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Violet Hour's New Mural Pleases Passers-by in Wicker Park

By Alisa Hauser | September 19, 2013 8:23am
 Artist and Blackbird bartender Ben Wilson said his new mural was inspired by a page from a book about Disney art. 
Disney Inspired Violet Hour Mural
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WICKER PARK — Deer have arrived in Wicker Park — at least in the form of art.

All week long, passers-by have been doing a double take at a colorful new mural on the wall of The Violet Hour at 1520 N. Damen Ave., just south of the intersection of Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues.

The new mural by artist Benjamin Oakley Wilson features a series of deer outlines and one bearing a resemblance to Bambi, the white-tailed star in the popular Walt Disney film.

Wilson, 34, a bartender at Blackbird, said his new mural was inspired by a page from a book about Disney art that featured the drawings of artist Tyrus Wong.

While there are several deer in the mural, the piece is "a study of one deer in motion, or bounding," according to Wilson.

Earlier this week, passer-by Anna Kenny said she noticed the new mural immediately and "loves it."

A 26-year-old restaurant manager, Kenny said she's looked at the mural closely.

"It looks like [Wilson] is examining pose and perspective," she said.

The craft cocktail bar changes its murals frequently and has showcased a wide range of artwork by rotating artists over the past few years.

Previous murals have included a cartoonish "Big Drunk Guy" and twilight-hued nightclub scene, as well as geometric 3-D patterns and abstract designs that have been the target of taggers.

The most serious of the murals was "Killing Season: Chicago 2010," a visual documentation of sites of Chicago murders by artist and Violet Hour employee Krista Wortendyke.

Completed Monday, Wilson said the mural took him around 20 hours over three or four days from start to finish.

Wilson said the last deer in the sequence is "Bambi-inspired, but I [gave] it a somewhat natural treatment, particularly around the face and eye."

The mural represents Wilson's return to the wall of the speakeasy-themed bar.

Last June, Wilson's mural of a whale attracted media attention and stayed on the wall for nearly three months, a longer stay than the average of five weeks enjoyed by most murals on the bar's front wall.

Ben Clark, 35, a food runner at Big Star, located directly across the street from The Violet Hour, said he was watching the mural slowly take shape and initially "thought the piece would be ominous and then the deer showed up."

Clark added: "It's nice to have a pretty little Disney scene amid the darkness of Saturday night wastoids."