Local

Your Chicago: Ornate Underpass Murals

The Chicago Public Art Group creates murals on underpasses. (CBS)

The Chicago Public Art Group creates murals on underpasses. (CBS)

Rob Johnson Rob Johnson
Rob Johnson is the weekday anchor of the CBS 2 Chicago evening...
Read More
Featured & Trending:

Latest News Headlines:

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Have you seen the elaborate, ornate murals at more and more underpasses around Chicago?

Who makes them, and how are they made?

CBS 2’s Rob Johnson reports.

The mosaics are stunning. You can find them decorating the walls of many underpasses along Lake Shore Drive. One at Foster Avenue celebrates Native Americans. Under Bryn Mawr, it’s all about life in Edgewater. The most recently completed, at Belmont Avenue, is called “Rhythm and Views.”

It’s the vision of the Chicago Public Art Group, which started off 40 years ago painting modest murals to cover unattractive concrete underpasses.

“It’s part of the world we all live in and they’re ugly. When you’re looking at them you think, ‘Wait a minute, what else could this be?’” director Jon Pounds says.

Now they build detailed mosaics with all sorts of materials, such as tiles and mirrored glass to keepsakes like photos.

Community input is key in the design process. Each mosaic costs roughly $100,000, paid for with aldermanic money as well as donations from art lovers and community groups.

“On one hand, it’s not cheap, but on the other hand, if you look at the hours that are put in,” Pounds says.

Artists like Tracy van Duinen, one of the lead artists on the several of these projects, say it is also a labor of love. They enlist the help of other artists, kids, and families on each project putting up piece by piece.

“It’s a process where anyone walking by can do it. It makes it really easy for a family to come and say ‘Can we put some things up there?’” he says.

The latest project is being built right now near Oak Street Beach, but it is under wraps by the city.