Tinley Park mural to celebrate auto history
Depending on your age, the old reliable family car you remember as a kid might have been a minivan or a faux-wood-clad station wagon.
For Chris Shoemaker, it was a 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner muscle car.
“I remember going to drive-in movies with my parents in it,” the Tinley Park resident said.
When his mom and dad were dating, his dad, John, would pick up a few bucks for a night out by street racing the Roadrunner.
While the car is long gone, it’s getting a second life as part of a mural along the north wall of Tinley Park Auto Repair, 17600 Duvan Drive, where Chris and his wife, Tammy, are part owners.
The couple have traveled extensively along historic Route 66 and have seen how many businesses on that highway have murals depicting their history, Tammy said.
“I wanted to pay a little homage to where we came from,” said Chris, whose dad started the business in 1970.
Tinley Park High School Principal Theresa Nolan and Tammy Shoemaker are on the board of directors of the Tinley Park Chamber of Commerce and long had discussed the idea of the mural. Nolan recruited Casey Fabianski, who works at the school part time as a special education paraprofessional but also has a graphic design business.
He, Sandy Wilczynski, an art teacher at the high school, and four advanced-placement art class students started work on the mural soon after the school year began
“I wanted to capture where they originated, what their roots were,” Fabianski said of the Shoemakers. “Chris and Tammy gave me their ideas, and we tweaked it from there.”
Fabianski, owner of CF Designs in New Lenox, created graphic images on a printer that he, Wilczynski and the students used to create the mural, which he outlined on the wall before painting began.
Their canvas is a cinder-block wall, and the mural is more than 9 feet high and 28 feet long. It highlights the early history of the business, including the Enco gas station that Chris’ father managed at the northeast corner of 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue. He did auto repairs in one of the station’s service bays and built the current business in 1978.
Seemingly driving out of the mural is the Roadrunner. Fabianski and crew didn’t have any photos of it to work with, but Chris said it’s true to his memories of the car, down to the “B5 blue” paint job. One option that Fabianski snuck in that wasn’t on the original is the Tinley Park High School nickname, “Titans,” painted on the hood.
Fabianski said the mural is a departure for the art students working on it.
“It gives the kids a different perspective on scale,” he said. “It’s a totally different kind of canvas.”
Wilczynski said she had never before undertaken a wall mural of this size, and the rough, uneven surface of the cinder block, although primed before work on the mural started, presented challenges.
“You can’t get a straight line,” she said. “There is a lot of surface texture, so you have to push the paint in there.”
The Shoemakers are making other improvements to their business and plan to unveil them and the mural at a grand reopening later this fall or next spring.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” Tammy said of the mural. “I love it.”