Highland Park artist’s mural comes to life at Gurnee library

GURNEE — Those who frequent the Warren Newport Public Library have seen a sketch on a wall transform into a vibrant and colorful invitation to keep learning.

Muralist Beth Shadur, of Highland Park, has been working for the past five weeks on the mural between the adult and the children’s section, and said it will be completed soon.

With only yellow tape sectioning off her work area, patrons of all ages have taken the opportunity to watch Shadur’s left hand give strokes of color and detail to her characters’ faces and expressions.

Many of them admire it in silence, while some have told Shadur what they think of her labor.

Such was the comment from 7-year-old Lindsey Remedi, of Gurnee, who visited the library Wednesday.

Each time she walked by Shadur and the mural she stopped and focused on a different section. Finally, she said to Shadur, “You’ve worked really hard on that painting.”

To that Shadur said, “Yes, I have. Thank you for saying so.”

Shadur is a Chicago artist and has been painting murals since 1973, including some at other libraries. Her work, she said, gravitates toward “what we hold dear but tend to take for granted,” which includes many pieces on the environment.

Last year, Shadur traveled to Canada to study the ice caps, and although her personal work has been put on hold while she’s working on the mural, she’ll soon go back to her water color series titled, “Fragility of the Sacred.”

Once Shadur is finished with the mural, which should be in another week, the work of art will be an illustration of the recognition of knowledge and the vehicle in which it takes us.

In blue, green and purple colors to match the library’s decor, Shadur created a background with an eye-popping party of characters from books and of real life who seem to gesture an invitation to step into a world of curiosity and education.

From the left, the side closest to the adult section, Shadur captured a moment where an Asian family of grandparents and their granddaughter explore the world through a computer.

Toward the middle there’s a door from where Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson appear to beckon a man from India to follow.

Shadur said she wanted her mural to represent all races.

On the far right, closest to the children’s section, a blonde boy and a Hispanic girl each explore books.

But there’s much more than that. There are hidden words throughout the painting, such as, epiphany, synthesis and flow. The word learn shows in many languages.

Authors are present, too, such as Aristotle and Maya Angelou.

“They represent a wide variety of disciplines,” Shadur said.

Youth services associate Hanna Neef said it’s been fun watching the kids’ reaction to both the mural and Shadur.

“Kids have so many questions about what a muralist does, and they’ve loved the process,” Neef said.

For Shadur, the interaction she’s had with those who watch her has also been enjoyable.

“This library is like a community center, so busy with people all the time,” Shadur said. “It’s been wonderful. I’ve loved the feedback and being engaged in conversations.”

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