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A stretch of murals between Damen and Wolcott avenues celebrates Chicago and its iconic characters. The painting at far left, by the 44-year-old Humboldt Park artist who goes by Mac Blackout, features musician Herbie Hancock. “He grew up here, went to high school here,” the artist says. “I’m a musician as well. He’s always been a big influence.”
A stretch of murals between Damen and Wolcott avenues celebrates Chicago and its iconic characters. The painting at far left, by the 44-year-old Humboldt Park artist who goes by Mac Blackout, features musician Herbie Hancock. “He grew up here, went to high school here,” the artist says. “I’m a musician as well. He’s always been a big influence.”
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

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Where else can you find Chance the Rapper, MJ, Al Capone, Mr. T and Cooky the Clown?

A series of murals along 14th Street, curated by artist Luis “Peas” Molina, feature the famous and infamous with ties to Chicago region and a few notable but lesser-known locals.

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.”

Artist Luis “Peas” Molina curated the 2019 mural project that brought artwork to a stretch of 14th Street.
Artist Luis “Peas” Molina curated the 2019 mural project that brought artwork to a stretch of 14th Street.
Provided

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.

This mural on 14th Street was painted by 44-year-old artist Thomas Osinski, who goes by Serum for his artwork and lives in Lincolnshire. The painting has a little fun with former Mayor Richard M. Daley. During his regime, city crews made clearing away graffiti and street art a priority. Now he’s the one facing down a “graffiti blaster” crew.
This mural on 14th Street was painted by 44-year-old artist Thomas Osinski, who goes by Serum for his artwork and lives in Lincolnshire. The painting has a little fun with former Mayor Richard M. Daley. During his regime, city crews made clearing away graffiti and street art a priority. Now he’s the one facing down a “graffiti blaster” crew.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

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:

The mural at left by Avondale artist Jeff Pak, 33, features former Bulls star Derrick Rose. “It’s an homage to a hometown hero,” Pak says. “The Winnie the Pooh reference is a nod to his nickname ‘Pooh.’” The mural at right by the 30-year-old Pilsen artist who goes by Bird Milk features ex-Bears quarterback Jay Cutler smoking a cigarette — a nod to the prolific (though untrue) online memes portraying him as a smoker. “I just thought it would be a fun, goofy idea,” the artist says.
The mural at left by Avondale artist Jeff Pak, 33, features former Bulls star Derrick Rose. “It’s an homage to a hometown hero,” Pak says. “The Winnie the Pooh reference is a nod to his nickname ‘Pooh.’” The mural at right by the 30-year-old Pilsen artist who goes by Bird Milk features ex-Bears quarterback Jay Cutler smoking a cigarette — a nod to the prolific (though untrue) online memes portraying him as a smoker. “I just thought it would be a fun, goofy idea,” the artist says.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
The mural at left by Christopher Gallevo, a 40-year-old Jefferson Park artist, features a woman he knows who is a DJ known as DJ King Marie who’s also a model and active in the Filipino American community around Chicago. At far right is a mural by DOME featuring actor Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters.”
The mural at left by Christopher Gallevo, a 40-year-old Jefferson Park artist, features a woman he knows who is a DJ known as DJ King Marie who’s also a model and active in the Filipino American community around Chicago. At far right is a mural by DOME featuring actor Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters.”
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
This mural featuring Mr. T is by artist Thomas Fleming, 40, who lives in Avondale and goes by Wreckzilla. “I loved ‘The A-Team,’ ” the TV show that made Mr. T a star. “Mr. T just personifies the ‘80s.” Fleming also incorporated Chicago’s appreciation for hot dogs and disdain for ketchup on hot dogs.
This mural featuring Mr. T is by artist Thomas Fleming, 40, who lives in Avondale and goes by Wreckzilla. “I loved ‘The A-Team,’ ” the TV show that made Mr. T a star. “Mr. T just personifies the ‘80s.” Fleming also incorporated Chicago’s appreciation for hot dogs and disdain for ketchup on hot dogs.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
This mural was painted by Jorge Nambo-Palmeno, 28, who lives in Humboldt Park. “Nobody had an iconic Bulls character, so I was like, you know what, I wanna do my own take on it,” said Nambo-Palmeno, who goes by “Nambopaints” for his artwork. He moved to Chicago from Nevada about five years ago and learned how tough it is to get spray paint within city limits — the sale is banned to discourage illicit graffiti. So he ended up hand-painting the Bull, set against the backdrop of Chicago’s flag.
This mural was painted by Jorge Nambo-Palmeno, 28, who lives in Humboldt Park. “Nobody had an iconic Bulls character, so I was like, you know what, I wanna do my own take on it,” said Nambo-Palmeno, who goes by “Nambopaints” for his artwork. He moved to Chicago from Nevada about five years ago and learned how tough it is to get spray paint within city limits — the sale is banned to discourage illicit graffiti. So he ended up hand-painting the Bull, set against the backdrop of Chicago’s flag.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
This mural of 19th century Chicago serial killer H.H. Holmes, subject of the book The Devil in the White City, was done by 28-year-old artist Brie Anna Rodriguez, who goes by ElSpookyPimp for her artwork. “I’m into a lot of spooky stuff and dark stuff . . . I love horror and just wanted to share that,” said Rodriguez, who grew up in Little Village but now lives in Albany, New York. Holmes “was a big part of the history of Chicago . . . not necessarily a good part of the history,” she said.
This mural of 19th century Chicago serial killer H.H. Holmes, subject of the book The Devil in the White City, was done by 28-year-old artist Brie Anna Rodriguez, who goes by ElSpookyPimp for her artwork. “I’m into a lot of spooky stuff and dark stuff . . . I love horror and just wanted to share that,” said Rodriguez, who grew up in Little Village but now lives in Albany, New York. Holmes “was a big part of the history of Chicago . . . not necessarily a good part of the history,” she said. But “not everything that’s bad has to be forgotten.” This was Rodriguez’s first mural.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
The mural on the left, done by 29-year-old Logan Square artist Natalia Sustaita, features Chicago “horror show icon” Svengoolie. “I watched him growing up . . . spooky stuff like that I like,” says Sustaita, who goes by n.susta for her art. The mural to the right was by South Side artist Squeak Starzula. “I chose to do my good friend Bobby Hernandez, AKA ‘Mr. Bobby,’” a DJ and an events organizer “who is a huge importance to the underground art and music scene of Chicago and beyond,” she said.
The mural on the left, done by 29-year-old Logan Square artist Natalia Sustaita, features Chicago “horror show icon” Svengoolie. “I watched him growing up, we didn’t have cable TV so we’d be watching Svengoolie, spooky stuff like that I like,” says Sustaita, who goes by n.susta for her artwork. The mural to the right was created by South Side artist Squeak Starzula. “I chose to do my good friend Bobby Hernandez, AKA ‘Mr. Bobby,’” a DJ and an events organizer “who is a huge importance to the underground art and music scene of Chicago and beyond,” she said.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
The painting at left was done by the South Side artist who goes by Viril the Mouse. Titled “Stay Fresh,” it includes the skyline flanked by hair clippers — as a nod to the “barber community.” He said, “Chicago’s all about being fresh, people like to look good type of thing.” At right is a mural by South Loop artist Jason Gaudette, 29, who goes by jaz.on.zigzagism for his artwork. The painting features late great Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters.
The painting at left was done by the South Side artist who goes by Viril the Mouse. Titled “Stay Fresh,” it includes the skyline flanked by hair clippers — as a nod to the “barber community.” He said, “Chicago’s all about being fresh, people like to look good type of thing.” At right is a mural by South Loop artist Jason Gaudette, 29, who goes by jaz.on.zigzagism for his artwork. The painting features late great Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters. “I just wanted to pick someone I kind of resonated with from Chicago history, and I’m a big fan of electric blues,” Gaudette says.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
This mural, welcoming passersby to Pilsen, was done by the 43-year-old South Side artist who goes by Teasin. While painting, he said his ladder somehow broke and he broke three ribs. Also working on the project was his friend, the 42-year-old West Lawn artist who goes by Werm, who painted an image of his 6-year-old daughter on the wall. “She’s the future,” Werm says, “she’s drawing every day.”
This mural, welcoming passersby to Pilsen, was done by the 43-year-old South Side artist who goes by Teasin. While painting, he said his ladder somehow broke and he broke three ribs. Also working on the project was his friend, the 42-year-old West Lawn artist who goes by Werm, who painted an image of his 6-year-old daughter on the wall. “She’s the future,” Werm says, “she’s drawing every day.”
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
This mural, by 48-year-old Logan Square artist Damien Perdue, was inspired by the late jazz musician Sun Ra. His band, according to one biography, “became a central part of the early avant-garde jazz movement in Chicago, being one of the first jazz bands to employ electronic instruments.” Perdue, whose professional name is DMNOLOGY, called him “one of the pioneers of Afro futurism.”
This mural, by 48-year-old Logan Square artist Damien Perdue, was inspired by the late jazz musician Sun Ra. His band, according to one biography, “became a central part of the early avant-garde jazz movement in Chicago, being one of the first jazz bands to employ electronic instruments.” Perdue, whose professional name is DMNOLOGY, called him “one of the pioneers of Afro futurism.”
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
The mural at left featuring the late Chicago actor/comedian Bernie Mac is by artist Stephanie Garland, who goes by Stef Skills. “When I think of Chicago, I think of his spirit and his smile and his sense of humor,” says Garland, 50. At right is a mural by Hermosa artist Erik Salgado featuring beloved Little Village paletero Fidencio Sanchez. When he died in 2019 at 92,
The mural at left featuring the late Chicago actor/comedian Bernie Mac is by artist Stephanie Garland, who goes by Stef Skills. “When I think of Chicago, I think of his spirit and his smile and his sense of humor,” says Garland, 50. At right is a mural by Hermosa artist Erik Salgado featuring beloved Little Village paletero Fidencio Sanchez. When he died in 2019 at 92, CNN did a story on Sanchez, saying his “indefatigable work ethic and generous heart charmed residents” as he sold popsicles for years from a pushcart. Salgado, who goes by ErikRhymesWell for his art, says Sanchez “touched people’s lives.”
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
The mural at left, done by the 42-year-old West Lawn artist who goes by Werm, features comedian/entertainer Kush Papi. At right is a mural of White Sox great Frank Thomas by 38-year-old Brighton Park artist Burn 365.
The mural at left, done by the 42-year-old West Lawn artist who goes by Werm, features comedian/entertainer Kush Papi. At right is a mural of White Sox great Frank Thomas by 38-year-old Brighton Park artist Burn 365.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
This mural was done by the 45-year-old artist who goes by Joey D., who says it’s a nod to the Chicago Bulls. “I’ve been a Bulls fan since the late ‘80s/early ‘90s and have never wavered even during the worst seasons, where they didn’t make the playoffs,” he says. “Now, my two sons enjoy basketball and watching the Bulls.”
This mural was done by the 45-year-old artist who goes by Joey D., who says it’s a nod to the Chicago Bulls. “I’ve been a Bulls fan since the late ‘80s/early ‘90s and have never wavered even during the worst seasons, where they didn’t make the playoffs,” he says. “Now, my two sons enjoy basketball and watching the Bulls.”
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
The mural at left, by 41-year-old Clearing artist Milt Coronado, features Chance the Rapper. “I’m a fan of his music” and “a fan of what he does for the community,” Coronado says. The mural at right, by 47-year-old Morton Grove artist Dale Paracuelles, features Cooky the clown from the old “Bozo’s Circus” show on WGN-TV. Paracuelles, who goes by Deal for his art, says he grew up watching the iconic Chicago show.
The mural at left, by 41-year-old Clearing artist Milt Coronado, features Chance the Rapper. “I’m a fan of his music” and “a fan of what he does for the community,” Coronado says. The mural at right, by 47-year-old Morton Grove artist Dale Paracuelles, features Cooky the clown from the old “Bozo’s Circus” show on WGN-TV. Paracuelles, who goes by Deal for his art, says he grew up watching the iconic Chicago show.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
This mural of Chicago mob boss Al Capone was done by California artist Jules Muck, who goes by Muck Rock. Capone “is definitely a person of interest that I associate with Chicago,” says Muck, who painted a Cubs “tattoo” on his face. The woman’s face painted to Capone’s right was done by the 33-year-old artist who goes by Binx, who recently moved from Chicago to California. She says it’s “kind of a representation of myself.”
This mural of Chicago mob boss Al Capone was done by California artist Jules Muck, who goes by Muck Rock. Capone “is definitely a person of interest that I associate with Chicago,” says Muck, who painted a Cubs “tattoo” on his face. The woman’s face painted to Capone’s right was done by the 33-year-old artist who goes by Binx, who recently moved from Chicago to California. She says it’s “kind of a representation of myself.”
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
The mural at left, by the 29-year-old Berwyn artist who goes by Fedz, features Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco. At far right, the 34-year-old Pilsen artist who goes by Raya created a mural featuring a signature character of his wearing a Blackhawks jersey because he’s a fan of the team. The character is meant to be “a little devil, but not evil, just a trickster,” Raya says.
The mural at left, by the 29-year-old Berwyn artist who goes by Fedz, features Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco. At far right, the 34-year-old Pilsen artist who goes by Raya created a mural featuring a signature character of his wearing a Blackhawks jersey because he’s a fan of the team. The character is meant to be “a little devil, but not evil, just a trickster,” Raya says.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
This mural, featuring characters from the movie “Space Jam,” was a nod to Bulls great Michael Jordan. It was painted by 28-year-old Humboldt Park artist who goes by Ali Six.
This mural, featuring characters from the movie “Space Jam,” was a nod to Bulls great Michael Jordan. It was painted by 28-year-old Humboldt Park artist who goes by Ali Six.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
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