A wall dedicated to the late Chicago house music pioneer Frankie Knuckles lasted 415 days in Logan Square. The tribute wall was easily seen from the Blue Line between the California and Logan Square stations—until last night, when half of Knuckles’s spray painted face was covered.
“They came around with buffs and buffed the Frankie Knuckles wall,” said longtime Logan Square graffiti artist FLASH ABC of the Artistic Bombing Crew, whose Project Logan site chronicles graffiti projects in the neighborhood. “I saw brown [paint] on the wall . . . . It was city brown.”
The Knuckles mural, which went up three months after the Chicago DJ died at the age of 59 in March 2014, is set to be completely covered by Saturday. But FLASH was only half right—the wall is being covered not with paint but with a nearly inch-thick layer of brown cement.
There wasn’t any way around covering the mural, according to Eric Merlos, owner of X-it European Clothing, the shop that occupies the building where the permission wall is located.
“If it weren’t for the water damage, I’d have no problem keeping it up for a longer period of time,” Merlos said. “But the intent was never to have it up for a long period of time.”
The water damage isn’t obvious at first, but it’s clearly a problem when paired with the constant vibration of the adjacent Blue Line trains, which roll past within feet of the Knuckles wall. Downstairs in the shop, a trail of water marks leads to a hole in the roof, where Merlos says water pours in on rainy days.
The layer of cement covering the Knuckles wall is part of a string of maintenance repairs around the building meant to seal the shop’s walls.
“This to me was more about Frankie Knuckles, but the wall had its 15 minutes of fame,” said Merlos, a longtime neighborhood shop owner and an early Logan Square Mega Mall vendors. People from as far away as Europe came to have their photos taken with the mural, he said. It also kept taggers from targeting the building; the wall hasn’t been hit with graffiti since the Knuckles tribute went up, Merlos said.
The local street artists behind the Knuckles tribute have launched a GoFundMe to recreate the mural.