Aurora businesses display Oswego and Indian Prairie student art
By Kalyn Belsha firstname.lastname@example.org September 28, 2013 8:34PM
Alderman Edward Bugg, who represents Aurora's 9th Ward, coordinated an effort to display student artwork in businesses in his district to encourage local shopping and collaboration. | Kalyn Belsha~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 30, 2013 6:56AM
AURORA — When Isabella Zollo, 10, spent two art classes using gel pens and markers to create a piece of art featuring her nickname, Bella, spiraling around repeatedly like a rainbow pinwheel, she had no idea it would end up on display at a local bank.
“This is the first time I’ve won an award and gotten it hung up,” Zollo said Saturday at a reception for her art, which will show for the next two months at Marquette Bank on South Eola Road.
Zollo, who is in fifth grade at Oswego School District 308’s Wolf’s Crossing Elementary, is among several students whose work will be featured inside and on the windows of businesses in Aurora’s 9th Ward.
The displays are part of a collaborative effort by the Ward 9 Art Project Committee to beautify Aurora’s Far East Side business district, attract potential tenants to vacant storefronts and recognize student artists.
The works will be on display until Nov. 23, when they’ll be swapped for new student holiday art.
Alderman Edward Bugg, who was elected to represent the 9th Ward in April, spearheaded the effort last December, when he was managing a real estate firm.
When the project first started, Bugg said, the idea was to decorate vacant storefronts with art to attract attention to available spaces that home-based businesses could rent.
“People don’t know they’re here,” Bugg said, listing off available properties, such as an old dance studio, a salon and a hardware store.
But then active businesses wanted to get in on the action, Bugg said, so the project expanded into existing storefronts, mostly from the 2200 to 2500 blocks of South Eola Road.
This is the fourth time students are displaying artwork in the area but the first time that three banks are getting involved, Bugg said.
The banks will more professionally display featured student art from Oswego’s Homestead, Wolf’s Crossing and The Wheatlands elementary schools and Indian Prairie’s Gombert Elementary.
Bugg said the Ward 9 Art Project Committee will coordinate three to four art displays a year to give more students the chance to show their work.
The project also aims to increase foot traffic for the businesses and connect them to the greater Aurora community.
“Unfortunately, most people still think this area is Oswego or Naperville,” Bugg said.
Students weren’t told where their art was hung. Instead, they and their families had to seek it out. It caused some confusion among parents who wandered up and down the strip malls and drove up and down Eola searching for the art.
“You have to be creative in what you’re doing,” Bugg said of creating foot traffic. “This strip is easy [to navigate]. We don’t have a big business district, but it’s a big part of the community.”
Jackie McGee, who manages Heartland Bank, at 1575 Ogden, said her store wanted to display the art to help the students and to attract new customers to the location, which opened in May.
“We’re new to this area,” McGee said. “It’s great for us. People who did not know about our location might go see it.”
Chuck Ashcraft said his family twice drove past the strip where the art of his 7-year-old son, Ethan, was being displayed. But despite the hunt, he liked the project.
“I think it’s really cool to have that kind of recognition for the kids,” Ashcraft said. “He’s [Ethan] been so excited about it since we found out.”