Just when I was worried Forest Park was losing its community spirit, along comes the 3rd Annual GarArt extravaganza onSaturday, Aug. 27. Artist Amy Turilli launched this event in 2014. Because she does her oil paintings in an attic, she wanted to display them in a more accessible space. GarArt is the only exhibit of its kind on planet Earth and every year it has grown in popularity.

The first year, there were three garages, 10 artists and about a hundred patrons. Last year featured 10 garages, 30 artists and hundreds of art lovers. Now, there are a dozen garages on the tour, where artists will display every form of art imaginable: paintings, watercolors, sculptures, photographs, ceramics, stained glass, jewelry, crochet, woodworking and quilts. These pieces are for sale and you can bargain with the artist.

The garage doors go up at 6 p.m. and remain raised until 9. Hosts typically serve light refreshments and some provide live music. Buddy Fambro will be playing jazz guitar at 1002 Marengo. Amy’s Wine House is opening its garage to five artists and providing live music for the GarArt after-party at 7235 Roosevelt. 

GarArt revives an old Forest Park tradition of socializing in garages, but not all of the art will be exhibited in buildings with sliding overhead doors. The Historical Society, for instance, is opening its sanctuary to 15 artists. Forest Park filmmaker Ed Pickart is also using the space to screen a video he made focusing on the church’s urgent need for repairs. 

Nothing needs fixing at Ralph Di Febo’s “Garage-mahal,” 1110 Thomas. Ralph and Andrea’s cars enjoy a higher standard of living than I do. The couple have been enthusiastic supporters of GarArt, encouraging Amy to keep it going. There are also some new hosts this year, like Rose Mattax, who is presenting artists from L’Arche Chicago, at her 540 Ferdinand garage. 

A complete list of the garages and artists can be found at the garart.wordpress.com website. There is a concentration in the 1000 and 1100 blocks of Elgin, Marengo and Thomas. At 507 Circle, Deb Funderwhite and her daughter will display their photographs. Further north, patrons can visit three garages in the 7700 blocks of Adams and Monroe. Another photographer, Dave Tepper, will display striking portraits he’s taken of elders of the Omaha tribe. Dave made platinum palladium prints of the elders that could last a hundred years.

Patrons can walk, bike or drive from one garage to the next. If the weather is true to form, it will rain, like it has for every GarArt. Drizzle didn’t stop people from flocking to the garages last year. It was common to see bicyclists holding umbrellas. 

But rain or shine, artists will begin setting up. Muralist Armando Arceo, for instance, will commence turning the white garage at 1000 Marengo into a masterpiece.  

I displayed my own masterpiece last year, an acrylic painting of Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher. The bidding war I expected didn’t break out. This year, I’m displaying a piece from a real artist. It’s a collage titled “Bloomsday at Molly Malone’s.” It was done by a local artist known as Deco.

I was there for that 2008 celebration and Deco captured it beautifully. Molly Malone’s may be defunct but does anything express the spirit of Forest Park like a boisterous Irish pub, with a patron hoisting a pint of Guinness? 

Come to GarArt and you’ll see that community spirit on display, though hoisting a glass of white wine might be more appropriate.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.