By Lane Imberman
Families, artists, and Rogers Park residents came together for the 20th Annual Artists of the Wall Festival at Loyola Park Beach, to beautify and honor the community.
The annual event, held every summer is hosted by the Loyola Park Advisory Council and Rogers Park Business Alliance and brings out locals to paint sections of the seawall that runs along the beachfront path.
“You pay for each spot to paint and then it stays up for a year” said Cathleen Andes, 41, an art teacher from New Field Elementary School in Rogers Park, “so every year it’s new art and new artists.”
Andes and other New Field parents brought out their youngsters and were painting several sections of wall – each section costs $30.
One stretch of the wall represented three generations.
“We’ve been doing this for 16 years as a family,” said Tina Juhlin, a Rogers Park resident and grandmother who bought six sections. Juhlin’s painting depicted a 20-year history of the event.
But the event is more than just painting.
“There’s music, and they had people doing improv, and acro-yoga too,” Juhlin said.
However, the event was not always a place for children.
Twenty years ago, “this wall was completely covered with gang graffiti and trash,” said John Lamping, 72, a Rogers Park resident and member of the Loyola Park Advisory Council.
So, a group of Rogers Park neighbors “got together and invited the two warring gangs to come down here and have a graffiti stand-off,” Lamping said. “There was no fighting between them, and eventually it turned into a local event open to all.”
Many at the event expressed a strong community connection: “To me, personally, this two-day event is the most brilliant manifestation of what I call the heart and soul of Rogers Park,” Lamping said.