Shedding the feelings of isolation that many experienced during the year of the pandemic, twelve West Chicago Garden Club members emerged this spring like bees from a hive to reconnect over a community project that held the promise of excitement and fun for each, as well as the enrichment of the entire community.
The active group wanted to build on the success of The Butterfly Effect of 2019, a public art project of which the Garden Club spearheaded with other community partners. A total of 36 artist-designed butterflies were spread throughout town, with seven designated for the Kruse House Gardens at 527 Main Street, West Chicago, and which contributed to the City winning an award for Best Pollinator Program from the national organization America in Bloom (AIB).
“Few will forget the impact the butterflies had that year,” said Rosemary Mackey, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the City of West Chicago. “Residents and visitors spent time with family and friends visiting the 36 sites throughout the summer, and the project was recognized on a national stage at the AIB symposium.”
Garden Club member Billie Childress recalls the flutter created by the butterflies in bringing attention to the gardens that she and other members lovingly tend throughout the year. “We learned that year what an asset big art pieces were to our garden, in attracting more visitors who came to view the unique display and also then discovered the secret treasures of heirloom flowers and shrubs, as well as the history found at Kruse House Museum.” The Club is hoping to create a similar buzz with their newest large garden art project, Bees Take Flight because, as Billie added, “…having guests in the garden is an opportunity to ‘grow gardeners’”.
Beginning May 8th, visitors to the Kruse House Gardens will delight in art bees with names like Bee Bodacious, Bee-dazzling, Polly Nader, and Bee-hemian Rhapsody. Created by green thumbs April Murphy, Kerry Dexter, Barb Bizzarri, Barb Melville, Jodi Otzwirk, Ruth Kyme, Dick Darrah, Scott Johnson, Kerry Perry, Pamela Darrah, Patti Zaputil, and Billie Childress, each bee features a unique theme and vibe and will be displayed with an interesting bee fact to help demystify and bring greater appreciation for the hard-working pollinator.
Throughout the summer, the City will publish some of the neat, inspiring, and clearly original stories behind the individually designed art works, as well as promote some of the fun bee facts through social media.
Mayor Ruben Pineda who recently reaffirmed the City’s commitment to the monarch butterfly through the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge, is excited about the upcoming bee art display. “Bees are pollinators too,” he said. “We’re proud of the efforts of the Garden Club to bring this type of awareness to the community, not to mention the fun of discovering these bigger than life bees in the beautiful setting of the Kruse House Gardens. It will definitely be a ‘buzzworthy’ project.”