From towering statues to colorful murals, you’ll find countless examples of amazing public art all around Chicagoland.
Looking to live in an area with vibrant open-air art around every corner? From the city to the suburbs, here are seven Chicagoland neighborhoods full of unique murals and amazing public art:
1.) South Loop
Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Chicago, the South Loop neighborhood is a bustling area with lots of things to see and do — including some truly impressive public art along the Wabash Arts Corridor, a living urban canvas in the heart of the community.
Launched in 2013 through the efforts of Columbia College Chicago, the Wabash Arts Corridor helps foster a creative spirit in students and visitors alike, with massive works in urban spaces that feature reclaimable resources. For a small taste of what this eclectic arts district has to offer, check out tee towering “Moose Bubblegum Bubble” by Jacob Watts, or Hello Kirsten’s ”Listen to Learn.”
Pilsen is one of Chicago’s most artistic communities. You’ll feel the creative energy the instant you arrive in this neighborhood — literally. The 18th Street Pink Line L Station is resplendent with colorful artwork from top to bottom, created by students led by artist Francisco Mendoza, in collaboration with the nearby National Museum of Mexican Art
Explore the Pilsen neighborhood and you’ll find colorful and impactful murals around seemingly every corner, featuring materials ranging from paint to glass tile. To get a sense of the amazing open-air art in Pilsen, check out this interactive map from WTTW. For a sense of the scale on display, be sure to visit Hector Duarte’s two-story ”Gulliver en el país de las Maravillas” and “Galeria del Barrio” by Aurelio Diaz, which was originally painted in the ‘70s.
3.) Rogers Park
Located about 10 miles north of downtown, Rogers Park is a lively neighborhood full of beaches and ample outdoor spaces — many of which are decorated with inspiring, one-of-a-kind murals.
This is thanks in part to Rogers Park’s Mile of Murals initiative. Since its inception in 2007, Mile of Murals has helped commission a number of large-scale works in the community, with the goal of eventually painting a full mile of murals along the Glenwood Avenue train line.
Wander around for a few hours, and you’ll find impressive works under just about every overpass and bridge in Rogers Park. Some prominent pieces to see include Jennifer Cronin’s “In Dreams”; Lea Pinsky and Dustin Harris’ “We Are Here, Our Time Is Now,” and Megan Sterling’s ”Cityscape.”
Home to Northwestern University and so much more, Evanston is a charming community that boasts a vibrant and ever-growing arts scene — including impressive works of public art.
The Evanston Murals Art Program (EMAP) helps “uplift and beautify” neighborhoods throughout the area through creative partnerships with community organizations, schools, and business districts, which help connect professional artists with enthusiastic community members and young creators.
For a taste of what Evanston’s large-scale public works have to offer, check out Anthony Lewellen’s colorful illustrations of food along the Church Street and Maple Avenue viaduct — just across the street from artist Jeff Zimmerman’s mural featuring a number of different faces.
Other prominent murals around Evanston include Dustin Harris and Lea Pinsky’s “Trust Your Heart,” and Nick Goettling’s “Connections and Constellations.”
For something even more off the beaten path, check out the “Garage Door Gallery,” a network of alleys featuring large and colorful garage door paintings from local artist Teresa Parod, which runs along Thayer Street.
5.) Humboldt Park
Situated about four miles west of the Loop, Humboldt Park is known as an exciting and thriving cultural center — and that includes streets lined with stunning and colorful murals and mosaics.
The Humboldt Park Mural Arts Program (HP MAP) focuses on bringing new murals to the community, while also restoring and maintaining existing murals and using art as a way to “represent community issues, idea, and vision.”
Many of the murals in Humboldt Park are destinations in and of themselves. Some of the most prominent works in the area include Gamaliel Ramirez’s “Sea of Flags” and “Birds of Latin America,” and John Vergara’s “79th.”
You can search for new art using the HP MAP’s interactive mapping tool; explore the history of the area’s local art through the Chicago Sun-Times; or browse photographs through the Chicago Tribune.
There are few attractions in Chicagoland as unique and inspiring as the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park. This legendary park began in the 1980s as a collaboration between the Village of Skokie, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and private citizens who wanted to create an open-air park full of public art. Today, the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park spans two miles, and features more than 60 sculptures by artists from around the world. The park also hosts regular educational programming and events.
Outside of these amazing sculptures, Skokie boasts impressive street art and murals by world-class artists, including works by WrdSmith, Peru, and Kate Lewis. Browse through some of the area’s most stunning large-scale works on the Village of Skokie’s official site.
Waukegan is the largest city in Lake County, situated near the Wisconsin border between Chicago and Milwaukee. Known for its active cultural scene, Waukegan has been called “the art capital of Lake County.”
This area is home to a number of incredible murals, including “Dream Big” and “Waukegan Express” — two large-scale works dedicated to the legendary writer Ray Bradbury. You’ll also find vibrant murals depicting Waukegan’s history, as well as a historic art-filled garden known as the ArtPark, which is currently undergoing restoration.
Outside of public art, the Waukegan community comes together for its regular ArtWauk events, which help residents connect with the area’s many local galleries and venues.
Looking to Live In the Heart of It All?
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