International street art festival ‘Meeting of Styles’ returns

Over the course of the three-day event, street artists will be decorating viaducts under the Chicago Skyway.

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The murals beneath the Chicago Skyway near Commercial Avenue and South Chicago Avenue are plentiful and diverse.

Murals beneath the Chicago Skyway near Commercial Avenue and South Chicago Avenue that were painted at previous “Meeting of Styles” street art festivals.

Robert Herguth/Sun-Times

Street artists from around the world will descend on Chicago this weekend to paint the sky — or, at least, some viaducts along the Chicago Skyway.

“Meeting of Styles,” an international street art festival, returns to the Southeast Side for its fourth year starting Friday.

The three-day festival will take over a vacant lot near Commercial and South Chicago avenues.

“What’s the purpose but to brighten our own neighborhood?” said Crystal Vance, one of the organizers.

It will open around 5 p.m. Friday with a talk from Chicago-born street artist Desi Mundo before a 7 p.m. outdoor screening of “Alice Street,” a street art documentary featuring Mundo.

On Saturday and Sunday, about 60 artists will paint from noon to 7 p.m. Entry is free.

Another “Meeting of Styles” will take place simultaneously near 59th Street and Damen Avenue. About 70 artists are expected at that.

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The Southeast Side event has become an important way for the street artist community to come together, Vance said.

“We get stronger as a community when we have events like ‘Meeting of Styles,’ where we work together, where we are self-generative, and we can have that self-determination in the art and in what we do,” she said.

Murals

Chicago’s murals & mosaics

Part of a series on public art. More murals added every week.

One of the stretches of street art created in September, 2021, by artists gathering for a “Meeting of Styles” street art festival on the Southeast Side.

One of the stretches of street art created during last year’s “Meeting of Styles” street art festival.

Robert Herguth/Sun-Times

Some participating artists are local, while others are coming from as far as Mexico and Germany, said lead organizer Eduardo “Edie” Luna, a street artist who goes by dTel.

All must follow some ground rules.

“No guns, no violence, no nudity, no drugs,” Luna said. “We try to push positive imagery.”

The 38-year-old grew up in the neighborhood, admiring graffiti in the viaducts, and hopes the event will inspire another generation of artists.

“Allowing events like this to happen in our community is important to spark interest in kids to be creative and to be able to express themselves,” Luna said.

The event coincides with the South Chicago Mexican Independence Day Parade, which organizers say is the oldest in Chicago. Departing at 1 p.m. on Sunday from 88th Street and Commercial Avenue, the parade will pass through the Skyway street art festival on its way down to 100th Street.

Michael Loria is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.

Pilsen artist Jesse Navarrete did this mural on the left, which he calls “Allegory of Corruption,” as a statement about government corruption and also government’s “mismanagement of money.” The art also carries an environmental message, as Uncle Sam is “spewing out very toxic fumes.” The adjacent mural is by Abie Vasquez III.

Pilsen artist Jesse Navarrete painted the mural on the left, which he calls “Allegory of Corruption,” as a statement about government corruption and its “mismanagement of money.” The art also carries an environmental message, as Uncle Sam is “spewing out very toxic fumes.” The adjacent mural is by Abie Vasquez III.

Robert Herguth/Sun-Times

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

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