Newly Restored “Under City Stone” Mural Unveiled
After 43 years, original artist returned to Hyde Park viaduct to enliven historic public art
When Caryl Yasko first mixed her paints on the wall beneath the viaduct at East 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue in 1972, she was at the forefront of the public art movement that began on Chicago’s South Side in the 1960s. Yasko returned to Hyde Park this summer to restore her mural “Under City Stone” and preserve a piece of history. The result of that work was presented to community members at a dedication ceremony on Wednesday, August 19, 2015.
“The restoration of Under City Stone is the latest example of the University’s deepening engagement in the arts, both on campus and in local communities, as a catalyst for community engagement,” said William Towns, Assistant Vice President for Neighborhood Initiatives for the University of Chicago, which funded Chicago Public Art Group to lead the project. Since 2008, the University has invested in the restoration of viaduct murals along Lake Park Avenue, as well as the mosaics in the underpass to 57th Street Beach.
Fifth Ward Ald. Leslie A. Hairston, who also spoke at the dedication, celebrated “Under City Stone” for depicting the “diversity and inclusion that are hallmarks of our community. This mural also embodies the spirit of collaboration that is in Hyde Park’s DNA.”
When Yasko created the original version, she did so spontaneously on the street, inviting passersby to stop to pose and provide instant critiques. During the restoration, she once again invited community residents to participate, by sharing their opinions or picking up a brush to add a few strokes of paint.
In her remarks, Yasko acknowledged the people who helped her complete the restoration, particularly her assistant, Harrison Halaska, whom she directed from her hospital bed after breaking her hip in the early days of the project. Her team also included artists from the School of the Art Institute, local students, and community members.