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North Side Murals: Living 2007

By Laura M. Browning in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 4, 2010 6:00PM

Chicago murals may have their spiritual home in Hyde Park and Pilsen, but North Side neighborhoods aren’t slacking. This week we visited Living 2007, the three-year-old bricolage (a multi-media art work) on the viaduct at Bryn Mawr and Lake Shore Drive.

Although this mural-mosaic feels less organic than some of its South Side cousins, it still maintains the spirit of community organizing common to Chicago murals; nearly 30 schoolchildren “apprentices” worked with artists to smash tile and apply it to the wall to form a bicycle, a woman practicing Tai Chi, and other simple scenes of daily life. If you stand and watch the murals a while, the mirrors look like marquee lights as the sun changes or when cars zoom past.

Although spectacular from a distance, the best parts of this bricolage are in the details. Spend some time up close, walking back and forth: historic photographs, newspaper clippings, and even flyers from community events have all been imprinted on tiles. One tile carries a Carl Sandburg quote: “Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.” Another shows schoolchildren cementing the tile to the viaduct wall. Tiles are scattered throughout the mural that were hand-painted by children in the community--there's a tile with a steaming cuppa joe, one with the family dogs, and even one with an iPod painted on it. It’s a time capsule outlined in disco ball mirrors, a love letter to Edgewater, past and future.