Illinois has all kinds of natural beauty to be enjoyed, from state parks to lakefront to farmland. It also has some of the most impactful and breathtaking street art around. There are so many murals, sculptures, and sidewalk drawings throughout Illinois' landscape that it's hard to pick just a select few. In no particular order, here's a list of only 10 to begin with; we'd love to hear about the ones we missed! What are your favorite pieces of Illinois street art? Let us know in the comments below!
10. The Hippie Memorial: Arcola, Illinois
Bob Moomaw, an Arcola native, worked as a tax assessor and railroad clerk until he died at the age of 62. Throughout his life, he would write inflammatory messages in front of his home (an example being "America you're turning into a nation of minimum-wage hamburger flippers. Rebel. Think for yourself. It works"); he was known for being a bit of a town crank. Near the end of his life, he made this memorial. It runs 62 feet long, one foot for every year of his life starting with the Great Depression on the far left. The center focuses on the "hippie age" in the 60s and 70s. The memorial serves as a timeline of history along with a message from Moomaw himself: "As my life passed through time, other people's junk stuck to me and made me what I am - the product of leftovers from a previous existence."
9. Increíble Las Cosas Que Se Ven (Oh, The Things You'll See): Chicago, Illinois
In this Jeff Zimmerman mural, the Hispanic culture of Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood is practically brought to life from its brick-surface canvas. Zimmerman highlights three important aspects of the growing Hispanic minority in this Chicago neighborhood--education, career, and religion. From the stoic physicality of Lady Guadalupe on the right to the depiction of Oscar Romero and Cesar Chavez on the left, these three panels provided Hispanic Chicago residents the voice to speak out about their struggles and triumphs through Illinois street art.
8. Faces of East Bluff: Peoria, Illinois
Photographer Keith Cotton went on a mission to capture the lives of the residents of East Bluff. Through this collection of black-and-white portraits, he has done just that: Cotton managed to represent an entire community within the confines of a single work of art. Different careers, personalities, and ages are displayed in this beautiful mural, highlighting all the variety within this thriving town.
7. Darwin's Playground: Champaign, Illinois
Tony Tasset's sculptures at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign were originally called "the blobs," however the now-formally-called "Darwin's Playground" sculptures are actually much more deep in meaning. The child-like creativity and malleability of the work represents biologists' constant progression towards new ideas and new solutions. The art symbolizes how biologists and other scientists in the natural scientists are able to alter and even create life.
6. Ottawa Pride Mural: Ottawa, Illinois
This realistic mural in the heart of Ottawa captures a moment in time for Illinois history and its residents. The piece depicts people from all walks of life, all full of pride and enthusiasm on their 1950's decade celebration. When the modern-day citizens walk past the mural, the two time periods are reflected in each other. Today, and 65 years before today, become one in a blurred image of two cultures overlapping. This is a symbol that, no matter how far American society and culture advances, we are still part of a common American history and therefore we share a set of core values that ties us all together.
5. Young Abe Lincoln Mural: Springfield, Illinois
This pixel painting of Abraham Lincoln walking down a tree-lined road completely transforms this run-down, gritty wall into a striking work of art. The mural of the Illinois native US President is rightfully situated in the heart of the Illinois capital and it stands as a symbol of everything Lincoln represents: honesty, justice, and persistence. This hidden gem just northwest of the Old State Capitol is sure to wow anyone looking for a regular parking spot in an empty lot!
4. Giant Lady Shoe: Belleville, Illinois
They say portions come in larger sizes in America, right? This road-trip favorite draws the attention of every person who comes into contact with it. The giant shoe is not only exciting for the fact that it is indeed a giant shoe, but it's also laced in a gorgeous sampling of colors that beautify itself and its surroundings. The arched sun on the back of the heel paired with the checkered pattern on the stiletto heel itself make for a striking piece of art for anyone in the Belleville area.
Check out three more eye-catching pieces of street art throughout the Prairie State at Reboot Illinois, including one mural that makes it appear that a hole to the ocean has just opened up on the sidewalk.
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