This mural, titled “Light the Way for Los Niños,” was completed last year by a local artist who goes by FRILLZ at 49th Street and Damen Avenue.

This mural, titled “Light the Way for Los Niños,” was completed last year by a local artist who goes by FRILLZ at 49th Street and Damen Avenue.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

In Back of the Yards, Chicago artist’s mural features characters he sketched in high school

Artist FRILLZ says he wanted the mural to capture a sense of the Southwest Side neighborhood, and ‘light the way’ for kids there.

SHARE In Back of the Yards, Chicago artist’s mural features characters he sketched in high school
SHARE In Back of the Yards, Chicago artist’s mural features characters he sketched in high school
A few blocks from the Western Avenue L stop in the Back of the Yards, an artist has taken doodles that he scribbled in a high school art class and used them in a mural that adorns a viaduct.

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.

They’re part of a 50-feet-wide, 14-feet-high mural that transformed the viaduct at 49th Street and Damen Avenue into something the artist hopes will inspire kids in the Southwest Side neighborhood.

It includes images of a diverse group of kids and one bulldog and a banner unfurled above their heads that says “light the way for los niños.”

The 21-year-old artist who goes by FRILLZ in front of his most recent, and largest, mural, at 49th Street and Damen Avenue in Back of the Yards.

The 21-year-old artist who goes by FRILLZ in front of his most recent, and largest, mural, at 49th Street and Damen Avenue in Back of the Yards.

Provided

The artist — who goes by the name FRILLZ — says someone who lives in the neighborhood who didn’t like the way the viaduct had been spattered with graffiti approached him about painting a mural there.

The artist tests a spray-paint can while working on the mural at 49th Street and Damen Avenue, which he completed in December.

The artist tests a spray-paint can while working on the mural at 49th Street and Damen Avenue, which he completed in December.

Provided

The cartoon-like appearance of the characters reflect the artist’s style — especially his signature bulldog.

But that’s also an artifact of the characters’ origins. FRILLZ, who’s 21, says he was always artistically inclined but didn’t start doing street art till his teachers asked him during his sophomore year at Schurz High School to help design a school mural. He says he “did a bunch of quick sketches” of his school’s bulldog mascot.

Kids march along the wall of a Back of the Yards viaduct in the mural at 49th Street and Damen Avenue by Chicago artist FRILLZ.

Kids march along the wall of a Back of the Yards viaduct in the mural at 49th Street and Damen Avenue by Chicago artist FRILLZ.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

A few years later, doodles like those that he once drew in class ended up on stickers and murals across Chicago as his career as an artist took off.

The signature character of FRILLZ: a cartoon-like bulldog he created as a doodle in high school. The dog’s cactus-like arms are meant to symbolize the artist’s Mexican heritage.

The signature character of FRILLZ: a cartoon-like bulldog he created as a doodle in high school. The dog’s cactus-like arms are meant to symbolize the artist’s Mexican heritage.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

The bulldog’s cactus arms are among symbols of the artist’s Mexican heritage he incorporates in his work.

“I’ll put Mexican symbols or try to put my character in familiar situations where people of similar backgrounds can relate to,” he says.

The mural by FRILLZ in Back of the Yards incorporates Mexican cultural imagery — such as this heart, reminiscent of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a common symbol in the Catholic faith.

The mural by FRILLZ in Back of the Yards incorporates Mexican cultural imagery — such as this heart, reminiscent of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a common symbol in the Catholic faith.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

The painting features a heart with a flaming torch and the words “Back of the Yards” — reminiscent of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a common symbol in the Catholic faith.

The Chicago artist who goes by FRILLZ spells out exactly what the message is of his mural at 49th Street and Damen Avenue: “Believe in the children and their magic will teach you about the wonders of what believing in yourself can do.”

The Chicago artist who goes by FRILLZ spells out exactly what the message is of his mural at 49th Street and Damen Avenue: “Believe in the children and their magic will teach you about the wonders of what believing in yourself can do.”

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

The artist spells out exactly what the message is within the mural itself: “Believe in the children and their magic will teach you about the wonders of what believing in yourself can do.”

He says he hopes the mural will “motivate children from all different backgrounds.”

“If you want to do something, go all out,” he says.

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

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