St. Charles comes together to transform part of Municipal Building into art project

Those driving through downtown St. Charles on Friday might have noticed the St. Charles Municipal Building looking more colorful than usual.

A fabric art piece sewn together by community members was draped over the southeast wall of the building Friday morning. The fabric art pieces that comprise the project – called “Our City Sunshine” – were donated and sewn together by community members.

“It’s a celebration of our collective efforts,” said Amanda Browder, a Brooklyn, New York-based artist who oversaw the project.

The project has already been generating smiles from people walking past the St. Charles Municipal Building.

“People come and they’re like, ‘Oh, my God. This is fantastic. It’s so colorful,’ Browder said. “It’s been a blank white wall for so long. I love that it’s along the highway. We have a built-in audience driving past, which is pretty cool. And it’s a representation of the city. When people drive past this, they are going to remember St. Charles a little more.”

She is known for her large scale fabric installations. The St. Charles Arts Council received a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that allowed Browder to come to St. Charles and coordinate the project.

Alison Bastian, the previous executive director of the St. Charles Arts Council, was able to secure the grant. She attended Friday’s installation with her children.

Browder was set to coordinate the project last summer, but it was postponed because of COVID-19. The temporary art piece will stay up through St. Charles Jazz Weekend, which will take place Sept. 9-12 in downtown St. Charles.

St. Charles resident Deann Miller, who helped with the sewing along with donating fabric, marveled as she walked in front of the art piece.

“I like to sew and I thought it would be really cool to be part of it,” Miller said. “My daughter also helped. And so many people helped. I met a lot of really nice ladies. The energy that Amanda gave the project was amazing.”

Installation of the fabric art piece began at 7 a.m. St. Charles Arts Council Executive Director Kathy Hill credited the St. Charles Public Works Department for making the work go so smoothly.

“It didn’t take as long as we had anticipated because the city workers had prepped the roof,” she said. “They could not have been nicer. They were amazing to work with.”

The piece is 30 feet tall and 51 feet wide. Hill was amazed by the outpouring of support that went into the project.

“To have seen the community effort that went into this, it’s so heartening,” she said. “It’s just a beautiful thing to see how totally community based this art piece is. it’s been a great project.”

More than 100 people sewed the pieces together. And enough fabric was donated to cover three buildings.

“Think about how generous our community has been to donate all that fabric,” Hill said.

She believes the completion of the fabric art piece is a fitting way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the St. Charles Arts Council. The group’s mission is to promote the arts, creativity and culture in the community.

“This is a dream come true,” Hill said.

The group plans to do more community art projects.

“We’ll do something community oriented every year,” she said. “It brings attention to the fact that there’s something going on in St. Charles in the art community. It just brings attention to the fact that we have art and culture right here in our town.”

St. Charles 2nd Ward Alderman Rita Payleitner also stopped by Friday morning to see the finished project. She was impressed by what she saw.

“It looks just like her concept,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s wonderful.”

There will be a chance to meet Browder during an art wrap party at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Arcada Theatre complex. The party, which celebrates 10 years of the St. Charles Arts Council advocating and celebrating the arts in St. Charles as well as being a fundraiser for the nonprofit group, will also feature food, entertainment and a live auction.

Tickets are $110 per person and can be purchased at the St. Charles Art Council’s website at stcharlesartscouncil.org.


Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.