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Jeff Zimmermann’s mural at 1813 N. Milwaukee Ave.
A mural by Jeff Zimmermann at 1813 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago
Annie Costabile / Sun-Times

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Chicago: city of murals

A Sun-Times series aims to capture, catalog and celebrate the beauty of our streets.

Acclaimed writer Nelson Algren once described Chicago as “an October sort of city even in spring.”

But it’s not gray and drab these days, certainly not in the many neighborhoods where color explodes from walls in the form of murals and mosaics — public art that’s the focus of this new Chicago Sun-Times series that aims to capture, catalog and celebrate the beauty of our streets.

Here is a map with a selection of murals in the Chicago area. And we’re adding more murals every week, so please check back.

The murals of Pilsen, the heavily Mexican-American neighborhood on the Near South Side, already are well known and so plentiful that even some alleys serve as a sort of gallery.

And “The Four Seasons” mosaic created by famed French artist Marc Chagall has drawn countless visitors since its arrival in a Loop plaza in the 1970s.

But there’s much more — in the city and the suburbs, too, with railroad viaducts, retaining walls and highway underpasses, as well as schools, apartment buildings and businesses, serving as larger-than-life canvasses.

One mural that decorates an auto parts store in Joliet pays homage to the 1980 movie “The Blues Brothers” — featuring images of John Belushi’s Joliet Jake and other characters.

This mural at 423 Meeker Ave. in Joliet pays homage to “The Blues Brothers.”
This mural at 423 Meeker Ave. in Joliet pays homage to “The Blues Brothers.”
Annie Costabile / Sun-Times

On a stretch of Madison Street on the West Side — on a three-story building where a congressman once had a local office — there’s a towering portrait of slain Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton with the words “Chairman Fred.”

In Evanston, a painting on the side of a restaurant portrays the comic-book hero “The Hulk” bursting through the brick.

The Sun-Times’ “Murals & Mosaics” series will feature a diverse array of images, some reflecting pop culture, many carrying political, historical or religious meaning, some defying any obvious interpretation.

We’ll try to highlight as many Chicago-area murals and mosaics as possible. Our collection is a work in progress. Please help by offering your thoughts and alerting us to murals you think we should check out.

A mural at 2050 W. Division St. Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times
A mural at 1438 N. Milwaukee Ave. Annie Costabile / Sun-Times
A mural at 3947 S. Michigan Ave. Leslie Adkins / Sun-Times

CLICK BELOW: Reporter Robert Herguth talks murals

Reporter Robert Herguth talks with WCIU The Jam’s Brandon Pope about the Sun-Times’ murals project.
Reporter Robert Herguth talks with WCIU The Jam’s Brandon Pope about the Sun-Times’ murals project.

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