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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.
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Art Fri Oct 11 2013

Hebru Brantley's Superheroes Keep Watch at Pioneer Court for Chicago Ideas Week

Do you love those colorful, childlike figures that are installed in Pioneer Court Plaza? The 16 figures, known as The Watch, were created by Chicago artist Hebru Brantley for Chicago Ideas Week. Brantley is Chicago Ideas Week 2013 Artist in Residence.


Photo by Kristie Kahns.

The figures, brightly colored and at first glance humorous, represent the failures and successes that teenagers face in their neighborhoods. Brantley was inspired by conversations with Chicago public high school students to create the installation in a public space to stimulate dialogue and community revitalization.

The figures are goggle-wearing child superheroes that pay homage to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviators who fought for the US in World War II. Two of the figures, Fly Boy and Fly Girl, are Brantley's protagonists and appear often in his comic paintings and sculptures inspired by street artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.

Brantley said of his work, "It's my goal that this piece, and all of my artwork, provokes discourse, generating conversations in a public context that will counter media stereotypes and spur transformation and growth within individuals and in the larger communities in Chicago and beyond."

The Chicago Ideas Week Artist in Residence program, underwritten by Nancy and Steve Crown, is designed to expose emerging local artists to the Chicago community.

The Watch will be on display at Pioneer Court Plaza, 401 N. Michigan Ave., until the end of Chicago Ideas Week. Brantley will participate in other Ideas Week events, including the October 20 discussion on the creative process. For more information about his work, visit

Chicago Ideas Week takes place October 14-20, with 200 speakers on dozens of topics; for more information, visit the website or Facebook.

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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 »


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