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Teresa Parod painted a series of garage murals in Evanston in 2019, including this one, left, featuring someone’s pet dog.

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With murals on Evanston garage doors, Teresa Parod turns alleys into drive-through galleries

She was inspired by public art in Cuba — and her son’s comment that not enough people saw her paintings. ‘I would love if other people painted their garages,’ she says.

Teresa Parod painted a series of garage murals in Evanston in 2019, including this one, left, featuring someone’s pet dog.
| Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Alleys usually aren’t known for beauty. But they are in Evanston artist Teresa Parod’s neighborhood. She has painted nine garage doors, starting with her own, with large, colorful murals.

One features giant yellow flowers.

Another bears the image of a local dog.

One shows a house — Parod’s.

There’s our solar system, too, and a magical yard.

This elephant mural is one of nine murals in two Evanston alleys that Teresa Parod completed in 2019.
This elephant mural is one of nine murals in two Evanston alleys that Teresa Parod completed in 2019.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Expect more, too, says Parod, 62, who teaches art history at Oakton Community College and also is planning to do a mosaic in Cuba, her second there, in March.

“I have a waiting list,” Parod says. “I’ll do ‘em as long as people keep asking me.”

She hopes others pick up on the garage-door murals and that it “becomes a fad.”

The idea originated in part from her work a year ago in Cuba. An artist there “covered his yard with mosaics and sculptures” that eventually extended into the community, she says.

A garage-door mural of Bali, done by Teresa Parod, who studied Indonesian dance for years.
A garage-door mural of Bali, done by Teresa Parod, who studied Indonesian dance for years.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

“It totally transformed the neighborhood,” Parod says. “I thought: How cool is that.”

Also, her son complained that “nobody ever sees your paintings.”

This mural by Teresa Parod is called “My Yard is Magical at Midnight.”
This mural by Teresa Parod is called “My Yard is Magical at Midnight.”
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

So she decided to transform her alley from “just wasted space” into a drive-through or walk-through gallery.

She started in July and stopped when the weather got cold, using ordinary house paint and brushes, not spray paint, which muralists often use.

Sunflowers and the solar system are the focus of these two garage murals in Evanston done by Teresa Parod.
Sunflowers and the solar system are the focus of these two garage murals in Evanston done by Teresa Parod.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

“I approach it more like a canvas painting,” she says.

She did most of the murals in the east-west alley behind homes on Thayer Street and Isabella Street from Walnut Avenue to McDaniel Avenue.

“I painted mine, and neighbors asked for them,” Parod says. “I plan to do more. I would like to do our entire alley. I may do some in Chicago.”

Parod, who had help from others including a niece, says she likes having people discover her hidden works of art.

A mosaic Teresa Parod created in Cuba in 2019.
A mosaic Teresa Parod created in Cuba in 2019.
Provided photo

“My husband took out the garbage and saw a family taking pictures of the alley,” she says. “That made me feel good.

Artist Teresa Parod.
Artist Teresa Parod.
Provided photo

“My biggest compliment came when I was working on the last mural . . . The garbage truck came by and stopped. Several people were helping me. One of the workers said, ‘Who is Teresa?’ They had just been working in my alley and saw my name” on the murals.

“I would love if other people painted their garages,” she says. “Alleys are largely ugly and a wasted space.”

She likes using garage doors as her canvas.

“I like the size,” she says. “Large — but not so large that I need a ladder.”

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