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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

After Crews Paint Over 18th Street Station Mural, CTA Looking For Artists To Restore It

The murals were painted in 1998 by Francisco Mendoza, Gallery 37 students and the Mexican Museum of National Art.

Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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PILSEN — Two months after city crews painted over portions of a mural at the 18th Street Pink Line Station, the CTA has put out a call for artists to help restore the artwork.

In collaboration with the 25th Ward Arts and Culture committee and Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), the CTA is looking to restore late muralist’s Francisco Mendoza’s work. 

The CTA had said it was in conversations with a former Mendoza protege to restore the mural. The search for artists has since been expanded to consider other muralists from the neighborhood, Sigcho-Lopez said.

The deadline to be considered is noon Feb. 26.  

Artists will work to preserve and restore Mendoza’s vision while working with youth from the community, Sigcho-Lopez said. 

The person selected will have a “deep connection to the community” and not have an existing permanent art installation at another CTA station, according to the application posted online.

The CTA will spend $80,000 to restore the mural, Sigcho-Lopez said. 

RELATED: Pilsen’s Beloved 18th Street CTA Station Murals Painted Over, Sparking Outrage

The timeline and final selection will be outlined during a community meeting in spring, Chicago Transit Agency officials said in statement.

“During this meeting, members of the surrounding community will have the opportunity to meet the 10 artist candidates, as well as share input with the artists before they begin preparing design proposals for the project,” the statement read. The CTA will select one or two final artists for the project, agency officials said.

In December, the CTA faced backlash after photos circulated on Facebook showing parts of the murals covered with white paint.

At the time, CTA spokesman Brian Steele said the social media post didn’t accurately portray the status of the mural at the Pink Line Station. CTA crews previously painted over graffiti that defaced portions of the mural but ended that practice more than a year ago, Steele said.

Credit: Eglė Malinauskaitė
Portions of murals at the entrance of the 18th Street Pink Line Station were painted over.

While the CTA paints over graffiti on the white-painted walls, the agency no longer paints over other existing parts of the murals, he said.

Following the viral post, Sigcho-Lopez said he had “zero tolerance for the white-washing of our community.”

“The destruction of public art is utterly reprehensible and disrespectful to the artists, the cultures that make-up Pilsen, and all of us who live here,” Sigcho-Lopez said

The murals were painted in 1998 by Francisco Mendoza, Gallery 37 students and the Mexican Museum of National Art as part of city’s Adopt-A-Station program, according to the CTA website.

The murals depicted cultural icons in Mexican history and told stories about the neighborhood. 

Carlos Rubio, 40, who was part of the original Gallery 37 students, remembers working alongside Mendoza and a cohort of 15 students to create the murals in the late ’90s. 

Rubio previously told Block Club he noticed the city had been painting over sections of the mural when it got hit with graffiti rather than tapping someone to retouch the original.

“I know how the city works. If this is gang-related or a random tagger, they cover it. … I’m not justifying them or blaming them but they are just doing their job. They aren’t muralists or artists,” he said.

Rubio said he would love to reunite with the original mural group to retouch, repair or create a mural paying honor to Mendoza’s legacy.

Mendoza, an art teacher at Jose Orozco Clemente Academy, died of cancer in 2012.

The CTA said it was committed to preserving Mendoza’s “spirit and vision” that “celebrates the Mexican heritage and Pilsen community,” according to a Sun-Times report, which first reported the new push to find an artist.

Artists interested in being considered can apply here.

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Credit: Eglė Malinauskaitė
Portions of murals at the entrance of the 18th Street Pink Line Station were painted over.

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