Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, September 29

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Getaway, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, The Grandmaster, Closed Circuit, One Direction: This Is Us, The Attack, The Lifeguard & Saturday Morning Mystery Science Fiction Comes to Life in a Public Library »

Art Tue Sep 03 2013

Positive Babel Mural Celebrates Old Irving Park, a City Melting Pot

Chicago is known as a city of neighborhoods, separated by ethnicities. Old Irving Park on Chicago's northwest side contradicts that description with residents from 70 countries. The community's new mural--Positive Babel: The World Lives, Works and Plays in Old Irving--was created to communicate that message.


Positive Babel mural, acrylic and spray paint on mason wall. Photos courtesy of Tony Sparrow.

The new work, created by lead artist Tony Sparrow and a team of eight other artists, was just completed in the viaduct under the Union Pacific/Metra tracks at Irving Park Road and Keeler Avenue. It will be dedicated at 11am Saturday with a program featuring representatives of the Old Irving Park Association, artists and public officials. (See Saturday Slowdown for more information.) Marlena Ascher, president of OIPA, will emcee the event.

Old Irving Park is a one-square mile neighborhood bounded by Addison and Montrose on the south and north and Pulaski and Cicero on the east and west. The neighborhood has many underpasses created by two Metra train lines, the CTA Blue Line and the Kennedy Expressway. All have heavy pedestrian and car traffic every day. The community organization has been "turning those eyesores into assets since 2003," according to Anna Sobor, incoming president of OIPA. The Positive Babel murals are the 10th and 11th.

The neighborhood association called for submissions to create the mural and Sparrow's was selected. He and artists Jerry Rogowski and Franziska Neugebauer did most of the painting over a two-week period. The total space painted, including support pillars, is 720 feet long by 18 feet high.

The new mural is a "skyline scene that integrates important buildings from many countries--countries that represent the ethnic origins of our community," Ascher said. Sparrow defines the mural's title as putting a positive spin on the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. "Through art, we speak the same language," he says. "The neighborhood's unique residential architecture and varied population inspired me to present a concept featuring architectural landmarks from throughout the world on a field of blue matching the city flag of Chicago." Landmarks pictured range from the Sydney Opera House and the Taj Mahal to the Eiffel Tower and Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

The mural is painted with exterior house paint with no protective coating. "It's easier to do cleanup if the surface is paint," Sparrow says. So far they have had few problems with graffiti tags on neighborhood murals. Materials and paint for the mural were funded by OIPA. Firefighters from Firehouse 69 blast-cleaned the walls and pillars of the viaduct to provide a proper surface for paint. All work was done by volunteers.

To view the murals on foot, take the CTA Blue Line to the Irving Park/Pulaski stop or Metra/Union Pacific to the Irving Park stop. If you drive, park on Avondale Avenue, just north of Irving Park and east of the Positive Babel mural.

GB store
GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store



A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15