The Century Walk Corporation

Century Walk Preserves Naperville's Heritage Through Public Art

August 1, 2011 — Source: Naperville Patch — Author: Suzy Ravasio Chudzik

Imagine walking around downtown Naperville and glimpsing your image or that of a loved one captured in a vibrant mural.

Locals have the opportunity to be included in a piece of public art. All they need to do is make a donation supporting an organization, which uses public art to reflect Naperville’s history and heritage.

The Naperville Century Walk's current project, a mural titled "Naperville Loves A Parade," is the group's most ambitious project to date. The mural, on the south wall of "Rubin's Way" — the alleyway between the Gap and Talbot's on the west side of Main Street — is directly across from another of the Walk's pieces, "The Parade of the Century."

"Art is a statement of our culture and and, through the ages, mankind has always sought to be his own creator through building, architecture and music," said Brand Bobosky, president of Naperville Century Walk.

"In many ways, it is a public statement of what a community deems important and valuable. In our case, it is a remembrance of Naperville's history, our people and our places."

What makes the project different is that individuals or businesses can make a tax-deductible donation to the Century Walk, and have the donor’s image, the image of a friend or a loved one, painted into the scene. Donors can send in their own images or arrange to have their photos taken by one of the artists.

The Naperville Century Walkis a nonprofit public art initiative founded in 1996 dedicated to portraying the history of Naperville through public art. The Naperville Century Walk includes 35 pieces of artwork.  Thirty of the pieces, in some way, portray the history of Naperville during the 20th Century through people, places and events.

No museum is needed to explore the different pieces of art, just take a stroll through Naperville and chances are you've seen quite a few characters. There's ''Genevieve'' sitting on her bench outside Barnes & Noble, William "Billy" Scherer getting ready to shoot a basket outside Naperville Central High School, "Dick Tracy" protecting the Riverwalk and the spirited kids playing outside the Fry Family YMCA.

And don't forget about ''Officer Friendly,'' ''Mr. & Mrs. Naperville'' and "The Cat in the Hat."

How does a new piece of artwork make its way into the Century Walk?

"The process has evolved over the last 15 years," Bobosky said. "Early on, we would need to select a theme, find property and commission an artist. Now we have people coming to us wanting to donate space for the artwork, their services and even suggesting themes, asking us if we can help them." 

Learn more about being memorialized in the Naperville Century Walk’s latest project here. To learn more about the Naperville Century Walk, check out its interactive online guide, then put on your walking shoes and get a look at this fabulous collection in person.