Taste Of Chicago To Feature Chicago Graffiti Artists

CHICAGO (CBS) — Taste of Chicago opens in two weeks, on July 5, and the city offered an appetizer – a preview – of the menu for a lunchtime crowd in Daley Plaza on Wednesday, where there was some talk of a possible exit from Taste by a longtime participant.

This is the third year at Taste for Pilsen’s Dia De Los Tamales – and owner Jeni Wahl – who said she’s happy to be part of the resurgence of Taste of Chicago.

“After it went from 10 days to 5 days and them cutting back on the number of vendors and changing the mentality that a lot of locals have about the event – they’ve worked really hard to kind of give the Taste a new face. And I’ve really enjoyed being a part of that.”

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Jeni Wahl, owner of Dia De Los Tamales. (WBBM/Steve Miller)

And this is the 37th year at Taste for 70-year-old Charles Robinson and his Robinson’s Ribs.

“We’re thinking about maybe cutting back some. We’ve been doing this thing a long time. We’re getting close to the end…I know some of the other folks are leaving Taste of Chicago, and we’re thinking about cutting out as well.

“But we’re going to run the course and see what happens. And pray about it. And hopefully it works itself out and we’ll go from there.”

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Charles Robinson, owner of Robinson’s Ribs. (WBBM/Steve Miller)

WBBM: Do you think this may be your last time at Taste?

“Thinking very seriously about it,” Robinson said.

More than 60 restaurants will be represented at the Taste, and this year will feature something new beyond the food…

Street and graffiti artists will be painting at the Taste.

“I was a vandal. I was a direct vandal,” said Tyrue “Slang” Jones, one of the artists at Taste.

Now 47-years old and a professional artist, but in years past he was a graffiti tagger.

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Artist Tyrue “Slash” Jones. (WBBM/Steve Miller)

“From doing trains dedicated to Harold Washington on the eve of his death to being one of the early pioneers. I was one of the first flight of guys that made Mayor Richard Daley upset,” he said.

That was then. Since then, he’s been a cartoon animator.

And at Taste, he said he will try to engage kids in the art world, and tell them graffiti is not the only way to express yourself.

Taste of Chicago runs July 5-9 in Grant Park. Admission is free.

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Artist Tyrue “Slash” Jones at the Taste of Chicago preview in Daley Plaza (WBBM/Steve Miller)

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