LOGAN SQUARE — The neighborhood's newest graffiti mural honors Chicago music legend Frankie Knuckles.
The memorial wall was painted by one of the city's oldest graffiti groups, the Artistic Bombing Crew, on the rooftop of X-it European Clothing, 2950 W. Fullerton— a location easily seen from the Blue Line, midway between the California and Logan Square stops.
But the mural didn't come without some struggle in the two months since the house music pioneer unexpectedly died at the age of 59. B-boy-b, a Logan Square native and longtime graffiti artist, said the crew had a wall lined up at EZ Pawn, but had to change plans last minute.
“It was a long process. I had to quickly think about where we can go paint where it's visible," B-boy-b said. “I called [the owner of X-it] and said, 'Hey, we've got an emergency but we're ready to paint.' And he said 'The wall is yours.' So they gave it to us."
“I showed [the crew] the rooftop and they said, 'This is way better.'"
B-boy-b said that growing up in Logan Square, he and his friends used to breakdance to what is now known as house music. Several members of Artistic Bombing Brew had seen or knew Knuckles around town in the 1980s and 1990s, he added.
"We all just said, 'Yea, we should do that. We should definitely do that," B-boy-b said.
The crew pooled their resources for supplies and completed the mural in shifts over three days, coincidentally matching up with the City of Chicago's Frankie Knuckles Tribute concert Tuesday at Millennium Park.
“It's a prime spot," B-boy-b said. “Graffiti artists hit X-it's wall if it doesn't have a mural on it, because it's so visible." He said a code of respect largely keeps folks from tagging a wall with unrelated graffiti when an established crew's artwork is up.
“It's a small circle so we kind of know everybody. We do occasionally get a super young head who doesn't know jack, but they learn quick that if they want to be in a crew they can't do that, out of respect," he added.
B-boy-b said he expected the Knuckles memorial to stay up until another crew approaches ABC for permission to paint over it. The Knuckles mural was a joint piece by members of four established Northwest Side graffiti crews, including ABC, RK crew, AiR, and Chicago's Most Wanted.
“Logan Square has a weird relationship with graffiti, 'It's destructive, it's not art,' but its not even an argument anymore. I mean you see some beautiful things that people can create [with graffiti]," he said. "And cats in Chicago love house music."
Watch a timelapse video of the mural going up here: