When the Avondale Neighborhood Association asked Tony Passero to paint a pair of murals beneath the Metra viaduct on Kedzie near Belmont, the artist wanted to conjure something that reflected the spirit of the community. Having grown up in the neighborhood, he was in a unique position to tap into that spirit.
He first went in search of the one word that best captures the essence of Avondale, but came up with a whole list instead: Strength, Grit, Perseverance, Ambition, Resilience, Hardiness, Motivating, Persistence, Tenacity, Diligence, Dedication, Commitment, Fortitude, Dignity, Honor, Passion, Vitality, Grace, Poise, Elegance, Finesse, Flexibility, Decency, Agility, Tact, Respect and Flexibility.
He decided to create a unique totem for each of the 27 words on the list, and then set off on an inner journey to find a spirit animal to anchor each of the murals.
The animal for Toro Totem came easily. “The symbol of the Bull has longed stood for magnanimity,” Passero wrote in a blog on his website. “Magnanimity is the virtue of being great of mind and heart across four concentrations 1) a refusal to be petty, 2) a willingness to face danger, 3) disdain for injustice and 4) effort to take purposeful actions for noble purposes: thus the four bulls found in the mural represent the Magnanimity found in the DNA of Avondale.”
The RamZelle mural required a little more soul searching, “I realized that just one iconic animal would not do,” he wrote, “and I elected to portray the power words using rams and the words of eloquence with gazelles.”
Passero credits the Public Art Trust and Shannon Kemp Passero with facilitating and funding the project, and Valspar Paints for providing the paint.
For more, visit tonypassero.com.