Celebrating Public Art with the Wabash Arts Corridor

Wabash Arts Corridor Mural

Public art is everywhere you look in downtown Chicago. Whether it’s the Picasso in Daley Plaza or the Chagall at Chase Tower, the Loop is filled with sculptures and masterpieces. With the advent of the Wabash Arts Corridor a stroll in downtown Chicago is like walking through an urban art gallery.

The Wabash Arts Corridor is a newer arts district that celebrates the creative spirit. It covers the area from Van Buren to Roosevelt and from Michigan Avenue to State Street. The district was begun in 2013 by Columbia College Chicago to foster both the creation and appreciation of arts. Despite being geographically small, the district emcompasses eight educational institutions, 19 galleries, 14 performance spaces, five major hotels and more than 40 restaurants.

Wabash Arts Corridor Mural
“Impossible Meeting” by Marina Zumi

One of the biggest and most obvious projects for the Wabash Arts Corridor was Big Walls, which took place in May, 2016. Eighteen murals were painted on buildings in the busy downtown neighborhood, making the highrises a living canvas. The participating artists, a collection of national and international muralists as well as students from the liberal arts college, showcase varying styles and themes. These include portraits, abstract, comic book- and calligraphy-inspired, and graffiti style. Some are monochromatic and some are giant splashes of color. The murals range from a moose blowing bubble gum to a giant portrait of blues legend Muddy Waters.

While the murals are only required to be up for six months, most of them will remain far longer. They’re not the only representations of public art in the district, however. There are nearly 40 installations in the Wabash Arts Corridor, making it one of the largest concentrations of public art in any city nationwide.

The Wabash Arts Corridor has turned the South Loop into a vibrant and creative landscape for everyone. If you’d like to learn more about the arts in downtown Chicago, feel free to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.