YORKTOWN CENTER MURAL APPLICATION
I want to begin by sharing some personal information that encouraged me to submit this application and made me exceptionally excited about this project and opportunity. My family owned the land before it became the Yorktown Shopping Center in 1968. My great-grandpa Boeger raised his family, animals, and crops on this land. He was born on a farm just south of Butterfield Road, where the Benihana sits today. He was also a fire chief for the Bellwood fire department for 35 years and owner of the hardware store next to the fire station. After retiring he built a house on his farm, where the Embassy Suites is currently, and lived out the rest of his life there until the late 1980s. My dad has a multitude of stories to tell about working on that farm and his grandpa Boeger, they were like two peas in a pod. I’ll share a shortened version of an interesting story that marks how much the area has transformed. My grandpa Boeger would walk the pigs down from grandpa Boeger’s farm to my uncle’s farm so that the pigs could breed, he says that it was a generally peaceful and good exercise for him and the pigs. Walking pigs is usually difficult to imagine for most, but can you imagine walking pigs down Butterfield road from where Benihana is now located to the corner of Midwest road? I can’t decide if my imaginative scenario leans more towards hysterical or towards a less-than-literal- sh*t show. Anyway, my dad lived some of his best childhood memories on that farm and followed in the farming footsteps that grandpa Boeger left for him; he loves raising crops and animals and he loved watching my siblings and I grow up on a farm in the middle of nowhere like he did.
When I saw the application, I pondered how much everything has changed and grown over two generations, I also thought about how much hasn’t changed. The recipes to our staple foods – Chicago-style hot dog and deep-dish pizza; the love of gatherings and getting together; the love and ceaseless development of music and art; the value in maintaining our natural resources, or “the garden” of “the city in a garden”. The history and heritage of the Chicagoland area consist of seamless integration across diverse backgrounds, values, interests, and ideals, resulting in the foundational collective spirit of creativity and motivation. This prevailing collective spirit encouraged growth and development, progressively transforming the area while maintaining the invaluable resources that continue to be cherished today. The design highlights aspects of history and heritage, growth and development, and what is held for us in the present moment. These highlighted aspects reflect the spirit of the Chicagoland area in itself, this is what brings us all together.
Themes to represent the spirit of Chicagoland area & a sense of connection:
• “A City in a Garden,”
• What brings us together?
• History, growth, and development of the Chicagoland area
On the left side, there are whimsical hotdog and deep-dish pizza plants and seeds to spark the imagination of the viewer and to display the staple foods that we love (so much, maybe too much). The giant watering can is placed to invite the engagement of multiple viewers to lift the can and water the imaginary plants together. The water droplets lead to the right side where they flow under a bridge and into the Chicago River. There are two bridges formed by the cornstalks on each end of the skyline and make up the bottom half of a heart. The Chicago River provided a mode of transportation for initial development, but the bridges that go over the Chicago River were the key to the city’s development as the connection between a variety of individuals and cultures, creating diversity. I included imagery of Cloud Gate, or The Bean, within the cornstalks that sit below CHICAGOLAND. These cornstalks are displayed as a gateway at the end of a path outlined with soybeans. To tie the whimsical nature of the left side to the right, soybean pods form to make the images musical notes and a saxophone. The musical element was the last to be added to the design, but it encapsulates every aspect that I wanted to highlight in the design. And, of course, the Chicago Skyline and the stars from the Chicago flag, because there is no Chicagoland area without our beloved Chicago.