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Artist beautifies alleys with garage door murals boosted by augmented reality

Posted at 3:16 PM, Dec 17, 2019

EVANSTON, Ill. – If you drive too fast, you could miss it. But a chance turn into one alley just north of Chicago will transport you into a drive-thru art gallery.

“I wanted to take this place this alley which is just ugly or lackluster and make it into something special,” explained Teresa Parod.

The Evanston, Illinois-based painter and artist is the person behind several vibrant garage door murals.

From floral motifs to interplanetary themes, her goal she says is to uplift people through her painting.

“I want all my public art to be positive because no one who walks down this alley… most didn't ask me to paint this,” she said. “So, I don't want them to come and see some something that is very negative or makes them feel unhappy.”

The canvases range from one-and-a-half to two car garage doors. She only charges for material. The medium: house paint.

“What I really like is when people come who are not in the neighborhood and they're just riding their bikes or walking dog and they're like well what is this? And it's something special,” said Parod.

The artist started with her own door, concerned with how her neighbors might respond.

“This is my own garage. And I thought it would be fun to put the front of my house on my garage,” she said.

But many have embraced transforming the back alley into a gallery of vibrant, public works of art.

Neighbor Judy Slagle saw the work and just had to have her garage door painted as well. Hers is a collection of brightly colored sunflowers.

“When I came home especially in the winter like it is now, I wanted to come home and have something that would make me smile and other people I hope too,” said Slagle

For an enhanced experience, Parod’s husband Bill, a sound artist and software developer, is creating an augmented reality app.

Virtual birds can be seen on the screen interacting with the paintings. He is designing customized vignettes for each door.

“So that we could walk to them and you could hear something in 3D and walk around and the birds and so on could fly around,” he explained.

The doors are now in high demand.

“Everybody started asking me to do them and I have a waiting list,” said Parod. “So, I hope to do the whole alley and I hope to do more alleys.”

And while Parod may see the world as her canvas, this time it’s right up her alley.