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Northside Graffiti

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S: Northside Graffiti written and photographed by Rebecca Presson Sharenow

BC: Northside Graffiti..... a collection of "urban environmental art" gathered from the streets of Chicago's north and northwest sides shows that art in its purest definition and it's beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. One person's masterpiece is another person's graffiti......

FC: Northside Graffiti | Urban artistic expressions from Chicago's Lake View to Lincoln Square and everywhere in between and around

1: This is the photo | This is the photo that started the whole project. | This photo was taken much earlier than the rest of the project... probably around early October of 2010. It was at the parking lot for St. Joseph's Hospital on Sheridan a half block north of Diversey where I was about to go in for a prenatal check-up when I was pregnant with my daughter. I saw this and my first thought was, "Rewind?". I guess that dates me a bit. :-) A year later, I was inspired to capture the rare occurrences of graffiti art and commentary that I saw on walks with my daughter while living in the Buena Park neighborhood. | October 2010 - Sheridan Ave. north of Diversey Ave.

2: I took this photo on October 2, 2011 at the Corner of Clarendon Ave. and Belle Plaine Ave. It's also more of a political commentary than true artistic graffiti, but I thought it fit the project anyway. The site of it stopped me in my tracks. Maybe it was the juxtaposition of the stark, somber message and the bright, cheery Autumn day, but something struck me about it. | October 2, 2011 - Clarendon Ave. and Belle Plaine Ave.

3: Sometimes, rival art will get sprayed or scratched out so the artist can "claim" that space for his or her own. CYS apparently lost out on these dumpsters on Gordon Terrace. | October 2, 2011 - Gordon Terrace

4: October 4, 2011 - 5695 N. Lincoln Ave.

6: Above: Prior to publishing this book, I attempted to contact '' with no success. I mostly wanted to let them know how much I enjoyed their art, but I also wanted to get permission to add their work to my book and to find out if they had any other works I could include. Left: Not sure, but I'm guessing this is a list of contributing artists: Amuse (gets top billing!), Humor, BFly, Lost, Zonk, Optimist, Kaer, and Big L.

7: View of the right end of the mural | Humor... possibly one of the artists listed in the bottom left photo on the preceding page? Here, on the adjacent pavement. | Amuse and Zonk... two more contributing artists? They leave their mark here on a drain cover in the adjacent parking lot. | Close-up of the right end of the mural | Love the treatment of the reflection on the water here! on the left end of the mural!

8: Mailbox with flower - Clarendon Ave. and Bittersweet Ave, in the evening in the yellow glow of the streetlights Mailbox with sun - Clarendon Ave. and Gordon Terrace, right outside of Dollop Café Reminds me of the Japanese Naval flag, sort of. | October 10, 2011 | October 12, 2011

9: On a walk down Broadway at Halsted Ave - The bad 70's wallet-sized portrait really doesn't belong in this collection, but for some reason it amused me to imagine that it slipped out of someone's pocket while leaving their tag behind. | October 16, 2011

10: I found these cartoon characters while walking along the lake terraces by the Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course near Waveland Ave. I had walked from Wrigley Field and crossed at Addison Ave. and Inner Lake Shore Drive when I found the tag in the upper left. Apparently, someone 'hearts' MJ! In the upper right image, "DECO" has a nice aesthetic to the line quality and shading of the lettering. | October 18, 2011

11: < I imagine this would've been very vibrant freshly done, but I kind of like the weathered look of the faded paint at St. Louis and Peterson on the side of Town House Interiors. Drive by "shooting" - I shot this tag as I drove by at Foster Ave. just east of Western Ave. | Lincoln Ave. just south of Peterson Ave. Not a very permanent tag since it was only put on mesh construction fence covers! | > | > | > | October 19, 2011

12: On Broadway, one block north of Ainslie Ave. - A history of faded tags shadows this cement wall. | November 3, 2011

13: Corner of Broadway and Wilson Ave - Durg?? Dur 6?? I guess we'll never know.

14: On Broadway north of Montrose Ave. - Another instance of "dueling tags". I'm guessing the black one says 'Skye' and the green one is maybe 'Skia'. Looks like Skia might have been there first and was scrubbed out, thus the green haze. Then Skye made their mark, was (half-heartedly) lined out, and Skia reclaims their spot...this time in quotes, no less!

15: November 12, 2011

16: Nestled back in the fenced-off ruins of the former Cuneo Hospital at 750 W. Montrose Ave. near Clarendon Avenue peeks one of the most elaborate and colorful murals I've seen on the northside. This dilapidated former children's hospital, closed in 1988, towers protectively over this beautiful work of art. The inviting colors and dynamic design beckon you closer, while a series of chain-link fences force you to wonder what adventurous souls saw the inaccessibility as a challenge for their art... an unlikely and unwilling canvas for their creativity. | November 21, 2011

18: Wish I could've gotten closer to get a better picture, but this mural's inaccessibility is part of it's intrigue and appeal. It obviously would've taken a great deal of time to complete,

19: so I wonder how the artist(s) got away with it. The design itself is stunning and evokes images of rival gangs warring like fierce, brightly colored dragons.

20: Buena Park and Marine Ave. - Just a couple more tags in my neighborhood. The one in the upper left photo on this page and in the mailbox image on the facing page appear to be the same, although I can't quite make it out. It would be interesting to learn the stories behind these tags, what they mean, and who they belong to. | December 4, 2011

22: Black tag at the Children's World daycare at 5807 N. Lincoln Ave. It's slightly disconcerting to me for a graffiti tag to be here. :o/ | Tags along Devon Ave. at Ridgeway and Springfield Aves. taken later, approximately June 2012. | December 18, 2011

23: This was an interesting project for me... both for the aesthetics of the art and the thrill of the pursuit. Like a grown-up scavenger hunt, I found myself peeking in alleys and scanning the various nooks and crannies of the Chicago streets for interesting nuggets of urban art... ever seeking that little piece of gold. More than once, I had an "ooh! ooh!" moment where I would quickly turn a U-ey or pull over just to roll my window down and snap pix with my iPhone of something interesting... sometimes raising the eyebrows of passers-by wondering what all the excitement is about. It's amazing how you suddenly start to notice something EVERYwhere when it becomes significant to you... like when you get a new car, you seem to see the same car wherever you go. I started to really see just how much of this graffiti art is in our everyday landscape... mostly unnoticed, definitely unappreciated, but really quite beautiful if you take the time to look with an open mind. I regret that the history behind these images will probably forever be a mystery for me. If you have information about any of the art in this book, I'd love to hear about it! Email me at '' and I promise to respond with thanks! < Rebecca S. | epilogue >

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  • By: Rebecca S.
  • Joined: over 6 years ago
  • Published Mixbooks: 7
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About This Mixbook

  • Title: Northside Graffiti
  • Tags: graffiti, urban, chicago, city, art
  • Published: over 5 years ago