As a Peoria native, people always ask me for recommendations on local places to eat and things to do. While many cities have downtown areas with great restaurants and small businesses, Peoria has a unique art culture that is not discussed enough. Here are The Scout’s picks for the best murals and sculptures in Peoria.
1. Communist Cookie Monster
Laid among the gritty industrial buildings of Northeast Adams Street, this internet sensation from late 2020 stands for “Peace, Land, Cookies!” and the rights of the worker. The mural, commissioned without the building owner’s knowledge and consent, features Cookie Monster proudly brandishing his dessert of choice over the Peoria skyline in a sunset pulled straight from many propaganda posters from the Soviet era. A now-removed attempt to cover the work adds a weathered mystique to a mural shrouded in confusion.
2. Vanna Whitewall
Since coming to Peoria in 1968, Vanna Whitewall has overlooked Plaza Tire, standing at an impressive 17.5 feet tall. In addition to the statue, Vanna adorns the company uniforms. Her presence has become essential not only to the downtown business but to the entire community as well. One employee considers her “a staple in Peoria.” He also stated that people often come to take her picture. Seen here in her winter outfit, Vanna will soon change into a more seasonally appropriate red bikini.
3. The Pasquel Pig
Though the farms of rural Illinois may seem far away in the squares of the city, this porcine sculpture evokes pastoral friendliness and charm against the neighboring businesses. Originating as a fundraiser for the Peoria Public Library, the Pasquel Pig now promotes a can of the company’s pork and beans as a trendy outfit. Look out New York Fashion Week, the next fashion sensation sweeping the nation is here!
4. Mason’s Cooper’s Express
This relaxed mascot graces the wall of a gas station at the intersection of Sheridan Road and McClure Avenue in central Peoria. He is so incredibly thrilled by his product that missing part of his leg doesn’t seem to bother him. The chicken’s big grin is sure to brighten the day for customers and passersby alike.
5. Emo’s Clown Head
Despite recent negative press for clowns thanks to movies like “It” and the great clown scare of 2016, the mascot steadfastly remains as a beacon atop the ice cream shop in north Peoria for those seeking frozen refreshments in the heat of summer. Though I did not reach out to store officials for comment, visitors can be assured Emo the Clown only feasts upon ice cream, not children.