When the longtime graffiti-artist “hotspot” on the backside of the headquarters of legendary architectural photographers Hedrich Blessing started a serpentine threat to devour the entire building, the firm’s partners decided to commission a mural of their own, in hopes that the taggers of the city would respect it and turn their attention elsewhere. Instead of Graffiti Blasters, they’d be graffiti masters.
They reached out for assistance to Nick Marzullo of street-art specialists Pawn Works Gallery. With Belgian street artist ROA in the country to promote his work in a high-profile Los Angeles museum show, Marzullo was able to convince him to add Chicago to his itinerary.
ROA flew in on May 21 for a three-day stay and put up the Hedrich-Blessing mural as well as other pieces throughout the city. Local artists assisted in putting up his freehand mural while spectators sat and watched while fixing their bikes or eating lunch. Pawn Works believes that putting up murals from artists such as ROA not only fosters “high quality art in Chicago” but also creates an opportunity for businesses to decrease the tags on their buildings. According to Hedrich Blessing managing partner Jon Miller, “Two weeks later there has been no sign of graffiti on the building. Only time will tell but I feel it is safe to say that the project has been a success. We are proud to have been able to help resolve a problem in our neighborhood while also supporting the local arts community and carrying on Chicago’s great legacy as a truly international city.” (Elizabeth Kossnar)
Check out the two ROA murals in Chicago located on the back of Hedrich Blessing Photographers, 400 North Peoria, and off Milwaukee at Prindiville Street by the train tracks near the California Blue-Line stop.