Circle Avenue Bridge is Forest Park’s bridge.
Nestled in the center of the community, it’s widely travelled by local residents and connects the north siders to the south siders, driving southbound traffic to Roosevelt Road or the Park District and alternatively, northbound traffic to Madison Street, Forest Park’s official downtown area. It’s also often used by residents walking to hop on the CTA Blue Line “L.”
For decades the bridge has been deteriorating. Its chain-link fencing constructed atop the low resting concrete walls began weeping rust and stained the walls below. The result was a look of abandonment and screamed “I need some love!”
Thus, an idea was born from one resident (and then village employee), Sally Cody, to clean up the bridge have a mural painted along the pathway on both sides. After garnering both village and state approvals, Sally was given the green light and sought to establish a committee to help her design and manage the project. Therefore, the Cover Our Rust public art project was born.
With the Village’s blessing, Sally shared the idea with the public and asked for help on the project. The town rallied.
Residents Lin Beribak, Village Commissioner Rachell Entler, Michelle Fitzhenry, Alicia Hammond, Andrea Kuehn, Jessica Luciano, Karen Rozmus, Laura Twinning, Rick Wagner, Scott Watson, and Margie Wilkinson answered the call. This group worked on finalizing a concept, developed marketing materials, determined “costs to build,” selected the color palette, developed the application process, promoted the event, purchased and divvyed up supplies, set up and broke down the event, and provided guidance to the artists.
The Public Works department of the Village power washed the concrete walls and painted the chain-link fence jet black prior to the event. 110 ten foot sections were assigned to the artists and groups, and on Saturday, May 13, 2017, the bridge was closed down and the artists began projecting their individual unique painted designs.
The event took one day to pull off and the final result was applauded by all. The event was highlighted on the WGN TV news, the weather was terrific, and everyone involved had an amazing time.
During the early stages of planning Cover Our Rust, the group realized that Forest Park had tremendous public support for our project. It became evident that Forest Park lacked a local art organization and there was a clear need for one to exist.
The group made a decision to formalize an Arts Alliance once the COR project was done and met a number of times after May 13th to initiate all proper legal processes for the official establishment of a not-for-profit entity. By winter of 2017, by-laws were drafted and adopted, articles of incorporation were filed, and federal and state not-for-profit status paperwork was filed and approved.
This seven member board’s official mission is to promote local artists, in all its varying disciplines, and to introduce art into the public domain through events, workshops, and education.