Aurora artists Catalina Diaz and Laura Lynne in early September along with the assistance of about 45 volunteers. 

The 30 local artists who created colorful, vibrant art this summer, which includes some flowers and butterflies, add to the story of diversity in our community. They are creating a story with their brush strokes with content being added daily from the smiles and joy from passersby. 

Rodea, who painted the utility box in front of Society 57 at 100 S. River St., calls his piece “Sunset Waves.” Rodea said his first official public art piece for the city is “my gift to my hometown.” 

Rodea’s abstract interpretation pays homage to architectural and historical elements found in downtown which include the domes on The Hobbs Building, Aurora Regional Fire Museum, and Calla Lily Victorian Tea Room, and Jerry Peart’s blue City Lights/City Life sculpture in front of North Island Center. 

Rodea and the other diverse group of artists commissioned to create art in downtown Aurora tell the greatest story of all, and that’s the story of a community that is progressing forward and welcoming to all.