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New South Loop High-Rise Will Cover Hebru Brantley 'Flyboy' Mural

By David Matthews | January 12, 2017 5:49am
 A new apartment tower near the Roosevelt
A new apartment tower near the Roosevelt "L" stop will obscure this "Flyboy" mural by Chicago artist Hebru Brantley.
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DNAinfo/David Matthews

SOUTH LOOP — A new apartment tower on the rise in the South Loop will cover up a big "Flyboy" mural by Chicago artist Hebru Brantley. 

The 26-story tower under construction at 1136 S. Wabash Ave. will bring new retail shops and more than 300 apartments when it opens near the Roosevelt "L" stop. But it will do so at the expense of the neighboring mural, a familiar sight in the South Loop since it debuted in 2015.

"That is the nature of street art," Brantley said in an email. "It is the idea of creating something that may not be permanent."

The four-story mural near Roosevelt and Wabash is one of the highest-profile by Brantley, a Bronzeville native whose graffiti-esque art has drawn a check from Jay Z and exhibitions worldwide. The mural's subject is "Flyboy," a character somewhat inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen that appears often in Brantley's work.

Brantley once told Chicago-born rapper Lupe Fiasco in an interview that "Flyboy" is like his Mickey Mouse.

"It’s very rare to see a popular character that is African-American, Latino or Asian. I wanted to create that, but in a space of high art and with some historical context," Brantley told Michigan Avenue in 2015. 


The mural and nascent development as seen from the Roosevelt CTA platform [DNAinfo/David Matthews]

The mural (and new tower) can be seen from the Roosevelt CTA station. In many ways it anchors the Wabash Arts Corridor, a collection of street paintings on South Wabash Avenue. 

The tower by developers Keith Giles and CA Ventures secured a construction loan in the fall. Giles told DNAinfo in 2015 that half the tower's 320 units will be "quasi-micro" apartments aimed at young adults.

"We’re trying to meet the demands of younger people that would rather live alone and can only afford under $2,000" rent, Giles said then.

Brantley — who said he got his start spray-painting Chicago buildings illegally — has since collaborated with Chance the Rapper, designed shoes for Michael Jordan and opened exhibits in London and Switzerland. He worked on a massive mural of Cubs star Kris Bryant in Wrigleyville and finished a "Flyboy" mural in Uptown nearly two years ago.

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