Walk along Pilsen’s 16th Street, a showcase for the neighborhood’s public art, and you will see walls filled with years of eye-catching bright colors and artistic, cultural expression. You also will find crude graffiti tags on every other mural.
Recently, just two blocks to the south on 18th Street, two murals with strikingly positive messages — “Declaration of Immigration” and “Amor y Comunidad’’ — were vandalized and tagged with graffiti.
Graffiti vandalism has always been a problem, as you might expect, but it has become even more of a problem since the start of the pandemic. And while we have no particular words of wisdom about how to fend off such attacks — this is hardly a matter easily addressed by the police — we want to call attention to the desecration, if only to prick the conscience of those doing the desecrating.
Mural art in Chicago has a long, honorable and often politically potent history of lifting up communities and giving them a voice. The best murals over the decades have introduced us to successive generations of accomplished Chicago artists.
To trash a mural is self-defeating. The best murals speak for those who have it hardest.