LOVES PARK — Muralist Brett Whitacre sees his works — and everything else in the world for that matter — in a whole new light.
The 45-year-old Rockford-area muralist, who happens to be colorblind, tried on a special pair of goggles on Friday and for the first time saw colors as the majority of the public sees them.
He donned the glasses outside his newly painted mural on the north side of the building at 5545 N. Second St.
“Wow! Oh wow!
“I’m really drawn to reds and oranges.”
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Colorblind or not, southbound drivers on North Second Street can’t help but notice the 116-foot-long mural that features a rainbow of colors with overlapping letters that spell “Loves Park “. To bring out the colors even more, Whitacre painted the mural on a black canvas.
“It’s like you know how in the 70s and 80s they used Technicolor, and you could tell the color was improved. ‘Well, this (the EnChroma glasses) is like an upgrade.’
To give a picture of how he normally sees color, Whitacre pointed to a passing bright orange garbage truck.
“Without the glasses, it’s a green truck for me,” he said.
As for the light brown color of peanut butter? Whitacre said, “I thought it was green forever.”
Regarding the actual color of green and its many different shades, Whitacre said, “Greens have always been a problem. I can’t tell one shade from another. But I see it so much better now.”
Same thing for the brown color.
“Brown is better for me now. I see orange in it. I always thought brown was just a mixture of all the colors, but it actually has a lot of orange in it. It’s more logic.”
Markus Smith, a State Farm insurance agent, whose office building is next to the mural, also owns the building the mural is painted on and hired Whitacre to paint the artwork .
“I wanted something that was going to be unique but for the area. I didn’t want any publicity on it, and he gave me ‘Loves Park’. I love it.”
According to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, approximately 3.7% or 12 million Americans are color blind.
The color-enhancing or color-correcting glasses worn by Whitacre cost around $300 and are made by EnChroma, a Berkeley, Calif.-based company that developed the patented lens technology to improve the lives of people with color blindness.
To promote accessibility and inclusion, EnChroma eyewear is offered to color-blind visitors in Illinois at the Museum of Science & Industry Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Plainfield Public Library, and Downer’s Grove Public Library.
Chris Green: 815-987-1241; email@example.com; @chrisfgreen