Collage_Maker_26_Apr_2023_05_07_PM_2581.jpg

Before and after brown paint covered the mural of Juice WRLD at a parking lot near 810 W. Kinzie St, Wednesday, April 26, 2023. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Juice WRLD, DJ Frankie Knuckles murals mysteriously erased in West Loop

The city Department of Streets and Sanitation says it didn’t paint over the murals. The man overseeing the murals says City Hall should have protected them.

The Juice WRLD mural in the West Loop that became a shrine for the late Chicago rapper was mysteriously painted over last week.

No one has claimed responsibility for erasing the Juice WRLD mural and another mural that depicted the late Chicago DJ Frankie Knuckles.

The artistic director who oversees the murals called it a deliberate, organized effort. Neighbors had long complained about the crowds coming to see the Juice WRLD mural, which had gone viral on social media and attracted international tourists.

“In the realm of public artwork and murals, that’s the pinnacle of success,” said Levar Hoard, managing director of B_Line, an organization that oversees more than 200 murals along the Hubbard Street corridor that he calls a “cultural landmark,” with some of the murals dating to the 1970s.

The mural honoring DJ Frankie Knuckles that’s now gone.

The mural honoring DJ Frankie Knuckles that’s now gone.

Moshe Tamssot

Hoard had asked City Hall to help protect the famous mural with fences and security but said that didn’t happen.

“When you have a piece of art that has the power to do that, to draw people from across the globe, it’s special,” he said.

The murals near Green and Kinzie streets were painted over with brown paint. Two other murals, one depicting late artist MF Doom and another of a female DJ by artist Caesar Perez, were also erased, Hoard said.

A representative of the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation, which erases graffiti, said no one from that department painted over the murals.

The word “DOOM” floats across the background of this mural by Chicago artist Rahmaan Statik.

The word “DOOM” floats across the background of this mural by Chicago artist Rahmaan Statik.

Provided

To show it wasn’t responsible, Streets and Sans sent a crew Tuesday to layer a sample of the brown paint it uses to show it was a different shade. But Hoard said that paint matched the color used in the other half of the erase job.

The new paint job also was done with rollers, but the city always uses sprays, a Streets and San spokesperson said.

The last 311 graffiti-removal requests for that location came last May, and city crews usually respond in three to five days, according to the department.

Metra, which runs trains nearby, and Union Pacific, which owns the viaduct, both denied painting over the murals.

Bill Sommerfield, owner of Mid City Parking, which owns a parking lot in front of the murals, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Brown paint covers the mural of Juice WRLD at a parking lot near 810 W. Kinzie St.

Brown paint covers the mural of Juice WRLD at a parking lot near 810 W. Kinzie St.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

The Juice WRLD mural was painted in 2020 by Connecticut artist Corey Pane, who also designed the cover of the performer’s posthumously released album, “Legends Never Die,” which came out around the time the mural was finished.

Juice WRLD — Jarad Anthony Higgins — was born in Chicago and died of what was ruled an accidental drug overdose upon landing at Midway Airport in 2019.

Pane said the mural of Juice WRLD had become a “landmark” in Chicago. It contained symbolism in its butterflies and shooting stars, which represented Juice’s flourishing but brief career, Pane said.

“People came from everywhere to see it,” he said. “When people talk about Chicago, they talk about that mural. The mural is bigger than Juice WRLD and me, the artist. It’s about the spirit and energy it brings to the people who see it.”

Corey Pane, who, before painting the Hubbard Street mural of Juice WRLD, helped design the cover for the rapper’s album “Legends Never Die.”

Corey Pane, before painting the Hubbard Street mural of Juice WRLD, helped design the cover for the rapper’s album “Legends Never Die.”

Provided

To protect the murals, Hoard said he had several conversations with neighbors and 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. and shared a plan to build fencing and provide security. He said the city declined to implement the proposal.

Burnett wouldn’t comment except to say, “There’s no win with that thing.”

He told Block Club Chicago, which broke news of the paint-over, he doesn’t know who did that and that he was involved in discussions with community members about the murals, but there was no consensus to remove them.

Hoard said people in the neighborhood largely supported the murals and the visitors it attracted, except for a few vocal detractors.

Levar Hoard.

West Loop resident Levar Hoard said one block in the neighborhood with four murals of African Americans had paint thrown over their faces.

Provided

Hoard, who lives in the West Loop, said he suspects racism played a role in the opposition to the murals, saying, “This particular block has seen four [murals] of African Americans with paint thrown over their faces.”

When the Juice WRLD mural was finished, it blew up on social media and attracted thousands of people and some rowdy loitering, but things calmed down since then, he said.

After leaving dinner in Fulton Market one evening, Hoard said, he came upon several hundred people partying outside near the Juice WRLD mural. He pushed his way through the crowd, unplugged a DJ’s decks and told everyone to leave.

“It was very dramatic,” Hoard said. “But that’s the old story. It’s been calm since then.”

He said the crowds showed the murals should have been protected.

Corey Pane working on the Juice WRLD mural on Hubbard Street in July 2020.

Corey Pane working on the Juice WRLD mural on Hubbard Street in July 2020.

Provided

A mural by artist Caesar Perez that was painted over in the West Loop.

A mural by artist Caesar Perez that was painted over in the West Loop.

Moshe Tamssot

Murals and Mosaics Newsletter
Chicago’s murals and mosaics sidebar

Chicago’s murals & mosaics

Part of a series on public art in the city and suburbs. Know of a mural or mosaic? Tell us where, and email a photo to murals@suntimes.com. We might do a story on it.

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

The Latest
Cubs starter Jameson Taillon was charged with one run through 7 ⅓ innings
The boy was inside a car about 5:30 p.m. in the 8300 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue when someone approached him and fired shots, police said.
Lisa Kudrow leads the bumbling marauders in Apple’s funny follow-up to 1981 film.
Two men, a 46-year-old man from Washington state and a 55-year-old man from Franklin Park, were hospitalized in serious condition following a fire about 3 p.m. Tuesday. Their boat burned.