Home / News / Brand Bobosky will leave Century Walk at the end of the year, leaving the future of public art in Naperville uncertain

Brand Bobosky will leave Century Walk at the end of the year, leaving the future of public art in Naperville uncertain


The wide-eyed Cat in the Hat going for an afternoon walk in his trusty top hat. A boy and a girl, grandchildren of some of Naperville’s first founders, sit holding hands and share a tender look. An elderly local journalist watches the city pass by with pen and paper in hand.

Brand Bobosky has helped Naperville tell many stories through bronze, glass and broad strokes over the years. But after more than two decades at the helm of the city’s leading partner in public art, he says it’s time to step down.

Bobosky will retire as president of Century Walk Corp. at the end of this year, he said. He said this decision was due both to his aging (his 85th birthday is in November) and the need for a change after so many years. strained relations between the nonprofit and the city.

“There is so much interest and so much to tell that will continue to tell the story of Naperville as the community evolves … in a way that sets us apart from so many other communities,” he said. “He doesn’t need me. It is there, but what it needs is the acceptance and awareness that it is there (to) keep it going.”

Bobosky founded Century Walk in 1996. The nonprofit organization has been responsible for collecting and producing murals, sculptures, mosaics, fountains and other works of art throughout the city for the past 27 years.

The “Streaming History” mural series is located along the Naperville River. It was created by Debora Duran-Geiger and is one of dozens of works of art that make up the Century Walk collection. (Tess Kenny/Naperville Sun)

But since 2020, Century Walk’s role in Naperville’s public art scene has been the city developed its own public art program And Questions arise regarding nonprofit’s finances.

“Now at this point it’s time to start looking to the future,” Bobosky said.

But retiring also comes with a lot of looking back.

It’s been under construction for years

“I have 15 to 20 boxes of records to go through,” Bobosky said. “There’s a lot out there. I’m very lucky that my memory is still pretty good. There are so many great stories about who did what and how it happened.

The idea for Century Walk emerged in the early 1990s, spurred by a similar public art program several thousand miles away.

Chemainus, a town in British Columbia, has brought in mural artists since the 1980s and transformed itself into a tourist destination after the sawmill that was once the town’s economic base went bankrupt.

Bobosky read about the project in Smithsonian magazine. This inspired the longtime local attorney to begin organizing a similar program for Naperville with other city residents.

“I started thinking if they could build a Ford, we could build a Cadillac in Naperville,” he said in a 2002 Sun article.

By 1996, the local version officially came to fruition with approval from the Naperville City Council—but not without concerted support from Bobosky.

Former Century Walk board member Dee Pasternak, who died in 2004, told the Sun in 2002 that the council “didn’t just have everything on a platter” and that Bobosky “really needed to talk about this.”

He added: “When Brand has the desire to do something, it becomes a ball of fire. … He is literally a superman.”

“Riverwalk Visionaries” stands next to the Naperville Riverwalk. Sculpture, Century Walk Corp. Created by Kathleen Farrell via (Tess Kenny/Naperville Sun).

From its inception to today, under Bobosky’s leadership, Century Walk has helped fill Naperville’s streets, landscapes and walls with more than 50 works of art. The installations, funded equally by public money and private donations, are worth more than $4 million.

As you wander through the city centre, it’s hard not to notice at least one of Century Walk’s contributions. Running along the south wall of Sullivan’s Steakhouse is the Pillars of the Community mural, a colorful art deco depiction of important people, places and scenes in Naperville history.

Downriver, you’ll see a sculptural photo of two businessmen who were the driving force behind the Naperville River Walk. Across the street, next to the Nichols Library, a pair of bronze children read and play—barefoot, of course.

The “Reading Children” sculpture, commissioned by Century Walk and created by Dennis V. Smith, is located outside the Nichols Library in Naperville. (Tess Kenny/Naperville Sun)

Massachusetts-based artist Dale Rogers, whose work joined the Century Walk collection in 2014 with a sculpture along the Riverwalk, called the nonprofit’s success “something people should appreciate.”

“(Public art) is one of the latest developments we have made in our communities,” he said. “So when a community gets to this point or you have citizens who are willing to take on that role, it should be viewed as something very special.”

But how people manage and create public art in Naperville has raised some questions in recent years.

overseeing public art

The changes began in February 2020, when elected leaders proposed the creation of a public art working group under the auspices of Naperville Special Events and Cultural Opportunities, or SECA will develop a strategy for public art and evaluate projects before money is requested from the city.

Meanwhile, Century Walk officials began pleading with the city for more consistent funding than had been received in previous years. From the beginning, Century Walk has benefited from city funding in addition to private donations.

City support is provided through SECA’s annual distribution of grants to benefit arts and community events. While most organizations apply for SECA money, a few receive guaranteed financing called city obligations.

Century Walk had been receiving $50,000 a year as an obligation to maintain public art, but in March 2021 it asked the council to allocate an additional $150,000 annually for new public art. A compromise to give the group $100,000 over a three-year period through 2024. narrowly passed the council Later that summer, though concerns raised about the nonprofit’s overhead and management fees.

However, the conditions under which the money would be released were not legislated until last year. The parameters included that Century Walk provide financial oversight to the city and that the funding be used to develop or maintain art on city properties.

The “A City in Transition” mural is located at the southwest corner of Washington Street and Chicago Avenue in downtown Naperville. Created by Hector Duarte and Mariah de Forest. (Tess Kenny/Naperville Sun)

Century Walk officially met all requirements in December after submitting a long-awaited inspection to the city, according to City Clerk Dawn Portner, who was previously Naperville’s special events coordinator.

Portner said he is prepared to allocate $150,000 of the mandatory SECA money this year to Century Walk, which has met all the terms of its financing agreement with the city. Grants for SECA’s 2024 program will be approved by council on Tuesday.

Planning for the future

Bobosky said that with the funding, Century Walk will focus primarily on maintenance this year.

“We have five or six maintenance issues that need to be done. (They) alone can spend $100,000,” he said.

A complicating factor, Bobosky said, is the city’s requirement that SECA money go only to artwork on city property. 22 of Century Walk’s 53 projects are on private land.

“People don’t understand that public art is not always public property,” Bobosky said. “The public aspect means that it is freely accessible to the public every second of every day. … This (lack of understanding) is a barrier.”

“Pillars of Community” fill the south wall of Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Naperville. The mural was painted by Diosdado “Dodie” Mondero for the Century Walk collection. (Tess Kenny/Naperville Sun)

While Bobosky envisioned a future for Century Walk without him, he reiterated that he “didn’t need me.”

“It needs some freedom here so that it can continue to operate successfully unimpeded, as it has for several years,” he said.

After his retirement, he proposed three paths for the nonprofit: continuing as is, but under the management of a successor; have the municipality take over the operation; or liquidate the company.

Bobosky has offered to stay on in a consulting role to help facilitate a smooth transition if Century Walk goes ahead.

Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger said the city is trying to understand what a Century Parade without Bobosky means for Naperville and the art it curates.

“You know, we don’t know what that looks like, and there’s no official plan that says, ‘Hey, here’s how the city is going to handle public art going forward,’” Krieger said. “But we are looking at different options.”

Krieger also said that “we are all so grateful” for the work done by Bobosky and Century Walk, and “we want to make sure we have a plan to continue this art form so people can continue to enjoy it in the future.” additionally.”

City looks to SECA’s public arts arm — It became official in 2022 – for guidance, he said.

Bobosky is hopeful Century Walk will continue to gain a foothold in Naperville after he leaves.

“There’s a lot more (stories) to tell,” he said. “I just won’t tell them.”



About yönetici

Check Also

Meet the 2023-24 Aurora-Elgin men’s basketball all-District team

[ad_1] Players from Waubonsie Valley, West Aurora, Oswego East and Class 1A state finalist Aurora …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Watch Dragon ball super