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Kobra's Vivian Maier Mural Livens Up North Avenue in Wicker Park (PHOTOS)

By Alisa Hauser | June 19, 2017 9:49am | Updated on June 22, 2017 8:04am
 Vivian Maier mural by Eduardo Kobra.
Vivian Maier Mural by Eduardo Kobra
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WICKER PARK —  Renowned Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra has left his mark on Wicker Park, with a bright and engaging mural featuring late photographer Vivian Maier.

Located on the wall of a house at 1651 W. North Ave. — just a few doors east of Louie's Pub — the mural was completed last Wednesday night on the home of Justine Jentes and Daniel Karuna.

According to a news release issued by the mural's curators, Lindsey Meyers and Simone Garcia of Logan Square-based Beauty & Brawn Art Gallery/Sinergia Arts, Kobra identified the location he thought would best fit the work during a Saturday morning car ride with Garcia and Jentes and Karuna "enthusiastically agreed to permit the artist to paint on their exterior wall with just a random knock on the door and a great conversation."

Kobra volunteered his time on the project and was not compensated, paying for paint and materials himself, and in an interesting twist, both Jentes and Karuna, former gallerists, had envisioned art on the side of their home for the last 20 years, and had hoped an artist would have offered to create something there, the curators said.

Known for colorful portraits of other famous figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Bob Marley, Kobra also recently created a 100-foot-tall Muddy Waters mural overlooking State Street. Both that mural, at 17 N. State St., and the new Maier wall, were curated by Meyers and Garcia. 

Maier, whose street photography was discovered after her 2009 death, is considered one of the greatest of all time. She was a recluse who spent her final years in Rogers Park, capturing the beaches and people of the neighborhood.

Kobra's mural captures one of Maier's self portraits, where she's holding up her camera. 

Sean Tomlins, a Wicker Park resident who lives about a block from the mural, said he was walking down North Avenue on Tuesday night and noticed the mural going up. 

"Although I had no idea it was Kobra at the time, I knew it was something special," Tomlins said.  "We are lucky to have a Kobra work in our neighborhood. I hope it stays forever."

Benjamin Wolf met Kobra on Wednesday and tweeted about the encounter, using hashtag #starstruck.

"As a Wicker Park resident and candidate running for the U.S. Congress, I am proud to have such as celebrated artist represented in our neighborhood. Eduardo Kobra represents the best of art and culture while bringing much needed attention to the people of Brazil," Wolf said.

Meyers and Garcia said that the impetus for the Vivian Maier mural was the fact that Kobra, having come to Chicago for the city's well-publicized Muddy Waters mural dedication earlier this month, wanted to revisit a discussion he'd had with the curatorial team about executing another piece using an image of the prolific mid-century urban photographer Maier.


Chicago 7:00 AM Process) - Wicker Park

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The outline of the mural and Eduardo Kobra at work. [Courtesy of Mike Braden]