A jog helped pave way for towering new Pilsen mural featuring blue-tinted woman
Art curator Matthew Moore spotted the ‘ideal’ blank wall while on a run, then arranged for artist Raul ‘Rawooh’ Ramirez to paint the space. The result: an intriguing mash of musical and cultural imagery, mostly in blue.
While jogging earlier this year through Pilsen, a four-story commercial building at 21st Place and Racine Avenue caught Matthew Moore’s eye.
The northern wall was composed of pristine, uninterrupted brick – no windows, no doors, no obstructions.
As founder of an “online gallery” called Artist Replete, Moore saw that expanse as a giant canvas, perfect for a mural in a Near Southwest Side neighborhood already known for vast and colorful street art, much of it carrying Mexican American themes.
“That space to me is so ideal,” Moore said.
So he asked an artist whose portfolio he’s previously showcased, and who’d completed an Avengers-themed mural nearby, whether he’d be interested.
The 32-year-old artist – Raul Ramirez, whose professional name is “Rawooh” – was all in. As was the occupant of the building, Open Kitchens, a family-owned business that provides food for local schools and the Meals on Wheels program and is owned by Teri Fiore and her son Anthony.
The mural – one of the biggest in the area – went up in September, taking about three weekends to complete, according to Ramirez, who grew up in Hermosa and now lives in Humboldt Park.
Part of a series on public art in the city and suburbs. More murals are added every week.
“There’s all kind of stuff going on” in Ramirez’s final product, Moore said.
Featuring a young woman sitting by an old record player that’s atop a sticker-laden chest, with books scattered about, “I wanted to set a mood, she’s in her zone, she’s in her world, she’s in her bedroom listening to music,” Ramirez said.
She’s holding an apple as a reference to Open Kitchens’ mission, while the chest bears the symbol of the Chicago rock band Rise Against, in which Anthony Fiore said he has a pal.
One of the stickers says “Hecho en Mexico,” or “Made in Mexico,” which is “a nod to the community, and also I’m Mexican,” Ramirez said.
A Miles Davis record case is there, and the album title is also the title of the mural: “Kind of Blue.”
One of the books next to the young woman is entitled “Lady Sings the Blues,” a nod to the Billie Holiday classic.
With that “blue” theme, the mural is mostly in different shades of blue.
The Miles Davis album is one of Ramirez’s favorites.
As such, the mural reflects “a little bit of myself,” he said.