In the neighborhood of Pilsen, art rules the streets.
As a huge fan of street art, I made it a point to find street art during my trip to Chicago. In my quest to find murals, I headed to the neighborhood of Pilsen, which has a long history with street art dating back to the 1960’s.
Unlike many street art murals around the world, the story of the majority of Pilsen’s murals is quite unique.
Funded by the Chicago Urban Art Society and Alderman Danny Solis, both local and international street artists were invited and given the freedom to start creating new murals legally under the 2012 initiative ‘Art in Public Places‘. The program was an effort to expand Chicago’s street art scene and to combat the local gang-affiliated graffiti.
Personally, I liked that the street art seemed to fall into two different and distinct categories: traditional Mexican-themed art and modern art.
Traditional Mexican-Themed Art
The Casa Aztlán Mural (original pictured above), was created in 1977 by artist Ray Patlan and was recreated by him in 2017.
The original mural paid homage to famous Mexicans such as Frida Khalo, Emiliano Zapata, Subcomandante Marcos, and César Chávez.
This mural can be found at 1831 S. Racine Avenue.
This mural, by tattoo artist Santos “Vampiro” Ramirez, depicts the famous Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos).
This piece can be found on 16th Street between S. Wood and S. Paulina Streets.
This work by artist Erik Burke (2012) is a portrait that features a young Pilsen Chicana girl.
This mural can be found near the intersection of W. 16th and S. Peoria Streets.
Created by the late Brooks Blair Golden, this piece of art called The Owl was created due to the artist’s obsession with birds. The owl also held special significance to Golden as the symbolism of this piece tied into his Native American roots.
The Owl can be found near the intersection of W. 16th and S. Paulina streets.
This piece by Chicago artist Hebru Brantley depicts Flyboy, one of the artists’ iconic characters.
Flyboy can be found on W. 16th between S.Loomis and SLaflin.
This controversial piece of art featuring a possum with his innards on display was created by famed Belgian street artist ROA.
ROA has been known for depicting life-like animals in his street art, and this work, although more graphic than usual, is no exception. He uses broad black and white brush strokes to create this realistic piece of work that is somewhat of an optical illusion when viewed from another angle.
This mural can be found on 16th Street near Laflin Street.