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. 


Thursday, February 29

Gapers Block

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


Ramsin / February 15, 2004 6:45 PM

Easy! The infamous "Jimmy Carter" who tags up River North.

Cinnamon / February 15, 2004 9:40 PM

Naw, man! I'm giving mad props to "Made You Look" who roams freely along the red line in Uptown.

Andrew / February 15, 2004 10:59 PM

I'm fond of "etc."

Naz / February 16, 2004 12:10 AM

There used to be this amazing panoramic of a castle with Casper-like ghosts set against grey stone, on the westside of the red line going south somewhere between Thorndale and Argyle (it's been a while since I've lived up north) and it was beautiful. It was on the back of a strip mall or wide building which you only could see from the train. It's not there anymore which is a shame.

Ian / February 16, 2004 8:04 AM

Swis. Without a doubt.

Alice / February 16, 2004 8:22 AM

Mage of NME whose stencils of John Belushi are hitting the streets of Chicago.

Craig / February 16, 2004 9:17 AM

I feel like most tags are aesthetically half-baked and ill-placed, but stencil graffiti is my thing. There are some nice stencils around E-town, most notably a 1800's looking fellow with a handlebar moustache stenciled on a viaduct on Church Ave. Sadly it's gone now. Chicago needs a Banksy.

Naz / February 16, 2004 9:49 AM

Speaking of stencils (which I greatly enjoy as well), I took these two in December: 01,02.

There's a ton more at Stencil Revolution.

Joe / February 16, 2004 10:51 AM

Mayor Daley of course! I like the big Xs he drew on the runways at Megis.

jennifer / February 16, 2004 12:02 PM

In a city that sandblasts graffiti away almost as soon as it's put up, I've not seen anything in recent memory that has really struck me.

alicia / February 16, 2004 1:00 PM

i like the graffiti all around my block indicating which gang territory i live in. i especially like the artfully done piece on a sign right in front of my house which has been partially covered up by a rival gang with something that indicates the other gang will be DOA soon; can't wait to get caught in that crossfire. i bet my neighbor really likes the graffiti on his garage door that he keeps removing and the gangs just keep reapplying. he has lived in the neighborhood (augusta and ashland) for over 15 years and he works hard to keep his corner clean of debris and snow. he is a nice, hardworking, family guy.

this post just reminded me that i've been meaning to call 311 to report graffiti in my neighborhood so that the city will come wipe it clean once again. yeah, i'm a busybody!

Ramsin / February 16, 2004 6:13 PM

Alicia- I'm not a fan of grafiti, either, to be truthful. Although much of it is aesthetically pleasing, the vast majority is dangerous and I feel no pity for a "graf writer" who gets a huge ticket if it means eradicating gang graffiti all together. Anybody whose been to Europe will tell you that unchecked graf writing leads to ugly, dirty-looking cities.

But the guy who just prints "Jimmy Carter"--that's hilarious.

jennifer / February 16, 2004 7:25 PM

I was thinking about this question when I was walking around the city today, and realized that a chunk of the reason that I like NYC is the graffiti I see there, especially in Brooklyn. I like that it's considered an artform there. I like walking past the old factories-cum-lofts that display these beautiful tags and murals on whole walls; on everything really. I wish we had more of that here. Everytime I see a Graffiti Blaster van driving around, I get a little upset.

More on topic, there's some great tags of Smurfs on the southside that are visible from the Orange Line.

armaghetto / February 16, 2004 8:09 PM

I'm forced to agree with Alicia. My hometown is arguably the biggest gang-related crime area in California outside of LA. Graffiti for me holds negative connotations of gang teritory and threats. In a particularly notorious housing project, the city contracted a mural of Aztec & prominent Latino themes (Cesar Chavez, Pancho Villa, etc) to be painted on a wall that was essentially a gang billboard. That particular wall wasn't touched for over 5 years.

I have seen some pretty interesting "graffiti", but genuine expressions of creativity don't seem to be in the same category as "Somos Norteņos, chinga los scrapa Sureņos" in black spray-paint. I hate to label them as the same thing.

And with that, I link you the B3ta thread on Graffiti:

daruma / February 16, 2004 10:00 PM

Uh yeah...isn't that illegal?

Craig / February 17, 2004 9:45 AM

It all comes down to the motivation for the graffiti-- to mark territory (tagging) or to create street-art.

By the way Chicago's own "You Are Beautiful" have updated since I had last been there:

alicia / February 17, 2004 10:07 AM

while i agree that there is a lot of very artistic graffiti out there and there is a huge difference between tagging and painting graffiti, i still think graffiti (even visually appealing graffiti) should be discouraged. someone owns the property where the graffiti was painted and it usually isn't the one doing the painting. in the case of graffiti on public property, the public has to pay for the city to clean it up.

i like the story about the city of LA contracting a mural where a gang billboard of tagging and graffiti used to be. personally, i think more stuff like that, city sanctioned graffiti, would be nice though. then it ends up where people agree it should end up.

Brenda / February 17, 2004 10:24 AM

I live around the corner from the Montrose stop on the brown line, and at the end of my block there's a pizza place with a nice big brick wall facing the street.

Instead of fending off graffiti artists, the owner (who is the parent of teenagers himself) pays a handful of kids to paint their art on his wall about twice a year. It's great seeing them work, and work together. They find a way to combine their ideas and their art on the wall, even though they are usually very disparate. And no one ever tags it after it's painted.

He's one smart pizza place owner.

Andrew / February 17, 2004 10:33 AM

I know the pizza place you're talking about, Brenda. It all got started a few years ago when Powerade, the sports drink, paid the pizza place to allow them to put up a graffiti mural featuring the Powerade logo. I'm guessing that when the contract was up, the owner decided to let the local kids have at it.

There are a number of businesses around town that have commissioned (or at least consented to) murals -- there's an auto shop at Clark and Pratt that has a huge stylized dragon on the back and a Mexican flag on the side.

Naz / February 17, 2004 11:13 AM

You Are Beautiful is awesome. It's a friend of a friend's project (whose identities I will not reveal). It's popped up in other cities now too.

Joseph J. Finn / February 17, 2004 4:29 PM

The one who doesn't.

Shylo / February 17, 2004 7:22 PM

You know what grafitti artists I hate? Those Goddamned kids around the corner with their chalk. Hopscotch, my ass! They're all on the rock!

armaghetto / February 17, 2004 7:45 PM

Get offa Shylo's lawn, goddammit!

Kate / February 17, 2004 10:04 PM

I'm generally with the people who are against graffiti, since in my (DC) neighborhood graffiti tags are usually gang territory markers and they tend to be the prelude to drive-by shootings. However, there's one graffito near my Metro stop which is worth noting. It's on a plywood mural which screens a vacant lot/future construction site from the sidewalk. The mural clearly was done by community members, probably including a lot of teenagers. It shows a lot of people of all colors (purple, green) dancing, and above and below them are the names of dances: salsa, mambo, paso cumbia, etc. The graffito, clearly added after the fact, just says "KOREAN FAN DANCE."

Claire / February 18, 2004 8:54 AM

I don't know if he still tags but it's got to be "Beer," who seemed to have his name on every building when I used to ride the El from E-town to Belmont back in high school.

GB store

Recently on Fuel

Urban Ethos [26]
What is Chicago's "urban ethos"?

Cool Glass of... [16]
What're you drinking?

Supreme Decision [22]
What's your reaction to the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act?

Taking it to the Streets [20]
Chicago Street Fairs: Revolting or Awesome?

I Can Be Cruel [9]
Be real: what is the meanest thing you've ever done?

View the complete archive

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15