Century Walk nears goal, board looks ahead
May 15, 2006 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Karl Stampfl
Twenty-seven down, three to go.
Century Walk is nearing the finish line in its decade-long race toward placing 30 pieces of art in downtown Naperville.
Since 1996, the nonprofit group has installed 27 murals, mosaics, sculptures and other types of art chronicling the city's history in the 20th Century. Three more are slated for the end of the year, though no definite timetable has been set.
But Century Walk may not be at the end of its marathon stroll.
The board is considering continuing after the last piece has been dedicated. Century Walk President Brand Bobosky said the board has three options.
The first option is to simply pack up shop, admire its accomplishments and move on.
"I don't think that's real viable," said Bobosky, who founded the project. "We've been successful in phase one. We're now looking at phase two."
Others on the board agreed.
"I don't think any of us are ready to quit," board member Patricia Singer said.
The second option is continuing at the current clip of three per year, even expanding beyond downtown by placing art at area schools or parks.
The third possibility is commissioning what Bobosky called "blockbuster art."
As examples, he offered Chicago's Cloud Gate, better known as the Bean, and the city's un-named Picasso sculpture.
"This is a new century," Bobosky said. "We did the Century Walk. We can do something of a major, major significance."
The cost could be staggering. Cloud Gate, though probably an extreme example, cost $23 million.
"It could run not in the thousands of dollars, but perhaps in the millions," Bobosky said.
About $2 million will have been pumped into the project for all 30 pieces. A total $1,045,000 will have come from private donations and nearly $955,000 from the city.
Kathleen Farrell, the artist of several Century Walk works, said public art is especially important in today's age of suburban similitude.
"Our towns all look the same," said Farrell, founder and director of Friends of Community Public Art in Joliet. "We have the same stores, the same strip malls, the same Jewels. By doing public art, your town can define itself."
Vicki Hoefler, left, her children Andrew, 1, and Courtney, 2, and Emily Thies, far right, and her children Natalie, 3, and Evan, 1, walk past a mural along the Century Walk on Washington St. in downtown Naperville Friday. The mural is one of the final six pieces of art planned for Century Walk.