In June 2011, a 6-story "billboard" graphic appeared on the side of the Stevens building (built in 1912) located at State and Madison in Chicago's Loop. In large black letters, against a yellow background, it exhorted, "Go Do Good." I thought President George H.W. Bush's 1,000 Points of Light was a more creative slogan, but it makes essentially the same point that artist Kay Rosen was making with her black and yellow mural. It seems Rosen was trying to use simplicity to add emphasis to her message.
Well the citizens of Chicago must have succeeded in doing good things, because the "Go Do Good" mural has been replaced by a colorful portrait of Chicago Blues icon Muddy Waters created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra and three assistants. The paint and the rigging are paid for by Marc Realty, the current owner of the Steven building.
To me, the new painting is a far more appropriate image for the space and the city. Although, I might have preferred a more subtle depiction of Muddy. It instantly brings to mind Muddy's controversial 1968 album on Chess Records entitled Electric Mud. Muddy did not need to go psychedelic. He was the one who paved the path that made a lot of the rock music of the late Sixties possible. But there still is some merit to album: It is one of the first blues albums I recall, as I am sure is true of many kids who grew up in the suburbs and came of age in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Without it, I probably would not own the imported box set of every recording made by Muddy for Chess.
Enjoy Muddy while you can. No date has been set a replacement installation, but the low-rise building on the corner that houses the Gap was purchased in 2011 by Georgetown Co, a New York developer for $35 million. Plans apparently are to construct a high-rise on the site, with some speculating in 2011 that construction would begin sometime after 2017.
The Muddy mural is part of a public art project spearheaded by Columbia College under the monikor, Wabash Arts Corridor. The hope is to create an arts district in the south Loop.
This photograph was made from the 4th floor of the Block 37 mixed-used structure on State State. I was looking southeast from the AMC theatre.
Copyright 2016, Jack B. Siegel. All Rights Reserved