Protecting the environment is the message of this year’s summer art exhibition, Earth Day Every Day: It’s Cool to Care, presented by the La Grange Business Association.
To spread this message, over two dozen local artists painted 30 rain barrels placed around the CBD. Visitors can eat treats while viewing the art objects during Snack & Stroll: an Art + Dining Adventure on June 25 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Hiking maps are available from local businesses.
This is the 16th year that the La Grange Business Association has organized an annual summer sidewalk art show.
“The reason we started doing a summer arts project is because we wanted to use it as an opportunity to highlight all the amenities that are available in La Grange and to bring people to the front doors of our local businesses,” said Executive Director Nancy Cummings.
“It was originally modeled after the famous Cows on Parade, an art project by the City of Chicago along Michigan Avenue. This idea evolved into this annual outdoor public art exhibition, which is now an integral part of the tradition in La Grange, embraced by residents and local businesses, and is a celebration of our local arts community.”
Cummings reported that local companies are buying the unfinished objects and hiring a local artist to paint them.
This is the second time artists have painted rain barrels. The first time was about 13 years ago. “It was very well received,” noted Cummings. “We wanted to bring it back because sustainability and the environment are such an important part of culture these days and people are looking for ways to live a little bit more sustainably.”
Past themes have included kennels, game tables, and small free libraries, among others.
Cummings reported that each of the rain barrels will have a sign stating who sponsored it with a QR code that links to a page on the La Grange Business Association’s website that lists dozens of ways to be more sustainable.
The rain barrels will be on display until Labor Day and then auctioned off on September 10 at the West End Arts Festival to benefit local charities.
Self-taught artist Lorna Lightle from La Grange Park has participated in the sidewalk art event every year. This year she painted two rain barrels.
Lightle said she enjoys attending the event because “I like putting a smile on people’s faces.”
She will definitely do that this year. A colorful rain barrel she dubbed “Barrel of Laughs” is littered with intentionally cheesy jokes like, “Why was the sand wet? Because of the algae!” It was sponsored by Horizon Wealth Management.
Lightle’s other rain barrel, Water Into Wine, looks like a barrel of Merlot. It was sponsored by Blueberry Hill.
Lightle also participates each year because “it’s my way of giving back to the community” as the casks are auctioned off to help local charities.
The June 25 event, the second annual Snack & Stroll, will combine “many people’s favorite pastimes, which are art and food,” Cummings said. Local restaurants have grab-and-go treats that can be eaten while strolling. Items range in price from $5 to $8.
Q-BBQ’s Kellie Sipich said they will be selling a Smoked Pulled Pork Slider or a Smoked Pulled Chicken Slider with a small order from Hush Puppies for $6. “It’s easy to walk around and eat,” she said.
“This is a great community event and it brings people downtown,” Sipich said.
Jim McGuigan of 1416, an American artisan restaurant that offers seasonal menus, will be selling braised chicken thighs then soaked in buttermilk with a chili aioli tartar sauce. A container with 6 or 7 thighs costs $8.
“I love how people can walk around and look at all the artwork that is on display throughout downtown La Grange and sample some food,” McGuigan said of the event.
“It’s a way to experience different restaurants while people sample their way through the art walk,” Cummings said.
Snack & Stroll: an art and dining adventure
When: 12-5pm June 25th
Where: La Grange business district
Tickets: Admission is free; Snacks for sale
Information: 708-582-6510; cm.lgba.com/events/details/snack-stroll-an-art-dining-adventure-15193
Myrna Petlicki is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.