LOGAN SQUARE — In between his visits to two art festivals in Indiana, Argentinian street artist Cobre wanted to find the closest city with a vibrating mural scene. After Chicago poet and friend Kevin Coval told him about Logan Square, he knew where to go and add to the scene.
Cobre’s new mural now sits on the west-facing wall of Shilvock Co. Inc, a plumbing business at 2226 N. Milwaukee Ave. right next to the famous “Greetings from Chicago” mural.
The 30-feet-high, 40-feet-wide mural depicts music legend Quincy Jones, the South Side native whose career spans over 60 years. He’s one of only 21 people in history who hold an EGOT: an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony award.
Time Magazine called Jones one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th Century. He has 28 Grammys and 80 nominations and has worked with Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Clint Eastwood, Ella Fitzgerald, Oprah Winfrey, Lionel Hampton, Michael Jackson and countless other successful artists through the decades. Jones is not only a music producer and musician but also a composer, a film producer, musical arranger, singer and best-selling author. At 86 years old, Jones operates his own production company, Quincy Jones Productions, founded in 1990.
“I know he is one of the most important cultural icons of this century,” Cobre said. “He is amazing. People he worked with all of a sudden became important music and culture-wise.”
Cobre, whose real name is Andres Iglesias and who paints murals all over the world, said he chose to honor Jones after watching the 2018 award-winning Netflix documentary “QUINCY” about the musician’s life. The documentary was directed by his daughter Rashida Jones and Al Hicks, director of “Keep On Keepin’ On.” The film brought Jones his 80th Grammy nomination and his 28th win for Best Music Film.
Cobre said he also wanted to highlight Jones because there are no murals solely dedicated to him — and especially none in Chicago, his hometown.
“People need to know who he is because the millennials and new generations, they don’t know who he is,” Cobre said. “He did a lot of crazy things; he is very important.”
As a traveling artist, Cobre said his goal is to paint a cultural icon related to the cities he visits. He said Jones was the perfect icon for the blank wall Cobre found, which had an old advertisement that was only supposed to be up for three months but was there for about a year.
Billy Craven, owner of Galerie F at 2415 N. Milwaukee Ave., got involved in the project after Coval reached out and asked for his help in finding a wall for Cobre to paint.
Craven said that although getting permission to paint murals on buildings is not easy, his good relationship with the property owners of Shilvock helped them secure the space.
Craven said Galerie F also donated some paints and materials; Cobre funded the rest of the project. With such a short planning time for the mural, Craven said it came together organically, even though it can be difficult to get materials quickly.
“With Chicago’s inhumane regulations of paint, we had to cross the border and go to Evanston and buy paint,” Craven said, referring to Chicago’s ban on spray paint.
Cobre was grateful at how easy it was to get permission for the mural and finished it in exactly a week on Tuesday. He said he originally wanted to paint Downtown, but getting permission to paint there is more difficult and there are not as many blank walls as in Logan Square.
And Logan Square proved to be the perfect place for Cobre’s art, which has gained attention on social media and even from the CTA.
“While he was up there sketching and had only the eyeballs painted, the CTA train stopped in the middle of the tracks and the driver yelled, ‘Quincy Jones!'” Craven said. “It affects even the CTA drivers because we don’t think of them as these beings that are looking at their surroundings as they are driving us from point A to point B.”
Craven said the fact someone recognized Jones when the mural showed just eyeballs speaks volumes to Cobre’s artistry and cultural appreciation. Not only is the piece beautifying the trail along the rail but it is also abating graffiti and tagging, Craven said, which minimizes vandalism and beautifies the neighborhood.
“The gallery and the artist worked really hard to maintain the constant beautification of the neighborhood without the support of any of the local governments so it’s nice to have it here,” he said. “It means more to me because it’s here and not in someone else’s neighborhood.”
Craven applauded Cobre’s decision to depict Jones, calling it a wise choice in afterthought but not an obvious choice when thinking of a local cultural icon. If you asked a bunch of locals to think of someone famous from Chicago, “You have to dig deep and long to think about Jones,” Craven said.
Cobre “is doing something so abstract that even the locals don’t realize that Quincy Jones was born and raised here,” he said. “Jones was extremely instrumental in making music what it is today by affecting or finding people and developing their skills.”
For Cobre, visiting Chicago was his first time in a big U.S. city. He said he loved it so much that if he were to pick a city to live in right now, he would choose Chicago because of its friendly, “cozy” and artistic vibe. He said his experience painting in Logan Square was a pleasant surprise and he is happy he could bring his art to the neighborhood for locals to enjoy — and right next to a world-famous mural that sees massive amounts of foot traffic daily.
“Lots of great artists have made murals over here so I said, ‘Yeah, this is my place,’” Cobre said. “Also, there is not any artist making this kind of realism. It’s a very nice contribution and a positive for the community because it’s the first mural of this kind.”
So how does Quincy Jones feel about his giant likeness? After Block Club published this story, the music legend shared the story on Facebook. “Thank-Q!,” he wrote. “Absolutely beautiful.”
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