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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Edgewater Public Art Exhibit Preserves Protest Art From Boarded-Up Buildings: ‘We Want To Continue The Conversation’

Street art created on the plywood of boarded-up buildings this summer is on exhibit in Edgewater storefronts through October.

The new art installation at Independent Spirits, 5947 N. Broadway.
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EDGEWATER — Artists used the city’s boarded-up businesses as canvases to beautify and create social justice-minded art amid social unrest this summer.

Many stores have returned to business as usual and shed their protective window coverings. But some of that street art has been preserved, and it is now on display in storefronts throughout Edgewater.

A public art exhibit called “Reflections: An Edgewater Art Experience” has more than 20 works on display throughout the community until Oct. 31. Many of the pieces on display are murals that were created on the plywood of boarded-up businesses.

Art at Armen’s Jewelry, 1142 W. Thorndale Ave., is preserved graffiti from boarded-up Chicago buildings.

The window art is from the artist collective Paint the City, which formed this summer to create art with a message on the plywood that covered many businesses, among other things.

“We always want to do our best to change the places we come from,” artist Barrett Keithley, of Paint The City, said of the project. “We want everyone … to be aware of what’s happening.”

Urban Art Restart was formed to preserve the work from Paint the City and other street artists.

Urban Art Restart’s John Sorci and Jenna Hayes collected the street art from reopened businesses. The Edgewater Chamber of Commerce helped the pair get the work displayed in local storefronts.

“All of this beautiful art is being put up, but what happens when the businesses go back to normal?” Sorci said. “We didn’t want it to just be stored. We want to continue the conversation.”

Credit: Courtesy Edgewater Chamber of Commerce
Artist Rico the Great originally painted this on the boarded-up windows of a Target store.

One of the largest preserved plywood paintings is a Spiderman-themed mural by Paint the City’s Rico the Great.

The artwork was created on plywood put up on the outside of a Target store Downtown, but it now resides in the window of Chicago Mosaic School, 1101 W. Granville Ave.

About half of the art for the exhibit came from preserved plywood paintings, while the other half are originals commissioned for the project.

The newly commissioned pieces also reference this year’s social justice movement, including with a tribute to Breonna Taylor at Independent Spirits, 5947 N. Broadway.

One of the most prominent new pieces of art is a photo-collage mural on the side of Moody’s Pub, 5910 N. Broadway. The piece is permanent, meaning it will stay up beyond the Oct. 31 exhibit close date.

The new art installation at Francesca’s, 1039 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.

The exhibit is meant to give the local business community a boost while allowing shoppers and pedestrians to “draw inspiration” from the art stemming from Chicago’s protests, Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said.

“This has been a brutal year in our city and our country,” Osterman said. “All of us have drawn inspiration from art and from each other. It’s critical we continue that.”

For an interactive map of the art installations, click here.

Moody’s Pub has a new permanent photo collage mural visible from Broadway.

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