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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Black Lives Matter Mural Painted By 18 Artists Takes Over Uptown Street

Each letter in the massive mural was painted by a different Chicago artist.

Uptown's Black Lives Matter street mural was a collaboration by 18 local artists.
Courtesy Carson Cloud
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UPTOWN — A group of Chicago artists collaborated on the city’s newest piece of public art: a massive “Black Lives Matter” mural on Clifton Avenue in Uptown.

The new mural — which spells out the slogan in bold, colorful letters — now adorns the 4700 block of North Clifton Avenue, between Broadway and Lawrence Avenue.

Finished on Sunday, the mural is a collaboration between 18 Chicago artists. Each of the 16 letters in the mural was painted by a different artist or artist collective, with Chicago sign painting duo Heart & Bone sketching out the letters for others to decorate.

The mural was financed by the artists, who volunteered their time to complete the work, according to Heart & Bone’s Kelsey McClellan, who helped spearhead the project.

“We wanted to show support for the movement, and this is the best way we know how,” McClellan said. “We’re really glad to have participated, and excited with how beautifully it turned out.”

The mural is the latest in prominent, pro-Black Lives Matter street art to pop up throughout the country during the nationwide protests against systemic racism. “Black Lives Matter” has been painted on highly visible streets in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

The first Black Lives Matter street mural in Chicago debuted late July in South Shore, where activist William Calloway and artist Quentin Crockett collaborated on the mural along Jeffrey Boulevard.

The artists came to the business group Uptown United for help in finding a spot, said Justin Weidl, business district manager for Uptown United.

The group settled on the one-block stretch of Clifton Avenue just north of Broadway, where the art is visible from the Red Line and from traffic on Broadway.

“It was important to put it in a visible place,” McClellan said.

The mural’s lettering was sketched on Saturday, with artists coming later in the day to decorate the letters. Final touches were put on the mural Sunday.

“They went for it, and we’re glad they did, because it’s beautiful,” Weidl said. “We hope it’s there as long as possible.”

The work was done during the first ever Uptown Art Weekend, where eight other murals went up around the neighborhood.

The Black Lives Matter street mural was not done as part of the art weekend, though the fact that they coincided worked out for everyone, Weidl said. The work provided neighbors another chance to see public art being created while providing visibility to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“All around it was a really positive experience,” McClellan said. “We’d like it to last as long as it can.”

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