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Mural on West Main tells a story and aims to make community safer

Cass Herrington
Peoria Public Radio

A stretch of West Main Street in Peoria just got a splash of color. The owner of the Fifth Avenue Fashions hired a local artist to paint a side of the building that faces traffic. The mural tells a story about the building’s tenants and the neighborhood.

Shopkeeper ZiadMadanat owns the strip on the corner of Main and Garfield.

His son Michael says the family wanted to bring new life to this corner of West Main Street, an area that sometimes gets a bad rap:

“We walk up and down these streets all day, you know, and it’s just a perception that people have outside outside West Main that think that it’s this unsafe place, but it’s not,” Madanat said. 

He says apart from making this stretch of Main brighter, the mural tells a story about the business owners housed in this small plaza. They’re all immigrants. 

The mural depicts a Greek god blowing wind...

“And the wind is kind of like the struggles to get to where they all are now," Madanat said. "And how they’ve all managed to be successful with everything going against them.”

Madanat’s father immigrated to the U.S. from Jordan in the 80s. Two other business owners are from India.

“It lifts people up. It gives them something beautiful where once there was nothing," the artist, Jessica Benassi-McGhee, said.

Benassi-McGhee also owns the neighboring bar, Blue. She says public art, like the mural, gives neighboring residents a sense of pride. 

The mural also has a community-building component -- the public is invited to grab a paintbrush and join her.