Pilsen is known for its beautiful murals, but look closely and you might see some of the 1960s paint chipping off of cement walls. Alderman Danny Solis, who’s represented the 25th Ward since 1996, noticed the deterioration as well as the unsactioned graffiti in the hood and decided it needed fixing up, even if it would cost him money out of his own pocket.
Solis’s $13,000 launched a program called Art in Public Spaces, an antivandalism initiative that’s intended to control and limit defacement of public property. The program also pairs artists from all over the country with local artists to restore existing works and produce new ones, said Solis advisor Lauren Pacheco, who came up with the project. The artists work with homeowners and small-business owners whose properties have been defaced by graffiti to cover it with new art. Twenty-five murals have been completed since the start of the program in April. Pacheco says the alderman plans to designate some aldermanic menu funds and TIF money for the program.
Mayor Daley spent millions on costly and ineffective graffiti blasters, but 20-year Pilsen resident and former Pros Arts street art instructor Adriana Fraga said the Art in Public Space program will be different. “I think people will respect it—all the time and effort you see people put into it, they’re not gonna want to mess that up.”
Solis is sponsoring a trolley to showcase the progress of the Pilsen murals on October 20-21 as part of Chicago Artists Month.