More than 70 Rogers Park residents helped paint the fence in front of the Heartland Cafe.
The event, organized by resident Rachel Levy, commissioned an artist to design a mural for the 70ft of fence along Lunt and Glenview.
Levy, a theatre designer, said Heartland had been a big part of both the community and her family, as her husband used to work there.
“I was walking by [Heartland] a bunch and the fence just looked like a blank canvas,” Levy said. “So, I contacted the developer to see if he was interested in me putting together an event.”
The developer agreed and provided a budget for the supplies and an artist, Levy said.
Amy Couey, a scenic designer, said she was excited when Levy reached out to her about collaborating on a design. The idea was nerve-wracking at first, but she realized it was an opportunity for the community to come together, she said.
“Heartland Cafe was something that meant a lot to a lot of people, and the idea of painting on a fence where it was torn down is intimidating because how are you going to inspire the community to come out and do something that makes them a little sad,” Couey said.
The design features Rogers Park’s zip code, 60626, bicycles and a Rogers Park map which shows the locations of each ‘little library’. It includes an open book that looks like wings when someone stands in front of it, an interactive feature that Levy and Couey felt was important.
The colors are drawn from Heartland’s color scheme, a detail Levy and Couey said was essential to pay homage.
The design planned to include the Rogers Park tree logo with handprints, but so many people left handprints that they ran out of room for the trunk Levy said.
“So that changed a bit from the original idea, but I love that there are all the different handprints,” Levy said. “I think the youngest is from a six-month old.”
Couey outlined the design on Wednesday with the help of a few volunteers Couey said. Then over the weekend, residents were welcomed to fill in Couey’s design. She said it was moving to see the community come together to create her art.
“There were a lot of people that were emotionally affected by it and were so thankful, hugging me and thanking me for this,” Couey said. “All of a sudden it didn’t feel like it was mine anymore, it felt like it was all of ours.”
The plan is for certain sections of the fence to be auctioned, and the proceeds will be donated to Rogers Park nonprofits, Levy said.
Levy and Couey were pleased with the outcome and want to continue community projects in the future, they said.
“People really care about this community and I’m so happy to be a part of that, and it makes doing these projects that much easier,” Levy said.