I must admit that just a few years ago, I did not know a whole lot about street and urban art in Chicago. I did not know the history or who were the main protagonists. However, since I met graffiti legend Mario “ZORE” Gonzalez Jr a couple years ago, I have come to learn, appreciate and admire these hard working artists. Many of them are now the subject of a major show that opens Friday, January 18th at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. Mario not only is an important figure in the urban style but also is the key player who helped gather all these wonderful artists for the exhibition. As the curator of “Has Beens & Wannabes”, Mario Gonzalez highlights the work of 21 artists who trace their careers back to the 80’s and 90’s tagging in the streets of Chicago. They are back together under one roof showcasing their artistic talent for the first time in many years.
To my surprise, there were a number of artists who I personally knew but I had no idea that they were associated with this group. In part because they tagged under their graffiti names. One example is Jesus “Chucho” Rodriguez whom I met when I finished High School and I lived in Joliet, Illinois many years back. I was exited to see his name in the curatorial selection. To say the least, I am very excited to see these artists been finally welcomed and celebrated in Chicago for who they are and for the work they currently do. Stay tuned for many other similar shows to come up this year around the city of Chicago in venues such as the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago Cultural Center and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Has Beens & Wannabes artists:
Mario Gonzalez Jr
Additionally, do not miss Mario’s own solo exhibition at 33 Contemporary Gallery. “Style Bombing” will show simultaneously with “Has Beens and Wannabes” at the Zhou B Art Center and it will feature all new works by Mario. Following his solo exhibition, Mario heads the road again with planned stops in San Francisco, Miami, Gwangju (Korea), Bangkok, Baja Mexico, Minneapolis, Wiesbaden, Vienna, Rome and then back in Chicago at the end of the summer.
It has been my pleasure to work with Mario and collaborating in his rising art career. Cheers to them all!