Artist Teresa Parod is beautifying Evanston, Illinois, in a unique way. Parod has filled the north suburb of Chicago with vibrant positive imagery, one garage door at a time.
A lifelong artist and an art history instructor at Oakton Community College, Parod was inspired by the work of artist José Fuster in Cuba, who “started making mosaics and sculptures in his yard and has taken over a once lackluster neighborhood, creating fantastic dreamscapes,” according to Parod.
Although Parod didn’t usually show her artwork publicly, a little prodding from her son prompted her to create a mural on the family garage door. “By working in alleys, I wanted to take an underused and sometimes ugly space and give it some life,” Parod said.
It didn’t take long for neighbors to express their appreciation for her work and to ask for her artistry on their garage doors. Soon, Parod’s work spread from her alley to others throughout Evanston. Having completed 24 garage murals, Parod stated, “I have always had more ideas for art than I have time to do.”
Parod only paints the murals when the temperature is above 50 degrees so the paint sets properly. Each mural takes between two and 12 days to complete. Upon accepting a request to paint a garage door, Parod has the homeowners to look at her website for ideas, unless they already have something in mind, and makes a sketch based on that. She only charges for materials because she sees her work as a neighborhood service.
Parod’s husband, Bill, found a way to add to his wife’s creations. He developed an app that incorporates reality scenes. One such put animated blackbirds flying on a dog mural. The app, which includes video, sound and design elements, is still a work in progress, but soon will be available for download.
Although the garage murals are her main focus, Parod has created other public art, including a Day of the Dead display. That started when her children were too old for her homemade costumes and morphed into full displays in her yard and neighbors’ yards, too. Her other works include a mural made from Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans and an ongoing outdoor mosaic in Fusterlandia, a village near Havana, Cuba. “I am honored to have created a mosaic there,” Parod said of her mosaic in Cuba. One closer to her home, but on the other side of Evanston, is an outdoor mural painted in memory of her late brother.
Using maps found on her website, I drove through Evanston because nothing compares to seeing the garage door scenes up close. They really make the alleys come alive. If I still owned a home, I’d beg Parod to work her magic on my garage.
— John Wroblewski, online writer
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