CRE8IV Transformational Art had an expansive fourth season as nearly 200 mural artists applied from all over the world to participate. It was the most applicants yet by a tremendous landslide! From California to Florida, 8 lead artists and 1 arts collective joined in the fun to paint our community with love. The program offers local and visiting artists to showcase their talents on large scale walls which could benefit from color, meaning and pizzazz. CRE8IV has delivered 43 murals in the area to date!
Inspired by the surroundings, artists cultivate their artwork in the Rockford region with themes from the Forest City including local floral and fauna, positive messages, stimulating compositions and much more. Here’s the latest additions from this season in order of completion!
Louise “Ouizi” Jones @0uizi
"A Bouquet That Does Not Wilt”
“This mural is a celebration of Rockford through its local floral and fauna - Lupine, Hydrangea, Rudbeckia, Peonies, Lilac, Blue Flag Irises, Blue Stem grasses, and a Monarch butterfly. It is "A Bouquet That Does Not Wilt”, highlighting some of the finest spring and summer perennial flowers of the Midwest in perpetual bloom.” – Louise Jones
Rockford is ecstatic to welcome Louise (Ouizi) Jones for her first CRE8IV project. She specializes in fantastic floral murals and has completed works in North Carolina, Alaska, New York, Indiana, and more.
Originally from Los Angeles, CA, she is now based in Detroit, Michigan, and travels to share her creations with communities all over the U.S. You can follow her work on Instagram @0uizi.
She recently completed her gorgeous mural for the 2023 CRE8IV program with assistance by fellow artist, Roxy Erickson. The finished mural is 25 x 90 ft, spills over onto the building above the main wall, and features 2 butterflies as well as plant types such as: lupine, lilac, Rudbeckia, Coral Charm peony, Cora Louise peony, hydrangea, Blue flag iris, and Big Blue Stem grass.
Mural Location: Urban Equities Burnham Lofts
202 W State St. Rockford, IL 61101
Chase Melendez @chasemelendez
“My aim with the Rockford Alley project was to bring energy and excitement to a space that people might often overlook. I enjoy activating unique spaces or hidden walls, this space provided both of those things. By adding my bold geometric compositions to locations like this, it gives them a new life and allows people the opportunity to find pleasure in them.” – Chase Melendez
Chase is leading his first CRE8IV mural after assisting Jenny Ustick and Atalie Gagnet with the 815 E. State Street project last year in 2022. His style is full of vibrant colors and geometric flair which lends itself perfectly to this year’s creation in the alleyway behind Stewart Square.
He hails from Camp Washington, Cincinnati, Ohio, and his motto to describe his work is: “Building things to paint, painting things that are built.” His creations brighten up communities, businesses, and even theaters across the Midwest.
His 2023 contribution to the CRE8IV project is kicking off the creation of Art Alley between Stewart Square and The Symbols Clothing. The alleyway will feature his massive color-blocked mural as well as lighting to make the alley a safe and fun walkway for both visitors and residents of the city.
Mural Location: Stewart Square Alley
308 W. State St. Rockford, IL 61101
OhYa Studio @ohyastudio
“Together we can do so much more than we could as individuals.”
“We included lettering for the phrase, ‘Better Together’ in our design to highlight this idea. OhYa Studio actually embodies this idea! As individual artists, both Brian and I were able to take on our own projects, but when we combined forces we were able to take on larger scale works of art. The inclusion of a sun symbolizes energy, warmth, and positivity. For all living things on earth, our sun provides the needed energy we need to flourish and be our best selves. The relationship between the sun and earth, and one person to another, are examples of shared symbiotic relationships that prove we are better together. “-Ray Mawst
OhYa Studio returns from Madison, WI to Rockford for the second year to create a bright and welcoming mural on E. State St.
Founders Ray Mawst and Brian Kehoe have led OhYa Studio around the country and came to Rockford last year for their mural near Veterans Memorial Circle.
Ray has worked in production art and branding to master custom lettering, as Brian uses his experience in construction, metal casting and stone fabrication to create large scale projects.
810 E. State St. Rockford, IL 61104
Anthony Lewellen @antckone
“Bridges are often metaphorically and symbolically used to indicate transition and connection. In almost every part of the world, the Dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability, and self realization. The change that is often referred to has its source in mental and emotional maturity and understanding the deeper meaning of life. Chamomile flowers carry the symbolic meaning of rest, peace, poise, calmness. The flower is also a sign of renewal and rebirth in many cultures due to its ability to bloom for long periods and resist wear from foot traffic.” – Anthony Lewellen
“Among the Stars”
Coming to Rockford from Chicago, IL this is Anthony Lewellen’s second year with the CRE8IV program. This year’s total of three murals decorates two guard rails and a nearby retaining wall along Auburn street.
Anthony’s multidisciplinary work is central to the Midwest to tell stories about the districts he creates in. He began his work as a graffiti artist in Chicago, IL and made a name for himself in the street art scene. His work tells vivid stories through visual elements like his bold color palettes and unique style formed by the art of the Windy City. You’ll know his work by the vibrant colors, detailed characters, and artistic storytelling of the images on his murals.
Mural Location: Retaining Wall
4802 Auburn St. Rockford, IL 61101
Mural Location: Guard Rails over Kent Creek Bridge
3117 Auburn St. Rockford, IL 61101
AJ Davis @projectstreetgold
“This mural was inspired by the Veteran’s Memorial Circle in Rockford and serves as a monument honoring our veterans and all who have served and are serving time in an American military branch. The scene depicts an abstract almost digitized version of the American flag that ties together three major elements including a F35 fighter jet, 3 blooming poppies, and a solider saluting in uniform. The F35 is a nod to Collins Aerospace, who is a local Rockford manufacturer who produces parts for the F35, and generously supported this project. The poppies symbolize the memory of lost soldiers and is an offering to both remember and celebrate those lives lost. The solider was referenced from an AI generated face, prompted to utilize facial features from every single race in order to cultivate an authentic approach to creating a figure that was focused on inclusivity. The solider is facing the graveyard and memorial circle, in uniform and saluting. “ - AJ
AJ Davis is in Rockford for the first time to complete his mural in the Veterans Memorial Circle. The mural, facing Auburn St, honors veterans and active military serving our nation in the armed forces with reverential images.
AJ joins us from Denver, Colorado where he is a full-time muralist, sculptor, and jeweler. Internationally recognized, AJ founded Project Street Gold where he works with world renowned artists to create cast metal sculptures. His own murals strive to connect with the diversity of the communities and environments he works in, often honoring native wildlife in his art.
Mural Location: Rockford Billiard Café
1436 N. Main St. Rockford, IL 61103. (N Main/ Auburn Roundabout)
Dustin Eckhardt @dustineckhardt.art
“This mural celebrates the mighty pelican on its migrational path through our native wetland prairies. The way they fish together is perfectly synchronous, much like the nature surrounding all of us. 29 different wildlife species span across this wall, all of which can be found near throughout the year.” – Dustin Eckhardt
Dustin Eckhardt joined the CRE8IV initiative for his second year to produce two new murals. Living right in Rockford, this year Dustin created a mural in Rockton that will highlight a new pocket park with its images of native wildlife and pelicans that annually nest nearby. Dustin is also featured in the Art Alley- the Stewart Square Alley- with his work ‘framed’ in bricked window features.
You can find Dustin’s work in last year’s 2nd St. mural and around the Midwest, recognizable by his use of vibrant color and playful composition.
Mural Location: Rockton’s upcoming Pocket Park
122 S. Prairie St. Rockton, IL 61072
Jesse Melanson @jmelart
“Growth & Transformation”
“A mural which was designed to align with Goodwill's mission "to help create opportunities to grow and achieve" and The City of Rockford's coin as "The Forest City". The composition starts on the east facing wall where a young plant is being nourished and then wraps around to the south facing wall which shows the growth of the tree into a whimsical forest. The caterpillar climbs the tree to form a cocoon and then transforms into a butterfly to enjoy the magical forest with its other butterfly friends, and of course a fox. Painted using spray paint in my "low polygon" style the colorful artwork is bold and engages the viewer to explore their own imaginations, creativity and reflections. Hopefully the artwork creates meaningful connections and conversation between its viewers and brings a moment of joy and inspiration that is then passed on.” – Jesse Melanson
Rockford welcomes Jesse Melanson for the first time as the reach of the CRE8IV program expands Eastward. In a Forest City themed mural, Jesse’s playful style adds color to the E. State St, Goodwill with respect to Goodwill’s effort to save monarch butterflies. In his mission to connect communities and people, Jesse’s work can be found across the U.S. while he lives and works out of Truckee, CA and Austin, TX.
Mural Location: Goodwill Industries
4618 E. State St. Rockford, IL 61108
Jhonattan Arango @art_of_anon
”This narrative sought inspiration in the site's proximity to the breathtaking natural landmarks nearby, such as the Nicholas Conservatory, the Anderson Japanese Gardens, and the lush charm of the Sinnissippi Park. We also wanted to frame a moment in time that exudes simplicity, but that also conveys the complex, inextricable connection exhibited by all living beings. The title Coevolution is an ode to this relationship; the pollinator is so connected to the flower that it becomes difficult to imagine one without the other. They are coded within each other's most fundamental needs, fully interdependent. It's a partnership that bears fruit over lifetimes, also affecting the way in which these biological processes physically evolve, behave, think, and live. Stylistically, the composition is entirely made up of triangles connected by their edges, also speaking to the interconnection of all things. With thousands of triangles telling this story, it becomes apparent to see how each piece, regardless of color and size, is an integral part of the whole.” – Jhonattan Arango
Jhonathon Arango brings his geometric style to Rockford to contribute to the CRE8IV program for the first time. Near the Rockford Nicholas Conservatory, his mural on N. 2nd St. highlights the view of the structure and the river with vibrant florals. Jhonathon originates from Camagüey, Cuba where he learned his appreciation for the arts. After immigrating to the U.S, he served as a medic in the navy and now shares his artistic vision across the U.S. and his hometown in West Palm Beach, Florida. His work is easily recognizable due to his use of triangles in his composition that gives a tile-like appearance.
Mural Location: Northern Illinois Terrazzo and Tile Co.
1125 N. 2nd St. Rockford, IL 61115
Art Alley @jenny.fromearth | @dustineckhardt.art | @asiathemaker | @brettwhitacreart
Jenny Mathews | Dustin Eckhardt | Asia Peters | Brett Whitacre
“The idea behind enhancing this alley way was to make a safe, vibrant and ‘instagrammable’ corridor. Inviting local artists to participate in creating a gallery feel of unique art pieces with their own artistic expressions. This alley is a direct route between the State & Main parking deck to and from the entrance of the BMO Center. Our hopes are for locals and visitors to use Art Alley and experience something new through public art downtown Rockford. A great spot for a pit stop before or after an event, unique portrait backdrops and a walking shortcut downtown!” – Nicole Blough, RACVB
Mural Location: The Symbols
316 W. State St. Rockford, IL 61101