Naperville's who's who; Mural celebrates luminaries of the city's past
May 16, 2001 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Kathy Millen
At 5 p.m. April 30, Dodie Mondero applied the finishing stroke to the mural he had been painstakingly working on for more than a year.
"Pillars of the Community" finally was done.
It was a labor of love for the south suburban artist whose preliminary sketches of historically significant people, businesses and landmarks won him the job of immortalizing Naperville's past in an art deco style on the south side of the Sullivan's Steakhouse building at Chicago Avenue and Main Street.
The mural is the latest addition to the Naperville Century Walk public art exhibit, a 10-year initiative started in 1996 to place public artworks relating to Naperville's history in the downtown area.
Financed by grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the city's hotel-motel taxes, local banks and private donors, the exhibit will include a total of 30 works of art by the time it is complete in 2006.
"Pillars of the Community" is the project's 13th work.
Mondero started the mural April 1, 2000, with the goal of completing the work by the end of the summer.
But periods of inclement weather, the detailed style of his work, last-minute design changes and frequent interruptions from interested passers-by, made it impossible to meet his deadline.
"When I finished, it was a relief," he said.
"Painting large scale like that, it was a big challenge.
I am always challenging myself, learning every day.
Painting like that, it was great.
It was good exposure for me."
The mural was painted in three panels.
The first includes visual references to Kroehler Manufacturing Co., Stenger Brewery, photographers Eli Stark and Charles Koretke and the Naperville quarry.
The second panel features historic artist Les Schrader, Joe and Gertrude Wehrli, the Pre-Emption House, Moore Lumber, the first car wash in Naperville, Nichols Library and librarian Mary Barbara Eggermann and two U.S. Marines, a man and a woman.
The male Marine is presenting a doll to Eggermann, who was well-known throughout town for her doll collection.
The third panel includes Grace Fredenhagen, Judge Win Knoch, doctors and nurses at Edward Sanitarium, two switchboard operators, the Martin Mitchell mansion and George Martin and his daughter, Caroline Martin Mitchell.
On either side of each panel are the figures of stone statues, giving the illusion of pillars holding up the artwork.
Brand Bobosky, president of the Century Walk board of directors, said the mural was well worth the wait.
"I think it's outstanding," he said.
"We could view it as three separate works.
He's tied them all together very nicely.
Each one of the panels has anywhere from five to seven different people, events or places representative of history, which is the Century Walk's mission.
On brick, to paint people that look like they are alive, I think that's quite outstanding."
Mondero was able to capture the likenesses of well-known historic Naperville residents as well as buildings and landmarks primarily through old photographs.
One exception was the male Marine, which he painted using a Marine from the local recruiting station as a model.
Next to his signature, which was painted to look as though it was chiseled into the brick wall, Mondero put in a dedication to his parents, Rodolfo and Pilar Mondero.
A native of the Philippines, the artist came to the United States age 13 and settled in Wheaton.
He graduated from Glenbard South High School in 1984 and went on to take classes at the School of the Art Institute, Illinois State University and College of DuPage. He worked at an interior design firm for 10 years before leaving to pursue a free-lance art career.
He lived for a short time in Naperville before moving to the south suburbs.
The Century Walk board paid Mondero about $25,000 for the project.
Bobosky said it was money well spent.
"We got good value for what we paid," he said.
"It's quality work.
We are very pleased with it.
He took his time and I think that's to his credit.
"I think sometimes the overlooked aspect of the mural is that the studio is the sidewalk and the wall is the canvas.
It's there for people to see evolve.
Other paintings are done in the studio and they show up on the wall one day.
This one people saw progress from three blank, drab brown walls to something that is vibrant and expressive.
I think that is the real essence of public art.
Where there is nothing, you can create something."
AT A GLANCE The "Pillars of the Community" mural on the south side of Sullivan's Steakhouse will be dedicated at 2 p.m. May 27 at the northeast corner of Main Street and Chicago Avenue.
Historic people, places and landmarks that make Naperville what it is today have been captured on a three-panel mural on the Chicago Avenue side of Sullivan's Steakhouse by artist Dodie Mondero. The most recent addition to the Naperville Century Walk public art exhibit, "Pillars of the Community" pays homage to the contributions of people like Grace Fredenhagen, Judge Win Knoch, George Martin, Caroline Martin Mitchell and the doctors and nurses at the old Edward Sanitarium.