LOGAN SQUARE — For years, Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) has been providing graffiti removal service for his constituents. But now he's unleashed a new weapon on graffiti.
With the help of a talented former intern, Moreno has begun combating graffiti in his ward with colorful murals strategically placed on walls that have become gang-tag magnets.
"I want to support the arts, and also it helps with the graffiti because taggers won't typically hit murals," said Moreno. "So, I'm looking forward to doing many of these."
The idea came a couple of months ago when a summer intern suggested he paint a mural in a spot that had been heavily tagged.
"He was helping out over the summer, and he said, 'I'm an artist and I'd like to do these murals,' " Moreno said. "He showed me his art and I said, 'OK, let's do it.' "
The artist, who wished only to be identified by his street art name, Ali 6, said he was happy to help beautify the ward while getting the opportunity to express himself.
And while Moreno pays for graffiti removal out of his ward menu funds, he paid for the murals out of pocket.
"The alderman paid for all the paint," said Ali 6. "I don't charge for labor. It's good enough I get a wall and can express myself, and other artists can express themselves."
The first mural, at Talman and North avenues in Humboldt Park, was painted last month at the former Wrightwood Auto Parts building.
It features Ali 6's trademark raccoon, named Richie the Raccoon, and has "for the kids" written in huge, colorful letter across the Talman-side wall.
The second was finished just this week next door to Moreno's ward office at 2058 N. Western Ave.
It also features Richie the Raccoon, as well as a shrimp, shark and whale painted by Ali 6's friend, known as Deal.
At the bottom of that mural is the message, "everybody eats."
"It's supposed to mean that, say your friend is starving and you're eating really well, then you should give to your friend so he can eat too, basically helping out your friends in anyway you can," said Ali 6.
Moreno said he's glad Ali 6 has come through with the murals and said there will likely be more to come.
"I'll support as many as he wants to do," he said.