MCKINLEY PARK — The future site of the Hoyne Park mural isn't much to look at.
It's a big gray-and-white wall, about 150 feet long and roughly 14 feet high, flecked with peeling paint and black grime from the CTA Orange Line traveling above.
But when the mural is finished, that wall will be transformed into a colorful tribute to the Southwest Side park and the rest of the city, all created by emerging artists with the help of professionals.
"It will a panoramic view of the neighborhood, the city skyline and the surrounding area. It's kind of a thing where it's all radiating from the park's activities," said Art Olson, a McKinley Park artist who's heading up the project.
A neighborhood newcomer, Olson arrived in Chicago last year after a long stint on the West Coast, where he helped bring art to public spaces with the San Francisco Arts Market.
After exploring the city's art groups, Olson learned from staffers with Ald. George Cardenas (12th) that the Omega Delta youth baseball team was looking to overhaul the wall at the park, a grassy 2.7-acre plot at 3417 S. Hamilton Ave.
Fast forward a few meetings with the Hoyne Park Advisory Council — the local volunteers credited with turning the park around from its violent past — and Olson has the group's backing and commitments from nearby schools and Friends of the Parks to provide supplies.
Now he's looking for artists.
"It's a huge amount of space. We'd like to get four or five experienced artists to make the commitment through the summer. They'll be the team leaders and captains for the younger or less experienced artists," Olson said. "We want to keep the standard high and make something that's appropriate for the neighborhood."
Organizers are hoping to promote the mural at a series of upcoming events at the park, including an upcoming "clean and green" event where volunteers will pick up trash and also have the chance to participate in art projects, like collages and printmaking.
Last week, park advisory council president and Omega Delta youth baseball leader Jessie Calderon was honored at the McKinley Park Civic Association, which awarded the neighborhood leader its community service award.
The Hoyne Park Advisory Council meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month.