Back of the Yards mural spotlights Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter video game characters
It pays homage to the classic fighting games that many of the 19 artists involved grew up playing, pitting characters from them against each other.
Chicago’s murals & mosaics
Part of a series on public art. More murals added every week.
The mural at 49th Street and Oakley Avenue — which can be seen from the CTA Orange Line’s Western Avenue L stop — pits characters from classic fighting games Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat against each other.
It fills the outside walls of the Bridgewater Studio art gallery, giving a little bit of life to surfaces that have been taken “for granted” for years, Peas says.
The mural, which was painted last fall, was a collaboration among 19 artists, many who are affiliated with the Chicago Most Known artists group, according to Peas.
Many of the artists were fans of the video games as kids, Peas says.
Henry Gonzalez, an artist known as GAPE ONE, grew up in Back of the Yards, skateboarding and playing video games and says the mural “was kind of a tribute.”
“It was my way to give back for and to the game,” he says.
Milton Coronado, another of the artists, says it was a “choose your fighter” scenario for the artists to decide which characters to paint — “first-come, first-serve.”
The main participating artists each took on one or two characters in their styles but still recognizable to fans of the video games.
Megan Kind, an artist from Humboldt Park, says she applied her “grimy” sensibilities to the Street Fighter style in painting the yoga master character Dhalsim, keeping him “rough around the edges.”
Some characters are seen facing off in a fighting stance. Others appear to be gearing up to attack.
Facing the Orange Line L stop, the wall has long been a popular spot with graffiti artists, Bridgewater Studio’s Ryan Masching says. Now, it’s a more permanent display of art.
“Putting our favorite characters from our childhood up on the wall . . . we made it look like a gem of an Orange Line spot,” Peas says.
The artist who goes by Ali Six says he wanted his characters to seem like they’re popping out from the wall. He showed Scorpion from Mortal Kombat wrapping M. Bison from Street Fighter in his iconic chain.
M. Bison “is the bad guy in that world,” he says. “There was no way he was winning.”
Ali Six had some fun with the images, replacing the familiar face of Scorpion with his own signature character Richie the Raccoon.
The artist who goes by RENROCK painted Raiden from Mortal Kombat and E. Honda from Street Fighter.
Coronado painted Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat and Chun-Li from Street Fighter, placing them face to face, fists clenched, in a style he describes as a “realistic cartoon.”
“Any time I’m painting, I already feel like a child,” Coronado says. “This nostalgic feeling comes over me and reminds me of when I first got started.”
GAPE ONE painted Jade from Mortal Kombat, a “badass woman.” He says he likes to paint women in honor of his young daughters. He hopes young passersby will find inspiration in the character’s powerful stance.
He remembers growing up in Back of the Yards, seeing graffiti and sketching in his notebooks, and says he wants kids growing up around there to be inspired by the art.
“That’s the ultimate goal: to inspire as many people as possible,” he says.