Strange trip from Canada to Chicago for Blackhawks muralist

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At age 19, Ches Perry came to Chicago from Newfoundland, Canada, with his hockey equipment and a dream of becoming an artist.

A few weeks earlier, he’d been accepted to study art at a school in Chicago.

But when Perry arrived at the Institute of Lettering and Design in Rogers Park, he quickly came to the realization that it wasn’t what he expected.

It was a sign-painting school.

But “I rolled with it,” Perry, 65, said. And on Thursday, 45 years later, his two greatest passions — art and hockey — came together on a wall outside a tavern in the Roscoe Village neighborhood.

Brush in hand, Perry painted a giant mural of Chief Blackhawk on an outside wall of the Commonwealth Tavern, simply for fun.

“I’ve been playing hockey for 60 years,” said Perry, who lives in Bucktown and still plays several times a week at Johnny’s Ice House on the Near West Side. “I watch every game on TV, I’m a diehard hockey fan.”

Perry sold his sign-painting business a few years ago, but recently came out of retirement to start a scaled-down operation with his son, Alex, 34.

Since then, Right Way Signs has been booming. “I think people are just exhausted with digital advertising and like the human touch,” Alex said.

Ches, who arrived at 5:30 a.m. Monday to begin work, hopes to finish up by nightfall. Then it’s on to the Palace Grill restaurant near the United Center Wednesday morning to do another Blackhawks mural. Again, gratis.

“It’s what I love to do,” he said.

<small><strong>Ches Perry of Right Way Signs came to Chicago from Canada to attend an art school, but found out after arriving that it was a sign-painting school. On Tuesday, he was working on a Chief Blackhawk mural in Roscoe Village. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-T

Ches Perry of Right Way Signs came to Chicago from Canada to attend an art school, but found out after arriving that it was a sign-painting school. On Tuesday, he was working on a Chief Blackhawk mural in Roscoe Village. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

<small><strong>Ches Perry and his son, Alex Perry, were painting a Blackhawks mural on Tuesday. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times</strong></small>

Ches Perry and his son, Alex Perry, were painting a Blackhawks mural on Tuesday. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

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