Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF) — Close to 100 gathered last Wednesday evening for the dedication of the mural on the on the Cultural Arts Building in DownTown Park Forest. Seated on rows of chairs lined up on Centre Street, the crowd applauded as Mrs. Leona DeLue, the first official resident of Park Forest shared the honor of cutting the ribbon with artist Jesus Rodriguez.
Several plaques were also dedicated to founding members of the Village of Park Forest, including one plaque dedicated to the village’s first 100 families. Also honored on the plaques are Carroll F. Sweet, Sr., Nathan Manilow, Phillip M. Klutznick, Art Hodes and Dawn Upshaw.
Village Manager Tom Mick welcomed the crowd, expressing his pleasure with the turnout for the event which “not only recognizing the history of the community but also the cultural art heritage of Park Forest.”
Mayor John Ostenburg concurred, “If there has been one thing that has marked our village over the years, it’s been the commitment to the arts. What we’re doing tonight is also honoring the arts in Park Forest.”
“As you look at all of these figures, you can see how just excellently done they are,” Ostenburg said, expressing praise for the artist. “When Jesus Rodriguez was picked as the muralist who was going to do this, he came before the board and he talked about how he researched his project. I think we all knew that it was going to be a great representation, but it just surpassed, I think, all of our imagination in terms of it authenticity, how well it captures the individuals.”
Ostenburg invited Leona DeLue to cut the ribbon for the dedication ceremony. DeLue’s husband Ross was one of the original members of the School District 163 School Board, and she and Ross are considered to be the first official residents of Park Forest.
“The reason we picked Leona is because Ross told me years ago that they were in fact the very first Park Forest residents,” Ostenburg explained. “Phil Klutznick liked to say that he moved in first because, apparently, they had their furniture in there [Court B-1]. But Mrs. Klutznick was expecting a baby, and so, as a result, they were not able to move in, and the DeLues actually moved in first.”
Artist Jesus Rodriguez thanked the residents, “I’d just like to thank Park Forest for choosing me as the artist for this project.”
He described the obstacles he initially faced, “As we all know, that’s a stucco wall, so that’s a challenge in itself. When I put the first brush strokes down, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what did I get myself in to?’ As it went along, I really started to like the texture. The people who posed for me, they’re real interesting. That made it worthwhile.
“I’d like to thank everybody who sat down and talked to me about their organizations, and especially the people that actually sat and dressed up in these costumes. Hopefully I did your portraits some justice.”
Artist Jesus Rodriguez and original Park Forest resident Leona DeLue cut
the ribbon, officially unveiling the DownTown mural. (Photo: Wendy Heise)
Pictures from the event are available for purchase here.