Who says the best art is found in museums? Chicago is fortunate to have a collection of hundreds of breathtaking outdoor wall murals. Most you’ve probably never seen before, while some you’ve seen dozens of times without really giving them a second thought. With a limited number of good weather days remaining in 2020, now is the perfect time to get out and find these treasures!. Below we have highlighted a handful of our favorites from all around Chicago.
1824 W Division St, Wicker Park
(Image: Christine/Rescue In Style)
You certainly don’t have to be familiar with Chicago’s mural scene to have seen the famous Bear Champ, an iconic creation of Puerto Rican artist J.C. Rivera that seems to have taken permanent residence in Chicago. It can be found in over 30 indoor and outdoor locations across the city. Rivera, a boxing fan, created the character as a symbol of his own struggle to make it into the art world, as it “rolls with the punches.” The character engages with the city in different ways depending on where it is–here, on the east wall of Parlor Pizza Bar, the Bear Champ is fitting right in.
5625 North Clark St, Andersonville
(Photo: Demetria Mosley/Wordpress)
When you imagine a mural, this probably is not what first comes to mind. That’s probably because this gem, made by Justus Roe, becomes more intricate the longer you look at it. It seems like something you’d find in Miami, but more than five years since its debut in Andersonville, it’s still a unique sight on the block.
Garfield Green Line Station, Washington Park
(Photos: Rahm Emanuel/Twitter, Patrick L. Pyszka/City of Chicago)
Many CTA rail stations feature impressive art displays, but perhaps none as arresting as that at the newly renovated Garfield Green Line station. Inspired by a similar rail station project in Germany, hopes are that this beautiful remodel will help drive the neighborhood’s rebirth. Chicago artist Nick Cave is behind the backlit photos on columns, also known as “soundsuits,” representing alien skins that obscure the race, gender, and class of whoever is wearing them. Don’t miss those beautiful ceilings either.
79th St & East End Avenue, South Shore
(Photos: Max Sansing/Chicago Sun-Times, Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago)
Murals often seek to establish a strong sense of identity in a location important to the artist, such as these two for South Side artists Max Sansing and Kayla Mahaffey. Taking over a former vacant lot, the two look to set an identity for the South Shore neighborhood. Sansing particularly hopes that it will springboard future development along 79th Street, a main drag through the area.
839 W 87th St, Auburn Gresham
(Photo: Robert Loerzel/Twitter)
Artists have also transformed embankments, which can divide communities, into vibrant depictions of culture. This one, known as the Great Wall of Chicago, stretches over 900 feet long. Rahmaan Statik created it in 2018 to draw attention to mental health issues and preserve the legacy of local elders.
1914 W Chicago Ave, West Town
(Photo: Robert Herguth/Chicago Sun-Times)
This floral mural is designed to look as though it’s blooming right from the wall. The integrated exposed brick makes it somewhat rare among Chicago murals. Artist Ouizi added this to West Town’s collection of over 30 murals in 2019, and also completed a similar piece in Lakeview.
There are far too many murals in Chicago than we could ever hope to cover here. To find some in a neighborhood near you, be sure to check out this interactive map containing hundreds of them. You can even add any you find that haven’t been marked yet! Happy hunting!