The stretch of 14th Street between Damen and Wolcott avenues is a little off the beaten path and a little beaten up.
So artist Luis “Peas” Molina decided to get some street artists together to create a series of murals of some well-known Chicago figures.
Among them: Chance the Rapper, Michael Jordan, Herbie Hancock, Bernie Mac, Jay Cutler, Mr. T and Cooky the Clown from the old “Bozo’s Circus” show, plus a few other noteworthy locals — a sort of wall of fame.
But it’s also a wall of shame, with images of Al Capone and 19th century Chicago serial killer H.H. Holmes.
“I took an interest in some areas that were dark and unfriendly,” says Molina, who lives in Chicago Ridge. “That particular street was one I’d pass by all the time on bike. One day, I had the idea of having artists come out and doing a Chicagoan.”
It came together in 2019, with artists invited to work on a concrete railroad retaining wall on the edge of Pilsen.
They could choose who and what to paint as long as they stuck to the Chicago-centric theme, says Molina, 42, who says the aim was “doing something for the neighborhood, something that made it more friendly.
“One of my favorites is the one of Daley, the ‘graffiti blasters’ one,” Molina says of a mural that features former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s face and the image of a city anti-graffiti worker spraying over the mayor with brown paint.
Daley would have city crews “blast” away tagging and other graffiti and street art with high-pressure hoses or paint them over in brown.
“They made the whole city brown,” Molina says. “They took away a lot of walls. I’ve been doing art and graffiti for 30 years now. Nobody saw that coming, all of a sudden, brown paint everywhere.”
Here’s a look at some of the other murals along that stretch of 14th Street: