Signa Rotae, a mosaic mural by artist Buddy Plumlee, combines art and West Chicago history
West Chicago, Illinois: October 17, 2016 – The City of West Chicago and the Cultural Arts Commission will dedicate a new piece of public art to the community on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. along the pedestrian path at Sesquicentennial Park. The newest addition to what Commission members are hoping will be a growing collection of art installations throughout the community was commissioned and designed in homage to West Chicago’s industrial past and railroad history.
The artwork, a mosaic mural created on a cement podium by local artist and Commission member Buddy Plumlee, is titled Signa Rotae, which is Latin for Wheel Signs. “I’ve always liked using Latin or Greek in titles, the genus and species of an art piece.”
The piece aptly melds history and art through Plumlee’s use of train-related symbols in a colorful stained glass mosaic base upon which sits a weathered train wheel that has been part of the West Chicago City Museum’s collection. Both elements reflect the roots of a community which was formed by the first railroad junction in Illinois in 1849, and honor the many railroad workers that have called West Chicago home over the City’s 167 year history. And indeed, the placement of Signa Rotae at Sesquicentennial Park lends itself to the historic sense of place for which the Park was dedicated in 1998 in commemoration of the City’s 150th Anniversary.
As a resident of West Chicago for the past 12 years, Plumlee’s enthusiasm for the arts has contributed to his volunteer involvement on the Cultural Arts Commission and his offer to create a piece of art which the entire community could enjoy. The City provided funding for materials used in the project. He recently appeared in the City’s continuing series of videos which feature members of the community sharing their reasons for choosing West Chicago as a community in which to live, work and thrive. The video can be viewed on the City’s YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/CityofWestChicago.
Classically trained in the study of painting and art history at Scuola Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, Italy, and a graduate of the University of Iowa with an MFA in painting, Plumlee’s experience working with the mosaic medium spans the past 14 years. “Most of the mosaics I have created have been for private residences. The largest mosaic mural I created was for Pathway Connections Childcare and Early Learning in Lisle, Il. I consider myself a painter first, working primarily in oil on canvas. I do enjoy the process of the mosaic medium, though it can be very tedious if a lot of detail is involved. But the results are always stunning. A mosaic piece, especially of a larger dimension, takes on a life of its own and can be very engaging visually. It is a medium well suited for public art,” he explained.
This exciting piece of public art is sure to serve the community well, as it expresses pride in West Chicago’s identity and provides a point of interest and beauty for people walking on the pedestrian path or commuters traveling on the Metra line.
The Commission hopes that everyone in the community comes out to meet the artist and see the mosaic mural and sculpture unveiled and dedicated on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and Commission members will be available to share future plans for a Public Art Master Plan and upcoming projects to further enhance the lives of all West Chicago residents through the arts.