A mural by the Chicago artist who goes by ZorZorZor, completed earlier this year at 18th Place and Throop Street, features a giant face, colors and patterns drawn from the Croatian flag and lines mirroring stained-glass windows.

A mural by the Chicago artist who goes by ZorZorZor, completed earlier this year at 18th Place and Throop Street, features a giant face, colors and patterns drawn from the Croatian flag and lines mirroring stained-glass windows.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Chicago artist ZorZorZor’s Pilsen mural gives former tavern a ‘warrior-like protector for the corner’

The mural at 18th Place and Throop Street also incorporates elements of the Croatian flag and a song lyric by Chicago singer-songwriter Jamila Woods.

SHARE Chicago artist ZorZorZor’s Pilsen mural gives former tavern a ‘warrior-like protector for the corner’
SHARE Chicago artist ZorZorZor’s Pilsen mural gives former tavern a ‘warrior-like protector for the corner’

The giant, blue-and-white face seems to peer down from the building that formerly housed a tavern at 18th Place and Throop Street in Pilsen.

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.

It’s part of a mural by a Chicago artist who goes by the name ZorZorZor that also features a ribbon that seems to flow in a checkered pattern like that of Croatia’s flag — a nod to the old bar there that catered to a Croatian clientele.

Above the eyes are these words: “it’s just the rain so I can grow” — a lyric from the song “GIOVANNI” by Chicago singer-songwriter Jamila Woods.

“That references the hard times we all go through,” says ZorZorZor, 30, who completed the mural earlier this year. “But we have to go through it to get stronger and build our lives and hopefully change for the better.”

Artist ZorZorZor incorporated lyrics from Chicago singer-songwriter Jamila Woods into the mural at 18th Place and Throop Street.

Artist ZorZorZor incorporated lyrics from Chicago singer-songwriter Jamila Woods into the mural at 18th Place and Throop Street.

Provided

She says she wanted the face to feel like a guardian — “just a positive, strong, warrior-like protector for the corner.”

The lines and shapes in the mural are reminiscent of stained-glass windows, with small pieces seeming to come together in something larger. ZorZorZor says that comes from when she’d sit in church with her family on Sundays and admire the stained glass.

Chicago artist ZorZorZor, 30, uses lines and shapes in her work to create abstract characters and faces.

Chicago artist ZorZorZor, 30, uses lines and shapes in her work to create abstract characters and faces.

Provided

She says she’s intrigued by faces and how they’re naturally divided by lines and shadows — which she tries emulate in her art.

The child of Polish immigrants, she’s lived on the Southwest Side her entire life and says some of the inspiration for her work comes from the Polish folk art she grew up around.

Tim Vaughan, who owns the Pilsen building with the mural, asked that the Croatian flag be incorporated into the 30-foot painting to honor his own Croatian roots and the old J. Skvorc Tavern that used to be there.

The artist ZorZorZor painting the mural at 18th Place and Throop Street earlier this year.

The artist ZorZorZor painting the mural at 18th Place and Throop Street earlier this year.

Provided

“I definitely wanted to honor and pay respect to what the building was,” Vaughan says.

Pilsen is known these days as largely a Mexican American neighborhood but once was home to many Czechs and pockets of Croatians.

Vaughan and ZorZorZor also came together for another project nearby. He’d bought another building that once housed a tavern, this one at 19th Street and Hoyne Avenue, and wanted to find a way to keep the bar’s outdoor beer sign. ZorZorZor came up with a way to repurpose it to pay homage to the neighborhood.

Artist ZorZorZor and building owner Tim Vaughan came up with a way to preserve an old beer sign that once decorated a tavern at 19th Street and Hoyne Avenue.

Artist ZorZorZor and building owner Tim Vaughan came up with a way to preserve an old beer sign that once decorated a tavern at 19th Street and Hoyne Avenue.

Provided

Cutting through a heart in the middle of the sign are four stars, like the Chicago flag but with each star to represent a different culture — with Mexican, Irish, Croatian and Polish flags.

ZorZorZor says that, as she worked on the two projects, she found support from neighbors who’d bring her coffee and brick layers working nearby who gave her air high-fives while they each completed their jobs.

“I think anytime you have a positive vibe or you’re bringing something to the community, people appreciate it and love that,” says ZorZorZor, who also has done other murals in Chicago.

Near Fulton Market, one of her murals combines greens, blues, yellows and purples to create a huge character.

ZorZorZor’s mural near Fulton Market uses her signature line work to create a large character.

ZorZorZor’s mural near Fulton Market uses her signature line work to create a large character.

Provided

Another one of ZorZorZor’s murals focuses on bunnies. She painted it in 2019 for Berwyn’s “Art on Track” initiative, which put murals and sculptures along a railroad line.

ZorZorZor painted this mural in 2019 along a rail line in Berwyn.

ZorZorZor painted this mural in 2019 along a rail line in Berwyn.

Provided

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

The Latest
The man, 24, was found by a tenant with two gunshot wounds to the head in the entry way of the complex in the 7800 block of South Laflin Street about 1:30 a.m., police said.
State troopers responding to the shooting about 8:10 p.m. found the woman, 25, with injuries considered life threatening, fire officials and Illinois state police said.
Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney say subtler goodbyes on the 47th season finale.
Jaylun Sanders, 21, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting. A second man, 20-year-old Kameron Abram, faces weapons and trespassing charges, police said.