Public art is such an important part of any community. It supports local artists and other creatives while providing a platform for discussion on topics such as understanding historical and cultural backgrounds, sharing abstract ideas and portraying community values. In a time when many seem divided, it’s more important than ever that we find new ways to connect with one another and art in our parks can make public spaces more approachable.
Most may not know this about me, but my education background is in fine art, so as Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the park district, I jump at the opportunity to bring more art into our park system. In 2014, I laid my eyes on an empty wall space at Hall Quarry Beach and I immediately saw the potential for a future mural project. Fast forward five years, I am excited to announce that a new mural was commissioned and will be unveiled at the Hall Quarry Beach opening day on May 25.
Local artists Joshua Schultz of Creative Edge and Rebekah Axtell of Green Life Media were selected for the project in early 2019, primarily based off the great work they did for the community as part of the 2018 Bulldogs Unleashed fundraising campaign. They are also experienced muralists, having played a large part in the recent downtown murals in Aurora.
Joshua and Rebekah visited the quarry this past summer, spending the day speaking with both children and adults visiting for the day, as well as staff to determine what they’d like to see in a mural. The words “bright,” “playful,” and “vibrant” came up often in conversation, so they instantly gravitated towards the beach ball for inspiration.
“Art plays such an important role in public spaces. It inspires both children and adults to explore creating their own art or pushing their creative abilities, or at least that’s what it did for me growing up,” said Schultz. “Murals are a great way to honor the past. You can’t move forward without the foundation of the past. ”
Public art encourages people to slow down and enjoy the space they are sharing. Seventy percent of Americans believe that the arts improve the image and identity of their community, and I couldn’t agree more.
“What we’re really aiming to do is create a sense of place. Art is often about storytelling and reflecting on the identity of the community. Art doesn’t appear in communities until they’ve been established long enough to have that collection of stories to share visually,” stated Axtell. “It’s a way to show pride in the place you live.”
The new mural is reminiscent of “Golden Era” linen postcards, popular from the 1930s – 1960s, which is fitting for a facility like the Quarry that has such a rich history. The mural will be featured on the quarry pump house that faces the west beach. The public is encouraged to come to see the mural in person this quarry season, open May 25 through August 11 and share their own quarry story with the Park District by tagging us on social media with the hashtag #myquarrystory.
For more information about Hall Quarry Beach, please visit www.bataviaparks.org. If you’d like to see more of their artwork, you can find Joshua Schultz on Instagram at @joshuatschultz and Rebekah Axtell at www.greenlife.today.