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A ‘Meeting of Styles’ led to wildly diverse murals beneath and near the Chicago Skyway

The working gathering organized by a Southeast Side artist known as dTel resulted in dozens of works by about 50 artists. A similar effort is planned in September.

The murals beneath the Chicago Skyway near Commercial Avenue and South Chicago Avenue are plentiful and diverse.
The murals beneath the Chicago Skyway near Commercial Avenue and South Chicago Avenue are plentiful and diverse.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

A freaky skull creature. A woman with . . . how many eyes? A robotic alien-type guy.

And, of course, a monkey, a pear, flowers and a mouse in addition to graffiti lettering.

Those are the stars of murals emblazoned on viaduct walls beneath the Chicago Skyway and under adjacent railroad tracks thanks to an event two years ago that drew graffiti artists and muralists from all over for what was dubbed “Meeting of Styles.”

The working gathering organized by a Southeast Side artist who goes by dTel resulted in dozens of works by about 50 artists that together represent one of the most diverse collections of public work in Chicago.

A similar gathering was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but another is in the works for September in the same area, dTel says.

These are among the murals there now from the 2019 “Meeting of Styles.”

‘A reflection of yourself’

A stretch of murals created at the 2019 “Meeting of Styles” event. The painting of the three-eyed, red-lipped, aqua-colored face, set against a silver background, was done by 32-year-old artist Natalia Virafuentes, who lives in Albany Park. She says it’s “a reflection of yourself and looking within, trying to bring good out in the world. I love the city, I wish I could cover it all.’
A stretch of murals created at the 2019 “Meeting of Styles” event. The painting of the three-eyed, red-lipped, aqua-colored face, set against a silver background, was done by 32-year-old artist Natalia Virafuentes, who lives in Albany Park. She says it’s “a reflection of yourself and looking within, trying to bring good out in the world. I love the city, I wish I could cover it all.’
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

‘How we see’

The mural of a multi-eyed woman was by an artist who goes by Diosa, who says: “My work is about perception, looking deeper, looking beyond, questioning reality, attuning yourself to appreciate the magic that bubbles beneath the surface of everyday life. I believe that ‘how we see determines what we see.’ So my approach to life and art-making is to constantly push myself . . . to look at things differently and to encourage my audience to do the same.”
The mural of a multi-eyed woman was by an artist who goes by Diosa, who says: “My work is about perception, looking deeper, looking beyond, questioning reality, attuning yourself to appreciate the magic that bubbles beneath the surface of everyday life. I believe that ‘how we see determines what we see.’ So my approach to life and art-making is to constantly push myself . . . to look at things differently and to encourage my audience to do the same.”
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

‘A collection of quirky stuff’

The mural (at left) by Rahmaan Statik includes images paying homage to — and having a little fun with — a downtown street preacher. “He’s told the whole city of Chicago they’re going to hell,” Statik says. As for the woman, she’s an actress in “ultimate warrior face paint.” And the bridge is modeled on one nearby. Statik says, “It’s a collection of quirky stuff, essentially, there’s even a Gucci pattern in there.” At right: graffiti art by StukOne.
The mural (at left) by Rahmaan Statik includes images paying homage to — and having a little fun with — a downtown street preacher. “He’s told the whole city of Chicago they’re going to hell,” Statik says. As for the woman, she’s an actress in “ultimate warrior face paint.” And the bridge is modeled on one nearby. Statik says, “It’s a collection of quirky stuff, essentially, there’s even a Gucci pattern in there.” At right: graffiti art by StukOne.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

‘Allegory of Corruption’

Pilsen artist Jesse Navarrete did the mural of “Uncle Sam coming out of the Jack-in-the-box and a young guy representing our youth holding him — kind of a burden, I guess.” He calls the painting “Allegory of Corruption” as a statement about government corruption and also government’s “mismanagement of money.” The art also carries an environmental message, as Uncle Sam is “spewing out very toxic fumes.” The adjacent mural was by Abie Vasquez III.
Pilsen artist Jesse Navarrete did the mural of “Uncle Sam coming out of the Jack-in-the-box and a young guy representing our youth holding him — kind of a burden, I guess.” He calls the painting “Allegory of Corruption” as a statement about government corruption and also government’s “mismanagement of money.” The art also carries an environmental message, as Uncle Sam is “spewing out very toxic fumes.” The adjacent mural was by Abie Vasquez III.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

A Catholic motif

This mural, resembling stained glass like you might see in church, is by artist Jose Lopez. The South Chicago artist, who goes by “Tusk,” says, “Being Mexican, you grow up with these Catholic motifs, so it was a reference to that. And I incorporated things we see growing up in Chicago. The concept overarching here is referencing identity,” with the chains representing “obstacles that can get in the way.”
This mural, resembling stained glass like you might see in church, is by artist Jose Lopez. The South Chicago artist, who goes by “Tusk,” says, “Being Mexican, you grow up with these Catholic motifs, so it was a reference to that. And I incorporated things we see growing up in Chicago. The concept overarching here is referencing identity,” with the chains representing “obstacles that can get in the way.”
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times
Click on the map below for a selection of Chicago-area murals
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