UPTOWN — A longtime Uptown artist whose work has appeared across the neighborhood is spearheading the installation of a new mural meant to symbolize harmony and peace among Uptown's diverse population.
By next week, the face of a building at the northeast corner of Argyle and Broadway will bear a mural titled "East Meets West," said Ginny Sykes, the 57-year-old artist leading the project.
The mural project, an initiative of community organization Uptown United, has been a year in the making since Uptown United announced the initiative.
Sykes said she has held community discussions in Uptown while planning the project that showed "a consensus about people not wanting it to be a strictly Asian theme."
Designs for the mural include symbols relevant in various Asian cultures such as the lotus flower and bamboo sticks, juxtaposed with images of water to represent Lake Michigan, a lily flower native to the Midwest and "an abstract map" of the Argyle Street area. Dragonflies flowing between the images imply movement and mingling among cultures and geographies.
"To me all these images are very peaceful and meditative, they're about harmony," Sykes said. "We felt we wanted to bring something into this community that has that kind of message, that's really different from all the negative things that sometimes appear on walls, and things we hear on the news."
She envisions the site of the mural as "a greeting and meeting ground" in Uptown.
Uptown United President Alyssa Berman-Cutler has praised Sykes as an artist whose public art projects convey "a fine-arts feel."
Sykes has lived in Uptown for 26 years and has a resume full of collaborative public art projects, including the "Inspiration" wall mural at Inspiration Cafe, the mosaic benches at Margate Park and the sculpture plaza in the Sunnyside Mall.
She also led the project nearly a decade ago to install various ceramic tile murals on the face of the former Joseph Stockton Elementary School, now known as Mary E. Courtenay Elementary School.
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