Artist Restores Original Art After 43 Years

An artist has returned to Hyde Park to restore the mural that started her career.

Caryl Yasko completed the mural at Lake Park Avenue and 55th Street in 1972. Known as “Under the City Stone,” the viaduct mural is being repainted in an effort to preserve a piece of Hyde Park’s history.

“We are painting the mural as if we are painting it for the first time,” Yasko said. “This mural is part of my legacy it kick-started my career as an artist.”

She said the detailed mural was painted in the midst of a “mural renaissance” that sparked in Chicago. 133 figures of all colors, shapes and ages make up the viaduct wall: a “stream of humanity” as Yasko puts it.

Volunteers began the restoration process of the mural on May 24 and are currently more than halfway done with finishing it. The mural is being repainted with its original oil paint, which Yasko said is a rare medium for an urban wall mural.

She said while they are making progress, there have been some speed bumps in the process.

The wet weather has caused drainage problems on the infrastructure, resulting in dripping paint. Yasko and her volunteers work Monday through Friday, even after Yasko was injured on the job.

“I broke my hip May 28 while painting the mural,” she said. “After 19 days in the hospital, the first thing I did when I was released was go straight to the mural to check on it.”

Yasko’s passion for the project can be understood since it was her first mural in what would be one of hundreds. She describes herself as a muralist, and said painting a mural is very different from creating art in a studio.

“You have to be courageous to be a mural artist. It’s like standing on the street naked and being able and brave enough to show everything,” Yasko said. “It’s a responsibility to the public, to the art, and to yourself.”

She said she hopes that the community will see the mural for what it is: the diversity that is Hyde Park.

“The whole mural is Hyde Park. Everyone belongs here,” she said. “People appreciate art here and are familiar with it.”

Along the wall are pieces of paper with comments from passersby on the mural’s progress, and the positive comments ring true to the community’s interest in local art.

One passerby wrote, “I’ve watched this change as I and the city change. Thanks for keeping it alive.”

The mural is set to be completed Aug. 19. The University of Chicago will hold a dedication in its honor.

[Via: Hyde Park Herald]

About Allison Matyus