Highland Park mosaics break winter doldrums
Artist Bernadette Elenteny-Joyce checks out her work, "The Great Wave of Kanagawa", after it was installed Jan. 16 on the 800 block of Central Avenue in Highland Park as part of a winter mosaics show. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 12, 2013 8:16AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Summer is the usual time for new public art displays in less imaginative places than downtown Highland Park.
But the people behind a new mosaics exhibit think the dead of winter is a fine time to lift the spirits with splashes of color and interesting takes on some masterpieces.
Five mosaic works were selected for the Great Arts Winter Mosaics display on Central Avenue that will run through March 31. The artists were asked to recreate or reinterpret a master.
The winning selections, chosen from 43 submissions, were installed in the downtown business district through the efforts of some local boosters who prefer to remain incognito.
“The winter is gray. As people are going in and out of shops, this is something to see other than the slushy, dirty snow,” said Bernadette Elenteny-Joyce, an artist whose “Great Wave of Kanagawa” interpretation is among the five jury-selected works in the exhibit. “It is a huge pop of color. For people walking by it, it is definitely an unexpected surprise.”
Shop owner Leslie Blesius said the Great Arts Winter Mosaics show is part of an ongoing effort from a team of merchants who also were behind the Butterflies on Display and Magic Garden exhibits.
“As businesses, we are all very invested in the overall image of Highland Park. We want to give people a reason to come into Highland Park, and to showcase the artists and the stores at the same time,” said Blesius, owner of Jolie Maison, a home decor store.
“It is a win-win for the city. While people are walking around, at the same time they might find a store they didn’t know existed,” said Blesius. “There are so many positives that come from this.”
While the “Great Wave” was being installed Jan. 16, Elenteny-Joyce noticed people going about their business, looking up and smiling.
“I think that is the point, to make people’s day,” she said. “It is nice to see a beautiful piece of artwork where otherwise there would not be one.”