LOGAN SQUARE — Chicago’s artist community is rallying around a Logan Square artist who was hurt in a car crash last month and is struggling to pay steep medical bills and cover lost wages.
The crash happened about 3:20 a.m. Aug 22 on the South Side.
An artist who goes by the moniker CHema Skandal! was in an Uber on his way home from a Ruido Fest after-party in the 7100 block of West Archer Avenue when the driver of a 2018 GMC truck didn’t stop at a red light and plowed into his Uber, police and CHema said.
CHema said he and the Uber driver were rushed to the hospital, where they were treated for their injuries. The Uber driver suffered some broken bones, while CHema came away with fractured ribs, a fractured sternum, scrapes and bruises.
“My seatbelt saved me; but, at the same time, that’s how my ribs got broken,” CHema said.
The driver of the truck, a 38-year-old man, was given two tickets: one for not stopping at a red light and another for failing to reduce his speed, police said.
CHema accused the driver of being drunk at the time of the crash and he’s hired a lawyer to represent him in a legal case against him. Police couldn’t confirm the driver was intoxicated.
Originally from Mexico City, CHema is an illustrator, printmaker and muralist who has been making art out of Logan Square since 2010. He is the co-creator of ZINEmercado, a zine fest in Logan Square; a member of Instituto Gráfico de Chicago, a collective of local printmakers; and a contributor to the Latinx magazine Revista Contratiempo. He’s also painted murals across the city, including one at Belmont and Kedzie avenues.
CHema is typically seen in lucha libre-style masks, a part of his persona that started in college in Mexico and “stuck,” he said.
The artist is typically busy with various projects, but the crash has taken a toll on his health and livelihood.
When CHema returned home from a two-day stay in the hospital, he was struggling to get up the stairs and breathe, let alone paint murals or sell art prints. His health has improved since then, but he’s still not well enough to work, he said. He’s lost a few jobs as a result, including two Park District mural projects. And he lost some of his equipment, including files and a tablet, in the crash.
He’s also facing $50,000 in medical bills because he doesn’t have health insurance.
“Like many independent immigrant artists, he doesn’t count on insurance or benefits that could assure physical and financial health,” friends wrote in an online fundraiser.
A few of CHema’s friends launched the fundraiser to “help CHema get back on his feet.” The fundraiser has blown past its $7,069 goal, raising more than $15,600 as of Wednesday afternoon. Donations from friends, family and members of Chicago’s artist community have poured in.
Initially, CHema said he wasn’t so keen on a fundraiser, but he and his wife have since embraced the help.
“No man is an island. We are part of a society,” he said. “Sometimes you have to let others help you. We are very grateful about all of this.
“As a society and as a world, we’ve been through a very rough year and a half, so we have to help each other and be respectful.”
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