Chicago like many populous cities around the world has its share of street art.
Some are created by well known artists, while others are created by talented but not yet found mavens.
I am forever looking for things to capture on camera, hence trips to Chicago have become a regular activity. Because as we all know and have seen, there is absolutely no shortage of things to see or do in Chicago.
On my last trip, I was on a quest for finding some of the well known murals. Those murals that are promoted by the city. Those murals that are painted by prominent artists. Those murals that attract tourists. But while walking and looking for the well know, I was pleasantly surprised by finding some murals that have yet to make the "Who's Who" list but were just as beautifully painted as the well known ones.
First on my list to locate was a famous mural. One that many photographers most probably recognize.
Painted in 2017 by São Paulo-born Eduardo Kobra it depicts the late Chicago photographer Vivian Maier, whose work only gained notoriety after her death. Falling behind on payments Maier was forced to auction her negatives which years on would become a viral phenomenon and a much-sought-after collector’s item.
The Vivian Maier mural was vandalized in 2019 but residents of Wicker Park stepped in to fund its restoration, proving what an important part of the neighborhood it has become! (source)
I walked by the above mural three times before I noticed it. Only because I kept looking up at the buildings, expecting it be to painted up high on one of the taller structures, while all along it was at street level.
Ok the next one is not a mural, but was next to a Vivian Maier's mural and I really liked how it was set up and what it symbolized.
Along my route I spotted several other murals. Some I could not find any information, others, well you will see.
This towering 100-foot mural covering the west side of the Chicago Cultural Center building depicts a whose-who of leading female Chicago cultural leaders who have made their mark over the years, including Oprah Winfrey, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maggie Daley and others. Painted by high-profile local contemporary artist Kerry James Marshall, the work was commissioned by the City of Chicago in 2017 as part of its “Year of Public Art.” (source)
Dandy Crown Wall
A custom-painted fence surrounds the new outdoor space of Dandy Crown, a cocktail-focused neighborhood bar, quietly reopened in July since the COVID-19 mandated shut down in March. Chicago muralist Cyd Smillie was the commissioned artist along with an assist from Jeff Kierna. The fence, t features bold, colorful images and quotes, which were both socially conscious, and musical tributes to Angela Davis, John Lewis, Basquiat, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Bowie, and even The Supremes. (source)
Jeffrey Zimmerman is the Chicago man behind a mural that depicts one of the most recognizable faces in the history of pop culture.
The mural went up at the end of 2019 as part of the Chicago Institute of Art’s retrospective on the famed American artist Andy Warhol. One of his most notable works, the Marilyn Diptych from 1962 is a silkscreen painting combining the notorious Warhol themes of tragedy and celebrity culture. Warhol’s work is part of the reason Marilyn Monroe’s face is so recognizable today and the mural above the Magnificent Mile is living proof of that! (source)
Known for his ‘Bear the Champ’ artwork, JC Rivera a Puerto Rican muralist, is one of Chicago’s favorite artists. His illustrations, murals and paintings can be recognized all over the city. The Bear Champ is a symbol of Rivera’s struggle to make it in the art world, a journey that started seven years ago. Rivera said after researching different cities to make his dream come true, he picked Chicago.
“I created the bear because I like boxing,” Rivera said, “Then eventually when I started trying to be an artist and I started branding the bear, it became like rolling with the punches and trying to make it as artist.” (source)
The 100 ft mural celebrates the “father of modern Chicago blues” Muddy Waters and is painted by Eduardo Kobra, a Brazilian artist, in his typical colorful style.
The commissioner of the city’s department of cultural affairs and special events, Martin Kelly, reportedly stated that the piece is “a symbol of the city’s renewed effort to embrace its black music tradition. Vienna has Mozart and Chicago has Muddy.” (source)
A new mural of Michelle Obama wearing a traditional Korean dress now adorns an exterior brick wall of a restaurant in the Fulton River District.
The portrait by a Los Angeles-based contemporary artist is featured on the west side of a building that houses Perilla, a contemporary Korean restaurant, at 401 N. Milwaukee Ave.
In the portrait, Obama, who was born and raised on the South Side, is seen wearing a red hanbok, a Korean dress, with a full moon in the background.
Chris Chanyang Shim, the artist who painted the mural, said in a Facebook post that he tries not to paint famous people, but a lot of people recommended he paint Obama when he announced he would be doing art in Chicago. (source)
While I was unable to find the actual title to the above art, I was able to find information about the artist. This particular muralist is a native of Chicago and his name is Rahmaan Statik. He has produce numerous murals around the city and has established himself as very talented artist whose work includes graffiti, murals, as well as oil on canvas.
Which brings up the question of what is the difference between murals and graffiti?
Answer hopefully found in part two of this series.