Teresa Parod and her niece Ani Kramer painted this mural in Evanston last fall.

Teresa Parod and her niece Ani Kramer painted this mural in Evanston last fall.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Evanston fiddler mural more about family than music, artist Teresa Parod says

It’s about an artist, Wesley Kramer, her brother, who died in the 1990s. Parod worked with his daughter to re-create one of his prints — “keeping the art going to the next generation.”

A black-and-white mural in Evanston shows a mop-topped musician feverishly playing a violin. Fitting, being that it’s on an outdoor wall of a shop that sells and repairs musical instruments.

But that was just a happy coincidence. More than music, the piece is about a family and loss, keeping memories and connections alive, particularly through art, and celebrating the life of a loved one who died.

Wesley Kramer was killed in the 1990s, stabbed in a horrific incident downstate, not far from St. Louis.

“An amazing artist,” says his sister Teresa Parod, an artist herself, who lives in Evanston. “At our grade school and high school from first grade until 12th, he was the best artist in the school, without question.”

In one of his pieces that Parod says always stood out to her, “He captured a friend playing a fiddle in a lithograph.”

A print of that “hangs in my studio, and I have loved it since I first saw it.”

A print of a piece by Wesley Kramer that features an image of his college friend Tom Albers playing the fiddle.

A print of a piece by Wesley Kramer that features an image of his college friend Tom Albers playing the fiddle.

Provided

Parod hoped that one day she could replicate it in a mural. And she hoped to do that with help from Ani Kramer, her brother’s daughter, who was 5 when he died and now is an artist living in St. Louis.

In October, they got together and made that happen, re-creating the image on an exterior brick wall of Hogeye Music, 1920 Central St., using brushes and house paint.

Ani Kramer “has assisted me in several projects, in Chicago, St. Louis and Cuba,” Parod says. “I love to work with her for many reasons. Besides her talent, I like to see art in our family flourishing in the next generation. Ani and I also make similar marks, so I feel comfortable having her work on surfaces. There is a continuity, and I often think it is because we are related.”

Ani Kramer (left) and Teresa Parod working last fall on the mural at Hogeye Music on Central Street in Evanston.

Ani Kramer (left) and Teresa Parod working last fall on the mural at Hogeye Music on Central Street in Evanston.

Provided

“I wanted to use the fiddler print from my brother to make a mural and organized it,” Parod says. “Up until now, Ani assisted me in murals. On the morning we began, Ani asked me what I thought her dad would think of this project. Of course, I couldn’t imagine him be happier or prouder of her.

“As we began, Ani showed an intensity in the work, and I soon realized that this was her mural, and I would be assisting her.”

Tom Albers is the man featured in the image. He and Wesley Kramer got to be friends while students at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. One day, Kramer asked him to play the fiddle while he drew him as a lithograph.

Wesley Kramer.

Wesley Kramer.

Provided

“Wes was aggressively creative, nonstop thinking about how to make things or how to do things,” says Albers, who lives in Seattle. “It was just really wild to be around him.

“It really makes me feel good to know those two” — Parod and Ani Kramer — “can get together and do something like this for Wes,” Albers says. “It’s really kind of an honor for me. I can’t believe they pulled this out of the past and did something with it.”

Parod says one aim of the project was “keeping the art going to the next generation.”

Ani Kramer, 32, says: “Painting with my aunt keeps our family ties strong. And it’s important to create art in my dad’s memory because he was such a cool, artistic person, and I didn’t really get to experience that.

“My aunt has tried hard to include me in her artistic experience, especially as I’ve become an adult. It’s a really great thing to celebrate together.”

Murals and Mosaics Newsletter
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Chicago’s murals & mosaics

Part of a series on public art in the city and suburbs. Know of a mural or mosaic? Tell us where, and email a photo to murals@suntimes.com. We might do a story on it.

Click on the map below for a selection of Chicago-area murals

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