The consequence of a thriving artistic community is not just a plethora of museums and stunning public art installations. Today, Chicago’s street art and graffiti scene is alive and kicking more than ever. With new pieces popping up all over the city every week, there are Chicago murals that have embedded themselves in the fabric of this city. They are now as much part of Chicago’s identity as its iconic sculptures and landmarks.
With more formality and respect from the local community, street art has thrived in Chicago over the last decade. Today, murals do more than provide an extraordinary spectacle for our eyes. They celebrate different heritages, fight for equality, pay homage to icons, and honor the heroes of society.
We’ve rounded up the most unique street art pieces in Chicago, created by notable artists and up-and-coming talent. Here are our favorite Chicago murals and masterpieces.
1. Greetings From Chicago By Victor Ving & Lisa Beggs
The Greetings from Chicago mural is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable Chicago murals. Situated in Logan Square, it was the first official on-the-road ‘postcard mural’ by NYC graffiti artist Victor Ving and Ohio-born photographer Lisa Beggs. The fantastically talented duo have traveled across 20 states in their 24’ ft RV, unveiling over 40 different postcard murals.
The couple spent days sleeping beside the Chicago mural in their RV, guarding the scaffolding at night while painting during the day. To utilize their skills to bring colorful public murals to local communities, their pieces often become highly Instagrammed and highly treasured parts of the city. The Greetings from Chicago mural is one of the most famous postcard murals to date and has brought hometown pride and a memorable landmark for visitors.
Where: 2226 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago
2. Vivian Maier By Eduardo Kobra
A short walk down Milwaukee Ave and into Wicker Park lies another of Chicago’s most famed murals, the Vivian Maier mural. Painted in 2017 by São Paulo-born Eduardo Kobra and facilitated by Beauty and Brawn, it depicts the late Chicago photographer Vivian Maier, whose work only gained notoriety after her death. Falling behind on payments, Maier was forced to auction her negatives, which, years on, would become a viral phenomenon and a much sought-after collector’s item.
The Vivian Maier mural was vandalized in 2019, but residents of Wicker Park stepped in to fund the restoration of this iconic piece of Chicago street art, proving what an essential part of the neighborhood it has become!
Where: 1651 West North Avenue, Chicago
3. Muddy Waters By Eduardo Kobra
Vivian Maier is not the only Chicago personality to be a subject of Kobra’s work. The renowned Brazilian’s work spans 3,000 locations worldwide and is known to create prismatic pieces of unique individuals such as Abraham Lincoln and Bob Marley. Another of these, and one of the most unique murals in Chicago, can be found in State and Washington on N State Street.
The 100 ft mural is another piece born from the collaboration between Beauty & Brawn and Eduardo Kobra and is one of the most recognizable pieces of street art in Chicago. The Muddy Waters mural was painted in Kobra’s typical colorful style during the Big Walls Festival in May of 2016 and celebrates the “father of modern live Chicago blues,” Muddy Waters.
Curators and Co-Producers: Beauty & Brawn
Where: 17 North State Street, Chicago
7. Moose Bubblegum Bubble By Jacob Watts
The Moose Bubblegum Bubble mural might not have the same worldwide recognition as Marilyn Monroe or Michelle Obama, but to residents of Chicago, especially those at Columbia College Chicago’s WAC campus, it is a more than familiar face.
The wonderful art piece is the result of a competition launched by Columbia College Chicago’s WAC Campus in the spring of 2014. Artist Jacob Watts beat off other competition from both students and alumni and was selected as the winner. An enormous recreation of his Moose Bubblegum Bubble was installed on the side of the campus building soon after and is now one of the most photographed murals in Chicago.
Where: 33 E Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60605
8. From Bloom To Doom By Collin Van Der Sluijs
The South Loop campus where the Bubblegum Moose is found is known as the Wabash Arts Corridor, and with good reason! Since Columbia College of Chicago began a community-driven project in 2013, it’s become one of the best places to see street art in Chicago.
Thanks to Chicago’s most talented street artists, intricate life-size pieces and giant murals line the corridor of both huge buildings and small parking lots. Famous artists and young prodigies find their urban canvas in the Wabash corridor, with new pieces appearing weekly.
One of the most remarkable pieces in the Wabash arts corridor is the ‘From Bloom to Doom’ mural by Dutch artist Collin van der Sluijs. The Netherlands-based street artist uses spray paint, acrylics, and ink to slowly build explosive images, frequently showcasing elements of the natural world. His From Bloom to Doom piece in the Wabash Arts Corridor depicts two endangered Illinois birds – the red-headed woodpecker and the yellow-headed blackbird. Colorful flowers surround them in full bloom.
Where: 1006 South Michigan Avenue (North Wall), Chicago
9. Native American Lost In Chicago… By Ella & Pitr
The Native American Lost In Chicago… Dreamin’ mural is one of two large murals by the French duo Ella & Pitr. This incredibly talented combo paints enormous murals of sleeping characters against the sides of buildings, contoured between building blocks, or across rooftops.
Their work is often best viewed from above and uses the colors of the French flag whilst often creating dreary monochromatic images and spotlighting social issues and politics. Ella & Pitr’s murals can be seen on buildings and urbanscapes in Scandinavia, South America, Eastern Europe, and now also here in Chicago.
Where: 527 S Wells Street, Chicago
10. The Last Aztec Emperor By Lopez & Macias
A little way from the Wabash art corridor in the culturally diverse neighborhood of Pilsen, an equally impressive array of murals can be found. Originally settled by Czech immigrants in the 1870s, the Mexican population flourished in Pilsen after many moved in to fill labor shortages in the area.
Today, Latin culture, art, and heritage are thriving in Pilsen. Beautiful, vibrant murals and street art dot the neighborhood, decorating the sides of many bars and restaurants. One such Mexican restaurant, El Popocatepetl Tortilleria boasts a stunning mural that pays homage to the family business and their Mexican heritage.
An original mural displaying the faces of several Pilsen residents, including the tortilla shop’s founder, Ernesto Avina, was painted more than a decade ago for a film being shot in the neighborhood. After it had become damaged by tuckpointing work, owner Julian Rodriguez and his family commissioned a brand new one in 2019.
That’s when wife and husband duo Brenda Lopez and Manuel Macias entered to design the new mural depicting Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec Emperor. Locals were at first horrified to see the original mural being covered until they saw the work of Lopez and Macias and it today is a treasured mural of Pilsen.
Where: 611 S Wells Street, Chicago
11. Alas de Frida By Roberto Valadez
Another Pilsen masterpiece depicts perhaps one of the most famous Mexican icons of all time. Of all of the Pilsen art pieces, the Frida Kahlo with butterfly wings is undoubtedly one of the most striking, so magnetic, in fact that even Frida would have been proud. The mesmerizing image of Frida Kahlo with butterfly wings sits on the side of a Frida-themed Mexican bar and restaurant named Frida Room.
Where: 1713 West 18th Street, Chicago
12. Bear Champ By J.C. Rivera
Most Chicago locals will recognize J.C. Rivera’s notorious Bear Champ, the figure is one of the most well-known pieces of street art in Chicago, having popped up all over the place since Rivera made it his signature stamp.
The mural of Bear Champ eating a slice of pizza in Wicker Park is a fantastic place to get a photo with something synonymous with the Chicago food scene and, at the same time snap one of Chicago’s most renowned street art artists in J.C. Rivera.
Where: 1824 West Division Street, Wicker Park, Chicago.
13. Bird Mask Murals By Sentrock
Another artist whose artwork has long appeared in the city is Joseph Perez, whose street artist name is Sentrock. His signature bird mask over a human figure is today seen all over the city. Resembling the Northern cardinal, Illinois’ state bird, Perez says that the bird mask is meant to evoke freedom and escape while reminding people that “there is always somebody behind it.”
This 240-by-24-feet mural pictured above is located at the Kennedy Expressway in River West on the side of an 11-story luxury apartment that was recently built next to a park. It is one of several Sentrock’s Chicago street art murals that now adorn the building’s exterior.
Where: East side of the Westerly apartments, 740 North Aberdeen Street, Chicago.
14. Bears On Parade By Felix Maldonado
Just under the Brown Line tracks on Ashland and Roscoe lies one of Lakeview’s newest murals courtesy of Felix Maldonado Jr.
The Bears on Parade mural was funded by SSA 27 and is a tribute to Lakeview’s history as a Native American camp and migrant trail path for wildlife.
The background colors were reportedly carefully chosen to represent the sky and water whilst the bears represent life and earth. Upon its unveiling, Felix Maldonado wrote “during turmoil, there are also triumphs.”
Where: 3409 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago
15. Chicago Bears Tribute By Liz Flores
Talking of Bears, from a recent collaboration between the Chicago Truborn “anti” gallery and the Chicago Bears of the National Football League came this stunning new mural by Liz Flores. The Chicago painter’s work has popped up all across Illinois with the prismatic pieces using human forms an unmissable mark of her brilliant work.
This piece, in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, is said to represent the Bears’ connection to the fans, the community, and the city. “The mural features the Bears C in the middle with hands intertwining – a representation of Bears fans’ connection to the team” Liz Flores announced upon finishing the piece.
Where: 4637 North Clifton Avenue, Chicago
16. Delight By Key Detail
The New York-based Belarusian known as Key Detail created a phenomenal piece in 2021. The experienced artist has been around for years and boasts an extensive portfolio of artwork that has been featured in books, in magazines, and found on structures around Europe and the United States.
His latest mural is an immediate classic. As a piece for Chicago’s Mural Festival, Titan Walls, Key Detail came out from New York City to cover the side of this Bucktown building with an incredible graphic mural. According to Titan Walls, “this wall has had ugly brown paint from the buff on it for over 10+ years. A tenant reached out about a mural and gave us the opportunity to add some beautiful artwork to the Bucktown neighborhood.”
Where: 1873 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago3
17. Turquoise Titan By Oscar Joyo
The Malawian-born Chicago-based artist Oscar Joyo is recognized for his distinct electrifying portraiture with color and patterns that radiate outward. His latest mural is also his largest to date and it is another iconic Chicago street mural that can be found down in the B Line.
The Turquoise Titan, like many of Joyo’s pieces, has each eye covered with an “X” creating an enigmatic and enchanting piece. Our gaze is averted from the windows of the subject and, like other Joyo artwork, there is something about it that we can never understand. In Oscar’s words, the message is that nobody can “colonize a vision.”
Where: 426 N Peoria Street, Chicago
18. In Dreams By Jennifer Cronin
Up in Roger’s Park on Ravenswood and Farwell, there has been a phenomenal mural by Chicago-based artist Jennifer Cronin for over a decade. “In Dreams” was created by Cronin and artist Dan Bellini during the 2010 Mass Underpass Murals competition and is a must-see for mural hunters.
Like much of her work, this piece is an other-worldly mural of mesmerizing realism that pulls you in with its elegance and detail. According to Cronin, the piece resembles “the infinite capacity of the human mind and imagination to dream up something beautiful.”
Where: Ravenswood and Farwell, Chicago
19. El Sueño By Nicole Salgar
The subject of this stunning Chicago mural by Nicole Salgar is Priya Shah – an artist, model, author, social entrepreneur, TEDx Speaker, and the founder of “The Simple Good.” As a non-profit organization The Simple Good runs programs that seek to bring positivity into communities through art and discussion while empowering youth to become change-makers and mindful leaders in the future. Nicole Salgar’s prismatic mural honors Priya Shah and the work she does for the local community.
Where: 401 North Racine, Chicago
20. Colorful Crows By Czr Prz
Nestled within 30 shipping containers on a West Loop corner, you will find Chicago’s unique Recess hideout, a cozy amalgamation of bars, food stands, and cabana houses within a 14,500 -square-foot space that holds the title of the largest patio in Chicago.
Covering the inside and outside of the shipping containers that define this snug sanctuary is an array of prismatic street art murals. Many could make the list; the fusion of plant life, industrial canvases, and vibrant murals make for some fantastic views if the truth is told. The Colorful Crows piece that Czr Prz did for Titan Walls is our pick of the bunch through a visit to Recess, and you’ll find a range of fantastic pieces that exemplify the caliber of street art in Chicago.
Where: 875 West Kinzie Street, Chicago.
21. Jennifer Hudson By Chris Devins
Chris Devins’ Jennifer Hudson mural in Chatham honors one of Chicago’s most celebrated daughters. The successful and philanthropic actress and singer is, like Michelle Obama, today synonymous with our city and thus has often appeared in street art in Chicago.
Devins’ work is known to focus on identity and “the role it plays in a neighborhood’s economic and social viability.” As an artist and urban planner, Devins takes part in local projects all over Chicago’s south side. The Hudson mural in Chatham is one of many shows of pride the neighborhood has for its most famous alumni.
Where: 79th and Evans in Chatham, Chicago
22. Sol Rise By Mauricio Ramirez
One of the newest pieces of exceptional street art in Chicago is part of a new range of murals at Pilsen Flats. Of all the new brilliant murals, Mauricio Ramirez’s Sol Rise is, for us, the most breathtaking. Born in Illinois, Ramirez has painted dozens of colorful murals across the Midwest and the United States. His murals feature bold geometric shapes and colors with fragmented designs that often celebrate diversity and the intimacies of cultural characteristics within neighborhoods.
In Ramirez’s own words, this mural is “visually, one BIPOC female individual is the central focus of the viewer, with a strong gaze. One looks off into the future – the imagined potential and beyond, and the other directly addresses the viewer as if to beckon an interaction – demanding both recognition and an emotional exchange. The seemingly average woman, perhaps a sibling, neighbor, or teacher, is uplifted – elevated by her monumental scale and the halo surrounding her face.”
Curators and Producers: The Mural Movement
Where: 15th and Racine, Chicago
Hunting down the great pieces of Chicago street art is a rewarding experience any time of the year, but for the most informative experience, you can join an expert and learn all about its history with the Offbeat Street Art Tour of Chicago: Urban Graffiti and Murals. There is certainly no shortage of extraordinary Chicago murals!
Please note: Any artists, facilitators, or photographers who would like specific accreditation, please get in touch.