The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) in collaboration with the Department of Assets, Information and Services (AIS) recently announced new public artworks on the Chicago Riverwalk – including a mural celebrating 100 years of Art Deco by artist Kate Lynn Lewis and portraits of Chicagoans by street muralist Dont Fret. Guests to the Riverwalk are required to wear a face covering and practice social distancing.
“The new artworks on the Riverwalk continue Chicago’s rich tradition of murals and public art,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of DCASE. “These commissions support local artists and enrich our second waterfront, as Chicago welcomes visitors – and residents – back to our city, safely and responsibly.”
Located at the Riverwalk’s Community Marketplace west of Michigan Avenue, the newly completed mural The Radiance of Being, designed and painted by Chicago-based artist Kate Lynn Lewis, celebrates 100 years of Art Deco architecture. Spanning over 180 feet tall on two levels, the lead artist and an all-female crew completed the mural over six weeks. In the artist’s own illustrative style, the scene is composed of motifs from some of Chicago’s Art Deco buildings, including the Chicago Motor Club, the St. Jane, One N. LaSalle, 10 W. Elm St., the Palmolive Building, the Palmer House, the Adler Planetarium and many others. A nearby mural on one of the Riverwalk interior walls shows a map of where these buildings can be found in the city.
“Having the opportunity to give back to the city that has developed me as an artist and a person has been the experience of a lifetime,” said artist Kate Lynn Lewis. “The Riverwalk is surrounded on all angles by art deco architecture, so it felt like a great opportunity to expound on the immersive experience of painting a deco collage inspired by motifs found in the area. I love that this experience is just one of countless examples of how Chicago has invested in the creative culture that makes it so beautifully unique.”
The Confluence, the Chicago Riverwalk’s most western point near Lake Street, will become home for a series of 55 portraits of Chicagoans by street artist Dont Fret later this month. Created by one of Chicago’s most visible street artists – Dont Fret, The People in Your Neighborhood will offer a microcosmic reflection of scrappy and hard-working Chicagoans found throughout the city, each portrayed with Fret’s inimitable documentarian flair.
“There are certain character traits that I think define a true Chicagoan. Tough, full-browed with a sense of ingenuity and midwestern humbleness, but always toiling, working, moving forward with an almost absurd laugh and grin about this crazy, wonderful city,” said Dont Fret. “I was asked to paint 55 portraits of Chicagoans who I think contribute to the hard work that defines our city, although it can only scratch the surface of the millions of stories moving through our streets. These are the people in your neighborhood.”
These new artworks will complement several installations that were added to the Riverwalk last year. Between the below…, a series of five intricate and colorful banners by Kingston-born multimedia artist Ebony Patterson, hang at the Riverwalk on Wacker Drive, just east of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Known for her drawings, tapestries, videos, sculptures and installations that involve surfaces layered with flowers, glitter, lace and beads, Patterson is an associate professor in painting at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.
Nearby under the Columbus Avenue Bridge, artist Alberto Aguilar’s Echo Hecho Fresco was also added to the Riverwalk in 2019. The zigzag pattern made with CDOT traffic paint is intended to reflect the constant movement of people through the tunnel, cars on the bridge above, boats below and river flowing beside.
The award-winning Chicago Riverwalk, a 1.25-mile promenade through the heart of downtown, has quickly become one of the city’s most popular destinations for art, music, dining and the enjoyment of natural habitats, beloved by Chicagoans and visitors alike. The Riverwalk is managed by the AIS with programming from DCASE. Access to the space is free and open to the public daily from 6am–11pm. Under the City’s phased reopening, the Community Marketplace is set to open July 17. Face coverings and physical distancing are required for all visitors. Vendor details are available by visiting www.chicagoriverwalk.us.
Chicago is currently in Phase 4 (Gradually Resume), allowing for additional businesses and public amenities to open with limited capacities and appropriate safeguards. For more information and updates on the City’s response to COVID-19, text COVID19 to 78015, email [email protected] or visit chicago.gov/coronavirus.