FOREST GLEN — Residents like to think of Forest Glen as a nature-rich oasis tucked between two expressways and the Milwaukee District North Metra Line in the middle of the city.
And soon, a mural underneath the Metra tracks at Elston and Forest Glen avenues will depict the area in all of its glory through winter, spring, summer and fall.
The Forest Glen Community Club picked a design from Cyd Smillie of Arts Alive Chicago from 14 submissions to replace a faded mural along both the north and south sides of the underpass, mural committee members said Tuesday.
Smillie's "artwork really captured the heart of Forest Glen," said Veenu Verma, a member of the committee who has lived in Forest Glen for seven years. "We're a close-knit community with a tradition of gardening and a love of nature."
The community group has already raised more than $4,600 toward the $12,000 cost of the mural, according to its website.
The mural, which has a light blue background, will brighten and open up the underpass on Elston Avenue under the train tracks in an area that has been given new life with the opening of a Mariano's and a Chase Bank branch, Smillie said.
The mural features a robin feeding a nest of baby birds in the spring, as well as two deer striding through the snow. It also depicts the lamppost that sits on the Forest Glen bridge over the Chicago River, Smillie said.
Raccoons and skunks, which are also frequent visitors to the neighborhood, may be added to the mural, said Jennifer Nykaza, who is also a member of the committee.
Verma said the community group is working to beautify the area around Forest Glen and Elston avenues, near the Metra station, which is one of the main entrances to the neighborhood.
"We have a lot more pedestrian traffic in that area now," Verma said, adding that she often walks to Mariano's on the weekend, taking her 4½-year-old daughter along in a wagon. "We take a lot of pride in our community."
The group planted four evergreen trees near the mural, and is working to establish a community garden, Verma said.
The mural includes different layers, so that drivers whizzing along Elston Avenue will have a different experience than those walking or biking along the mural, Nykaza said.
The committee surveyed Forest Glen residents about what they wanted to see on a mural to replace the one painted 10 years ago, which had faded badly, Nykaza said.
"Everyone definitely wanted to celebrate nature, and our neighborhood's natural setting," Nykaza said.
Arts Alive Chicago expects to start work on the mural in August, Smillie said.
"It is going to add a lot of interest to the area," Smillie said.
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