Lisa Frost mural
Artist Lisa Frost stands in front of her mural depicting the Ski Broncs on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, at Mabel’s Jackpot, 5727 N. Second St., in Loves Park. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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LOVES PARK — A new mural filled with custom colors aims to spark joy by evoking the energy and athleticism of a Ski Broncs water ski show.

The mural fills the south-facing wall of Mabel’s Jackpot, 5727 N. Second St., and depicts two slalom skiers winding around a ramp on the Rock River at sunset.

“If you’re sitting at a Ski Broncs show, this is what you would see,” said Lisa Frost, the artist who created the mural.

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She titled the mural “Heart of the River,” paying homage to both its location in the City with a Heart and its hometown ski show team.

“I’m not a water skier, but I can feel it when I watch you all,” Frost told Ski Broncs members Friday morning at a ceremony celebrating the mural’s completion. “That feeling of freedom, air and athleticism and pageantry and just feeling alive.”

That stretch of North Second Street was previously home to a music-themed mural painted by Brett Whitacre in summer 2021, but that mural was destroyed a year later when an electrical fire ravaged CD Source, the former Park Theatre. CD Source has now moved across the street to 5704 N. Second St.

Mayor Greg Jury said the city wanted to bring a mural back to that stretch, and it was looking for a way to honor the Loves Park Ski Broncs.

“We had been thinking about the Ski Broncs, trying to find a place on North Second,” Jury said. “It just fell into place.”

Loves Park Mayor Greg Jury gestures to the paint-colored gloves Lisa Frost wore while creating a new mural at 5727 N. Second St. in Loves Park. Jury, along with members of the Ski Broncs and Parks Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, celebrated the completion of the mural. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

The wall where the new mural was painted was previously obscured by the CD Source building before the business was demolished after the fire.

“I doubt if there’s ever going to be another building here,” Jury said. He said the city is working to determine what will happen with the former CD Source space. It could be paved and used as an occasional location for food trucks.

The mural was unveiled Friday as the Ski Broncs prepare to host the D2 Show Ski National Championships at Shorewood Park. That competition, taking place Saturday and Sunday, is expected to bring 5,000 people to the region and generate $506,860 in economic activity with 750 hotel rooms booked, according to the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“We’re promoting the Ski Broncs, which is a huge asset for the city of Loves Park,” Jury said. “They bring a lot of people in, they stay at the hotels which produces the tourism money.”

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The city funded the mural, estimated at less than $20,000 when including all prep work and materials, through money it gets from hotel taxes in its tourism fund.

The stretch of North Second where the mural is located has about 20,000 vehicles pass by each day, according to Illinois Department of Transportation statistics.

Steve Kling, president of the Loves Park Ski Broncs, said his wife first spotted it on a drive past the building. The mural honoring the team was a pleasant surprise.

“What a great surprise, and it is perfect timing because we have people from all over the States that are going to be visiting Loves Park here today, driving by this thing,” Kling said. “That is the coolest thing ever. You know they’re going to pull over here and take pictures by it.”

Kling said that Frost captured what the Ski Broncs are all about.

“A big part of what we try to do with the Ski Broncs is put smiles on people’s faces, and that’s what Lisa has done here with this mural,” Kling said.

“Heart of the River” by Lisa Frost is shown on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, at Mabel’s Jackpot, 5727 N. Second St., Loves Park. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

Frost, who painted the mural over about two and a half weeks during hot July days, said she mixed colors on the fly to create the various hues of orange, blue and green for the sunset, river and backdrop.

“That was kind of a cool organic thing that happened,” she said of the custom color palette.

This is the Rockford artist’s fourth mural in the area. The first she created was in 2019 on pillars under the Jefferson Street bridge in Rockford, which she did with her daughter, Libbie. Then in 2021, Lisa and Libbie Frost painted a series of sunflowers at Rockton Food & Spirits, 121 W. Main Street, Rockton. Both of those were part of the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s CRE8IV: transformational art mural initiative.

Lisa Frost then brought “Eye of the Tiger Lily” to a building on Walnut Street in downtown Byron. That project was funded by the Byron Rotary Club.

“That’s what’s cool about CRE8IV: It’s inspiring a lot of different small communities around the area to beautify their cities with murals,” Frost said.

Her hope for her latest mural is simple, she said.

“I hope people love it and that it brings joy to them.”

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas and Threads @thekevinhaas

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