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Zoom In: Rogers Park

At the Artists of the Wall Festival, residents paint Loyola Beach's sea bench to curb graffiti and raise money for the Loyola Park Advisory Council.

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Loyola Beach in Rogers Park has one of the city's few sea benches, a long strip of concrete seating that overlooks Lake Michigan. Spanning 600 feet along the sand, the bench was perpetually covered with graffiti until 1993, when the park started the annual Artists of the Wall Festival.

On Father's Day, four-foot sections of the bench are sold off for $30 to both professional artists and amateurs, who are allowed to paint their portion in line with an annual theme. This year it was "Dreaming It Real," which inspired imagery like girls sprouting butterfly wings and a dog who imagines taking his owner for a walk.

The Loyola Park Advisory Council, a volunteer-run body of residents with a stake in special events at the park and beach, keeps the cost for entry relatively inexpensive so as not to exclude lower-income community members, and there are usually a few sections set aside for families who can't afford to buy one. Still, Artists of the Wall turns out to be a decent fund-raiser for LPAC. Along with entry fees and additional donations around the event, this year's fest raised $10,000, according to council president Roseanna Magada.

Moreover, the paintings have helped curb vandalism of the bench. People tend to respect the community effort represented by the work, Magada says, and it's rarely defaced.

Have an unusual observation or favorite oddity about a neighborhood? zoomin@chicagoreader.com.

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