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Thursday, June 29, 2017 12:09 am

Mural fiber

Painting a downtown alley to give it a big-city feel

The alley between the Old Town Mall and the Reisch Building is about to become very, very artistic.
Downtown Springfield Inc.’s image and design committee’s most recent project will come to fruition this Thursday evening with…a party in an alley.

Of course, that’s not the whole story. Two young artists will unveil new murals, turning the alleyway between the Reisch Building and the Old Town Mall between Fourth and Fifth streets – immediately west of the Old State Capitol – into a gallery space (the walls were donated by the Stern and Myers families, who own the buildings) from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Thursday. In addition, there will be drinks, snacks and DJ music.

This may be off the beaten path for Springfield, but in the larger picture it’s really nothing new. “This is very much in keeping with our goal to steal cool ideas from other cities,” quipped DSI executive director Lisa Clemmons Stott, pointing out that ‘art alley events’ have been presented in several other communities with great  success. “We really want to give the alley a big-city feel,” she added. She described the muralists as both having “activist” points of view, “provocative but also beautiful and eye-catching.”

“I’ve always wanted to do a mural,” said artist Immanuel Ahiable. “It’s a dedication to my grandfather who recently passed – it’s inspired by the culture I come from.” Ahiable was born in Ghana, West Africa, and promises to incorporate elements of art from his region of origin. “I’m appreciative of this opportunity,” he said.

Artist Laura Zuniga has also wanted to do murals in the downtown area for quite a while. “I contacted DSI a long time ago about mural opportunities,” she said. Zuniga has been painting since her junior year of high school and received her bachelor’s degree in studio art from Benedictine University in Lisle. “My style is urban,” she said. “It’s realistic but still very loose. The theme of my mural is facing your fears and accomplishing your dreams.”    

Lights and music will be coordinated by Neuhoff Media and Chicago light artist Brandon Mojica. The south wall will have a gallery hanging of more than 40 pieces of work by Sangamon County artists. Guests will also be able to participate in a paint-by-numbers mural on the north wall.

Contact Scott Faingold at sfaingold@illinoistimes.com.

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