Smile Politely

A Mural, A Mural, and a Few More Murals, part two: Even More Murals

All the way back in January, I wrote a column pontificating on a number of my favorite murals here in Champaign-Urbana. Well I’m back with more murals and more opinions about them, so buckle in. Oh, and definitely don’t start thinking that these murals are just the “B Team;” a bunch of painted walls that didn’t make the cut to get into my first column. I mean, that is technically true of some of them, but that just means I’ve had months to think about them and engage with their themes and artistic messages you know?

Anyhow, to start things off, I’ve got something possibly controversial.

Is it a mural? Is it a sculpture? Surely we can agree that it is a menacing hybrid of both. The T-Rex on the South side of Dallas and Co. is a really magnificent piece of mixed media. Is it enough of a mural to be on this list? You bet your butt it is, and when I write a column about local sculptures, this dino will be on that as well!

You may be thinking “oh, this is just a rad dinosaur.” But you’re wrong, there’s a lot to unpack here. Like, what is this T-Rex’s name? Is this THE Dallas? Or perhaps this is “Co.” (Short for Colin? Colleen?). 

Colleen the T-Rex is clearly trying to escape from some empty blue room. Why blue I wonder? Presumably the blue room is empty because Colleen has devoured everything in there and is hungry for MORE.

On campus, on the North side of the Espresso Royale on Daniel St. there is another mural by the same artist (or at least the painting parts of Colleen are by the same person).

Immediately, you see the similarities between the pieces, though while Colleen is tearing through a wall, this wall has already been busted down. Is there a narrative here? Were Colleen and this dog just chilling in this nice apartment when suddenly Colleen was like “I’ve just remembered I need to be somewhere!” and then smashed through the wall? Maybe animal control came to take Colleen away and she jumped through the wall. Only to be captured and put in the blue room. We see how well that went for animal control though. Either way, Couch Dog doesn’t seem to mind at all.

I bet it will be difficult to rent out this apartment with that massive hole in the wall though. This property manager probably won’t let people bring dinosaurs over after this debacle.

Speaking of giant rampaging lizards, here’s the mural on the East side of the Art Theater. I like it. It’s very simple, just a nice skyline of building silhouettes from around town.

One problem I have with this mural is that there’s a lot of empty space up high. Sure, this evokes our spacious Illinois skies, but I still think some more stuff should be put up there. For example there’s plenty of room to paint a big ole’ godzilla-type monster smashing the city, and still have plenty of sky left over.

Maybe throw some flying saucers in there too. Oh, and a giant gorilla climbing city hall.

Right now you can’t even tell that this mural is on the side of a movie theater. These additions would totally fix that.

There’s a bunch of art behind the new Maize downtown. Some of it’s cool. Some of it’s kinda creepy. My favorite bit by far is this group of dancing ladybugs. Look at what a good time they’re having!

Overlooking the parking lot of the now-vacant building that used to be the County Market on Kirby is a mural that really confuses me.

We’ve got a fighter jet flying out of the Statue of Liberty and then also a cowboy? On the other side there’s a blue star that is like, sweating but it is labelled “RED?” And there’s some kind of space man looking through a telescope. Though from far away I always thought he was peering into a ketchup bottle.

The south side of the building declares “HEALTH CARE FOR ALL AMERICANS” and “FREE OUR TROOPS.” Which are things I can get behind I suppose, but this message doesn’t seem terribly related to the paintings.

Sure, the left side seems to be about Americana, but the plane doesn’t have a star on it, it’s got a crescent moon! Is Lady Liberty under attack by a foreign air force and this cowboy is the only one who cares?

The other side makes even less sense. I mean, the telescope isn’t even pointing towards that star. Geez.

Finally, it’s not a mural, but there is this wacky contraption in the center. It looks like a kitchen mixer that you have to sit on to operate. Please enlighten me in the comments if you know what this doodad is.

No more murals for you this month, but here’s one blank wall that really should be a mural. As I’m sure you all know, the Nitaya Thai mural was removed when the Himalayan Chimney (or HimChim as I like to call it) moved in. There were rumors that HimChim would put a mural there as well, but that HAS NOT HAPPENED.

This is obviously a major blow to the C-U art scene. Make sure whenever you eat at HimChim to comment on how much you miss having a mural on that wall. Activism works folks, and is a very important issue.

That’s all the art I can stand to think about for now. Tune in for a more standard B/F/L in a few weeks.

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