Yorkville’s new mural pays tribute to the city’s historic downtown

(Left to right) Building owners Keri and Jason Pesola of Yorkville, artist Joshua Schultz of Oswego and PMG Creative Director Cami Lorentsen in front of Yorkville’s newest mural on the north side of Crusade Burger Bar at 209 S Bridge St. in downtown Yorkville.

Yorkville’s newest mural was unveiled last month on the north side of Crusade Burger Bar at 209 S. Bridge St. in downtown Yorkville.

The 2,000 square foot mural was completed on May 23 and is visible to those traveling south on Bridge Street (Route 47) as soon as they cross the Fox River. It pictures a waving flag with the words “Welcome to Historic Downtown Yorkville” printed above it over the brick facade.

Local artist Joshua Schultz spent more than three weeks creating the mural, which stands roughly 25 feet high by 80 feet wide.

(Front row, left to right) Painter Rebekah Axtell, artist Joshua Schultz. (Back row from left) Jessica Frieders, Yorkville Economic Development Director Lynn Dubajic Kellogg, building owners Keri and Jason Pesola of Yorkville, PMG Creative Director Cami Lorentsen in front of Yorkville’s newest mural on the north side of Crusade Burger Bar at 209 S Bridge St. in downtown Yorkville.

Schultz has been painting murals since he was in junior high school and is part of an art collective called the Wall Dogs, which have painted local murals in Streator and Aurora and many more across the country.

Schultz said this was by far the biggest work he has completed and he believes it to be one of the biggest murals, and certainly the biggest flag, in the Fox Valley.

“It was daunting at first, but once you know what you have to do, it’s just a matter of getting the paint on the wall,” Schultz said. “The trick is making sure the design is right and you don’t misspell anything.”

Yorkville resident and property owner Jason Pesola conceived and commissioned the mural, which he said was intended to pay tribute to the community’s history while driving the development and continued beautification of the city’s downtown.

“I’ve always loved the downtown Yorkville area, especially considering many of the buildings have been standing since the 1800s,” Pesola said. “I’ve just always thought that was so cool.”

Pesola is a commercial real estate broker in the western Chicago suburbs who moved to Yorkville in 2005. He purchased several buildings on the western block of Bridge Street, from Crusade Burger Bar south to Parma Pizza Bar, in June of last year.

“I’m all about downtown Yorkville,” Pesola said. “I wanted something patriotic but Yorkville driven, and it’s exactly the way I envisioned it. It’s not about a specific business or Yorkville itself, it’s about the community as a whole.”

Pesola said he had the vision for the mural even before owning the building. He worked with local designer Cambria Lorentsen from his digital marketing firm Pesola Media Group to create the design before hiring Schultz who also had a hand in the editing process.

“That is, in my vision, the start of downtown. As you come down the bridge driving past town square, that is the first wall you see,” Pesola said. “I had always thought that was the perfect place for a mural and it always bothered me that it was just a big blank wall.”

Pesola originally planned to commission the mural himself, but said once he showed the mayor and city staff the concepts being considered, they were all for it and offered to pay for half.

Once the final rendering was complete, the design was projected onto the wall, which Schultz traced and then painted completely by hand using a brush and a scissor-lift.

Artist Joshua Schultz works on Yorkville’s newest mural on the north side of Crusade Burger Bar at 209 S Bridge St. in downtown Yorkville.

Pesola said he is thrilled with the work Schultz did and how the mural turned out.

“The guy [Schultz] knocked it out of the park,” Pesola said. “He painted exactly what we came up with.”

Pesola said he was surprised by how many people have been stopping to take photos with the mural, from prom parties to bands, and even several biker groups have arranged their bikes in front of the wall to pose for pictures.

“The community support and excitement is a byproduct that none of us ever expected,” Pesola said. “It’s really awesome and a great thing for the community and downtown.”

Schultz’s lives in Oswego and his family is from Yorkville, and he said the Americana vibe of the mural fits well with the downtown Yorkville community. He said having contributed to a part of the city’s downtown is a special feeling and he has received nothing but positive feedback.

Yorkville’s newest mural was unveiled last month on the north side of Crusade Burger Bar at 209 S Bridge St. in downtown Yorkville.

“I love that part (the mural being a part of the city’s history). It’s pretty awesome to come into town and see that,” Schultz said. ”I’m glad to be able to contribute something like this and I’m humbled by the whole experience.”

Pesola said there are plans for a formal dedication later this summer and plans for more murals in the near future, as he still has plenty of ‘canvas’ left on his other buildings. While he doesn’t have any concepts in the works yet, he said they will definitely be community driven and showcase local talent.