Getting outside is what summer is all about. Stop and look around — art is all around us. Chicago is home to hundreds of street murals, from celebratory explosions of color to cerebral pieces that make you think. The selection is so vast, in fact, that Chicago recently launched a public mural registry. It’s a searchable database for tourists and locals as well as a guide for city workers who sometimes are unable to differentiate between art and graffiti (each mural on the registry gets a city “stamp” on it).
No matter where you’re going, keep your eyes wide open. Here are a few of the newest outdoor murals to size up.
Lakeview is in the running to become mural central, with seven new works commissioned last year alone. One of the latest to go up is from San Francisco artist Lauren Asta. Located at the Low Line (underneath the Brown Line tracks at Paulina), her freehand, black-and-white composition is jam-packed with curious figures doing curious things.
Spaniard Ignasi Monreal has been creating massive murals for Gucci in Montreal, London, and New York, so the artist likely felt right at home working on the Mag Mile. His nine-story piece at 663 N. Michigan depicts a group of figures climbing a ladder to a mysterious garden world overseen by a big camera with an eyeball lens.
Community is key for Rogers Park resident Molly Costello. And her brand-new mural at 6978 N. Clark, commissioned by the Rogers Park Business Alliance, captures her neighbors as they go about their business — cooking, cutting hair, fixing a bike. An overlay of constellation-like stars links the figures, emphasizing the notion that we’re all in this together.
Garland Court in the Loop seems more alley than real street, but this unassuming byway is blessed with a powerful work by Kerry James Marshall. A Chicago artist with a worldwide reputation, Marshall’s “Rushmore” (on the side of the Chicago Cultural Center between Randolph and Washington) honors 20 women who’ve played a role in the city’s cultural history, from poet Gwendolyn Brooks to Maggie Daley.
City walls may be his canvas, but creatures great and small play a big part in the work of farm-raised Justin Suarez (a.k.a. Mr. Prvrt — represented by Chicago Truborn). The son of animal behaviorists, Suarez has covered a three-story wall at 1702 W. Chicago with a fearsomely beautiful peregrine falcon whose deadly talons look primed to carry off the cars below.
Giant camellias, daisies, and apple blossoms (plus a butterfly and ladybug) climb 40 feet high at 1914 W. Chicago in West Town. The creation is the work of Detroit-based Louise “Ouizi” Jones, who traces her interest in flowers (a common motif in her murals) to an early exposure to the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe. She completed this piece on commission from Chicago Truborn.