LOGAN SQUARE — About two dozen of Chicago top street artists have spent the last two days painting the exterior of the Megamall as a beautiful farewell to the building.
A chance to paint the sprawling walls of the Megamall had been on their mind of many of the artists for a while.
"It's always been the dream of artists to paint this for many, many, many years," said Billy Craven, co-owner of Gallery F, who helped make a deal with the owner of the building to allow it to be painted.
It was a rare chance to paint a massive and prominent wall along Milwaukee Avenue, according to Amuse 126, the artist who curated the mural project.
Amuse 126, a well-known graffiti artist whose work recently was featured in the Wabash Arts Corridor mural project, brought together 25 artists to paint the blocklong brick building.
"I've never been able to look as far as the eye can see with ladders and spray paint filling the air," the artist said Tuesday afternoon while finishing his piece.
Work by Max Sansing on the Megamall in Logan Square . [DNAinfo/Paul Biasco]
The only catch? The building's demolition is imminent.
"It takes the phrase, 'Street art is ephemeral,' to a very literal point," Craven said. "Every artist paints on the street with the realization their work may only be up for a few days, but if they are lucky, for many, many years."
All 25 artists who Amuse 126 brought on for the mural project supplied their own paint and spent hours on their individually assigned spaces along the wall stretching down Milwaukee Avenue just southeast of Logan Boulevard.
Amuse 126 did not tell the artists where the wall would be or what the project was until he texted them the address Sunday.
Instead he told them, "Trust me. I got something fun," and that's all it took.
The artists from all over the city spent Monday and Tuesday completing their pieces on the project, which 30-year-old artist Nicolas Fonte called "Nuts. Just nuts."
"It's kind of jaw-dropping with the amount of individuals on one way," he said.
Fonte said he has been painting for 20 years.
"I started really young, growing up here in Chicago," he said.
Work by The Lie on the Megamall in Logan Square. [DNAinfo/Paul Biasco]
Artists painted the entire length of the exterior of the Megamall ahead of its demolition. [DNAinfo/Paul Biasco]
Fonte said he hopes the project is replicated at other vacant buildings across Chicago that will someday be torn down.
"If they are being demolished, why not?" he said. "Why not add color? Inspiration?"
Despite knowing the building could be torn down as early next week, the artists dug into their own pockets to cover paint costs for the project.
"Many of these guys work multiple jobs and have families to take care of, and they have such a passion for the work that they create that what comes out of their pockets is part of the process," Craven said. "They put more of their heart into it because they live here, they work here, they buy their paint here, and they paint for their communities and their peers alike."
Participating artists in order of where their work appears on the wall starting at the northwest end include: Werth, Orfn, Woes, Burie, Merlot, Amuse 126, Max Sansing, Mime, Asend, Statik, Fonte, Komed, Roger, Bandit, Like, Elotes, Stuk, Cyfn, Quake, FQ, Phor and The Lie.
Craven, whose nearby Logan Square gallery, Gallery F, features work by many Chicago street artists, has helped curate a number of mural projects in the neighborhood, including the Greetings From Chicago mural and the line of murals in the parking lot of the Megamall.
"We wanted to go out with a bang. We did a big beautiful mural production piece as a sort of a farewell to this structure," Craven said.
Amuse 126, curator of the project, finishes his mural on the Megamall Tuesday. [DNAinfo/Paul Biasco]
Frank Quintero finishes details on his mural on the Megamall. [DNAinfo/Paul Biasco]
Stuk said he was excited for the challenge to work in the doorway, which was a surprise to him before Sunday. [DNAinfo/Paul Biasco]
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