Metro Centre and Big Picture Initiative invite the public to attend a dedication of the first augmented reality (AR) mural in central Illinois. This groundbreaking mural was created by artist Jeremy Berkley, with an accompanying AR app developed by Bradley University student Haley Hutchins. With the app downloaded to their phones, users will be able to explore all that makes Peoria a great place to live, work, and play. Each icon links to area attractions—from the Peoria Park District to the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

The mural was commissioned by Metro Centre, and is located at the 4700 N University Street, Peoria, 61614 entrance. Eric Brinker, President of Metro Centre, observes:

“For almost 50 years, Metro Centre has been dedicated to the Peoria community. We believe that public art adds enormous value to the community—and in the case of this mural, it celebrates the past, present, and future of Peoria. We’re thrilled to partner with Big Picture and we’re just getting started.”

Speaking about what inspired him, artist Berkley notes:

“The Peoria icons represent the diversity of local attractions. Working from Peoria’s rich history, current offerings, and a look to Peoria’s bright future, I was able to pull from the city’s eclectic spirit to illustrate these eye-catching graphics. My wish for you is to explore what these icons have to offer you and the community. With so many possibilities it’s easy to find yourself here for a day, a weekend, or a lifetime.” 

AR App developer Hutchins lauds the potential uses for AR murals:

“Murals and other works of art have a lot of potential to bring people together, make a statement, and start conversations—big or small. Complementing these works with augmented reality can add a whole new depth to these conversations. It can give us a space to not only consider art on a visual level, but to really think about how it is connected with the rest of the world. We are pushed to think about what a work of art means on its own as well as how it plays into a broader context. AR has become a relevant tool for artists to explore functionality and expression. I think it’s only natural that we will continue to see this type of technology interwoven with art in the future.”

After the dedication, the public is invited to visit the many restaurants and local stores located at Metro Centre for an unforgettable holiday experience. Strike a pose with one of their five Metro Holiday Backdrops and tag your photo #ENJOYMETRO to enter to win a $100 gift card. Details on this contest are located at shopmetrocentre.com.

Artist Details

Jeremy Berkley is an East Peoria based artist and Bradley University alumnus, with a focus on illustration, graphic design, printmaking, and murals. His art pulls from pop culture references and utilizes a thoughtful color palette that will instantly inspire nostalgia. Berkley creates art that is attainable for everyone— inspired by his new home and the desire to put art on the walls, he found screen prints to be reasonably priced and that they did not sacrifice quality or the artist’s personal touch. Berkley utilizes his illustration background and began screen printing in his East Peoria home. The often playful nature and pop culture references create approachability in Berkley’s art that allows it to be appreciated by the art community due to the attention to detail and craftsmanship, but also those new to art.

About Metro Centre

 Founded by Peoria real estate developer and community leader Marvin Goodman in 1971, Metro Centre has been close to the heart of its community for more nearly 50 years. Most of its stores are still locally owned and operated, and it shows. Just look at the friendly faces behind the registers, the unique selection of stores and its commitment to good old-fashioned service. Today, Metro Centre continues to be owned and operated by Goodman’s family with the same passion and community focus.

About Big Picture Initiative

 Big Picture Initiative, the parent of Big Picture Peoria, is a 501(c)(3) organization, is a multi-faceted, grass-roots movement that promotes and solidifies the arts as foundational to commerce and pride in our community. Big Picture focuses on four pillars: 1. Empowering children through the arts, 2. Increasing community vibrancy through public art, 3. Collaborating for community enhancement, 4. Arts Advocacy by supporting and uplifting artists. Big Picture envisions Peoria as a nationally known arts destination, creating economic and cultural advantages for Peoria and its residents.