Big Walls Project. Image courtesy of Tara Vock
Will the old Johnson Publishing headquarters at 820 South Michigan be getting a make-over?
Columbia College, which now owns the building, recently announced plans for a "Big Walls" event as part of the Manifest urban arts festival. Now entering its 16th year, Manifest showcases some of the best new art and design talent coming out of Columbia. Its an eclectic assortment of gallery exhibitions, live performances, fashion shows, literary readings, and other creative endeavours, with three outdoor stages featuring student bands and DJ sets throughout the day to keep the party going. Chi-town favorites including Twin Peaks and Chance the Rapper have previously graced the Manifest stage, and back in the day Manifest played host to artists such as Lupe Fiasco and Common. For full listings and events happening this year, CLICK HERE.
The "Big Wall" event, set to run between the 1st and 13th May, will lead to the creation of 20 brand new street murals on Columbia buildings and other spaces within the Wabash Arts Corridor. Its not yet been confirmed whether 820 South Michigan is one of the buildings scheduled to undergo a street-art facelift, although Columbia has confirmed they are partnering with Chicago Loop Alliance to create an alleyway site next to the building which will showcase alumni work.
We have already seen how mural artists have transformed black media buildings such as the offices of the NEW YORK AMSTERDAM NEWS in Harlem. Will the Johnson building be next on the list? If 820 South Michigan is to be a mural site, it is hard to envision a mural which doesn't explicitly reference the company's rich history. More news as and when we get it.
For people interested in finding out more about the "Big Wall" project, Columbia and the Wabash Arts Corridor collective will be holding a panel discussion and reception at 1104 South Wabash on Thursday, May 5th at 6 p.m, titled "Big Walls in a Big City: Imagining the Future of Public and Street Art to Shape our Urban Landscape." Guest panellists currently include Chicago artists Ruben Aguirre, Dutch artist Collin van der Sluijs, and Columbia professor Sabina Ott. It seems clear from press releases that this isn't going to be another Chicago Architecture Foundation show and tell...
"The panel discussion will be a fun and fast-paced with a focus on the future of street art and how it is transforming Chicago’s urban landscape. This won’t be your typical panel forum! A student performer will be keeping the pace for the panel forum with the use of a ceremonial gong! Music and entertainment will be provided by Columbia College alumnus DJ Jill Strange and a special Cinco de Mayo break dance performance by the Windy City B-Boys!"