MCKINLEY PARK — Dozens of gallons of primer have been donated to the volunteer effort to transform a target for gang graffiti into a vibrant community mural.
"We saw this as a great opportunity to participate in a project to better our neighborhood in a big way," said Mikael Trapper, an employee at BridgeNet Solutions, a new McKinley Park data and logistics company that's headquartered about a block away from the Hoyne Park.
The company helped secure the donation from paintmaker Behr, which sent four volunteers to help prime the rest of the half-finished mural wall and 35th Street viaduct.
That too was set in motion by another act of goodwill, this one from Ald. George Cardenas (12th), who marshaled the city's transportation department to power wash decades of dirt and old chipped paint from the wall, which allowed for the application of the new layer of primer.
Along with the paint donation, Trapper has helped set up a crowdfunding site to help with art supplies and artist stipends.
Earlier this month, Cardenas, BridgeNet employees, Behr volunteers, local elementary school art students and lead artist Art Olson gathered at the mural to accept the paint donation.
Olson, a West Coast transplant who's helped lead public art projects in San Francisco, is tasked with maintaining a singular vision for the 150-foot mural — which aims to pays tribute to Latino culture, labor history, the nearby park and more — all while overseeing contributions from all sorts of artists.
About half of the mural is finished.
Now, the group is looking for more help from even more artists to complete it.
"The mural doesn't exactly paint itself, so we're trying to create opportunities for new and emerging artists ... there are some guidelines we've established, but generally we're not trying to edit or be too limiting of artistic expression," he said.
Olson and other volunteers host weekly painting sessions each Wednesday about 5 p.m. Those are expected to last as long as the weather stays nice.
Olson said all of the help — the scraping, the sandblasting, the artist contributions and the donations — have played a major part in the mural's progress.
"It all adds up to make a big difference," he said.
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