Near West Side mural features flamingos — and one beleaguered looking bear

Wicker Park artist JC Rivera’s signature “Bear Champ” character is back, this time in a mass of pink.

SHARE Near West Side mural features flamingos — and one beleaguered looking bear
“Lovers Like Flamingos,” at Noble and Ohio streets, was painted last year by artist JC Rivera.

“Lovers Like Flamingos,” at Noble and Ohio streets, was painted last year by artist JC Rivera.

@drewinchicago

Standing out in a crowd — that’s one theme conveyed by JC Rivera’s mural on the Near West Side.

But the crowd? Well, it’s a little . . . pink. As in flamingos, the tropical birds.

Chicago’s murals and mosaics sidebar

Chicago’s murals & mosaics


Part of a series on public art in the city and suburbs. More murals are added every week.

And the figure standing out in that crowd — it’s a bear. Not just any bear, but a character known as “Bear Champ” who’s a signature creature in Rivera’s murals, with a worn expression, a bandage on his head and, sometimes boxing gloves on his hands and a crown hovering over his scalp.

The Bear Champ represents rolling “with the punches” — something Rivera, 42, says he identifies with.

The mural was completed last fall on the side of a four-story brick building at 1366 W. Ohio St. that includes apartments on the upper floors and a grocery on the ground level.

A closeup of JC Rivera’s flamingo mural.

A closeup of JC Rivera’s flamingo mural.

Richie Requena / Sun-Times

Titled “Lovers Like Flamingos,” Rivera says the idea for the wall came from an affinity for flamingos he and his daughter share.

The Wicker Park resident also likes painting Bear Champ so he sticks out from a pattern. He similarly painted a mural in Humboldt Park last year where the character was surrounded by bulls — angry-looking red ones like the Chicago Bulls logo. The Bear Champ in that instance gripped a basketball and had his tongue sticking out — an homage to Michael Jordan and the 1996 champion Bulls squad.

Another JC Rivera mural, this one called “‘96 Bulls” in Humboldt Park.

Another JC Rivera mural, this one called “‘96 Bulls” in Humboldt Park.

JC Rivera

Rivera grew up in Puerto Rico surrounded by art — his father, siblings and grandfather were all artists, but he’s the only one in his family to do art professionally.

Artist JC Rivera.

Artist JC Rivera.

Courtesy of Jaime Navarro

First, though, he studied computer science at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico.

Later, he moved to Chicago and became immersed in street art and gallery art.

Click on the map below for a selection of Chicago-area murals

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