“Heart of America” mural created at Santori Public Library...

The City of Aurora, Ward 2 Alderman Juany Garza and the Aurora Public Library are hosting artist Alejandro Loccoco of Guadalajara, Mexico as he paints a mural, titled “Heart of America,” at the Richard and Gina Santori Public Library of Aurora. The 13-foot by 40-foot mural is being painted on a west wall on the second floor of the library at 101 S. River St. in downtown Aurora. When Loccoco arrived at the Aurora Public Library in early September, he hugged the wall on which he would create the mural, saying that he was happy the mural would be located indoors. “Outdoor murals change over time,” Loccoco said. “This mural will still be here when we’re gone.” The mural was proposed to Second Ward Alderman Juany Garza by Pedro Garcia Aguilar, general coordinator of the Council of Hispanic Communities. The council is working on several cultural exchanges with Aurora, including the mural project. “I’m very happy that after all these months, the mural will soon be a reality,” Garza said. It’s exciting to see that an excellent artist such as Mr. Loccoco is interested in our city. This mural is an awesome blessing.” “Since the mural will be in a public building that is a destination for thousands, it will be an asset that can enrich our diverse community in many ways,” said Dan Barreiro, Chief Community Services Officer for the City of Aurora. Loccoco began creating the mural with a mixed acrylic and charcoal technique on Tuesday, Sept. 12. The public will not be able to view the artist while he works, as he wishes the mural to be viewed in its entirety when it is completed at the end of the month. The mural was inspired by the union of cultures, languages and...

Octo Street Fest is full of wonder on Oct. 14...

Octo Street Fest is a new fall festival on Saturday, Oct. 14 in downtown Aurora. Held behind New York Street’s Restaurant Row on Pinney Street, Octo Street Fest brings artists, musicians, and street performers together for an afternoon of wonder. The new festival is unique and one-of-a-kind to downtown Aurora. It features the mystical, the magical, and the absurd. There won’t be any animals, but human performers will entertain with hula hoops, card readings, fire dance, and more. “Aurora Downtown’s events committee wanted to create a new event that paired up with a Saturday in fall and could really show off another side of our arts scene. It’s full of wonder. It’s magical. It’s dark. It’s absurd and mystical. Mostly, it’s entertaining and entirely downtown Aurora,” said Marissa Amoni, events and community outreach director for Aurora Downtown. Octo Street Fest will also showcase the restaurants and businesses along Restaurant Row, including Basement of the Dead, Endiro Coffee, Ballydoyle, Gillerson’s Grubbery, and others. Local artist Josh Schultz designed the event poster, which features an octopus wearing a top hat and holding a wand. “Schultz came up with the octopus idea, and we liked what an octopus represents. It’s not only a play on words with it being a festival in October, but an octopus could be doing so many things with those eight arms. In downtown Aurora, we’re doing a lot with arts and culture, so it seemed to be a great fit,” Amoni said. A dozen artists with a darker aesthetic are setting up along artist row, curated by Teresa Fiehn. Music by Brian Kovacs at 2 p.m., Luis and I at 4 p.m., and The Peachtree at 6 p.m. Katiepillar Performance Art performs throughout the day with a fire dance performance at 5...

Leland Legends serves up great food, new ownership...

By Brendon Kolodziej and Victoria Alexander Leland Legends is renowned for serving up some nostalgically-hip libations, as well as exquisite meals ranging from ribeye steaks to a wide variety of sandwiches. Located at the base of the iconic Leland Tower in downtown Aurora, the restaurant also recently welcomed its new owner, Ron Woerman. The proposition was offered to him one day out of the blue, he said. “Within weeks it went from a conversation—to us taking over (Leland Legends)” from its previous owner, David Karadema. No novice to the restaurant industry, Woerman is also the general manager of the popular Spartan House, located at 1032 Prairie St. in Aurora, as well as O’Malley’s Pub and Eatery, an Irish sports bar on Hill Ave. Currently focusing his energy on this new venture, Woerman, when asked about possible changes, explained, “Short-term, we’ve changed the menu,” condensed it, and “made it more practical for the size of the kitchen.” He mentioned that the previous menu was fairly extensive, but that a wider selection of beers is being adopted as well as new cocktails. He has no immediate plans to alter anything drastically, he said, such as changing the name or restyling the overall image, citing that the previous owner had done a “great job” with the restaurant’s direction. Woerman also expressed a willingness to be flexible in regards to the menu, stating, “If we put something [in it] that doesn’t work then we can always take it [out] and reprint it,” obviating at his readiness to tailor their menu towards what he thinks will better reflect the preferences of his clientele.   Woerman also understands that the rich history of the tower is something people cherish, and he fully plans to uphold its legacy while still embracing...

Painted lightbulbs shine a light on suicide in downtown Aurora...

By Brendon Kolodziej September 1 marked the start of National Suicide Prevention Month. To help spread awareness, a local organization kick-started a campaign utilizing the unique blend of art, culture, and community for which the city is widely known. Shine the Light on Suicide showcases the works of local artists in the form of large, masterfully-painted lightbulb sculptures, which can be discovered scattered around downtown Aurora. The artists’ work serves as a reminder to people, and the community at large: Suicide is a serious epidemic that cannot be ignored. In addition to the twenty art sculptures out on display on the streets of Aurora (14 are found in downtown Aurora), the Shine the Light on Suicide campaign created by Simply Destinee, a youth dance team whose mission is to encourage awareness and understanding when it comes to suicide, is sponsoring a slew of events all month long. Such events, from poetry readings on Sept. 19, to informative presentations by the Kane Co. Sheriff, Suicide Prevention Services, and Simply Destinee on Sept. 20, both at Santori Library, will focus on promoting both the awareness and prevention of suicide. The events and festivities began at Aurora Downtown’s First Fridays in September. Aurora Downtown, an organization of business and property owners within SSA #One is also a sponsor of the project.  More community events focused around Shine the Light on Suicide kicked-off Sept. 2 at Fox Valley Mall with a public meet and greet with the artists, as well as performances and speeches by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, Hope for a Day, and the Aurora Police Department. On Sept. 5 at Aurora’s City Hall, Mayor Richard Irvin signed a proclamation allowing for the erection of street art associated with the cause. This proclamation officially gave artists and local...