More than 50 artists and hundreds of community members came together to create the recently completed mural at the Logan Square Dog Park (2529 W. Logan Blvd.). The official unveiling of the painting and the one-year anniversary of the park will be on Sunday, Sept. 25, from noon to 3 pm. The group will celebrate with a picnic.
It’s been almost a year since the Logan Square Dog Park has opened its gates to the public to hundreds of happy pups and their humans, and a lot has been going on: Fifteen trees planted, a dog training class put on by Active! Dog Daycare and Boarding and a stunning mural created by local artists, to name a few.
While the Logan Square Dog Park Committee has pushed this project forward, keeping the park maintained (stopping by regularly to move the garbage bins, fundraising for future maintenance of the pea gravel), it doesn’t end there. Their stated goal is actually to make it a “community park,” envisioning it as a place for the community to gather and meet their neighbors. A social spot. And it seems to have worked.
Since it opened, the park has been steadily busy with dogs of all breeds and people from all over the neighborhood. Even their Facebook page is doing well, with 1,652 followers getting their up-to-date neighborhood dog news from there. In fact, the public response since opening has been so positive, it is actually the local community that has been in charge of maintenance, such as replenishing all the brooms and shovels that they use to shovel off the gravel and keep it clean. The park is 100 percent community-maintained.
Celebrating a year into this project, Logan Square Dog Park is having their Art in the Park Picnic. From the Logan Square Dog Park Committee, to the volunteers, to the local businesses that generously donate their time and money, this party is a celebration and vindication of all their hard work in making this park a reality.
That hard work applies to the mural, too. All summer, a large team has worked to prime, paint and polish up this project, which was organized by AnySquared Projects, Tracy Kostenbader, Flash ABC, Renegades of Funk, CMW, Xmen, Holiday Gerry, Makeba Kedem-Dubose, Nerd, Gretchen Hasse, Squeak Starzula, Helen Sanchez, Logan Square Dog Park and dozens of others. The mural brought in two lead artists, about a dozen featured artists and others who are assisting, including a stencil crew and those who help keep track of inventory for this large-scale project.
Measuring in at about 300 feet long and 17 to 23 feet high, this painting was a huge undertaking. To break up the work, some artists are assigned to a specific bay, or the area between the column supports for I-90/94, which runs alongside the dog park and provides the wall for the mural. Each of the 14 bays is almost 19 feet wide.
“Committee members love Logan Square. The mural is our way of showing love and carrying over to the park,” said Kim Pool, president of the Logan Square Dog Park Committee.
Elements included in the painting are dogs (naturally), fire hydrants, paws, balls, bowls, bones and more. Plans for the mural are to also include a Comfort Station dog house, the Illinois Centennial Monument eagle and a cityscape, said Tracy Kostenbader, co-founder of AnySquared Projects. She’s documented the project on various social media platforms such as Tumblr, and she’s brought together many of the artists and provides a space for them to meet, work and collaborate.
One long-time AnySquared participant is Gretchen Hasse. She has a bay she’s painting with a character from her online comic series, Freaks’ Progress. Gretchen’s character is Hazel, who has a service dog. This painting acts as a tribute to service dogs, Hasse said. She says that this mural wouldn’t happen with a single person. “This is an enormous undertaking that I think none of us could on our own.”
One participant and artist, Holiday Gerry, has a truck, which greatly helps with the transportation of materials. He’s also photographed the project thoroughly and recruited additional people for the mural. He said he’s been at AnySquared every Wednesday since learning about the group in late 2015. For the mural, he created a Siberian Husky based on the Wikipedia image of the Siberian Husky. “I’m going to make it fuckin siiick. … Multiple ‘I’s in ‘sick.’”
With multiple styles, something has to unify the piece. “With the stencils, we’re going to make them all come together in a way,” said Cesar Luna, who’s one of a few people creating stencils for the background of the piece. Outside of his work with AnySquared, he does sculpture, drawing and painting. He’s excited for the opportunity to work with other artists and watch them work in media different from his, such a freehanded spray paint from FlashABC, a longtime graffiti artist in Chicago who’s also involved with AnySquared.
Kostenbader said Logan Square Dog Park raised the funds for materials and stipends for some featured and assisting artists. In a message with Logan Square Dog Park committee president Kim Pool, she said the cost was estimated to be $15,000. A request was sent to iDOT, but state budget cuts meant they’d be on their own. Businesses could donate to have their name on the painting, helping to raise funds. Much of the paint came through donations.
On May 15 of this year, scraping of the wall began. Many layers of paint from graffiti and coverups needed to be removed for a smooth paint surface. Priming of the wall started on May 21, with the columns primed the following week. Line work began in late May, providing outlines for the major elements of the work. Various paint days attracted large crowds hoping to help. Kostenbader said a single paint day in June brought in nearly 200 community members who helped with the work. Painting continued throughout the summer, and the official unveiling of the mural will be on Sunday, Sept. 23.
As with many large-scale projects, setbacks occurred. One that made the news was some vandalism of the painting. A seal for the project will help prevent instances like this. In an interview in early June, Kostenbader said she thinks it will be respected in the community. However, the mural was vandalized just three weeks after the interview with LoganSquarist. However, Kostenbader said this didn’t set the project back for long. Instead, it only cost the group less than two hours to correct.
After working on the project for three months, artists have collaborated and learned from each other. Cesar Luna, who’s part of the stenciling team, is making stencils of repeated elements for use on the mural. Luna’s artistic work typically focuses on sculpture and drawings, he said, but he’s becoming interested in freehanded spray paint works. When talking about working with the various experienced and well-known artists, he said “It’s an honor to work with them.”
One experienced artist, Rodney Dollah, has worked on at least 20 murals previously, he said. For this project, he’s assisting with cleaning up the works, correcting any smudges and the like. Aside from this, he said the goal for the mural “is to show artists of Chicago that everybody from the surrounding areas, as far as north and south, can come together and work together as Chicago artists.”
To learn more about the artists and crews involved, visit the AnySquared Facebook page.