Protecting the environment is the message of this year’s annual summer sidewalk art exhibition presented by the La Grange Business Association, “Earth Day Every Day: Cool to Care.”
To spread the message, more than two dozen local artists painted 30 rain barrels placed around the business district. Visitors can munch on treats as they view the art pieces during Snack & Stroll: Art Adventure + Lunch – 5pm 25 June. Walking Maps are available at local businesses.
This is the 16th year the La Grange Business Association hosts its annual summer sidewalk art exhibition.
“The reason why we started doing this summer art project is that we wanted to use it as an opportunity to highlight all the amenities available at La Grange and to draw people to the front door of our local business,” said Executive Director Nancy Cummings.
“It was originally modeled on the famous Cows on Parade, which is an art project undertaken by the City of Chicago along Michigan Avenue. The idea grew into an annual outdoor public art exhibition that is now part of a tradition at La Grange embraced by local residents and businesses, and it’s a celebration of our local art community.”
Cummings reports that local businesses are buying unfinished items and are seeking local artists to paint them.
This is the second time the artist has painted rain barrels. The first time was about 13 years ago. “It was very well received,” Cummings said. “We want to bring it back because sustainability and the environment are such an important part of culture these days and people are looking for ways to live a little more sustainably.”
Previous themes included a dog house, a game table, and a free small library, among others.
Cummings reports that each rain barrel will have a sign telling who is sponsoring it with a QR Code that links to a page on the La Grange Business Association website that lists dozens of ways to be more sustainable.
The rain barrels will be displayed during Labor Day and then auctioned off on September 10 at the West End Arts Festival to benefit local non-profit groups.
Self-taught artist Lorna Lightle from La Grange Park has participated in a sidewalk art event every year. This year, he painted two rain barrels.
Lightle said that he enjoyed participating in the event because, “I like to make people smile.”
He will definitely do it this year. One brightly colored rain barrel, which he calls the “Barrel of Laughs,” is covered in deliberately made-up jokes, such as: “Why is the sand wet? Because of the seaweed!” It was sponsored by Horizon Wealth Management.
Another Lightle rain barrel, “Water Into Wine,” is designed to look like a merlot barrel. It is sponsored by Blueberry Hill.
Lightle also participates every year because, “It’s my way of giving back to the community,” as the barrels are auctioned off to help local nonprofits.
The June 25 event, the second annual Snack & Stroll, will combine “a lot of people’s favorite things, which are art and eating,” Cummings said. Local restaurants will have treats that can be eaten while strolling. Items will be priced from $5 to $8.
Kellie Sipich of Q-BBQ says they will sell the bacon slider or smoked pulled chicken slider with a small order of hush puppies for $6. “It’s easy to walk around and eat,” he said.
“It’s a great community event and it brings people to the city center,” Sipich said.
Jim McGuigan of 1416, an American craft restaurant that offers a seasonal menu, will sell chicken thighs braised and then marinated in buttermilk, with chili aioli rémoulade sauce. A container of 6 or 7 thighs is $8.
“I love how people can walk around and see all the art on display throughout downtown La Grange, and try a bit of food,” McGuigan said of the event.
“It’s a way to experience a different place to eat as people sample their way of art,” says Cummings.
Snack & Stroll: Art Adventure + Eat
When: noon – 5pm June 25
Where: La Grange Bisnis Business District
Tickets: Free admission; Snacks available for sale
Information: 708-582-6510; cm.lgba.com/events/details/snack-stroll-an-art-dining-adventure-15193
Myrna Petlicki is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.