This August, the Main Library Art Gallery is featuring newly restored paintings by Midwest artist Reginald Mars, whose work has been part of the fabric of the Oak Park community since first installed at Ridgeland Common in 1963. Re-discover Mars' colorful paintings, restored by local art conservation expert Timothy Lennon in association with the Park District of Oak Park.

A long-time resident of Oak Park, Mars was a widely known Midwest artist when he died in 1973. Born in Petersburg, IL, Mars attended Peoria public schools before majoring in graphic arts at the University of Iowa, where he won prizes for his artwork at the Iowa State Fair. Locally, Mars served as President of the Oak Park Art League between 1962-1965.

Done in true colors and depicting all phases of the park district's programs, the paintings lined the walls of the Comstock Room at Ridgeland Common for decades. As time passed and the facilities were remodeled, the paintings were eventually put in storage. Until March 2011, when the Park District of Oak Park’s Art Advisory Committee began to raise funds to restore the paintings. The kick-off fundraising event at Pleasant Home brought together Ridgeland Common architect Jack Barclay and Oak Park art conservator Timothy Lennon, who was commissioned by the park district to restore the paintings.

Mars' paintings will be on display from Aug. 2 through 31. The gallery is open seven days a week, during regular library hours.