Whether walking home from your train commute or driving through town, you may have noticed the crosswalk painted red, white and blue in and around Brookfield’s downtown.
The Brookfield Beautification Commission completed the three patriotic walkways – two at Grand/Prairie/Brookfield and one in the 3700 block of Grand Boulevard — in early June as a part of a pilot program for future projects involving crosswalks, according to Katie Kaluzny, a Brookfield village trustee and liaison to the commission.
It was designed with a Star-Spangled Banner theme to commemorate the Fourth of July and provided the commission a sense of what temporary paints would be durable and look satisfying.
The Rev. Karl Sokol, a commission member and pastor of Compassion United Methodist Church, said commissioners will look to continue the concept. The commission will try to paint crosswalks for the Monster on Mainstreet event around Halloween and move onto more semi-permanent designs.
Kaluzny said public art projects like this bring a positive atmosphere to the community.
“It does a lot for place-making in a community, feeling like a sense of community and being proud of something that everyone can talk about and relate to,” she said.
Even with plans in the works, the Beautification commissioners aren’t the only ones who are striving to add more public art in Brookfield.
On June 27, the Compassion Factory Art Gallery and Studio, which Sokol also owns, hosted a meeting of local artists to brainstorm ideas for Brookfield that add creativity to the public space.
Jessica Tamburello, director of the gallery, said some ideas involved the participation of the whole community, such as painting various murals or hosting an art-centric event. Another idea encouraged local school art clubs to help decorate local businesses or assist with extensive projects.
“This is definitely a learning opportunity for us to also include the kids in the neighborhood,” Tamburello said. “This is what we do, we give back to our communities. We volunteer our time to do this for our neighborhood and that’s something you’re showing our kids and having them also participate in. There’s not a lot of opportunities for kids to necessarily volunteer their time for.”
Among the meeting attendees was a general acknowledgment of the notion that Brookfield was home to many artists and that the town could serve as a collaborative landscape for them to exercise their craft and skills.
“I think there is a lot of enthusiasm about art in Brookfield, especially around Eight Corners and the community of people that live here,” Kaluzny said. “I think that there’s a lot of potential for some work and a lot of people with great experience and background in the arts.”
Other ideas the commission has considered is beautifying the Congress Park Metra station and refurbishing wooden signs, like the ones at Ehlert and Candy Cane parks, throughout the village.
Kaluzny and Tamburello both pointed to other towns like Oak Park, downtown LaGrange and Elmhurst as prime examples of places the emphasize public art, and said Brookfield could do the same.
“There’s a lot of people that just need to be tapped and asked and create a space for that and know that people can participate in our community in that way,” Kaluzny said. “We’ll have people come out of the woodwork to help with things like that.”