By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post
Public art has made a rare appearance in Garfield Ridge, as four volunteers last Sunday
quietly wrapped about a dozen trees in colorful afghans at the Lech Walesa Triangle at the “five corners” intersection of Archer, 55th Street and Narragansett.
The “yarn bomb” effort is the brainchild of Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ellen Brown.
A Clearing resident, Brown—owner of Midway Storage, 5660 W. 55th St.—was assisted in her Mother’s Day task by her husband, Sam Carreon, and two daughters, Tala Morales and Jaqui Pilamunga.
Brown said the idea began taking shape almost a year ago.
"It really began last summer when I was visiting Eureka Springs, Arkansas,” she said. “The chamber of commerce there had done the same thing, and I figured we should try it up here to see how it looks."
Later, Brown got on the Internet and started visiting Pinterest. "I learned it was called 'yarn bombing,'" she said.
Brown decided to make it a family project. "I reached out to all the senior organizations I knew, but they all told me they didn't knit or crochet and didn't know of any groups that did. One senior finally agreed to put up a notice at the Senior Center near the 5400 block of Archer Avenue. That did the trick.”
Garfield Ridge resident Cherie Neville, who Brown said "crochets for fun," said she would donate some afghans to the cause. Neville gave Brown 15 blankets she had made.
"I don't think she quite understood we were using her blankets as art. I don't think she understood the concept, but she still donated her crocheted blankets. She usually donates the afghans to the VFW or gives them to the homeless in winter. She really enjoys crocheting and does it for fun," Brown said.
She added, "I started with a red, white and blue theme, but since we only had two
crocheters, we went with whatever colors they gave us."
The other person who donated afghans was Brown's mother-in-law, West Lawn resident Clara Carreon, who also crochets for fun, Brown said.
"At first she was like, 'We're going to be putting these on trees?' but when she drove by she just loved it," Brown said.
According to Brown, Carreon wasn't the only one. "A lot of people drove by and told us it looked nice."
"We hope to leave the afghans up all summer. We'll take them down before then if they start to look raggedy," Brown said.
Brown hopes she can repeat the process around Christmas and will be looking for Christmas-themed donations.
"I think this adds something to the area. I hope it puts a smile on peoples faces as they drive by," she said.
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