Chicago Artist Jeff Zimmermann Selected to Paint Mural on Downtown Building

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Publication Date: 1/21/2009

The Rhodes Center for Outreach in the Development of the Arts (CODA), which in the past has sponsored a Main Street storefront beautification project, has selected Chicago artist Jeff Zimmermann for it latest Downtown Memphis undertaking--the Rhodes-Hill Mural project.

On Monday, Jan. 26, at Rhodes, Zimmermann will discuss his past work (with slides) as well as his plans for using about 12 student assistants on the project. Free and open to the public, the lecture begins at 7 p.m. in Blount Auditorium of Buckman Hall. “One of the goals of this presentation is to get students and outside artists involved in this project,” says CODA student Meghan Wilcox. “If anyone is interested in helping out, they should come to the lecture and sign up.”

Assisted by Rhodes students and CODA staff, Zimmermann will paint an original, five-story high mural on the east side of the vacant building located at 195 Madison Avenue. The building is owned by Rhodes trustee Wilton “Chick” Hill, and the mural will be visible from the stands of the Memphis Redbirds stadium. Since November 2007, the project has been in development with Hill working with Rhodes students on project management. The UrbanArt Commission Advisory is providing advisory and logistical support.

In the summer of 2008, CODA students conducted a national search to commission an artist to depict a theme relevant to Memphis’ history and culture. In addition, a meeting was held between Rhodes′ students and a community panel to discuss what themes they felt should be represented and what conversations they felt should be sparked from the mural. After Zimmermann’s selection, these ideas were sent to him, not as guidelines, but as a starting point. He currently is drafting his concept for the mural which he will present to the Design Review Board before he begins actually creating the work the end of February.

Zimmermann is a self-taught artist known widely as a contemporary mural painter. He has created large scale public artwork across the United States and abroad, plus large scale commissions for communities, universities and Fortune 500 companies. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, he has exhibited his studio work internationally and has had two exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

“The public should be sharing ideas and discoveries they’ve made with others around them, or carry something away for later,” he writes in an artist statement. “Public art already has an advantage as it′s understood to be ‘of the community’ and therefore its perception comes democratically. My artwork is intended to be neutral. I do not wish to provide answers, but rather attempt to spark dialogue.”