Trails and the Arts Award

This award recognizes the integration of art with the trail experience including outstanding public art works, interpretive signs, or other creative structures, sounds or even smells associated with trail related enhancement.

 

Major Taylor Trail Mural

An example of public art that does much more than improve aesthetics, it gives trail users a chance to interpret cultural history and thus a reason to stop and appreciate the Little Calumet River.

The Our Great Rivers initiative was launched in Chicago in 2016. The vision calls for a river system that is inviting, productive and living, and seeks to change perceptions of how people connect to urban river systems and what they can be for future generations. The Major Taylor Trail is a 7.5-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail on the South Side of Chicago. One section of the trail contained a graffiti-covered railroad bridge that spanned the Little Calumet River. Where some would see an eyesore or an area to avoid, Dr. Brenda Dixon saw an opportunity to make the trail a more welcoming and appealing place to recreate. Dr. Dixon sought out partnerships with local community groups and urban planning non-profits to execute a community-driven process to create a signature public art component of the entire trail. Led by artist Bernard Williams, the graffiti-covered bridge became a 400-foot canvas depicting the life and impact of Marshall “Major” Taylor, the first African-American World Champion cyclist and second African-American World Champion athlete. It is an example of public art that does much more than improve aesthetics, it gives trail users a chance to interpret cultural history and thus a reason to stop and appreciate the Little Calumet River.