At 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, two radiant 8’ x 10’ murals by Tony Fitzpatrick will be unveiled in the heart of Glen Ellyn at 427 N. Main St. The murals will be displayed near the new pedway completed this past spring, which connects pedestrians to the Metra, garages and downtown businesses.
The murals depict birds native to the area: a woodpecker and a cardinal. Composed of acrylic paint on aluminum board, the visually collaged background features imagery distinctive to pop culture influences in Fitzpatrick's work. In creating the murals, Fitzpatrick was assisted by his studio partner and protégé, Danny Torres, and Sam Decarlo who, like Fitzpatrick, is a former College of DuPage student.
“I was honored to be have the opportunity to create this work for Glen Ellyn,” says Fitzpatrick. “It’s one of my core beliefs that art is best made via cultural and community efforts and this project is a perfect opportunity to show that in action.”
The Fitzpatrick murals are part of the DuPage Public Art Project proposed by Diana Martinez, Director of the McAninch Arts Center, and approved by the College’s Board of Trustees in October 2020 with the goal of initiating public art events and art installations. The partnership with Glen Ellyn is the inaugural kick-off to the College’s Public Art Project, where COD will work with the Village to establish a public arts committee, and partner for the creation of two public art installations and one community arts engagement effort. At the conclusion of the agreement, COD will partner with another town for two years in hopes that the established committee in Glen Ellyn will continue on its own. Martinez proposed the idea in an effort to build Public Art Committees in cities throughout DuPage County. The idea of the Project was inspired by the announcement by COD President Dr. Brian Caputo of the Arts, Culture and Community Engagement Pillar of the College’s 2021-2026 Strategic Long-Range Plan.
“The College is committed to supporting arts, culture and community engagement throughout District 502 and beyond,” Caputo said. “The DuPage Public Art Project will foster partnership and continued involvement within our neighborhoods, and I am excited to forge ahead as we unveil this first work of what I know will be a worthwhile endeavor.”
“Tony’s works are a perfect first project to launch this public art initiative as he grew up in DuPage County and has many connections to COD,” says Cleve Carney Museum of Art Curator Justin Witte. “He was also close friends with the founding donor of the Cleve Carney Museum of Art, Cleve Carney. The timing of this installation is ideal as it serves as a precursor to his upcoming exhibition at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art opening October 16.”
A Public Arts Project Committee comprised of residents Dawn Smith, Geoff Bevington, Carol White, Jennifer Umlaff and Chair, Diana Martinez (MAC Director), and MAC Project Coordinator Molly Junokas and College of DuPage/CCMA Curator Justin Witte was tasked by the Village Board to provide a proposal for a mural for the pedway on the north brick wall.
“The committee met and wanted to present something that reflects the beauty and nature of Glen Ellyn by a professional artist that would garner national artistic attention,” says Martinez. “Tony is an author, actor and acclaimed artist whose work has been exhibited in nationally renowned museums. He grew up in Lombard, was a dear friend of the late Cleve Carney and attended COD so was the perfect choice. The committee unanimously agreed on approaching Fitzpatrick to paint the mural. He accepted and suggested the idea of classic bird images, which reflect the nature and trees of Glen Ellyn, customized with words and details reflecting other aspects of the village.”
“Public art is more than just pictures on the side of a building. Public Art is a catalyst for economic development and has the power to draw people to our community,” observed Glen Ellyn President Mark Senak. “Art provokes our emotions, activates our minds and widens our consciousness. People gravitate to public art, like the Bean in Millennium Park. These murals are a great start. I want to thank our friends at College of DuPage for raising awareness of the virtues of public art and look forward to working with them on making public art part of the Glen Ellyn brand.” The mural was sponsored by, College of DuPage, the Village of Glen Ellyn, and by the Glen Ellyn Environmental Committee who was awarded a grant from the DuPage Foundation, whose generous award contributed to the installation.
Tony Fitzpatrick is a Chicago-based artist best known for his multimedia collages, printmaking, paintings, and drawings. Fitzpatrick's work is inspired by Chicago Street culture, cities he has traveled to, children's books, tattoo designs, and folk art. Fitzpatrick has authored or illustrated eight books of art and poetry, and, for the last two years has written a column for Newcity. Fitzpatrick's art appears in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC. The Neville Brothers' album “Yellow Moon” and the Steve Earle albums “El Corazon” and “The Revolution Starts Now” also feature Fitzpatrick's art. In 2015, Fitzpatrick opened The Dime, an exhibition space in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Before making a living as an artist, Fitzpatrick worked as a radio host, bartender, boxer, construction worker, and film and stage actor.
Fitzpatrick’s final museum exhibition will be Tony Fitzpatrick: Jesus of Western Avenue at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art, 425 Fawell Blvd. on the campus of College of DuPage, Oct. 16, 2021 through Jan. 31, 2022. More information can be found at TheCCMA.org
To read CGN's fall 2021 interview with Fitzpatrick, click here.