Parking Garage Transforms into Artwork in Near Southside Broadway Chapter Development

What was once a drab parking garage is now an eye-catching work of art in the Near Southside.

The five-story structure that is part of the recently completed Near Southside residential development, Broadway Chapter, now features a 5,000-square-foot mural by North Texas artist Eric Rodriguez, also known as ” Drig”. Titled “Cosmic Journey”, the mural features brightly colored tropical images covering five massive concrete panels on the south facade of the Broadway Chapter car park, visible from Peter Smith Street.

Broadway Chapter is a 242-unit community at 401 Hemphill St. developed by CRG (the Chicago-based real estate development and investment arm of Clayco) and is expected to welcome its first residents in July.

When selecting an artist for the project, CRG collaborated with the Near Southside art program ArtSouth, which conducted a community verification process in February, all during the state’s historic ice storm. According to CRG, many performers were filling out applications from their cars, warming centers and other public spaces as power outages spread across the state. CRG provided a $50,000 budget and worked closely with the ArtSouth program administrators, who extended the application deadline and worked to support artists.

A selection committee of Near Southside arts and culture leaders – including architects, studio artists, gallery owners, public artists and arts education professionals – worked with CRG to narrow down the entries to four finalists. They ultimately chose Drigo “because of his immense talent and creativity and the important cultural voice he offers as a Latinx artist representing a historically marginalized community.”

“We believe that art can inspire and enhance our residents’ daily living experience,” CRG President Shawn Clark said in a statement. “Our buildings are canvases and an important way for us to give back to the communities we serve. We were thrilled to work with Drigo and ArtSouth to create a vibrant piece of art that resonates with the community.

Completion of the mural took less than three months, with Drigo employing help from friends and fellow artists Stephanie Cortes, Joshua Romero, Hatziel Flories and Will Harpham.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to collaborate with CRG and ArtSouth to bring this vision to life,” Drigo said in a statement. “Murals offer a special opportunity to have a spontaneous impact on people’s lives, because anyone can walk by and not only appreciate the artwork, but also find inspiration in it. Near Southside is this kind of melting pot neighborhood, so I used images of plants from all over the world and different cultures coming together. There is always meaning in every element of my work, but I hope people will find their own inspiration and interpretation of what it means to them.

“Cosmic Journey” marks CRG’s third major art installation and the second for its Chapter residential brand. The company has also collaborated with artists for its Upshore Chapter development in Chicago’s historic Uptown neighborhood (which features an interior triptych by Brandin Hurley) as well as its AM 1980 development in the Bucktown neighborhood (which includes a mural by Mauricio Ramirez).

Broadway Chapter offers studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments, including 15 one-bedroom lofts sporting 20-foot ceilings; 4,500 square feet of indoor amenity space, plus a library; a fitness center with Peloton bikes and a yoga space; and a resident lounge with a cafe-bar. The landscaped outdoor courtyard features a sun deck with an infinity pool, in-pool lounge chairs, grilling stations, dining areas, fire pit, and patio seating.

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