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Huge Mural Tackling Gentrification Coming To Logan Square Blue Line Lot

By Mina Bloom | October 18, 2017 6:07am
 Jenny Q. (from left) is assisting Sam Kirk and Sandra Antongiorgi with the mural, which should be finished in about three weeks, weather permitting.
Jenny Q. (from left) is assisting Sam Kirk and Sandra Antongiorgi with the mural, which should be finished in about three weeks, weather permitting.
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

LOGAN SQUARE — A huge mural tackling gentrification is coming to a prominent location in Logan Square.

The mural will be on the wall facing the Logan Square Blue Line station's lot, where buses loop around. It will feature cultural landmarks, as well as neighborhood folks and scenes, that depict the neighborhood's once-predominant Latino community.

Artists Sam Kirk and Sandra Antongiorgi are behind the mural, which they expect to finish in about three weeks, weather permitting.

Kirk said the mural, part of the city's 50x50 Neighborhood Arts Project, is meant to highlight "what used to be here and what people miss as the neighborhood has changed."

"The way gentrification is done in Chicago, you have a community where people have really worked hard to create the things you need. As developers come in, that gets wiped out. The accessibility they had is pushed away from them, while they're being pushed out of the neighborhood," Kirk said.

"The way neighborhoods change keeps us segregated. We're trying to remind people what was here before those changes started happening, and to appreciate that culture."

In the last 15 years, Logan Square has lost more Hispanic residents than of any of the city's 77 community areas, according to U.S. Census data.

Between 2000 and 2014, about 19,200 Hispanic residents moved out of Logan Square, a 35.6 percent decrease, according to the data.

Over that same period, the white population in the neighborhood increased by about 10,340 residents, a 47.6 percent increase.

The mural will feature images like the now-razed Megamall, a palatero serving children, portraits of representative Latino residents and a scene from the Young Lords protests in the 1960s. Alongside them will be images of new developments that have risen over the last decade.

"It's a matter of not forgetting," said Antongiorgi, who has lived in Logan Square and the surrounding area for a combined 10 years, but currently lives in McKinley Park.

"I think in these kinds of communities it gets a little scary. We're trying to do something that brings joy, that's welcoming and that's an accurate portrayal of Logan Square and its residents — both new and old."

The pair worked with the office of Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) on the mural. The alderman matched the city's contribution of $10,000, bringing the total cost of the mural up to $20,000, according to the artists.

As part of the process, the pair worked with Latino youth leaders in various neighborhood organizations who said they'd like to see themselves and their families represented in the public art.

"They really wanted people who were coming to Logan Square off the 'L' to see them, to be like 'This is who we are.' We're not intimidating. We are welcoming and we have this great culture. That was our task," Antongiorgi said.

Kirk has spent time visiting family and friends in Logan Square, but is originally from the South Side. She is currently working on another project through the same city program in Humboldt Park, in which she and other artists are painting 16 doors on Division Street to honor Puerto Rico.

Kirk and Antongiorgi are veteran muralists. The pair is particularly proud of their mural at 16th Street and Blue Island called "Weaving Cultures," which earned "Best New Mural" from the Chicago Reader.