By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD — Eight public murals will be painted downtown Rockford beginning next month as part of four-day festival.
The festival, CRE8IV: transformational ART, will be May 15-19. It will include block parties at various locations and murals by artists from Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, and Rockford. Their teams will paint pieces on the Jefferson Street Bridge and seven downtown buildings.
The idea for the festival came about after organizers saw the success of Stroll on State and how it incorporated different areas of downtown.
“We knew that whatever we did next would have to be new – a concept that hadn’t been done before in our community,” Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO John Groh said. “It would have to be big, monumental and bold. It would have to be for all of our community, welcome (others) to our community and it would have a lasting impact. This will bring transformational art to our downtown community.”
CRE8IV: transformational ART will be patterned after similar events in other cities.
Groh, along with Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, announced the festival Tuesday in the alley between Wired Cafe and the 416 E. St., one of the mural sites.
“The arts are incredibly important to any community,” McNamara said. “And in the city of Rockford, we have one of the most amazing creative classes – we have amazing artists.”
Rockford artist Jenny Matthews will oversee the 416 E. State mural. Lisa and Libbie Frost will oversee the work on the Jefferson Street Bridge. They were chosen during a national search for muralists.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” McNamara said. “In the last year, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in interest in creating community murals. I believe murals build a sense of community and a sense of belonging.”
CRE8IV: transformational ART is being made possible by a $91,800 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce, Office of Tourism and in partnership with the Painters District Council No. 30, Local 607. The RACVB needs to match the grant amount is seeking sponsors.
“Illinois is full of vibrant cities and towns with endless attractions that are of interest to both residents and visitors alike,” Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Acting Director Erin Guthrie said in a release. “We are excited to provide the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau with a grant that will further their work to establish a new arts festival that will attract artists and tourists to the city,”
Rockford aldermen approved the festival Monday.
“It’s going to be very colorful,” Third Ward Ald. Chad Tuneberg told reporters after Monday’s meeting. “I think it’s going to be very gratifying – instead of looking at a blank brick wall.”
Groh said the building owners who donated space for the project are “all in” on the new downtown adventure.
“We appreciate their willingness to support CRE8IV and to lend their walls to such dynamic, creative artists,” he said.
Lucette Holistic Salon and Boutique, 508 E. State St., Artist: Molly Z, Chicago; The Symbols, 316 W. State St., Artist: Yulia Avgustinovich, Denver; Jonathan James/Altamore Law Offices, 416 E. State St. (Wired Cafe alley), Artist: Jenny Mathews, Rockford; Lower Jefferson Street Bridge, 299 N. Madison St., Artists: Lisa Frost and Libbie Frost, Rockford; Rockford Orthopedic Appliance, 422 E. State St., Artist: Chris Silva, Chicago; Urban Equity Properties, 114 N. First St. (visible from 324 E. State. St.), Artist: Corey Barksdale, Atlanta; Chocolat by Daniel, 211 E. State St. Artist: Jenny Roesel Ustick, Cincinnati; and Makers Space, 203 N. Church St., Artist: Brett Whitacre, Sycamore.
The block parties are free, family events. R.