I have no doubt that its thriving public art scene is one of the reasons Chicago, Illinois won top honors in Condé Nast Traveler’s Best Cities in the U.S.: 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards this past week. I mean, there’s a Picasso in Richard Daley Civic Center Plaza in downtown, for heaven’s sake. But Chicago isn’t resting on its public art laurels. Recently, Chicago-based reader Sharon M. emailed to tell me that Chicago has set its sights on becoming the street art capital of America as well.
Chicago’s quest to become America’s street art capital
Artist: Hebru Brantley
Location: Wood Street and Milwaukee Avenue
Photo Source: Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune
Associated Public Art Project:
As part of its bid to attract Amazon’s second headquarters, Chicago instructed its city workers to clear the streets of graffiti. The problem? Workers misidentified several commissioned street art murals as graffiti and blasted them away too.
One of the accidentally destroyed art works was a mural Cards Against Humanity founder Max Temkin had commissioned from French street artist Blek le Rat. The destruction of a commissioned piece on his own building led Temkin to work with Chicago Alderman Brian Hopkins and Cultural Affairs Commissioner Mark Kelly to find a way to protect street art across the city.
The result is a proposal for a registry to distinguish street art from unwanted graffiti. In addition to registering their commissioned works with the city, building owners would place a physical marker next to the art on their building.
There would be a fee associated with the program of course.
Still, supporters of the proposed city ordinance hope that having an official registry will not only protect street art, but also make Chicago an attractive destination for people who want to experience a thriving street art community for themselves.
As far as I can tell, the proposed ordinance that would create the registry is still winding its way through Chicago’s city government.
Want to see Brantley’s mural for yourself?
You can find Hebru Brantley’s mural at Wood Street and Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park. According to Cultural Commissioner Mark Kelly, there are some 2,000 street murals painted around Chicago, so you know, there’s no reason to stop at just one.
Happy public art hunting!
- Condé Nast Traveler‘s Best Cities in the U.S.: 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards (Conde Nast Traveler)
- Cards Against Humanity backs plan to save murals, make Chicago America’s street art capital (Chicago Tribune)
- Graffiti cleanup ‘blitz’ in advance of Amazon visit wipes out street art at Cards Against Humanities HQ (Chicago Tribune)
- After “mistaking” murals for graffiti, Chicago considers public art registry (Repeating Islands)
- What’s That, Mom?: How to use public art to engage your children with the world around them… without being an artist yourself by Shala Howell (Did you know I had a book about public art? It’s full of tips for viewing public art with kids ages 3-10. This link takes you to Amazon, but it’s also available on IndieBound.)
- What’s That, Mom? (The Journal): Field Notes from your Encounters with Public Art out in the Wild by Shala Howell (A customized journal for viewing public art with kids. This link takes you to Amazon, but you can also find it on IndieBound.)