Greetings from beautiful Northern California! I'm here doing an internship with international mural artist John Pugh and in my free time I've been working on my website and a couple of other art projects. While doing this, I realized that my last blog was in February (!!!). I'm pretty good at working on art, but I am very bad at working on my website. BUT one of my goals this year is to refine my focus and update this thing more often. I realized today that I have about 20-25 large art pieces and/or public art pieces around Central Illinois and I have them listed... no where. I get messages all of the time about where things are or why I did something and really, it shouldn't be that hard to find this info. Soooooooo, "Mural Mondays." Except it's Thursday. And by the time it posts, it will probably be Friday. But whatever. We'll get it straightened out next week.
So today we're going to talk about #LoveWallPeoria. What it is, where it is, how it came to life, who worked on it, and what's happening with it now. #LoveWallPeoria is a series of murals lining an alley wall just off of the corner of Main and University in Peoria, Illinois. The building is owned by One World Cafe and the mural has been a dream of mine for about ten years. Literally every year I would talk to the Eid brothers about painting that wall. Every year it came down to funding and just not being able to afford to paint a wall that big.
One day One World manager Amy Eid and I were talking about city initiatives. Someone from the city had asked local business owners what their suggestions would be if there was $10,000 available for neighborhood improvement initiatives. Amy had mentioned that a series of murals along the street would go a long way towards place making and creating an even more walkable area. When she mentioned that, I thought of that wall. That wall that I'd been dreaming of painting for the last decade. Forget the grant, let's figure out how to get this done. I had seen walls covered in hearts in cities all over the country and I thought that would be a great theme to get the wall started - love. We enlisted local artists Chelsie Tamms (@LetteringWorks), Alec DeJesus (@YouCanCallMeAlec), Jaci Musec (@ArtByJaciMusec), and myself Jessica McGhee (@loveheylola) to brainstorm the rest of the project and to figure out how to raise funds for our wall. We also brought on local writer and arts advocate Mae Gilliland Wright (@TheMaeQueen) to help advise the project. We ended up with the "Buy A Brick" campaign, where members of the community could purchase a message that we would paint on the wall. This campaign raised enough money to purchase all of the supplies and cover most of our artist labor.
The wall is still a work in progress, with a piece at the end which will be finished next year, a wall around the corner scheduled for next year, the addition of the artists' names, and some touch-ups here and there. Fundraising for the wall will continue until it's finished and continues to pay for artist labor, as well as maintenance (We've removed graffiti from the wall half a dozen times so far).
One World Cafe is located at 1245 West Main Street, on the corner of West Main and University, in Peoria, Illinois. The Love Wall mural is located a few doors down, next to Primitiques (stop in and say hi to Leisa and Brad!).
Have any questions? Let me know! This project is one of my favorite things I've ever done, I'm so proud of it and what it brings to the neighborhood, I loved collaborating with fellow artists and I absolutely love sharing all of the stories about how it came to be.
Jessica (aka Lola)