WICKER PARK — After two years of brightening up a stretch of North Avenue in Wicker Park, the neighborhood’s beloved mural of Vivian Maier was defaced last month — but neighbors are stepping up to fix it.
On Tuesday morning, weather permitting, a mural restoration team will remove the graffiti and restore the original image, painted in 2017 by renowned Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra. The image depicts the late Chicago photographer Maier.
Dan Kuruna, owner of home where the mural is located in the 1600 block of West North Avenue, said he and his wife are prepared to finance the costly process of restoring the mural, which was defaced about a month ago. Kuruna wouldn’t say exactly how much it would cost, only that it would be “a lot.”
“It finally happened and it’s disappointing,” he said. “This mural was Kobra’s gift to Chicago. … This is how we repay him?”
Known for colorful portraits of other famous figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Bob Marley, Kobra also created a 100-foot-tall Muddy Waters mural overlooking State Street.
Kobra spontaneously picked the Wicker Park wall during a Saturday morning car ride, Kuruna said.
Kuruna was out of town on a camping trip, but his son and his wife, Justine Jentes, were home. As fate would have it, both Jentes and Kuruna, former gallerists, had envisioned art on the side of their home for two decades.
Kobra gave the couple three options: Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong and Maier.
The couple immediately chose the Chicago-connected Maier.
Her street photography, discovered after her 2009 death, is considered some of the greatest of all time. She spent her final years in Rogers Park, capturing the beaches and people of the neighborhood.
Kobra volunteered his time on the project and was not compensated, paying for paint and materials himself. His mural captures one of Maier’s self portraits.
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