What the wall? Artisans Stoneworks mural

The sale of spray paint was outlawed by city ordinance. Hundreds of dollars of paint are needed for each coverage of the Artisan Stoneworks wall

The sale of spray paint was outlawed by city ordinance. Hundreds of dollars of paint are needed for each coverage of the Artisan Stoneworks wall. Credit: Patrick Boylan

Is there a difference between graffitti and a mural when the style of art is the same? In a survey complete earlier this year The Bulldog found relatively few examples of criminal damage done to buildings on main streets in Ravenswood by graffitti.

Summer brought more graffitti to more of the neighborhood. However the city has worked hard to clean graffitti. Ald Dick Mell (D-Irving Park) was among the key sponsors of ordinances aimed at reducing graffitti and remains an opponent of graffitti.

Ald Eugene Schulter (D-North Center) was a key sponsor of other ordinances aimed at beautifying the city.

And, the Ravenswood area is relatively free of gangs.

This all contributes to a community that is not harrassed by graffitti and tags. If the idea that a broken window on a street contributes to the impression the street and neighborhood are in decay, the aggressive stance of political leaders and the ward supers is keeping the area free of what everyone admits is a property crime.

Earlier this year The Bulldog caught up with a group of mural artists working on the Artisans Stoneworks mural, 3628 N Western Ave. The group of young adults were repainting the south wall, facing the Wendy’s parking lot.

For understandable reasons they asked that they not be named in this story.

As they discuss in the video with this story, the wall is repainted about once a month until the weather makes that impossible.

The accompanying video has some of their words for what they are doing.

They made the point that there are key differences between their work and tagging done by individuals and gangs. There are examples of such destruction in the video.

A key difference is that the owner of Artisan Stoneworks has encouraged the use of the wall for these artists. The artists we talked to said that the precence of this wall has sharply reduced overall graffitti in the Ravenswood area because people who want to do graffitti art have a place to do it.

They asked the community to make other walls available for similar projects.

Is it art? Is it destruction? Should the community encourage murals like Artisan Stoneworks?

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Patrick Boylan

About Patrick Boylan

Patrick grew up near LaFollette Park on the West Side. He contends that the very best Italian beef sandwiches are made on the West Side and has a strange love of the flat pizza from that part of the city. Patrick led The Bulldog to win seven journalism awards in 2011, including four awards to Patrick as a solo or a team member. He is very proud of The Dog's coverage of politics and schools in the neighborhood. Patrick wrote for the Times of Northwest Indiana as a stringer covering Cook County Government, for the Chicago Tribune as a stringer on the Chicago Wolves and for ChicagoNow as a writer before starting The Dog. He wrote for four years for ChiTownDailyNews.org as a media commentator and spent about 20 years in operations at city newspapers, including nine years as owner of his own distribution company. Prior to that he spent about nine years in public relations. Patrick has a Masters degree from the University of Colorado. He attended Eastern Illinois University for undergrad and Weber High School and St. Peter Canisius grammar school. The two-flat he owns was built in 1912 and has never been featured, to his knowledge, in any major motion pictures despite having a way-cool garden. Patrick purchased the property in 1994 and "couldn't afford to buy it now." His daughter is a college student in California. He lives in the house with his wife, Jane, and two cats who often sit in on his phone interviews.

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