Century Walk Combines Art with Appreciation of History
Byline: Jini Clare Author of "Century Walk: Art Imitating History"
Century Walk Naperville's impressive outdoor gallery of sculptures, murals and mosaics is the community's unique way of commemorating its past while cultivating an appreciation for the visual arts.
Inspired by a public mural project in Chemainus, British Columbia, local attorney Brand Bobosky proposed the Century Walk concept to business and community leaders in 1995.
The initial mission of Century Walk was to honor Naperville's significant people, places and events of the 20th century. This would complement another popular city landmark, Naper Settlement a living-history museum that teaches visitors about life during the 19th century.
With the support of many organizations and individuals, Century Walk quickly became a reality and the first three pieces of art were installed in 1996. Today, the public can view 38 pieces of finished art and witness the creation of the 39th piece, "Naperville Loves a Parade."
The first 30 works fulfill the nonprofit's original mission of teaching Naperville's history within walking distance of the community's downtown; subsequent pieces reflect an expanded mission to place quality art throughout Naperville.
This imaginative public art project has influenced the community in numerous ways. It attracts visitors to Naperville, adding to the local economy. New residents learn about local history. Teachers take children on field trips to study history and view different types of art.
Century Walk has been a way for local children to be involved in art and learn about art careers. Junior high and high school students worked with their art teachers and an
internationally known artist to create the clay-relief mural, "River of Life."
Elementary schoolchildren helped design "The Wall of Faces," a poignant backdrop for the Cmdr. Dan Shanower/Sept. 11 sculpture, "Lean on US. …