Bloomingdale Trail artwork to be removed next week
Happy trails, Bloomingdale Trail art.
As the first phase of construction begins in earnest September 30 on the future elevated park project known as the 606, Chicago Department of Transportation crews will remove all of the street art along the viaducts and embankment walls of the 2.7-mile former railway between Ashland and Ridgeway Avenues. Which means this weekend is your last chance to see firsthand all of the neighborhood murals and graffiti before the artworks are powerwashed away.
"Unfortunately, all of that paint is going to have to be removed," CDOT spokesman Pete Scales says, "so we can take a look at the structural integrity of the concrete retaining walls underneath." Crews will "tent" the embankment walls along Bloomingdale Avenue during the removal because the undercoats include lead-based paint. Bloomingdale Avenue will remain open to traffic during construction, but parking will not be allowed.
On the upside, the Trust for Public Land, one of the partners in the project, hired local photographer James Prinz to document all of the Bloomingdale artwork. "When finished, the images will be all stitched together to form long continuous images of all the different sections," he writes on his LinkedIn page. The Trust plans to post Prinz's work on the 606 website.
Wiping away the Bloomingdale Trail's existing art creates a slew of blank canvases that will likely be tagged as construction proceeds. But the fresh start is also a chance for the city, the Trust for Public Land, CDOT and the Chicago Park District to allow worthy local artists and neighborhood organizations to define the park with a series of new public work. As the lead artist on the 606's design team, School of the Art Institute professor Frances Whitehead will be a key player in making those decisions.
The Bloomingdale Trail Framework Plan hints that works being lost could be incorporated into new works: "Because some public art projects will be removed or lost due to the needs of engineering or providing access to the Bloomingdale, the characteristics of those works should be incorporated into new public art projects as part of ongoing development."
The 606 is set to open by the end of 2014.