COLLABORATORS: Alicia Gomez and Nikki Barron have completed two murals for Submarine Tender. Their latest work, "Kefalonia," depicts owner John Liveris' mother's village. | Photo provided

Thanks to local artists Alicia Gomez and Nikki Barron, fine art is not confined to museums. It can be found in a fast-food restaurant at Desplaines & Randolph. The two friends have completed another mural at Submarine Tender. It is even more ambitious than their previous painting. That one is titled “Zakynthos” and depicts the ancestral home of owner John Liveris. The new mural is called “Kefalonia.”

Back when Liveris commissioned the 21-year-old artists to paint his father’s island of Zakynthos, he also asked them to create a mural of his mother’s village, Kefalonia. Like Zakynthos, Kefalonia’s history stretches back to ancient Greece. It is believed to be “Ithaca” the fabled home of Odysseus. It’s the sixth largest island in Greece and ranks among the “must see” islands in the region. The Sub-T mural depicts a village of vibrant colors hugging the shores of the Ionian Sea. 

Creating the mural was another bonding experience for Alicia and Nikki, who have been fast friends since middle school. Nikki, the Forest Park native, joined her River Forest friend at Trinity High School, where both studied art. Alicia continues her studies at the University of Illinois, while Nikki adds more works of art to her website. 

Combining their talents at Sub-T was a valuable learning experience for the young artists. These are the first murals they ever painted. “Zakynthos” was Alicia’s first attempt at a landscape. “Kefalonia” was more suited to her style. The architecture major has researched different styles of buildings from the ancient Greeks to modern Chicago. She has painted skyscrapers from various perspectives and finds it to be painstaking work.

Nikki also found “Kefalonia” to be more challenging than a landscape. Though it’s the same size, 89 x 60 inches, it took the pair 10 additional hours to complete. It features more detail and more figures. The artists captured the interiors of the buildings, as viewed through their windows. 

“Kefalonia” is a stunning riot of colors, as the artists used a bright palette of acrylic paints. The mural incorporates bright pinks, oranges and yellows. It really pops. The artists lobbied Liveris to add a sunset but he preferred an afternoon sky. It took the pair two weeks and countless orders of fries to complete the mural. Diners commented throughout the process. They liked the bright colors and thought it was a worthy companion to “Zakynthos.”

Alicia agrees that the works complement each other, as both murals offer a different viewpoint of Greece. “Zakynthos” depicts the landscape of a beautiful island, while “Kefalonia” shows how the islanders integrated their architecture into the picturesque setting. Nikki and Alicia liked showing the islanders enjoying their neighborhood. The bustling village of Kefalonia is the perfect subject for a neighborhood joint like Sub-T. 

Both artists are grateful for the opportunity Liveris gave them to paint murals for the public. Alicia has wanted to become a professional artist since she was a little girl. She relished the chance to show her painting skills.   

Liveris is thrilled with the results. He receives compliments from customers but the paintings also touch him on a personal level. He praised Nikki and Alicia as awesome artists and compensated them for their efforts. Alicia hopes to paint more murals in the future but is currently studying architecture in Spain. Nikki is planning a trip to Greece to visit the places that inspired her.

I can’t decide which mural I like more, but “Kefalonia” has a better spot in the gallery. 

And no gumball machine blocks any portion of the painting.

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.

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