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Ribbon cutting for Gibbs-Morrison mural tonight--everyone's invited

Where: Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center, corner Church/Dodge

When: 7 p.m., tonight, Wednesday, December 12

Have you seen the beautiful mural that now graces the wall of the Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center on Church and Dodge (it's on the wall facing Dodge)?

What was once a bland exterior now boasts an uplifting and inspiring work of art--titled "Vision Board"--by Damon Lamar Reed of the Chicago Public Art Group (CPAG).

Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward Alderman, has worked hard to bring this and other art to her ward.

"Neighborhood revitalization and investment has been my top priority since day one in my role as Alderman," Rue Simmons says. "For me, this includes community, economic and human development."

Rue Simmons says she keeps a record of opportunities for improvements to her ward.

In 2017, Rue Simmons requested support for a mural to beautify a blighted viaduct on Foster street that now sports the "You are Brilliant" mural.

"Working with Dr. Patricia A Efiom and Evanston Arts Council member Gay Riseborough, I was able to share a vision for more public art strategically installed across our neighborhoods that would uplift, enlighten, and empower," she says. "In our neighborhoods, public art help restore, beautify and share an important message."

The Arts Council selected Chicago Public Art Group for this mural.

"At my request for the process to include the community, the CPAG hosted a planning session, but no- one showed up," says Rue Simmons. "But they were flexible and took to the neighborhood to talk to residents on the block."

Rue Simmons said they spent hours gathering information, stories, and thoughts from passers-by, business owners, and business patrons in the area.

"We had history lessons and we dreamed together. young children added to the vision, and a diverse representation of our community contributed. Everyone left heard and encouraged," she says.

"It was a great day."

Rue Simmons says the location of the mural is important.

"The tradition of Black families in the neighborhood is being taken away by the lack of affordable housing, economic exclusion, predatory lending and over- assessed Cook County property taxes," she says.

"My hope is this mural will inspire residents to keep ownership of our neighborhood, keep our talents here, invest here and be the example of community."

Rue Simmons says she is impressed with the way Damon Lamar interpreted the neighborhood's values in the mural: family; progress; innovation; education; business; homeownership; community; and African heritage.

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