Making a Mural Happen in Aurora. Step 1: Community Involvement
I moved back to Aurora nine years ago. I wanted a mural on a wall near downtown Aurora for just as long.
It’s a wall that I pass nearly every day; often several times in one day. It’s a wall that started off as just a bare concrete wall, I suppose. Then when I first started my daydreams of turning it into a piece of art, it was flaking and peeling gray paint. Sometime ago, it received a coat of black paint, which is now taking its turn at flaking and peeling.
I didn’t tell anyone about my vision for the wall on Locust Street that ascends toward downtown Aurora. Many days I would think the same thought: That wall needs to be a mural.
I’d imagine getting a crew together and painting it. No permission. It could have happened. The two adjacent properties turn over frequently. No one would have been the wiser. Well, maybe.
It was a fleeting thought I’ve had for almost a decade now. That wall on Locust. And what it could be.
I kept it to myself until now.
A few days ago, I shared the thought with a thousand of my closest friends: others who love downtown Aurora. I knew it was risky. Putting an idea out there (especially on social media) is a bold step, but the time is just so right.
Right now, in Aurora, we have not only a wealth of artistic talent, but we have passion and momentum. Now is the time to harness all of that and to do some great things for our community. To move it up. To move us up.
The Locust wall is just one wall in a big city – the second largest city in the state. We have more walls. We have lots of ideas, lots of artists, and lots of passion.
Now is the time to collaborate. The Locust wall could be an impetus for bigger, greater things. It’s a gateway to downtown that is peeling and crumbling, but what can it become when the community gets together?
Already, since I posted a couple of photos of the wall in a downtown Facebook group, the excitement is undeniable that the city is ripe for murals and public art. Dozens of residents are voicing their opinions on a possible mural. And that is great. That is why the first step for me was to bring the idea to the community.
Getting the community excited about an idea is a solid way to grow an idea into reality. When a community is involved, it brings energy to an idea. Once an idea has energy, it is hard to stop it.
I could have taken this idea through the droll and necessary steps, and then hired an artist, and then there might be a mural. Of course, with the current city laws on murals, it would be timely and tedious. But would the community feel ownership over the mural? Would they be proud of it? Would it inspire and grow the community?
Ultimately, murals are great, not because they beautify, but because they transform. Murals can transform not just a wall, but a community. Involving the community (and all ages) is not about selling ourselves short, but rather empowering us. If we work together, we can make something amazing.
We can share ideas and dreams. We can make more than something to look at; we can create something we love. That’s what makes this community so special. Our love of it. It’s not an outdoor mall, or a glorified tourist stop. We live here. We love the uniqueness, the oddities, the friends we’ve made.
Why wouldn’t we do this mural together? Together, we are better. And if Locust doesn’t work out, then there are other walls.
Let’s do this! #together
(P.S. Instead of saving your excitement, get on board and help make this happen.)
I’ve got lots of ideas on what I’d like to see happen on Locust. What are your ideas? Will you join in the discussion by commenting below, emailing me, and/or coming to DAAM on September 3 at Miss Lee’s Lounge?
A list of possible steps (up for discussion):
Step 1. Involve community (check)
Step 2. Contact Alderman Bill Donnell (check)
Step 3. Talk to property owner (property 1: check)
Step 4: Come up with a plan (updated: check)
Step 5: Go to City Council
Step 6: All that other stuff (renderings, artists, sponsors, etc.)
Step 7: Paint a mural!
Step 8: Celebrate with a downtown block party