Cool Chicago-Area Street Art

By Maddie Rose and Cristina McGraw

Mural by artist Eduardo Cobra located in Wicker Park, Photo/Maddie Rose

Marty Rose, an amateur artist in Chicago, explained what it takes to create a mural. Since he has been doing art his whole life, he can easily walk through the process.

“First I sketch a couple of designs for the client to choose from and then visualize it against the walls,” he said. “The only time I sketch it on the wall ahead of time is when it involved lettering so that it is spaced perfectly. The actual designs or illustrations are freehand.”

Many times artists get reached out to by local businesses to make certain pieces for them. But sometimes muralists tend to create seek out their own places and use their own designs. 

As someone who is asked to do murals for businesses and clients, Rose was asked what work he has done in the past. Claiming that he has done many projects for people for their homes that know him for his art.

Many of the works that he has done range from fantasy subjects for children’s rooms to the beautiful views that are the Tuscany scenery. Even some paintings as detailed as painting an entire tree spanning across a laundry room wall up to the ceiling with birds flying across the branches.  

“It’s all up to the client’s desire and taste,” he said. “It can be something very simple or something very specific with lots of details.” 

Artist like Rose are just an example of one of the many amazing street artists that encompasses Chicago and its surrounding. Chicago and its surrounding has many beautiful murals and cool street artwork that is worth visiting. 

Street art pieces are essentially created by artists in a public setting for everyone to see and engage with. The artist is usually trying to make a statement through their public work. 

The next part of the report will include a list of five cool street artwork, a description of the artist, their intention and overall information about each piece. 

StoryMap: Check out the location of the five murals.

1.Butterfly Breaking Through Clothes by Ester Melina Scotte

Western Suburbs, 1111 North Blvd, Oak Park IL

The first piece is created by artist Ester Melina Scotte. She was born and raised in Argentina and began her artistic journey at the young age of 12. She acquired a lot of her artistic technique through combination of art school as well as her own personal development. She enjoys experimenting with various techniques and styles

She said she “expresses her own world, vision, and personal emotions throughout different stages of her life through her paintings which are influenced by her own personal travels which allowed her to also travel through her art as well” (Melina, 2019).

The mural is called Butterflies Breaking Through the Clothes, located in Oak Park. When asked about the process of creating a mural, she explained that the first step is to propose the specific art piece to the city, then showcase her idea or outline for approval prior. Once they approve the concept, she then begins outlining or creating the actual piece.

For this piece, she used a projector to sketch the shape to the murals, she added a combination of acrylic paints, finishing with graffiti varnish. The mural took about three days to complete with a total of 16 hours. When asked about some of the challenges of creating this type of artwork, she replied that the weather is a huge factor, especially in the Midwest.

When asked about the connotation of the painting Scotte said “that it is about what we transmit and what we release to others through our energy in the shape of butterflies, that come from the inside and surround the women.” 

She dedicated the mural to every person who enjoys viewing art, and called it her “small contribution to motivate others to leave more art on walls” (Scotte, 2019).

2. Flyboy by Hebru Brantley

West Town, 1400 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 

The second art piece is a mural by artist Hebru Brantley a Bronzeville native. The artist states that his artwork draws influence from pop culture, comic book heroes, as well as Japanese anime and bold aesthetics. He earned his B.A in film from Clark Atlanta University, with a background in design and media illustration. In his bio he describes that he uses the family of murals and graffiti work as a frame to explore his inquiries.

Brantley applies a “plethora of mediums from oil, acrylic, watercolor and spray paint to non-traditional mediums such as coffee and tea, as well as challenging the traditional view of the hero or protagonist”

The specific mural picked is located in West Town, Chicago. Which depicts his iconic character of the FlyBoy. He currently has a cool exhibition in Pilsen, Chicago called the Flyboy Universe in NevermorePark.

3. Bear Champ by JC Rivera 

Fulton Market, 108 N. Green Street, Chicago IL 

The third piece is by Puerto Rican native and Chicago Resident, JC Rivera. Rivera describes that he’s been illustrating, painting and doing anything related to art for the past nine years. His most popular trademark is the iconic Bear Champ, a yellow bear with boxing gloves seen in many of the Chicago neighborhoods. The specific mural is located at the West Loop Neighborhood, and depicts the Bear Champ holding a large slice of pizza. 

When interviewed Ricardo Berrios a Chicago resident and art enthusiast shared his perspective on the Bear Champ stating that “The Bear Champ is a Chicago Iconic symbol, if you haven’t seen a Bear Champ around then you haven’t seen all of Chicago” (Berrios, 2019).

College student and Chicago resident Kerenina Rosario shared her opinion of the artist, staring that “ JC Rivera’s Bear Champ is becoming a Chicago symbol, kinda like the Bean but in a more underground way.” She explained that as a fellow Puerto Rican she feels proud to see their Boricua representation through his artwork.  

Adobe Spark Video: Check out the slide of some of the cool artwork

4. Vivian Maier Self-Portrait by Eduardo Kobra

Wicker Park at 1651 W. North Avenue. 

The fourth mural is done by Eduardo Kobra who is a Brazilian street artist. This mural is dedicated to one of Chicago’s most famous photographers, Vivian Maier. It is located on the wall of a house in Wicker Park at 1651 W. North Avenue.

Eduardo Kobra is known for his use of bright colors and bold lines that give his murals a kaleidoscope feeling to them. The technique he uses consists of repeating squares and triangles to give the image he is painting that realistic touch. 

Kobra made this piece when he got permission from the owners of the house to paint the mural. He was not paid to do this mural, instead he volunteered his time and used his own money to create this work to pay tribute to Vivian Maier. 

Maier, is considered one of the greatest photographers of all time. Before her death in 2009, Maier resided in Rogers Park. She captured countless images of life in Chicago and the people that lived there. 

The mural by Kobra is one of her self portraits that she took, where she is seen holding up her camera. 

Eduardo Kobra brought to life one of Chicago’s most famous icons. Getting to drive past this mural that not only celebrates Vivian, but also the hard work done by Eduardo himself is a real treat.  

5. Greetings From Chicago, by Victor Ving

Logan Square, 2226 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

The fifth mural is called Greetings From Chicago located in Logan Square. Painted back in 2015, it has been one of Chicago’s favorite tourist attractions. The mural captures the highlights of life in Chicago.

Muralist Victor Ving and photographer Lisa Beggs started a journey of traveling to different cities and creating what is called the Greetings Tour. As a group project the two have been using the classic large letter postcards and turning them into art.

Capturing the essence of each city they travel to, they create these murals inspired by the old large letter postcards back in the early 1990s.

The two have made 41 murals in 20 different states during the past 4 years of their journey of creating landmarks. Eventually they intend to make one in all 50 states. 

The mural in Chicago includes a very colorful and fun image to depict some of Chicago’s most iconic symbols. It features some of Chicago’s best within each letter including Chicago hot dogs, White Sox, Ferris Bueller, and many more.

Right off the California stop on the Blue Line, one can see the mural and its friendly greeting to the public. It has become quite a popular stop to take pictures for all forms of social media. The painting can be found right against a plumbing building on the intersection of Milwaukee Ave. and Prindiville Street. 

Check out this 360 Image: of the Chicago Greeting mural

Doing this type of work is very different from a typical canvas and paint supplies, Rose said. Murals are done on different surfaces and cause from many challenges when making it. Some of the biggest challenges is to include all the details to make the painting perfect. 

Making sure that the art the artist is doing what they visioned may be one of the biggest challenges especially with the obstacle of time. When doing a piece for a business it may cause lots of dedicated time in order to get the piece done promptly. 

When asked Rose about what a he typical spends on one of his murals he replied that

“Very hard to answer,” he said. “Every job is different. It all depends on the amount of detail a project needs. The more detail, the more time needed. I’ve completed most inside of an eight-hour day, but ave frequently required a few days to complete a single project”.

He describes that creating a mural is a strategic process from many artists. Having the privilege to explore ideas of what you can create and portray your art in a city like Chicago is a dream for many artists. It can take years to become an established artist within such a place like the city. Being able to know what goes into creating murals like the ones scattered around the various neighborhoods in Chicago can give insight into the world of making murals.

If you want to know how you can be apart of making art like Rose and the other muralists in Chicago visit the Chicago Artist Coalition. 

Published by cristinamcgraw

Digital Journalism Student

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