Mural Explosion in Pilsen! — 5* Pix

Total Shots taken *236
Number of 5 star ratings (5* yield %)34 (14.3%)

When the Chicago Streets and Beyond photography meetup group announced an outing to tour the Pilsen neighborhood, I was in!  It had all the hallmarks I needed – an outdoor event, other photography enthusiasts, mask requirement, social distancing, and cameras.  To top it off, the sun was shining, and the temperatures projected to reach the 40’s.   What I found was an area filled with architecturally wonderful buildings and a grand explosion of art and color. 

Pilsen is an old Chicago neighborhood whose mural history traces back to 1976.  Older murals are constantly restored and new ones created along the viaducts, train support walls, and sides of buildings.  When I left the community, my mind was fired up – bursting with the colorful images, abstract or graphic images, and meaningful social messages.

  • Black Lives Matter:  One of the first murals to catch my attention was this collage of work from several artists (@don.mega.art @cujodah @thebrieshow_ft.creative).  “How recent, how relevant”, I thought, especially as I looked at the female figure with the scales of justice and wearing a mask.  “Welcome to Pilsen — stay safe” it said to me.
  • Every Brick a Canvas    Every alleyway was a potential backdrop for a new set of images, some connected, others as separate panels.  I rounded the corner and passed a decade old mural “Declaration of Immigration”, only to find this colorful beauty by @fedzart   (Fernando Caldera), which took my breath away.
  • Black and Brown Unity:  The first version of this mural– a collaborative effort (@cudojah @nikko.washington    @sentrock @gapeone @dredske88 @alan_ill23 @milt1coronado (not shown) — was quickly removed. That removal was  a catalyst to create more permanent installation on the side of a building in Pilsen, sponsored by the Mural Movement’s fundraising efforts. 
  • Fallen Soldier.  Memorializing a fallen soldier.  Vanessa Guillen’s death was evidence of leadership complicity in creating a culture of sexual assault and a pattern of violence at Fort Hood Army base in Texas.  In December, this resulted in 14 US Army leaders being fired or demoted.  Thank you @milt1coronado for telling her story in Pilsen.
  • Weaving Cultures:  Breathtaking!   That is the word reverberating in my mind when I spotted this most recent mural created by artists @samkirk  and Sandra Antongiorgi  to celebrate underrepresented women and the LBGTQ community.  It was the counter point to a more masculine mural “Galeria del Barrio” featuring profiles of a Native American man .
  • Recultivate the Community – Dismantle the Colony:  The bright colors called me over, but they quickly took a back seat to finding the individual messages in this mural.  I spent a good portion of my time reading the painted signs – “Black Trans Lives Matter”, “No Blood for Oil – US out of the Middle east”, “Cops out of the schools”, “Land Back – honor the treaties” – that is just a few, but the images and the words have the stickiness – they stay with me through the day. 
  • Color on Aisle 1:  This explosion of color along the viaduct can be seen thru the darkened tunnel, through to the person at the end.   (Apologies to the artists, as I did not find their nameplate.)

This brief introduction to Pilsen, and its vibrant artistic expression spurred me to research the different murals.  This is only a fraction of them. I look forward to return visits to locate others, and pandemic permitting, enjoy additional community attributes.   Hope you enjoyed these 5* selections!

See more outtakes from this and other photography outings by following me on Instagram @eyevpointofview.

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