Glen Ellyn Honors Artist and COD Alumnus Tony Fitzpatrick


Tony Fitzpatrick’s murals in Downtown Glen Ellyn

Bee Bishop, Staff Writer

College of Dupage and the Village of Glen Ellyn are preparing for artist and COD alumnus Tony Fitzpatrick’s upcoming exhibition at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art with the unveiling of two murals. The event happened Sept. 8 in downtown Glen Ellyn by the recently completed pedway, as part of COD’s DuPage Public Art Project. 

The colorful murals are centered around two native birds from the Chicagoland area, the cardinal and the woodpecker, surrounded by a collage of pop culture and daily influences distinctive to Fitzpatrick’s work. With the help of collaborators Danny Torres and Samantha DeCarlo, Fitzpatrick created the two 8 by 10 foot murals in the heart of downtown Glen Ellyn.

Unlike the majority of Fitzpatrick’s other works, Justin Witte, the curator of COD’s Cleve Carney Museum of Art, noted how the outdoor murals have an extra note of freedom to them.

“His work is often, like so much art, confined to the walls of galleries and museums, where those with access can discover them,” Witte said, “but today, we are celebrating two new works that are out for anyone to discover.”

Tony Fitzpatrick speaking during ceremony

Building off of that, COD Vice President Walter Johnson commented on the importance of art and why it was one of the pillars of COD’s core values.

“Art connects us. It is that one thing, regardless of whatever else is happening, we will take a moment, like we are doing today, to stop and think, and enjoy the visual that’s in front of us,” he said. 

He continued to discuss how rare it is to find someone who didn’t like some form of art. And it seems that COD’s dedication to art was one that was shared even when Fitzpatrick attended. He talked at length about Harold McAninch, the president of COD at the time he attended, and fondly remembered when he had a conversation with McAninch that pushed his artistic career forward.

“He’d always ask us, ‘What do you want to be in five years? What do you want to do with your life?’ And I told him I didn’t know whether I wanted to be an actor or an artist,” Fitzpatrick said. “And [McAninch] went, ‘Well hell kid, do both.’” Fitzpatrick took the advice to heart. Not only is he an accomplished artist and actor, but he’s also been a boxer, bouncer, tattoo artist, bartender, radio talk show host and writer.

Martinez, during her introduction, offered her thoughts on Fitzpatrick’s wild life, saying, “I think that’s why I like Tony so much; he truly is a Renaissance man.”

During his speech, Fitzpatrick talked about the Village of Glen Ellyn and why he felt honored to be doing the paintings.

Mural Collaborators Danny Torres and Samatha DeCarlo

“To all who have lived in Glen Ellyn, this is where I became a bird watcher, which has added much peace and solace to my life. To anyone who had an effort in bringing these murals to this most lovely village, thank you all so much.”

Fitzpatrick concluded the ceremony saying, “These murals belong to the people of Glen Ellyn. I thank you.”

Fitzpatrick is not only giving back to the community with these murals. He is having an exhibition at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art in COD. The exhibit will be free to the public with reservation required. The exhibit opens Oct. 16 and ends early next year.