This spring saw the launch of an initiative we consulted on in Chicago: The Annex | Murals. The Annex is a cultural space within the newly renovated Hotel Chicago in the West Loop.
jdc collaborated with the Hotel to invite two prominent Chicago Street Artists, J.C. Rivera and Asend, to create murals for guestrooms. Theirs are the first works in what will be an expanding program. New murals will be added and events held. Contact us to be added to future guest lists; the next installment will occur October, 2018.
About the Artists:
Asend’s career in urban art dates back to the 1990’s and has become more practiced, versatile, and studied. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2006 and has contributed to initiatives far and near. His work can be seen throughout Chicago, and the US, as well as in annual events such as Art Basel, Miami, The Onou Festival in Tahiti, and “Nomad Ink” in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and Beijing, China.
Asend’s work is both traditional and progressive. It has a fluidity and is capable of bridging otherwise disparate visual aesthetics to connect historic themes and realistic treatment with a bold and even gritty street aesthetic. Celebrated for his detailed line work and bold color palate, the artist can render realistic portraiture, still lives, and landscapes with the same intricacy as flashy tags. His versatility and ability to explore different painting techniques have allowed him to evolve as an artist with an open vision. Some of his most interesting work blends these two ends of visual language.
I am starting a series that focus on a classical painting approaches to portraiture, with contemporary/colorful backgrounds. The idea is to study the contrast between the smooth, subdued aesthetic of oil portraits, versus and the vibrant/loose feel of street art mediums like cans and sprays. The result is an intersection of classical painting with an urban vibe.
JC Rivera grew up in Puerto Rico, and now calls Chicago home. His work can be seen publically thorough Chicago, Puerto Rico, and the UK as well as Miami, Los Angeles, and Barcelona. JC originally trained in fine art, so it is no surprise he has mastered many media and creative applications. He has had success as a graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist, painter, toy designer, and mural artist.
JC loves design, and has created an iconic character The Bear Champ. If you follow JC’s work, you will know this character has evolved and changed, but has always spoken to the “everyman.” The bear is not so unlike us physically or emotionally; he has adventures and overcomes obstacles. If you know the story of JC’s life you may imagine how the bear evolved to the urban hero he is today.
I first started drawing The Bear Champ in 2010, I wanted to create a character that was not human, and not too specific in terms of race, so it’s more symbolic. He used to smoke, he was beat up, he had a little chip on his shoulder. I’ve been through a lot as an artist. I’ve been taken advantage of without getting recognition. I feel like I’m finally at an age when something is working for me, so that’s when I started making the bear a little more positive. [and] gave him the crown—cause now he’s a champion. It took him a while to get where he is, but now, he’s more successful, more iconic, more positive, like me.